The Chariot Cougar 2 is the most popular child trailer in the Chariot lineup and has been for some time. It sits in the middle of the Sport series between the less costly Cheetah, and flagship CX models, striking a balance between features, cost and weight.
Highlights include suspension that is adjustable to the weight of your children, a very comfortable interior with side opening air vents and sun protection, five conversion kits to maximise the use you can get from your trailer, fold-down storage and great safety features, including plenty of reflective and photo-luminescent materials all around.
- Weight capacity: 45 kg / 100 lbs
- Weight: 12.7 kg / 28 lbs
- Shoulder width: 59 cm / 23.2 in
- Sitting height: 67 cm / 26 in
- Dimensions : 118 x 80 x 107 cm / 46.5 x 31.5 x 42 in
- Folded dimensions: 107 x 80 x 28 cm / 42 x 31.5 x 11 in
- Height without handlebar : 85 cm / 33.5 in
- Handlebar heights (low | high): 93 / 107 cm | 36.5 / 42 in
- Door pass through: 80 cm / 31.5 in
- Wheels: 20 in aluminium spoked
The door pass through width is sufficiently slim to be able to pass through a lot of garden gates.
Starting at the front of the Cougar there is a two-in-one weather cover. The plastic window can be rolled up if it's a nice day or zipped down to keep out wind and rain (the Cheetah model below omits the zips). The mesh layer underneath should be kept down for cycling (to stop grit etc), but can be rolled up in other modes. The weather cover is described as water resistant, so if you plan to use the Cougar in heavy rain or for longer periods in light rain then it is advisable to buy the rain cover. The two-in-one cover easily secures with plastic hooks over a metal bar.
Moving to the side you will see some mesh which comprises the outside part of the opening air vents. Below the mesh is the VersaWing, which is used by all of the conversion kits. This facilitates quick and simple mode change, as well as the Click 'n' Store feature, which stores conversion kit accessories along the side of the trailer. Toward the rear is the suspension system, with a scale marked in kilograms and pounds. You set it to the combined weight of your children and it provides them with the correct springiness. As an adult you can best feel it working when strolling or jogging with the trailer and it certainly seems to smooth out the ride.
At the rear of the Cougar 2 is a large mesh storage pocket, a smaller pocket for phone, keys , etc., and the fold-down storage system. The fold-down storage system folds up for when you are jogging, ensuring that you have nothing for your knees to bump into, and it folds down for whenever you want to take a sizeable amount of cargo with you. Enough for coats and a changing bag or perhaps a picnic, drinks and toys. It's simple and clever at the same time. To fold it there are quick releases on the side of the trailer.
At the bottom rear of the Cougar is a footbrake with a push / pull motion. It works very well, but it can be slightly hard to find if you are using the fold down storage.
Folding the trailer is quick and easy. Pull out the red knob on one side of the trailer and push the side of the frame forwards a little. Repeat on the other side. The whole trailer then folds flat. You can pop out the wheels by pressing the hubcap buttons in, and remove the handlebar by pressing the buttons in and pulling. The Chariot fold system from the Sport series is the best we have tried to date.
The Chariot Cougar 2 has your children sitting in a comfortable position, with their feet in a footwell, much like in a car. It is reclined enough that our children had no problem sleeping but there is no option to change the amount of recline. It is comfortably padded, and the mesh-wicking seat pad is removable for washing. Children can be seated on either side or in the middle. The five-point harnesses are also mesh-wicking and comfortable, with velcro tabs at the top of the trailer to hold them up whilst you help your children in. There is a helmet recess behind the seat, which does not extend all the way up.
Chariot is strong on safety so naturally they supply an infant sling and a baby supporter to support young infants of various ages and protect their necks and backs. The recommendations on when and how these should be used seem to vary by country. The Chariot website currently recommends 1-10 months (no cycling) for the infant sling and 6-18 months for the baby supporter. There is also a Baby Bivy available for strolling with newborns and a bunting bag to keep children warm. All of these accessories use quality materials and are well designed.
The Chariot bike kit tow arm uses a ball and socket arrangement, which means it has a wide range of movement without the kind of resistive forces you would find with a spring or elastomer system. The ball is also very easy to locate in the hitch, and these two factors make the Chariot system very quick and easy to use at the bike end. A strap loops around a seat stay or chain stay and back to the tow arm as a failsafe. At the trailer end the tow arm is inserted into the VersaWing whilst pressing a button on the arm, clicking it into place. It fits very well and the sliding action is smooth. A second strap acts as a failsafe between the tow arm and the trailer frame. In short, connecting up is a breeze.
The jogging kit arms locate into the VersaWings in the same manner as the tow arm, with a positive click. The front wheel then attaches with a quick release. When in place the tow arms are nicely rigid and the wheel runs true to vertical. A slight downward pressure on the handlebar is all that is needed to correct your course. Having fold-up storage is much better than having less storage all the time or bashing your knees some of the time. The jogging arms can be stowed along the side of the trailer when not in use, with the wheel on the back. Chariot make a hand brake kit for the Cougar, which applies a brake to front wheel when jogging, and folds underneath the trailer for other modes - quite a clever design. For even better jogging there are the Chariot CX models which have drum brakes on the rear wheels. These are able to slow you even in the event of the front wheel being lifted (e.g. through a fall).
The Chariot strolling wheels are very good. Firstly there are two of them, making the trailer more stable. Secondly they swivel and roll nicely. Thirdly they fit and stow beautifully. One click on the side of the VersaWing allows you to insert a wheel, or remove it and turn it upside down to stow it. When stowed the buggy wheels are kept out of the way, ready for action when you arrive.
Hiking and Skiing
The Chariot Hiking Kit comprises two lightweight tow bars and a padded shoulder harness. The Ski Kit comprises different tow bars and a padded waist belt. We haven't tried these kits ourselves so can't comment too much, but if you're into hiking or skiing and have these kits, let us know how you get on with them!
- Good balance of features versus cost
- Quality materials
- Attractive, sporty design in three colours
- Quick and easy operation
- Suspension provides good ride quality
- Safe design with good infant support options
- Lots of conversion kits available
- Fold-up storage works well
- On-board accessory storage well designed and useful
- Parking brake can be hard to locate when loaded with cargo
- Helmet recess could come up a little higher
- The seats don't recline, but this was never an issue
It isn't hard to see why the Chariot Cougar 2 is Chariot's most popular model. It strikes a great balance of features and price, sitting between the less costly models and the flagship CX. The additions over the Cheetah (suspension, more storage, more visibility, more comfort) for us warrant the extra cost. The overall impression is of a well-evolved and beautifully designed trailer that will easily last you until your kids grow out of it. Residuals also tend to be quite high, so when it is time to sell you should be able to recoup a lot of the initial outlay.