New details and pictures are courtesy of Chris Lumley at clek.  Make sure you thank him for sharing them with us!  I’m not going to attempt to cover everything that was in the clek webinar Chris presented to the CPS community earlier this week but I’ll do my best to highlight the key points.

Lower LATCH anchor limit will be 48 lbs unless your vehicle manufacturer specifies a lower limit.  After the child reaches the lower anchor weight limit, foonf will need to be installed with seatbelt.  Always use top tether (if one is available) when seat is installed forward-facing.

I asked Chris for clarification on top tether usage and we tossed some ideas back and forth.  I’ll try to summarize my understanding of the issues.  Clek would really like to mandate top tether usage for all forward-facing installs because tethering helps the seat perform optimally.  However, they don’t want to penalize consumers who may not have tether anchors in their vehicles or may not have them in the seating position they wish to place the carseat in.   Due to foonf’s open beltpath design and the built-in lockoff device for the vehicle’s shoulder belt that is mounted up high near the top of the shell – the seat still performs well in testing when installed with a (3-pt) lap/shoulder belt but no tether.  They acknowledged that the seat must pass NHTSA’s injury criteria testing (and it does) using a lap-only seatbelt or using just the lower LATCH anchors (without tethering) but they are not comfortable allowing that type of installation and will consider it a misuse.  

Keeping in mind that ALL of this is subject to change before the final production foonf is released next summer – this is how the “rules” for forward-facing appear to be shaping up:

  • If the vehicle has a top tether anchor in the chosen seating position – you MUST use it regardless of whether you are installing with lower anchors or seatbelt.  No exceptions.
  • If the vehicle has lower anchors but no corresponding top tether anchor (exemptions allowing for this type of set-up exist for convertible vehicles, school buses and vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 lbs) – you MUST use lap/shoulder belt to install.
  • If installing foonf in a seating position that has a lap-only seatbelt – you MUST use tether.  If no tether anchor is available, switch to a different seating position which has lap/shoulder seatbelt.

All in all, I think those rules are fair and won’t create too many true incompatibilities for their consumers.  Hopefully clek can find a way to really highlight the importance of using the top tether strap.  Tether usage here in the U.S. is abysmal because most parents don’t understand the important role that tethering plays in a crash.  Maybe foonf owners will be the exception?  One can only hope.

 

Foonf specs

U.S. model (now available for pre-order)

  • Rear-facing:  over 6 months old and able to hold head upright unassisted, 15-45 lbs, 25-43″ tall (ht limit may be replace by 1″ rule pending further testing – we’ll keep you posted on this)
  • Forward-facing: over 1 year old and able to walk unassisted, 20-65 lbs, 25-49″ tall

Canadian model

  • Rear-facing:  over 6 months old and able to hold head upright unassisted, 6.8-20.5 kg (15-45 lbs), 64-109 cm (ht limit may be replace by 1″ rule pending further testing)
  • Forward-facing: over 1 year old and able to walk unassisted, 10-29.5 kg (22-65 lbs), 64-124 cm tall

 

Measurements:

  • Harness heights: 5 positions ranging from 10.5 – 17.5″
  • Max shell height 26.5″
  • Seat depth: 12.5″
  • 17″ width (at widest point)
  • 13″ width (at narrowest point – base of seat with RF wedge attached)
  • 2 crotch strap positions: 6″, 7.5″
  • All harness height positions can be used for RF or FF as long as child meets all stated requirements

 

Installation details:

With recline wedge (which is required for RF installations) the seat will generally install in a recline angle range of 32 – 42.5 degrees (measured from vertical) depending on the slope of the vehicle seat cushion. However, there will always be vehicles that are exceptions.  If you aren’t able to obtain a recline of at least 30 degrees in the RF position – you will need to manually adjust the angle (presumably using a tightly rolled thin towel or a piece of foam pool noodle).  Since foonf is designed to be used for children 6+ months old who already have good head control, there is no need for the seat to be installed at or near 45*.  Having the seat installed at a more upright angle allows more room for the adults sitting up front and takes up less space in smaller backseats.  In it’s most reclined position (i.e., on a very flat vehicle seat cushion), foonf takes up about 34.5″ of cabin depth.

The seat currently does not have a recline angle indicator for rear-facing but they are “toying with” the idea of adding one so stay tuned.

Anti-rebound bar is detachable but required when foonf is installed rear-facing.

Clek has no issue with foonf installed rear-facing and touching the back of the front seat as long as the vehicle manufacturer doesn’t prohibit it and as long as it’s making light contact. If contact from the back of the front seat is causing foonf’s base to lift off the vehicle seat cushion – that would not be okay.  Translation: lightly touching front seat okay; cramming against or into the front seat – not okay.

Bottom cushion pops off for easier access to rear-facing beltpath and lock-offs.

Rigid lower anchor attachments are for forward-facing installs only. Rear-facing the seat is installed with flexible lower anchor attachments.  Not sure if non-standard LATCH spacing will be allowed for RF but I’ll check on that and update when we have an answer.  Rigid LATCH mechanism adjusts to 7 different positions.  Attachments do not pivot or rotate but have been tested extensively and prove to fit well in many different vehicles with various lower LATCH anchor locations – even those located above the seat bight.  Installing foonf forward-facing in the reclined position will help in situations where the lower anchors are situated above the seat bight.  In these cases – the weight of the child in the carseat will help the carseat make contact with the vehicle seat cushion.

There are 3 recline positions – 1 for RF, 2 for FF.

Foonf is narrow enough that it’s likely that a parent would be able to fit 3 of them across the back seat (in various RF and/or FF configuations) of a mid-sized vehicle.   When foonf is installed rear-facing it sits up high on the narrow wedge which allows for better “puzzling” with other lower-profile seats.

 

Foonf construction and safety features: “It’s a tank”

Magnesium frame with steel rods

3 layers of energy absorption on top of metal frame

R.E.A.C.T. energy management technology (Rapid Energy Absorbing Crumple Technology) – crumple zone system in foonf base extends ride-down time during the crash, lessening forces exerted on the child.  Aluminum honeycomb panels deform during crash, absorbing energy before it’s transferred to the child occupant.

Side Impact Protection (SIP) is achieved via a combination of rigid metal sub-structure and multiple layers of energy-absorbing foam.

 

Other Features:

Integrated magnets hold metal buckle tongues out of the way to facilitate easier loading and unloading.  If you’ve ever had to dig the buckle tongues out from under a child’s tush day after day – you’ll appreciate what a nice feature this really is!

CRYPTON Super Fabrics were specifically chosen because they offer permanent protection against stains, moisture, bacteria and odors. This means no liquids or bacteria can penetrate the surface of the fabric. This is the same treatment (fabrics) used on hospital beds and pet beds.  Fabrics will be removable to facilitate the clean-up process.

100% recyclable through clek’s recycling program.

9 year lifespan before expiration!

Available for pre-order now.  Estimated release in late summer 2012.  Will be available at independent baby specialty stores and hopefully at BuyBuyBaby.  If any BuyBuyBaby buyers are reading this – you need to carry this seat!  K?  I’ll add a pretty please with organic strawberries and fresh whipped cream on top!  :)