The Best Bike Trailers for Cycling with Kids

The Best Child Bike Trailers

Bike trailers are the most popular way to bike with young kids–and for good reason.  Bicycle trailers can carry multiple children, gear, and even kid’s bikes.  Many trailers are convertible for use as jogging strollers which makes them a good investment for active families.  Finally, trailers are often safer than bike seats; in fact, a good bike trailer acts as a roll-cage.

Of course, there are cons to using a bike trailer as well; the biggest for me personally is the lack of interaction you get with your child.  Still, bike trailers remain one of your best options for biking with kids.  Below I’ll discuss how to choose a bike trailer, situations where you might want to consider another choice, and which trailers are best.

How to Choose a Bicycle Trailer

Single Trailer vs Double Trailer

The first and most obvious criteria to choose a trailer based on is whether you want to use it for one child or for multiple children.  Even if you don’t have a second child yet, if you plan to have one soon, you might want to invest in a double trailer.

The disadvantages of a double trailer compared to a single trailer is that it is harder to maneuver through tight spaces and it is heavier than a single.  Still, if you need to carry multiple kids, it is a no-brainer to immediately look for a double trailer.

One thing to look at is the weight capacity.  Even though a trailer is listed as a double-trailer it may have a maximum weight capacity is that too low for your two children.  Lower-end trailers tend to max out at 80 pounds while more expensive trailers usually accommodate up to 100 pounds.

Convertible trailers

If you like to run as well as bike, then a trailer is an obvious choice.  Rather than buying separate gear for each activity, choose a convertible trailer that can act as a jogging stroller as well.  Some trailers, like the Thule Chariot, can even be used for cross-country skiing or fat-biking.

If you are looking for a trailer for bicycling only, then skip the convertible trailers.  They are more expensive.

Price

Bicycle trailers cost between $100 to $1,000 which is a pretty big budget range.  As with most things in life (unfortunately), the more expensive the trailer the nicer it is going to be and the better the construction is.

Trailers on the lower end are not as comfortable or as durable as more expensive trailers.  That said, if you are looking for a way to haul your child on the occasional paved bike path ride, a $100 trailer may be sufficient.

At the high end of the price spectrum, a $1,000 trailer will have suspension, durable fabric, good ventilation, lots of storage, and plenty of other perks.  If you can afford it, go for it.

Most families will be best served by a trailer somewhere in the middle.  We’ve tried including a variety of price points in our top picks below.

Suspension

Whether or not you need is suspension is largely dependent on the type of riding you plan on doing.  If you are going to be largely primarily on paved bike paths and other smooth surfaces, you can probably forgo the extra expense of suspension.

On the other hand, if you plan on riding off-road on gravel rail trails or forest service roads, suspension is a must.  Even on uneven city streets, having suspension can make a big difference in the comfort and enjoyment for your child.

Storage Space

I like a lot of storage space in my bike trailers.  As parents, we have all sorts of stuff that needs to come along — diaper bags, toys, snacks, balance bikes, etc, etc, etc.  I also like being able to pick up a bag of groceries or some library books.  If you plan on being a frequent bike commuter with your trailer, look for one with plenty of cargo space.

Rain and Shade Covers

A good rain cover has saved me time and time again.  My son has survived some long, cold, snowy bike rides in a trailer with a sleeping bag and the rain cover safely secured.  If you plan on riding in inclement weather conditions, take this seriously.

On the other side of the spectrum, sunny rides are much more enjoyable with a shade cover to keep your little ones protected.

Not all trailers come with these things, so evaluate your needs before shopping.

Weight

All else equal, look for a trailer with the lowest weight.  Carrying kids in a bicycle trailer is heavy and hard; you don’t need to make it even tougher on yourself by hauling a heavy trailer too.

Bike Trailers compared to other child bicycle carriers

Compared to child bike seats, trailers tend to be safer.  A good-quality trailer is essentially a roll-cage providing protection to your child in the event of a crash or a tip-over.  With a bike seat, on the other hand, if the parent crashes, the child is crashing too.

That said, I still prefer a bike seat (especially a front-mounted bike seat) to a trailer–although I use both.  This is because with a bike seat you have your child close by where you can talk to and easily interact with them.  In a trailer, it is much harder to see and hear how your child is doing.  When we use our trailer, we often have to pull over and stop to help our son or to hear what he’s saying.  A bike seat is also much lighter than a trailer, which can feel awfully heavy when you are climbing hills.

In terms of cost, a trailer falls squarely between a bike seat and a cargo bike.  While a good-quality trailer can be quite a bit more expensive than a bike seat, it is still much cheaper than a cargo bike.  A cargo bike is awesome if you can afford it, and if you are going to be commuting on a daily basis.  If you only plan to do the occasional bike path ride or cruise to the park, go with the trailer.

Finally, trailers tend be best for use with young kids.  If you are comfortable with it, you can even buckle a carseat into a trailer.  For parents of multiple young children, a trailer is often the ideal option as you can put two kids in there.

Unfortunately, for slightly older kids the trailer quickly becomes BORING.  If you have a child 3 or up, I much prefer a trailer-cycle, where they are able to pedal along.

Bike Trailer Pros:

  • Many trailers can convert to jogging strollers
  • Affordable compared to a cargo bike
  • Can carry more than one child
  • Can carry gear in addition to child
  • Child is relatively safe in the event of a tip-over or crash

Bike Trailer Cons:

  • More expensive than a bike seat
  • Parent-child interaction is low
  • Child engagement is low (no pedaling, etc)
  • Heavy

 

The Best Bike Trailers

The Thule Chariot

Chariot Cougar 1

No doubt—this bike trailer takes the #1 spot.  The Thule Chariot is the very first thing I bought when I found out I was pregnant.  It is the crème de la crème for active families.  My favorite model is the Cougar (comes in a 1 or 2 child version).  This trailer has suspension for off-road riding, plenty of storage, and will last for years.

For more information, read my review of the Chariot Cougar or the Chariot Cross.

Price & Where to Buy:

  • MSRP: $690 for Chariot Cougar 1, $790 for Chariot Cougar 2
  • Check prices at Amazon.com

The Croozer Kid

Like the Chariot, the Croozer Kid can do it all—but unlike the Chariot, you don’t have to buy any accessories.  The base purchase price includes the trailer kit, jogging kit, and stroller kit, making this a great deal.  That said, it is heavier than the Chariot Cougar and not as easy to tow.  It also comes in 1 and 2 child versions.

Price & Where to Buy:

  • MSRP: $757 for Kid for 1, $625 for Kid for 2
  • Check price at Amazon.com

The Burley Bee

When thinking of bicycle trailers, Burley is probably the name that comes immediately to mind.  Known for high-quality products and good value, Burley deserves their positive reputation.  The Burley Bee isn’t the most expensive trailer in the Burley line-up, but it is the best value.  This trailer has durable construction, and a five-point harness for safety.  The one big drawback on this model is that it is does not convert to a jogging stroller—although that might be fine if you already have one or if running isn’t your thing.

Price & Where to Buy:

Allen Sports Steel


This trailer lacks all the bells and whistles that the other trailers on this list have, but it also has an awesome price tag.  Unlike other “cheap” trailers, the Allen Steel is lightweight and easy to pull.  If you’re on a budget, or only plan to use your bike trailer occasionally, look no further than this top pick.

Price & Where to Buy:

Comparison Chart

If you’re still not sure which of these trailers is best for your situation, use the chart below to compare them.

BrandModelPrice (MSRP)CapacityWeightMulti-Use (Jogging or other)Suspension?
ThuleChariot Cougar 1$6901 child  (100 lbs)24 lbsYesYes
ThuleChariot Cougar 2$7902 children (100 lbs)28 lbsYesYes
CroozerKid 1$5751 child30 lbsYesNo
CroozerKid 2$7492 children31 lbsYesNo
BurleyBee$2992 children (100 lbs)20.5 lbsNoNo
Allen SportsSteel$1202 children25 lbsNoNo

 


Kristen

Kristen is a project manager and writer. She spends all her free time mountain biking with her family on the trails in Salt Lake City and Park City, UT.

You may also like...