We’ve been using our Mamas & Papas Sola for 8 months now so I think I know it well enough to write a thorough review! Mamas & Papas have actually just launched the Sola² but many of the features are the same (I’ll address the few that aren’t at the end of this review) so I thought it was still worth writing this review of the original Sola. The old version is still available in a lot of shops anyway and I would imagine it will be for quite a while until all the old stock is gone.
We have the Mamas & Papas Sola in Denim. We also bought the separate carrycot and we used the Cybex Aton car seat (with Isofix base) which fits onto the pushchair frame using adaptors. We paid £450 for all the parts of our travel system (apart from the Isofix base for the car seat which was another £100) from a local baby shop. Prices vary depending on the retailer but there always seem to be offers and bundles available.
The carrycot and carseat are both parent facing when on the chassis and the pushchair can be either parent facing or outward facing. The pushchair seat has a five point harness, removable bumper bar and three recline positions. It does lie flat so is suitable from newborn if you don’t want to buy the carrycot. The pushchair can be folded with the seat attached when it is outward facing but it has to be removed if it is parent facing. There is a clip to keep the chassis folded when it is collapsed and the wheels can be easily removed to make it more compact when folded. The front wheels can swivel or be locked in place (although I’ve never found a reason to lock them!). The Sola also comes with a universal raincover as standard. Other accessories such as footmuffs, parasols and matching changing bags are available.
- The Sola is very comfortable to push and easy to manoeuvre. The height adjustable handle means it is comfortable for me at 5’5″ and my 6 foot husband. The handle is foam covered which is very comfortable when pushing too.
- Both the carrycot and pushchair seat seem to be very comfortable for Toby. He has happily slept in both. In fact we used the carrycot for all his daytime sleeping for the first couple of months. We use a BuggySnuggle footmuff in the pushchair which adds a bit of padding to the seat but I think Toby would still be comfortable without it.
- It is easy to attach and remove the carrycot, pushchair seat or car seat on the chassis.
- It is very easy to recline the pushchair seat using the catch on the back of the seat. It simply clicks in place when you pull it up when you want to sit it up again.
- The hood on the pushchair is nice and big, especially when the seat is fully upright. Toby also loves looking at the stripey pattern inside the hood.
- The hood on the carrycot has a section at the back which lifts up to reveal a mesh panel. This was especially useful to let some air in as Toby was born in last summer’s heatwave.
- The five point harness on the pushchair seat is easy to adjust and seems to keep Toby in his seat pretty well (for now, until he works out how to get his arms out of the straps!)
- The original Sola came in lots of different colours and fabrics – I love our denim one. It’s a bit different from boring black, but it is also unisex and not to ostentatious!
- I liked our Cybex Aton car seat, but you can also get adaptors to use other car seats, including the Maxi Cosi Pebble.
- The shopping basket isn’t huge but it’s big enough to carry a couple of bags of shopping, or your changing bag if you don’t want to carry it or hang it over the handle.
- I like the catch that automatically keeps the chassis closed when it is collapsed and allows you to stand the wheels up.
- The foot brake is easy to operate, as long as you make sure it has actually caught in the wheels.
- We haven’t used the bumper bar yet as it seems to be in a slightly strange place (quite low down) but it is very easy to remove completely or swing to one side to get your baby in and out of the pushchair.
- I find the chassis really awkward to open and collapse. The handle has to be folded in to collapse the wheels which is a two-handed operation. You then have to move two catches on the frame and these often stick making the whole thing a bit of a pain.
- The whole thing is quite big and heavy. Mamas & Papas sell it as ‘super-light 10kg’ and I know it is quite common for travel systems to be heavy. The Sola is fine when you are pushing it but lifting it in and out of the car boot is a bit of a pain.
- On the same note, it takes up quite a lot of room in the boot – especially when using the carry cot! We have a Nissan Qashqai which is quite a big car but the wheels and pushchair seat take up half our boot.
- The shopping basket, although a decent size, is really difficult to get into when the pushchair seat is parent facing. I should say though, it’s fine with the carrycot or car seat and much better when the pushchair seat is forward facing.
- I would really like there to be somewhere other than the basket to store the raincover. It takes up a lot of room in there but there really is nowhere else to put it if you aren’t using it.
- The pushchair hood as a section of mesh covered by clear plastic. This is really really annoying as it makes it impossible to create a dark environment for naps and in some positions the sun can actually shine right in and end up on your baby’s face. There really seems to be no point to this panel – it is covered by plastic so it’s not for ventilation and you can’t really see through it to check on your wee one either.
Despite quite a lot of negatives I do like our Mamas & Papas Sola. If I never had to collapse it or put it in the car it would be much more pleasant to use! I’m glad we decided to buy a complete travel system. The carrycot was very useful when Toby was small although he had grown out of it by three months, he is very long though. As I said we used it for all his daytime naps both in and out of the house and he seemed very comfortable. I also found it really useful to be able to attach the car seat to the Sola wheels, especially when just popping in the supermarket or something like that.
Would I buy another one though? I’m not sure. It’s hard when I don’t have anything to compare it to but if I was looking for another travel system I would definitely look for one that was easier to collapse. Somewhere to store the raincover would also be high on my list, and with a more accessible basket. It does look like though, that my main bugbear, the plastic panel in the hood, has been fixed on the Sola². There is now a window to check on your baby but this is covered with a flap when you aren’t looking through it. The new version Sola also has suspension which ours doesn’t, although I haven’t found this to be a problem as yet. However, it looks like the method to collapse the wheels is still exactly the same and if it is as stiff and sticky as ours then it would definitely make think twice before buying another Sola.
So now I’m on the lookout for a stroller – Toby has got a new car seat as he outgrew the old one so we don’t have that benefit of the travel system any more. The Sola is fine if we are just walking somewhere from home because I can keep it up in the garage so I would like something a lot more lightweight and compact to use when we are out and about in the car. I’ve got my eye on the Cosatto Supa but I would welcome any other suggestions.
**Disclosure: We were not compensated for this review in any way.