A smart blend of comfort and convenience. With suspension and exceptional weatherproof features, the Thule Chariot Cross is an ideal trailer for all seasons. Read the review below for all the details!
Thule Chariot Cross Review
BEST FOR: Active families with babies and young toddlers who are looking for a stroller and jogger that perform just as great as the trailer.
TRAILER CAPACITY: Single
TRAILER ARM: Included
JOGGER KIT: Upgrade available
STROLLER KIT: Included
- Highest-quality components
- Performs phenomenally as trailer, jogger, or stroller
- Loading and unloading kids is easier than any other trailer
- Easy to switch between modes (trailer, stroller, jogger) – totally user-friendly
- Exceptionally effective rain cover and sun shade
- Easy to transport
- Independently reclining seats
- Accessory storage on trailer
- Adjustable suspension
- Sippy cup pocket is difficult to reach
Thule Chariot Cross Review – Results of our Test Rides
If I had to sum up the Thule Chariot Cross is one word, it would be smart. Everything about this trailer has been well thought-through and designed with the user in mind. It’s fabulously simple and easy to use, in addition to being incredibly well-made. Most of the adjustable and assembly elements are colored blue, making it a cinch to see how to switch modes from trailer to stroller, make adjustments, and fold and store. With true reclinable seats and adjustable suspension to boot, the Cross earns our highest recommendation.
The Thule Cross is a multi-sport trailer, available in single and double capacity. It comes standard with a 4-wheeled stroller conversion kit and the bike trailer arm. Conversion kits for jogging and skiing are also available.
Thule Cross vs. Lite
Like different models of the same car, the Thule Cross and Lite’s overall performance are the same, but with slight differences in functionality via features.
|Feature||Thule Chariot Cross||Thule Chariot Lite|
|MSRP||$1,050 / $1,150||$850 / $950|
|Storage||Separate||Pocket on trailer|
|Chassis||Built on same chassis with same basic design, fabric and quality.||Built on same chassis with same basic design, fabric and quality.|
Whether you’ll be using the Cross primarily as a trailer, jogger, stroller, or all three, this thing performs like a dream.
With every part designed and assembled to the most precise and exacting standards, these beautiful machines pull quiet and smooth, making the trailer seem at one with your bike.
I use the Cross daily to bring my nugget along for my runs. After 2.5 years my Cross is a little dirtier than when I pulled it out of the box, but wear and tear is super minimal. I anticipate using my Cross for many years to come!
Last summer we went to king of all biking destinations -Whistler, Canada- and brought our Cross. That should tell you a lot right there. While we clearly didn’t take it on any serious mountain biking trails, we did tackle the easy flow and jump trails in the bike skills area, as well as all the valley floor trails – paved and dirt and plenty of inclines. The Cross didn’t skip a beat and our toddler was able to enjoy this mountain biking mecca just as much as the rest of us.
As a Trailer
The Cross performs beautifully as a trailer, giving a smooth ride for adult and child alike whether on paved sidewalks or rugged dirt trails.
The Cross’ adjustable suspension helps smooth the ride and is incredibly easy to adjust—simply slide the latch up or down based on the child’s weight. Be sure to make note that the suspension needs to be adjusted on both sides of the trailer.
On a recent trip to Bentonville, we got caught on a hilly, rocky, root-strewn trail that Google said was a paved road. Google lied! However, the Cross handled it like a total champ and our 2-year-old thought it was the best thing ever. It was a bumpy ride, but one that was smoothed out enough to make it seem like an epic roller-coaster ride.
Trailer Arm and Hitch
The feather-light, compact trailer arm slides easily into the wheel guard and locks in place.
Thule makes my absolute favorite trailer hitch. The ball-and-socket design is easy to slide in at any angle and never makes any noise. The only downside is that the silicone tab of the hitch does require some effort to stretch in order to lock the hitch in place.
As a Stroller
The double stroller swivel-wheels come standard with the trailer and lock into the wheel guards in seconds without the need for pins. Simply pull the blue tab lock on the wheel guard, insert the stroller wheel from underneath, and release the tab to lock the wheel in place.
Because the stroller wheels insert from under the trailer, it can be a bit awkward at times, but it eventually becomes natural and isn’t a huge deal. The advantage of this design is that when in use as a trailer, the stroller wheels actually store in the same holes, just upside down. This wheel storage feature is unique to Thule and well worth the slight inconvenience of having to insert the wheels from underneath.
The stroller is easy to maneuver and doesn’t feel bulky. Having owned more strollers than we care to count, the Thule is incredibly smooth and as easy to push as other high-end strollers.
The large back wheels allow for easy navigating over uneven surfaces and the front wheels (which are larger than on typical strollers) make for a better ride and rarely trip up on uneven patches of pavement or rocks.
The front tires are solid plastic, so no need to worry about them going flat, but flats can occur in the rear tires. To prevent flats, we highly recommend using tire sealant.
We also found that the stroller works pretty great as a jogger too. It really is such a smooth ride and in our neighborhood with lots of windy walking paths, it’s actually easier to maneuver and run with the stroller’s swivel wheels than with the straight-tracking jogging wheel.
Trailers that convert to strollers have the additional benefit of allowing you to completely zip your kids into the stroller. With the mesh door down, your toddler can’t throw out their sippy cups, blankets can’t slide out, and overly friendly strangers can’t touch your kids :). When more freedom is needed, the Cross (and Lite) has an upper pocket to store the rolled up mesh door.
As a Jogger
Jogger wheel installation is a little more involved than the stroller wheels, but not too complicated. You have to insert both jogger arms into the wheel guards on the body of the trailer, locking them in place. You then insert the wheel between them with a quick-release axle.
For easier stopping on the go, Thule also offers a rear hand brake as an upgrade, which activates both rear wheels at the same time. The brake easily integrates into the handlebar and is activated by twisting (as shown here). Thule’s system is unique as it is the only hand brake system to activate the rear tires versus the front tire, which provides much more stopping power. The jogger kit is an upgrade.
When in use, the jogger tracks beautifully from the get-go and is easy to run with. In the odd event that you’re having a problem with the trailer tracking straight, a small blue adjustment knob on the left jogging arm allows for easy adjustment of the alignment.
Like all jogging strollers, the front wheel is stationary and you have to push down on the handlebar to turn the trailer with the back tires. The trailer also comes with the required safety jogging strap (so the trailer doesn’t get away from you on declines).
We also discovered the jogging wheel is awesome for trail hikes! If you’re going to log lots of miles in jogger mode, you might also want to look at the Thule Chariot Cheetah XT, which is 10 pounds lighter.
The Thule Chariot Cross Single is an average sized trailer. It’s roomy for a 2-year-old, cozy for a 5-year-old, and slightly more narrow than the Burley D’Lite single. The Thule Chariot Cross double is about the same sitting width as the Burley D’Lite double, but doesn’t have the bowed out sides for added shoulder room.
The Cross has a supportive bench-style seat that truly reclines without any hassle. Simply push the reclining button on the exterior of the trailer and gently pull back. It has two recline positions, reclining a full 7” at its max.
The seats on the Cross double recline independently of each other using the same system. Reclinable seats is the major difference that sets the Thule Cross apart from the Lite.
It’s important to note that in the Cross’ most upright position, a child is already in a relaxed, leaned back position. Compared to the Burley D’Lite, the Cross can recline much more. In fact, the D’Lite’s most reclined position is about the same as the Cross’ most upright position.
After using this trailer for over two years, I’ve only used the Cross’ recline a couple of times. I’ve just never found it necessary because the Cross’ standard position is already so comfortable for my toddler.
The included dark gray seat cushion is soft, yet smooth so it is easy to wipe down. It’s also removable for washing if need be, but should be left out to air dry. We tested this out after a terrible milk spill, and it truly is washable!
Thin, yet dense, the padding stays in place when loading and unloading kids. This may sound minor, but having used many trailers with thick padding that shifts around and even comes out entirely, Thule’s padding system is superior.
Thule offers an optional pad set that provides additional cushioning along the back. The back of the seat is already padded somewhat, so for most families this will not be necessary. Additionally, it does block some of the rear mesh that acts as ventilation. If you will regularly be going on rough terrain, or taking your Cross bike packing, we do recommend that extra layer of padding.
The 5-point-harness in the Cross is very easy to adjust and buckle, and the strap pads stay put where they belong – protecting little necks. I’ve removed the pads on many trailers because they’re more of a pain than they’re worth, but in the Cross, the pads do their job without shifting around or getting in the way.
Many trailers have a cut-out or other space to allow kids to wear a helmet without pushing their head forward. While the Cross’ helmet space is not as pronounced as other trailers, I have never had an issue with my child being uncomfortable.
If you do happen to have an issue, Thule does offer additional padding that can be placed on the back of the seat to push the rider forward, thereby creating a small space for the helmet. Purchasing a helmet with a flat back is also a good idea. We use the Giro Scamp without issue.
Loading and Unloading
I’ve tested over a dozen trailers in the last year, and the Thule Cross is the easiest to load and unload your kids. This is due to two factors:
- The Cross’ thin but dense and soft pads stay firmly in place when loading your child. They don’t shift around so you never end up with a pad out of place.
- The seat back of Thule Chariot Cross is angled backward, as well as the area where a child rests their legs. This reclines the child and the bulk or their weight away from the shoulder straps and buckle. Without the pressure of a child’s body weight to deal with, it’s much easier to access the straps and buckle and to get everything clicked into place.
While the original Cross models had an issue with sufficient ventilation, the 2019 update added front vents that increase air circulation, especially when the rain cover is on. These vents can be opened and closed.
The small mesh area in the back of the seat is blocked slightly by the storage trunk. If you store items in the mesh pocket behind the trailer seat, the air flow will be partially blocked as well.
For the average user who doesn’t plan on using the trailer in really hot or really cold conditions, the ventilation on the Cross shouldn’t be an issue. And to be honest, even in the scorching Texas summer sun, our toddler has enjoyed daily runs and bike rides in the Thule Chariot Cross.
Bottom of Trailer
The bottom of the trailer is made of the same thick nylon fabric as the sides. It has a hole to allow water to easily pass through in the event of a spill.
Not that looks should matter, but they do. With sleek lines and canvas that’s always pulled taut, the Thule Cross has an air of polished sophistication.
Even the rain cover and sunshade pull nice and tight so you’re always looking crisp and smooth, no matter the weather situation. Most other trailers (even high-end brands) have covers with a bit of slack and always end up looking a little messy.
The Cross comes with a zip-up mesh door that zips down easily and snaps into place at the bottom. It can be rolled up out of the way when not in use.
The Thule Chariot trailers (Cross and Lite) are the only trailers we know of that have a front mesh cover that completely seals shut at the bottom and in the rear. That way you can load the cabin full of books and stuffed animals and your toddler can’t chuck anything out! I’ve tripped over plenty of things that my toddler has managed to throw out the bottom or back of a closed trailer from other brands.
I’ve used a lot of trailers and been out in a lot of wind and rain. The rain cover on the Thule Cross is so effective and so easy to use! The rain cover wraps over the entire front and top of the trailer, sealing the front and sides from any potential rain or wind getting in. (The back of the trailer doesn’t have any openings for rain to get in.)
That rain cover keeps little ones super warm in cold weather (my toddler rips her hat and gloves off in 25 degree weather). I also regularly run in the rain because I know my child isn’t going to get wet… at all.
The rain guard is not permanently adhered to the trailer and attaches with elastic loops in 6 places. Compared to the standard zip-down rain cover on most trailers, the Cross’ system is more challenging to put on. Also, because it’s removable, it could easily be lost or forgotten and may not be available if you need it unexpectedly.
However, it’s still the most effective rain cover on the market. And you don’t have to look at it all the time if you’re not using it. Just keep it stored in the rear trunk of the trailer.
Proper ventilation is limited with the rain cover on, which will likely result in the trailer fogging up on cold days. However, the front vents in the newer models of the Cross definitely help mitigate this issue.
This might just be our favorite feature of this entire trailer, which is saying a lot because every part of its design is incredible. Snapping onto the front of the trailer, the sunshade moves up and down on a track system. It’s much longer than Burley’s sunshades, offers much more protection, and is much easier to use.
The sun guard, however, does not cover the top viewing window of the trailer. Considering the Cross is one of the only trailers to have a top viewing window, is not surprising that the sun guard doesn’t cover it. To compensate, the viewing window is covered by two layers of mesh for added shade. These mesh layers also create a pocket, which although designed to store the screen door when not in use, could easily hold a small towel or shirt for complete shade.
The Cross doesn’t have a large storage area, but it makes the most of the space it has. The main storage area is in the trunk which is separate from the body of the trailer and has an elastic cover. It folds up flat when not in use, latching to the frame to stay closed which provides more legroom for strolling and jogging.
The seats cannot recline when the trunk is folded up, but as said previously, the seats are already so reclined in their natural position that this probably won’t be much of an issue. With a 34″ inseam, my feet occasionally hit the trunk when walking with the stroller if it was not folded up, but it wasn’t a problem when running.
Inside the trunk, there is one large storage space, a smaller interior pocket, and two inside loops meant for holding the jogger wheel arms. On the back of the trailer itself, there is a mesh pocket that is big enough to hold diapers, wipes, jackets, etc. Inside the chassis, there are also small pockets on both sides for snacks and sippy cups that are accessible to your child.
While the storage capacity of the Cross is significantly less than the Burley D’Lite, we’ve found that for our family, the storage is sufficient. If you know that you need to haul a ton of stuff (for example, bikebacking or very long trips), you may want to consider a Burley trailer for its much larger cargo area.
Storage also Includes Pockets on Inside and Back of Trailer
Conversion Kit Storage
Another unique feature of the Cross (and Lite) is the onboard storage of its main conversion kits. The stroller wheels and the trailer arm can all be stored in or on the trailer without taking up any storage areas. The stroller wheels attach upside down on the front wheel guards and the trailer arm snaps into place on the side of the trailer.
The jogger arms and wheel can also be stored onboard. The jogging arms are designed to be stored in loops found inside the trunk, while the wheel is strapped to the outside of the trunk. One of the jogger arms, however, doesn’t fit through the inside trunk loop as intended because of a blue wheel adjustment knob on the arm. The arm, instead, can be stored in the main trunk space.
The single parking brake pedal easily engages the brakes on both wheels, and there is a handy red/green indicator to show whether the brakes are on or off. I did find that many times the brakes didn’t fully disengage when releasing the pedal, and I had to fiddle with it to get it to fully release.
The contoured handlebar is fully padded and adjusts from about 36” to 44” inches off the ground. It’s easy to adjust by pushing the blue button on either side. It also folds completely to the front to be out of the way for trailer use. The raised (curved) portion of the contoured handle also makes pushing the stroller or jogger much more comfortable for my wrists as compared to the standard flat handlebar.
Cross Parking Brake & Handlebar
If you want to use the stroller with a baby, there is really nothing better than the Infant Sling! This accessory was a post-pregnancy life saver and sanity saver. For a full review on the Infant Sling, check out our article Why the Thule Infant Sling is on My (Very) Short List of Must-have Baby Products.
The Baby Supporter is designed for use in stroller and jogger mode, as it does not work while a child is wearing a bike helmet. It proves thick, plush cushioning along the back, sides, and bum. Perhaps most importantly, it also helps support your baby’s head while ensuring they sit upright. Because it’s so thick, it’s best to use from fall to spring.
Thule markets this padding for babies 6 months to 18 months. But with our own baby, we found the most ideal time to be using the Baby Supporter is from six months to around a year. After that, it’s really not necessary and can be a bit bulky.
In principle, folding the Cross is easy: push the blue buttons on either side and while holding them in, push forward on the frame. In practice, the buttons felt stiff and I found it a bit tricky to get enough leverage to push both buttons while pushing the frame forward. Those with long arms will find this easier, but I wish the buttons compressed more smoothly. There is a nifty red/green indicator to show whether the frame is locked or ready to fold.
All the accessories and attachments fit inside the folded trailer, and then the trailer latches closed. This is a big asset, as it prevents the trailer from coming apart when transporting. When we took our trailer on the plane to Canada, it made a huge difference that the trailer was latched closed and wouldn’t open on the airline workers handling the luggage. Burley trailers, by comparison, do not latch closed is this way.
Thule’s smart folding design makes it much easier to transport as compared to other brands and greatly reduces the risk of misplacing any parts while on the go. Weighing 32 lbs. as a double and 28 lbs. as single, the Cross is light for the features it offers, but not as light as many other trailers. If you are concerned about weight, the Thule Lite is a better option with the double weighing 27.5 lbs. and the single weighing 25.8 lbs.
Folded Trailer Latches Closes, Making it Easy to Transport
Whether you’re strolling, jogging, or going for a bike ride, everything about the Thule Chariot Cross will impress you. From its smooth ride to its effortless design and high-quality components, we can’t praise this trailer enough!
Its independently reclining seats is a first for trailers and greatly improves the overall functionality of the stroller mode as does its viewing window and wipe down seat cushions. Its smooth ball hitch and adjustable suspension make the trailer mode smooth and easy for both child and adult rider and the ergonomic stroller handle and straight tracking make jogging a breeze.
This top-of-the-line trailer has been meticulously designed for performance and is a pleasure to use. So while there’s no perfect trailer, the Cross single and double come as close as we’ve seen.
Click here for a full list of Thule trailer accessories.