Perfect for whizzing along pavements or trucking over rocky paths, the Hauck Runner is a versatile three-wheeled bargain
- Big wheels roll well on and off-road
- Solid-feeling build quality
- Easy to adjust and fold
- Big and bulky
- Inflatable tyres at risk from punctures
- Brake is a bit awkward to use
Hauck is a family-run German business that’s been making baby products for over 90 years. The company started off making baby bassinets back in the 1930s and progressed to building prams and pushchairs in the 1970s. Fast-forward to 2019 and the Hauck Runner is bang on trend. This “sports stroller” eschews the classic, compact four-wheeled blueprint in favour of a more adventurous, go-anywhere design.
Hauck Runner review: What you need to know
The Hauck Runner is a three-wheeled stroller designed for children from birth up to four years of age. As the name suggests, its big wheels make it perfect for running around the local park, and it’s versatile enough to tackle everything from the local shopping centre to rolling fields and countryside footpaths.
However, this is not a compact, lightweight stroller. The sturdy metal frame and chunky inflatable tyres mean that the Runner weighs nearly 11kg. The upside of that is that it’s rated up to a maximum carrying weight of 25kg – most strollers top out around 15kg.
The 40cm rear wheels also make it a little bulkier than most – you’ll need to remove one or both rear wheels to fit it in smaller boots. And, while it’s easy to push one-handed and highly manoeuvrable, its length and weight make it a tad awkward to use on busy public transport.
Hauck Runner review: Price and competition
The Runner costs more than basic strollers – you can pick up a small-wheeled pushchair for rolling around town for under £100 – but it’s quite a bit cheaper than its competitors. And particularly those from the big brands.
If you’re looking for a big-wheeled three-wheeler stroller for under £200, and one that’s capable of tackling more than just a trip to the shops, there’s really not much else out there. With a list price of £200 and a street price of around £160, the Runner is fantastic value for money.
Hauck Runner review: Features and design
Open up the Runner’s sizeable box and it’s refreshing to find that there’s precious little assembly required. The chunky rear wheels pop into the axle holes with a reassuring click (and pop back out again with a firm press of a button on the end of each axle), and the padded hand rest slots into place with minimal effort. The hood is preinstalled, as is the fabric shopping basket underneath the seat. All that’s required is to inflate the three tyres with the small supplied hand pump, which doesn’t take long.
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The folding mechanism isn’t a one-handed affair, but it’s quick and easy once you get the hang of it. Take a firm grip of the handlebar and you can flick the Runner open with a strong shake, or you can just hold the two halves and pull them apart. Speaking from experience, it’s worth being careful to not put your hand somewhere where it can get squished. Folding the Runner is simple: pull up the two finger latches and it folds in half with a firm downward shove.
Overall, there’s a decent amount of adjustability – both for the pilot and the passenger. Press the two large plastic buttons on each side, and the handlebars swivel up and down, locking into place when you release the buttons. We found this made for a comfortable position for eager six-year-old pram pushers and 6ft-plus parents alike, and there’s noticeably less flex and slop than pushchairs and prams that use telescopic height adjustments.
The shoulder and waist straps have plenty of adjustability to cope with small babies and chunky toddlers alike and clip together with a firm click. The locking mechanism and straps don’t feel as substantial as the fancy ones on pricier models, but I didn’t encounter any issues during testing – they successfully prevented my occasionally unwilling 16-month-old test subject from escaping.
The rear of the seat slides easily from an upright position right down to completely flat, which makes it usable for newborns. Squeeze the little sprung clip at the rear of the seat and the two straps supporting the backrest slide through the clip and allow the seat to recline backwards. It’s not high-tech, but it works well – and you can recline your child little by little as nap time approaches, rather than unceremoniously flopping the seat backwards by a set amount. One final point: once lowered, the rear mesh panel provides plenty of airflow (and just so happens to be great for playing peekaboo), but it does also leave children rather exposed in colder conditions.
The hood folds out easily and can also be infinitely adjusted throughout its movement. The only moan is that it doesn’t provide as much coverage as some rivals. On really bright, hot days, I often had to resort to hanging a coat or pullover over the front edge to keep my little one completely out of the sun.
It’s good to see that Hauck has used tough, water-resistant fabrics for the hood, and the seat and inner sections are finished in a slightly smoother fabric to feel nicer against your child’s skin. There’s also a rain cover supplied as standard, and this just slides over the top of the hood with an elasticated hem. We do wish it actually clipped into place on the front, though, as it doesn’t fit very securely.
Hauck Runner review: Handling and performance
The foam-covered handlebars and tough metal frame combine to give the Runner a solid and sturdy feel. It feels uncommonly well-built for the money.
That solidity and those big, inflatable tyres make for a stroller that’s supremely easy to guide one-handed on pavements and smoother ground. At walking pace, control is effortless, and it takes even big bumps and potholes in its stride. Break into a jog and it feels right in its element.
The Runner eagerly takes to rougher ground, too. I’ve taken it on everything from rocky paths in the south of France to bumpy fields and bridleways in the Peak District and had a huge amount of fun in the process.
On really rough terrain it is advisable to let some air out of the tyres to give your child a smoother ride. It’s also useful that you can lock the front wheel to keep it facing forward – just flick the little grey latch under the footrest. This makes it slower to steer as it stops the front wheel swivelling left and right, but it also prevents it from getting stuck in ruts or between rocks so easily.
The seat isn’t deeply padded, but my 16kg 16-month-old test passenger absolutely loved getting into it and, crucially, slept very soundly during nap times. On one occasion, I bumped the pram up a rocky ancient road in the south of France and the little one remained soundly asleep for the duration of an hour-long walk. This is partly due to the clever design of the seat. When fully reclined, the two supporting straps allow the seat to swing slightly from side to side like a hammock, which prevents bigger bumps from being transferred directly to your precious cargo.
One downside to the large wheels, beyond the added weight and bulk, is that they raise the Runner’s centre of gravity considerably. With a heavier child sat up and holding the hand rest, the Runner can begin to become top-heavy and topple over on off-camber paths and pavements. It’s not unmanageable by any means, but I did find it necessary to counterbalance the Runner by putting weight on my opposite hand to stop it tipping. Is it a design flaw? Perhaps. Although a slightly wider wheelbase would have helped matters here, I suspect that would make the Runner a touch too bulky.
I have two other criticisms. Firstly, while those inflatable tyres roll smoothly across a wide range of surfaces, they are a bit of a pain to fix when they puncture. As I had a standard bicycle repair kit to hand, it wasn’t particularly tricky to fix a slow puncture in the front tyre. However, non-cyclists may find the repair job more of a trial, and may even need to enlist the services of a friendly local bike shop if the dreaded P-word arises.
The second criticism is that the footbrake could engage with a more positive click, and also be easier to disengage. Stomp down on the wide metal bar between the rear axles and plastic teeth slot into ratchets in the rear wheels. However, if the teeth and ratchets are out of alignment and you don’t push firmly enough, it won’t engage fully. Pricier rivals tend to use sprung footswitches for this purpose as they engage and disengage with a more positive click. Once it is locked, however, it can be a tad tricky to disengage – and particularly so for larger feet such as mine – as it’s necessary to hook your toes underneath the curved central section of the bar and pull it upwards.
Hauck Runner review: Verdict
It’s not perfect, but for under £200, the Runner is quite simply a revelation. It’s versatile, packed with sensible features and feels built to last – in fact, it feels far more substantial than some prams we’ve used from big-name manufacturers at three or four times the price.
Naturally, there are some shortcomings – it isn’t compatible with clip-in car seats, it’s a bit bulky and the rear mesh panel isn’t ideal in colder conditions, to name a few – but those are easy to forgive. If you’re looking for a go-anywhere stroller with plenty of growing room, the Hauck Runner is one we’d strongly recommend.