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I'm a married mum who loves chocolate & music & having an opinion on just about everything! E-Mail summermama@hotmail.co.uk

Friday, June 10, 2011

Product Review - Maxi Cosi Mura 3

When I first discovered I was pregnant, I started thinking about which travel system best suited my needs. Hubby & I do a fair bit of walking - mostly around town, but also through the local forests & I realised that with a baby we'd also be including parks and zoos and other places we'd not ventured to before. Therefore, I was in a dilemma; I needed something that was as practical in town as it was over rough terrain: I wanted something that felt sturdy and secure for my newborn & I needed something that was suitable for myself (5ft 6ins) and Hubby (6ft 1ins) to use.

My decision was a fairly straightforward one, for me. It was a decision between getting a Quinny Speedi SX or a Maxi Cosi Mura 3. In the end, I went for the Mura 3 due to personal preference on the appearance of it overall. I opted for a Maxi Cosi CabrioFix carseat, though the Maxi Cosi Pebble is also compatible, again a personal preference. Since my little car doesn't have IsoFix points, but I knew having a base would make life so much easier, I included a Maxi Cosi EasyBase 2 into the equation, and to complete my travel system I decided upon the Mura carrycot to match. I chose everything in Tango Red, as it's more interesting than plain black and gender neutral (We didn't find out whether we were having a boy or a girl).

Maxi Cosi Mura 3 with Mura carrycot in Tango Red (2010)
As soon as I received the travel system, I took it home where Hubby set it all up. I literally sat on the sofa and him being a man didn't look at the instructions once, but successfully set it up and had a play with it before declaring that it was "Quite nice, really" (He'd trusted my judgement entirely) I love the Mura 3 chassis with the carrycot for a newborn baby and I wanted chance for our dogs to get used to it being around (they've always both been a bit dubious of bicycles, skateboards and prams/pushchairs).

I can see an obvious downside to this travel system package already - the cost. At RRP £335 for the Mura 3, £145 for the Mura carrycot, £125 for the CabrioFix and £90 for the EasyBase 2 it isn't something that everyone would be able to afford, and for that reason I do understand why the Mura isn't as popular in the UK as I believe it deserves to be. In addition to this, there's hardly any retailers you can go and view a Mura before you part with your cash; And at that price, quite frankly, you'd have to be mad to buy it without seeing it and testing it first. But I'm fortunate enough to have been able to have a proper look at it and to be able to ask questions of expert demonstrators about it, as well as having the opportunity to 'play' with it and see how I felt about it before I committed to getting one.

After The Boy was born, it was a matter of days before we gave the Mura a test drive; Only in the back garden, as I was in no fit state to go any further, but it provided a lovely secure environment for our precious bundle as the rest of us enjoyed the sunshine, he slept peacefully in the carrycot with the hood up. When he got grizzly in the early days despite being clean, dry & fed, Hubby would pop him in the carrycot and take him for a spin around the garden which soon chilled him out. Hubby was impressed with the fact that, thanks to the extendable handlebar, he could easily move the Mura about without bending over it, and given that he was moving it around a garden with two excitable dogs running around as well, he was also impressed that it was such an easy unit to move, contradicting the sheer size and sturdy look of it.

Once I was back on my feet again, we took to taking walks into town with The Boy in the Mura carrycot, snuggled up and protected from the elements when it was chilly yet cool and shaded from the sunshine when it appeared. Thanks to the air filled tyres and brilliant suspension on the Mura, potholes, cobblestones and curbs provided no problem as we glided about with ease: The only troubles we had was negotiating some shops, as they seem to try and cram so much in a tiny space and we'd get in the door (no problem) to find there was no clear pathway around the shop that we could negotiate. I have commented to several shop staff that surely if my Mura can't manage the layout of the store then certainly no double/tandem buggy would be able to, nor would a wheelchair - and I was under the impression that this was something retailers had to ensure was possible. Likewise, there are a couple of stores in town with steps to the front step - one with a step as you actually go through the door - which makes getting in and out of them awkward, but I think you'd find that with any buggy, not just the Mura, and again it would be impossible with a wheelchair which is surely discrimination of a sort?

When The Boy was four months old, I travelled back Down South to stay with my parents for a few days, and here the Mura was really put through its paces. Our visit was only going to be for a long weekend, and then it snowed heavily, and we were stuck. My little car certainly wasn't going to make it to the end of the road, never mind doing the 100 mile trip back home, nor did I want to attempt that with The Boy - what if we broke down, or crashed? - So we stayed there, and needless to say I had to find a way of entertaining my four month old. We went for walks - yes, walks - in the snow. It took a while, it certainly got my blood pumping (what a brilliant workout!) but the Mura soldiered on and found no problem with negotiating snow drifts that at times covered the wheels. Yes, every now and then I had to stop and kick the snow out of the double front wheel where it compacted in and made steering difficult, but on the whole the Mura, which I loved anyway, was even more adored by me. Meanwhile, as I was trogging along in the snow, I saw numerous other people struggling with their pushchairs, some had even opted to walk with baby in their arms (I couldn't bring myself to do that - what if I slipped over?) The Boy remained cosy (you get a gorgeous fleece blanket with the carrycot) and dry thanks to the lovely big PVC which covers the entire Mura carrycot and has a little flap on the front, so every now and then I could undo the flap and say hello and make sure he was quite happy - and every time, he was. Even though in the snow what should have been a 15 minute walk was almost an hour, we got there safely and he was warm, dry and content, and our friends were very impressed we'd made it to them at all!!

At home, we left the Mura set up with the carrycot in our front room and wheeled it back and forth into the dining room and kitchen as we needed to. It provided somewhere for The Boy to sleep downstairs, high enough that he was out of the way of the dogs. Now before you all shout at me, I am well aware that according to the instructions you should never leave baby unattended in the Mura, and the definition of unattended means removal of your hands from the pushbar. However, while I did break the rules there, I would like to point out that at no time did we leave The Boy alone in a room in the Mura, nor did we allow him to sleep in it overnight (this isn't suitable as theres no ventilation in the mattress & base of the carrycot). And despite our dogs rushing about there was no time when the Mura even showed the slightest hint it was going to topple. A bonus to it being such a bulky beast is that it is very stable despite being a 3 wheel model, and to be honest I've not found a situation yet where I was even concerned it was going to topple.

The Mura carrycot is suitable for a child up to 9kg or until they can sit upright, which is around about six months for the average child. However The Boy is tall and broad and by five months old while he was still below 9kg and wasn't sitting up, he was literally filling the carrycot, top to bottom, side to side (he grew out of his Moses basket at three months old so I knew the Mura carrycot wouldn't last much longer once that happened). It was a sad day when I removed the Mura carrycot and packed it away in anticipation of any siblings The Boy may get in the future, but I was excited as I unpacked the Mura standard seat unit and set that up on the chassis.

The Mura seat unit isn't to everyones tastes, I'm well aware of that, but I love it. It's broad and padded, with an adjustable footrest and three recline positions, and instead of the standard bumper bar at the front of the child it has a funky looking T-bar. When The Boy first went into the seat unit there was no point in using the T-bar: He was still to little to be doing anything other than being reclined back and sleeping as we travelled. As he's got older though, he's developed a passion for gripping the T-bar and twisting on the foamy bits as if he's on some sort of moped!

Mura 3 Tango Red (2010) Parent Facing mode
This is where a bit of a minus point comes into it for me :( Which is a shame, because I do love praising my Mura, I think it's a wonderful product but with the seat unit on in parent facing mode its very difficult to access the lovely large shopping basket. When using the chassis with the Mura carrycot I could put loads of stuff in the basket without worrying; with the seat unit on in parent facing mode it becomes more difficult as you have to try and wedge things in at funny angles so that you can a) get them in and out and b) so you don't knock the big red button underneath the seat unit which is the seat removal button. If you knock that and unlock it the next bump you go over or tip the chassis to go up a curb your seat unit is going to slide out of place, which isn't good for anyone involved! Also while the sides of the triangle shaped basket are quite high, the back is quite low; I expect this is due to ease of being able to get things into the basket, but it does mean that it makes it more easy for things to slide out again, especially again when you're negotiating going up curbs.

The sun canopy on the Mura 3 has been changed from the 2009 style to the 2010 style that I have, and has been changed again in the 2011 style, I believe due to the fact that like me a lot of people found the 2010 style a bit awkward: You've got two black clips either side of the sun canopy and you have to splay them out to unlock them and at the same time bring the sun canopy forward. Well, I don't know about many other mums out there but despite rumours to the contrary I only have one pair of hands and so keeping two clips unlocked at the same time as pulling the sun canopy forward requires some additional help, which isn't always practical. I've developed a knack of standing to the side of the Mura, unlocking the clips and holding them in each hand while I use my forearm to knock the sun canopy forward far enough to that I can let go of one clip and lock out the sun canopy without forcing the mechanism, which once broken will require a full sun canopy replacement as they're not an item which can be repaired. Once the sun canopy is out though, its a lovely large size providing plenty of shade and has an additional flap on the front for those days when the sun is bright and low down or baby is in recline position - Now The Boy is 10 months old he has a habit of playing with that bit though so it does become a bit useless!

A lot of people look at the Mura and think it isn't suitable for them because its so heavy and bulky - it is heavier than many similar items available, but to me that equals sturdiness, a good solid unit that I'm not afraid will topple over or break or become easily damaged; Its a beast and it provides my baby with a comfortable and safe place to be while we're out and about. Also, despite the size of it, I can fit it in my little car (A 10 year old VW Polo) I have to remove the seat unit and the wheels, put the chassis and the wheels in first and the seat unit last but it still all fits in my boot with The Boy's changing bag. Also despite its size it is very manageable and easy to push - my best friend, who isn't a mum and hasn't any experience with pushchairs etc - always says to me that she expects the Mura to be heavier and more cumbersome than it is.

On a lovely warm day in April, the Hubby and I drove to the local forest with The Boy in his carseat and the Mura in the boot, and we took a lovely long walk (five miles) around one of the trails. For the first time ever we used the Mura seat unit in the world facing mode so that The Boy could see the lovely area we were walking around in, and the Mura did brilliantly well yet again; It bounced merrily over the largest of bumps and found no problem at all crossing a small stream of water, passing over layers of mud, moss, grass, twigs and other forest-type bracken. I passed control of the Mura onto the Hubby so that I could concentrate on taking photos, and when we got back to the car he was full of praise for it yet again, complimenting it on how well it had coped with the off road experience that a lesser pushchair would have struggled with, or not coped at all.

Last week, Hubby went to the local dental surgery to pick up registration cards for us both: He was looking after The Boy on his own. He arrived at the address to find a doorway leading to a square area with a steep staircase rising up ahead of him. For patients who had difficulty with steps there is a stair lift for use, but there is no help for parents with pushchairs :( This left Hubby to bump the Mura up the stairs backwards (NOT recommended!!) in order to get to the small reception area at the top. Coming down again he faced another problem, as the angle of the stairs would have meant The Boy was virtually dangling, but luckily another patient arrived as he was contemplating what to do, and this other person was nice enough to grab the front of the Mura chassis and help the Hubby carry it all downstairs. While I blame the dentists surgery for being thoughtless in not planning for this, it does go to show that sometimes less is more when it comes to a buggy, and while I adore my Mura it would have been easier to cope with this situation had Hubby been with The Boy in a smaller, lighter unit. It just remains to be seen how on earth I cope with going to the dentist with The Boy, as there is no way I'll be able to get him & a pushchair up such a long, steep staircase, so I may be left in the doorway phoning the surgery on my mobile and asking them to send someone down to give me a hand!!

As if on cue The Boy is now singing at me through the baby monitor, and I can think of no more to say about the Mura other than I adore it, and if ever anyone were to ask me if I'd recommend it I would have no doubt or hesitation in telling them a massive YES!! Its a fabulous, tough, sturdy unit and if you can stretch to the cost, it is well worth the extra pennies.

Maxi Cosi Mura 3 Tango Red (2010) World Facing Mode

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