This Kid-Friendly Wagon Replaced 2 Strollers in My Garage
It transports veggies, beach gear, and—yes—my children.
Published Oct 16, 2022 1:56 AM
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If you text me asking if I think you need to buy the latest [insert toy, gear, gadget, or doodad here] for your kiddos, I’ll usually reply back that it’s cute—but that you don’t need it. I’m not a minimalist parent, but I do err on the side of less is best. Having two children of my own has made me be hyper-vigilant about all the things that make their way into our home, because stuff can accumulate fast: surprise gifts from grandparents, unplanned purchases from Target to make the close-to-nap-time drive home easier, hand-me-down toys from friends and family, random thingamabobs from birthday goodie bags—it all adds up!
So when I overheard a dad at the farmers’ market declare, “Wagons are the new strollers,” I raised an eyebrow, dismissed his comment, and kept walking. Except, as I navigated my Bugaboo Fox past the stalls of produce, I noticed something. There actually were more wagons than strollers, and even shoppers sans kids were using wagons to hold their fresh fruits and vegetables. I wondered if that dad had a point: Was I missing out on something great because I didn’t want to fill my garage with even more items?
Spoiler alert: I was. Before making my final four-wheeler choice, I referred to this handy roundup to learn about the different options and accessories currently on the market, but ultimately chose the Joey wagon for a few functional and personal aesthetic reasons. First, the fun one: Its looks. I went with the pretty periwinkle, a refreshing option compared to the usual black and charcoal wagons you typically see. While I appreciate the white wheels for a pop of brightness, I’m glad the frame and interior of the Joey is black. It’s less stressful for me when my kids spot a Popsicle stand.
Functionality-wise, the Joey ticks off everything I need and omits anything that would be too extra for our suburban Southern California lifestyle. I bought an extra UPF 50-plus canopy so both my kids can have some sun relief during their strolls, and the storage basket, tucked between the bigger set of wheels, surprisingly holds two sets of baby Crocs, a Baggu bag of toys, and a full-size pack of wet wipes. Inside the wagon, there’s a mesh footwell (a lifesaver when we go to the beach or a sandbox) and six mesh pockets that I use to hold bits and bobs like sunscreen, tissues, and snacks.
Unlike other wagons for which accessories usually cost extra, I love that the Joey already comes with a sun canopy, a big cup holder for the handlebar, and a child’s tray. The latter is my kids’ favorite. They love to snack right out of the tray, and the two cup holders give them easy reach and autonomy over their water bottles. À la carte extras include a removable quilted mattress pad, a car-seat adapter, and extra sun canopies and cup holders.
Other than aesthetics, my main concern with getting a wagon was how easily I’d be able to get it in and out of my car. I’m 4-feet-11 and haven’t worked out in three-plus years (does carrying two toddlers on my hip count?). I was worried I’d only be able to use the Joey when my husband could accompany us, but surprisingly, I manage it just fine. The handlebar and two seat backs fold down easily, and while the company recommends that you take off all the accessories, I only need to unlatch the tray, which to me is the easiest accessory to attach and remove. The sun canopies fold down with the seats and give enough clearance to make it into my Highlander SUV.
So circling back with my go-to answer when it comes to kids’ gear: Do you need the Joey? Not for pure survival, but I’ll say this—ever since we got our wagon, my strollers have been collecting dust in the garage. The wagon gives my kids 360-degree views of their surroundings, and because of that, they’re less fussy than when they’re in a traditional pram. We’ve taken it to parks and farmers’ markets, and on grass at local festivals, and it has been a game changer in how much we enjoy our family outings. To me, that is worth the price tag—a not-cheap $689. If I had to nitpick, I only wish the Joey was a bit bigger so I could have a place to store my diaper bag—but that doesn’t keep me from telling everyone I know that, indeed, wagons are the new strollers.