The phil&teds Navigator review
Phil&teds don't do things by halves, hence the release of two pushchairs at virtually the same time. The Dot is their petite explorer and the Navigator is their new explorer. Thankfully that's not the end of the story though....
Phil&teds have an immediately recognisable style and a limited colour range that keeps their brand unique. However, over time a necessary evolution is happening to phil&teds and the Navigator is the pioneer of some new colour options. Of course, the trademark cherry and black are still prominent but one of the good things about the Navigator is that you can combine and clash the colours to really funk up your buggy. The liners for the single seat and the double kit can differ and then the canopy can be different again; with four colours to choose from the combinations are limitless.
What’s in the box?
Navigator frame with main seat
The RRP of the Navigator is £459
Cocoon RRP £57
Face to Face RRP £49
Single mesh cover RRP £25
Double mesh cover RRP £31
Single storm cover RRP £18
Double storm cover RRP £25
Seat liner RRP £30
Double kit liner RRP £30
SNUG Carry Cot RRP £139
Carry cot sunhood RRP £30
Travel Bag RRP £62
Cup Holder RRP £11
Bottle Holder RRP £18.30
Bebe TS adaptors RRP £35
Maxi-Cosi Mico TS adaptors RRP £35
The canopies and seat liners can be bought in Cherry, Black, Sky or Golden Kiwi.
Well, if you were a fan of the phil&teds Explorer, then you are going to love the Navigator because it’s virtually identical but with bells on! If you visit the phil&teds website and find the Navigator, then click on the compare tab, you will see that they compare like-for-like except with a few improvements, such as the tail-free harness and the recline on the double kit. The Navigator is not compatible with the Peanut carrycot but it shares a new carrycot with little sister Dot, called the SNUG.
But if that was all, we could simply duplicate the review of the explorer and leave it at that. However, the Navigator can perform one trick that no other phil&teds currently can – it has a parent facing option - definitely something to get excited about!
So let’s take a closer look at their latest pushchair – the Navigator
Delving into the basics of this good looking three wheeler, the first and most vital element is the frame. As with most of the phil&teds range it is predominantly made from a strong, indestructible tubular structure that absorbs the impact of all terrains so that the bumps aren’t passed on to your passenger.
The attractive, 29cms, white-walled, air tyres go a long way in helping to soak up the impact of any uneven ground as well as making it look way too-cool-for-school! The front wheel can be locked off so that it doesn’t swivel by simply rotating a dial under the footplate.
On the right of the back axle is the foot brake. It gives the Navigator a good grip in stop mode, aided by the deep tread on the tyres. It might be a little stiff on the release, but it won’t take your toes off if you’re only wearing flip-flops.
A large basket is slung from the back axle to a point under the front of the seat. Even though it is relatively shallow at the back, it deepens as it goes forward, with mesh netting at the sides to stop anything escaping.
The frame reaches up from the rear wheels, joining the shafts that support the seat at a 90 degree angle. At this junction sits the sockets for the foam covered bumper bar which slots into place with a rudimentary sprung button. It is a fixed bumper bar without a gate opening hinge; a real disadvantage when it comes to loading and unloading your child because it’s normally a two handed procedure, one that you don’t want impeded by a handful of bumper bar!
The long shafts that extend down from the handle support the fabric of the seat and curve in a ‘V’ at the bottom to form the footplate. Although the distance from the seat edge to the footplate is only 8-10cms, children instinctively sit with their knees up and feet perched comfortably.
The handle is very flexible, allowing adjustment in 9 positions over180 degrees. It rises in a small peak in the centre which makes one-handed cornering extremely easy.
The Navigator can be folded with the main seat attached to the frame, the SNUG and the Face-to-Face seats must be removed before folding.
Tucked under the front of the seat is the folding control. Slide one of the top red buttons while squeezing the long button underneath. The top half of the seat will then drop towards the rear wheels. This can be quite a sudden action and can take you by surprise if you don’t keep it under control.
The frame can then be picked up by the bumper bar at which point the front wheel swings in towards the rear axle to complete the fold. An auto-lock takes care of things coming adrift.
To open, release the auto-lock and hold onto the bumper bar and the handle (to stop it getting dirty). As you pull up the handle, the front wheel will roll away from the rear wheels to form a sturdy, 3-point base. When the handle reaches the top, wait for the click and you’re ready to go.
Canopy and seat
The canopy on the Navigator is a good size and it’s able to ‘follow the sun’ to offer shade even if you are heading into the sun. The only problem with this is that, should your toddler get wind of this ability, you are likely to participate in games of canopy tug-o-war competitions from time to time whether you want to or not. The saving grace is that it does offer up a little more resistance than previous incarnations.
On the first of the two large segments are pockets either side, for immediate essentials such as keys, cash, wipes etc. It certainly combats the canopy balancers, like myself, who inevitable end up dropping bits and bobs that have been precariously balanced on top only to drop off at some point in your journey.
The front segment of the canopy contains a flip-out sun mesh that extends the canopy by 14cms. I’m not sure just how useful this is but any extension is better than none at all – the bigger the better when it comes to protection from the sun.
The seat of the Navigator is covered in a soft-touch cotton fabric that helps to keep children from overheating. The ventilation to the rear of the seat also allows air to circulate behind them. The seat liner is thick enough to ensure this isn’t a negative point in the winter months.
I love the new tail free, 5-point harness on the latest phil&teds models. Not only does it stop straps getting fiddled with, but it keeps everything tidy. The brilliant mechanism that phil&teds employ in harness height adjustment, is the best.
The strap can be disconnected to leave a plug with a short tail in the seat. Twist the plug from the rear of the seat and relocate it to your new position, then simply re-attach the harness; the simplest solution I’ve seen on any pushchair. The harness is padded at the chest and crotch and as with their other newbie, the Dot, the crotch strap can also be moved up to an alternative position to secure an infant more comfortably.
Sadly I’m not a fan of the main seat recline on the explorer and I’m afraid the Navigator fares no better. The clip at the rear of the seat can be undone to make the seat fall from upright to fully flat in one action. If you want anything in between, you have to attach the rear clips to those on the side, then use the D-ring and strap to achieve the angle you want. In my experience, my child would probably not want to lie fully flat, but would definitely be wide awake when I’d finished faffing around with the clips and straps combo. Such a shame when they manage to make it fiddle free on the double kit but an undignified rigmarole on the main seat.
If you are using the seat in fully flat mode, an extra window panel is provided to button into the rear of the canopy which stretches down to the head of the seat. In one way it’s handy to be able to see your baby, especially with the non-existence of a window in the canopy, but where it might limit draughts, it doesn’t limit light because it’s completely transparent, letting full daylight in on a sleeping baby.
The SNUG carrycot
The Snug is the new carrycot that fits on a wide range of the phil&teds pushchairs, including the dot. At £139, it's not cheap, but you can definitely tell where your money has been spent; it is gorgeous. It is well finished all round and I particularly like the canopy which envelopes the top of the bed making sure your baby is ultra protected from the elements. Surprisingly the rain cover is included with the Snug and puts a tight seal around the whole carrycot with vents in the side to allow air to circulate. It has a zip that lines up with the rim of the canopy; this can be used to access your child or to open up in between showers.
The Face-to-Face seat
One of the criticisms raised against many all-terrain pushchairs is that they don’t have a parent facing option. In the UK, this would deter many parents from parting with their pounds because it’s common to have your child facing you for longer here.
Phil&teds come to the rescue with the face-to-face seat. By removing the main seat – a matter of two zips and 4 poppers – easy, the brackets for the face-to-face seat can be clipped to the frame and the seat slotted in on top.
Phil&teds bill this as a seat for those who have outgrown their car seat or carrycot but are not quite ready to face the world, therefore it’s quite small. To give you an easy comparison, it’s the same size as an average bouncer seat that you would have in the lounge. In fact the face-to-face can be transformed into something similar using the deckchair legs provided in the box.
With this in mind, the seat is just fabric around a frame with a 5-point harness attached. Luckily it does have accessories that will prevent the cold coming through, such as a lambswool liner or the liners that also fit the double kit. There’s also a snuggle and snooze foot muff which looks super cosy and very necessary in the UK. If you use the face-to-face during inclement weather, the double kit rain cover is needed.
The seat does not recline but is set at a comfortable angle of 45 degrees. The harness is adjustable over two heights.
One of the points that phil&teds aren’t shouting about enough in my opinion is that the face-to-face can also fit on the Classic and the Explorer, giving a new twist to their older models too.
The Double kit
Converting your single pushchair into a double pushchair is double easy. The double kit can be mounted on the chassis in two positions, above or below the main seat.
You are more likely to use the double kit above the main seat if you have a baby that still requires a fully flat position; they can sleep in the main seat while a toddler fills the double kit. The seat sits in the sockets previously occupied by the bumper bar and has a strap to secure it to the handle shaft. The seat pad on the main seat can then fold up to attach to the bottom of the double kit to completely enclose the baby beneath.
You are more likely to use the double kit beneath the main seat if you have one toddler and one 6month old. The mounting pegs need to be removed from the tubular frame of the double kit before sliding it onto the pegs at the sides of the basket.
When the double kit is mounted below the main seat, it can be reclined using the handle at the top of the seat. It's convenient and easy to do, though it doesn't recline that far. The harness is adjustable in three shoulder height positions using the same procedure as used on the main seat.
The Navigator is not hugely different from it’s previous incarnation, the Explorer, but it’s accessories make it the new kid on the block.
The SNUG carrycot is beautiful and although I love the cute Peanut carrycot, the SNUG is a larger and more grown-up product.
The Face-to Face seat is a brilliant idea, and given the ease of use, it’s a winner. It could probably do with a little more structure, but the concept will be well received, especially in the UK.
The double kit is getting more and more sophisticated with each new model and although the recline does not offer a huge change in angle, the mechanism is hassle free, unlike that of the main seat with its clips and straps.
The Navigator itself is a fine piece of mechanical engineering which in some parts is genius. For instance the fold is easy, if not a little sudden, but it’s one of those things that you can do without thinking about. Attaching the face-to-face seat or the double kit does not need instruction; even removing the main seat won’t tax your grey matter. However I’m not keen on the spring buttons that slot everything together, they are little basic, but at this level of build and simplicity it means there’s very little could go wrong – this is a pushchair that you will be able to sell on when you are finished with it because it’s virtually indestructible.
The only points on the Navigator that warrant any criticism are the main seat recline and the fixed position bumper bar, the rest is functional and practical. With each evolution, the tweaks make their all-terrains more and more appealing.
I understand that the main accessories must be bought separately because they aren’t all applicable to everyone’s needs but not including a rain cover in your initial purchase seems a little stingy to me. Our weather is reliably unpredictable so a rain cover is a necessity, not a luxury.
I love the new colour schemes that have been introduced with the Navigator and the Dot and I hope that it’s a sign of things to come. A little more colour on this already recognizable brand would really spice things up. But I don’t think they should never change the colour of the chassis because it will far outlast the fashions of the time, plus it can be redressed in years to come with the fabrics of the next generation.
We give the Navigator 4.5 out of 5 stars
Age range: Newborn to 5 years
Open size: L130 x W59 x H100 cms
Closed size: L76 x W59 x H30cms
Wheel dimensions: 29cms
Main seat dimensions: H56 x D23 x W28cms
Double kit dimensions: H48 x D19 x W29cms
Face-to-Face dimensions: H46 x W22 x D12cms
SNUG dimensions: L79 x W29 x D21cms