Hamax Outback Multi-Sport Review
Cons: Extremely heavy, large and bulky to store, not water-tight
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Our Analysis and Test Results
After hearing good things about the Hamax Outback jogging stroller from our friends at BabyGearLab, we decided to test its functionality as a bike trailer. The Outback impressed us in a number of ways, especially because it offers such a safe, comfy experience for kid passengers. Unfortunately, we were less impressed with its weight and with a few irksome design elements. Read on to find out if the Outback is the trailer for you.
The Hamax Outback was one of the top scorers in the Protection category.
Like the rest of the trailers in our test group, the Outback meets ASTM safety standards. But unlike some of the lower-end models, this trailer goes above and beyond in some important ways. It has a rock-solid aluminum frame with a seamless segment framing the front of the trailer, which has the potential to protect against front and side impacts while still giving kid passengers an uninterrupted view. The only frame setup we like better belongs to the Burley D'Lite models, which have an additional piece of aluminum framing running across each side of the trailer. The Outback's harness uses a five-point system and is very quick and simple to adjust, so it's easy to keep passengers snug and secure.
This trailer has a mesh bug shield, a plastic rain barrier, and a fabric sunshade, so you'll be able to protect your passengers no matter the weather. With the mesh front and additional mesh vents behind the seats, we found the Outback to be well-ventilated for rides on warm days. The sunshade is adequate, but its design is clunky, relying on Velcro fasteners that are tricky to line up and aren't very secure. It's also only adjustable in terms of length, not positioning. We liked the fully adjustable sun shades of the Burley D'Lite models and the Thule Chariot trailers better, but since the Outback also has UV-protected top and side windows, we still think it performs well here.
Like the Burley D'Lite models and the Thule Chariot Cross, the Outback has an adjustable suspension for passenger safety and comfort. The ride in this trailer was smooth enough that our passenger tester routinely conked out, even on rough trails. It seemed like the weight of the trailer actually helped in this area as well, since it wasn't as jumpy or responsive as lighter models.
The only area in this category in which the Outback didn't excel was riding in the rain. This was among the worst performers in our test group when we blasted it under a sprinkler for five minutes: There was significant water pooled in the footwell and the seats were partially soaked from water dripping down through the seam between the top frame and the fabric cover. This trailer will do fine over short distances in a light drizzle, but if you plan on taking your kids for long rides in gnarly weather — well, first, good for you, and second, consider a more waterproof trailer, like the Thule Chariot Cross.
From the passenger's perspective, the Hamax Outback is solid gold, which is why it scooped up perfect marks in this category.
Passengers in the Outback have a lot to look forward to: comfy seats, big windows, and plenty of room for all the toys, snacks, and cool rocks they "need" to bring along. The seats and straps in this trailer are all well-padded, and the pads can be removed and washed to prevent them from getting gross over time. The seat-back can be adjusted to a limited degree as a unit using straps accessed through the back of the trailer, which is a plus — though it's not quite as awesome as the individually adjustable seats in the Thule Chariot Cross or the Burley D'Lite X. The interior of the Outback was one of the widest in our test group, so passengers can hang out without feeling squished.
One of the best passenger features of the Outback is its flat, rubber-lined footwell, which allows kids to easily climb in and out of the trailer by themselves without tipping the whole setup over. The Weehoo weeGo also has this feature, though we found that trailer to be slightly less stable. Other trailers, most notably the Burley D'Lite models, have fabric-bottomed, sloping footwells, which make it harder for kids to get in and out without help.
While the Outback didn't provide the worst experience for bikers out of the trailers we tested, its weight really dragged it down in this category.
Make no mistake: This trailer is H-E-A-V-Y. At 44 pounds, it's more than twice the weight of our Best Bang for the Buck, the Burley Bee, and more than 30% heavier than our Top Pick for Athletes, the Thule Chariot Cross. This means that towing the trailer up even slight inclines requires a major effort from the cyclist. This depends on your fitness level, of course, but our lead tester, who rides miles every day and is accustomed to towing cargo uphill, struggled with the Outback on inclines. The weight of the trailer also made it a real challenge to tow along rough trails, even without hills.
If you can get past its weight, the Outback provides a relatively good experience for bikers. It makes virtually no noise while being towed or maneuvered, which was rare in our test group. It tracks behind the bike well, and our testers experienced relatively little lurching or other feedback between the trailer and the bike, even off-road. Thanks to its sharply bent tow arm, the Outback is easy to maneuver in tight spaces, which we found handy for navigating awkward bike rack configurations.
Ease of Use
While the Outback is fairly straightforward to use once you get the hang of it, we encountered so many little design quirks during testing that we knocked down its score in this category.
Setting up the Outback took 35 minutes from boxed to ready-to-ride, which was average for the higher-end trailers we tested. Annoyingly, attaching the wheel guards required using a screwdriver from the inside of the trailer, which was difficult given the positioning of the seats. In spite of our best efforts, we were still left with one wheel guard hanging slightly loose. We also found out the hard way that the zipper on the mesh bug shield doesn't have a stop on one side, so it came right off and was very frustrating to re-thread.
Like the Thule Chariots, setting up the Outback from its folded position is as easy as pulling the two sides of the frame into place until you hear nice, loud clicks. This was one of the simpler systems we tested. Breaking the trailer down was slightly harder since it requires pushing a button and pulling on a loop of fabric at the same time. We found that the fabric loops consistently got lost in the trailer's frame and had to be fished out. Storing the Outback while not in use was challenging due to its size and weight. It was unwieldy to carry and hard to lean upright in the garage between rides.
Like all the trailers in our test group, the Hamax Outback uses a hitch mechanism that's attached to the bike by the rear quick-release skewer. The Outback's hitch uses the same male-female design as the Allen Sport Steel and the Weehoo weeGo, and we found this design to be tricky to work with since it requires lining up the bike and trailer just right in order to connect them. The ball-and-socket hitch in the Thule models and the bracket-and-pin hitch in the Burley models were easier to use.
The Outback scored well in the versatility category due to its adjustable interior configuration and the availability of optional conversion kits for other sports.
One of our favorite features of the Outback — one it shares with our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Burley D'Lite X-- is that its seat panel can unclip from the top of the trailer to lie flat, creating a huge interior space. What will you tow with all this room? A Costco-sized load of groceries? A furry friend? All the camping equipment you need for a bikepacking adventure? An elaborate art project that needs to be delivered to your kid's school ASAP? The options are limitless, and this ability to reconfigure the interior cargo space makes the Outback a very versatile option. However, it's worth mentioning again that weight is a factor here. You may be able to load this trailer to the brim with camping equipment, but do you have the quads to haul it into the backcountry when the trailer itself weighs north of 40 pounds? For an equally adjustable interior that weighs a lot less, consider the Burley D'Lite X.
When the seat is clipped upright for towing passengers, the cargo area of the trailer is accessible through a zippered back opening. Like the Weehoo weeGo, the opening is smaller than the cargo space itself, which limits the dimensions of what you can fit back there. However, we found it pretty easy to squish two paper grocery bags side-by-side in this space, and it will definitely accommodate totes, backpacks, gym bags, briefcases, and purses. There's also a thoughtful separated pocket in this space for storing things you need to access quickly, like emergency snacks or a cell phone.
The Outback comes with a jogging conversion kit, and strolling and cross-country skiing kits are available for separate purchase. Since bike trailers were the focus of this review, we didn't test these other functions, but their availability makes this a potentially more versatile trailer.
Given that the Outback is super durable and very kid-friendly, we think it will best suit a family who plans to use it again and again for rides around town. It might also be a good choice for parents of bigger kids since it has one of the roomiest passenger areas we tested. Due to its very high weight, this trailer is not a great option for those who will be tackling hills regularly or riding over a lot of rough terrain. If you live in a flat area and kid comfort is your top priority, we bet you'll get lots of use out of this solid trailer.
At $799 MSRP, the Hamax Outback is slightly more expensive than the Burley D'Lite and is comparable to the Thule Chariot Lite. Given that the other trailers in this price range tend to excel across the board while the Outback really only shines in terms of safety and passenger experience, we think that this trailer is a little overpriced. For slightly less money, the Burley D'Lite delivers an experience that's almost as good for passengers and is vastly superior for bikers, and it's more user-friendly to boot. If you're going to be spending this kind of money on a trailer, we think you should spring for the one that makes everyone happy.
The Hamax Outback provides a safe, super comfortable ride for kid passengers, and it's built to last. Unfortunately, it's not the easiest trailer to use, and its weight presents a major downside, making it tough to tow and limiting some of its versatility. For a specific subset of users, the Outback will be the perfect trailer. For the rest, there are better options on the market.
Other Versions and Accessories
A jogging conversion kit comes included with the trailer. Strolling and cross-country skiing kits are also available but must be purchased separately.
— Joanna Trieger