While UPPAbaby is a popular name in the stroller world, this is the first time they’ve ventured into the world of car seat safety with their UPPAbaby MESA infant carseat. I was a bit apprehensive at first, simply because the first shot at something tends to have a few kinks that can be worked out in subsequent models. However, my apprehension was dead wrong. They hit this one, and they hit it right out of the park. I’m thoroughly impressed, from the installation, to the use, to the aesthetics.
MESA Specifications and details:
- For babies 4-35 lbs and 32 inches or less (1″ rule also applies)
- No-rethread harness with 5-position front-adjustable headrest
- 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
- Lowest harness slot height is about 5.5″ and highest harness slots about 10″
- Removable infant insert recommended for infants 4-8 lbs.
- Robust head wings and shell lined with thick energy-absorbing EPS foam for enhanced side-impact protection
- SMARTSecure™ system features auto-retracting lower anchor LATCH attachments
- Built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations
- Tension indicator on base – turns from red to green when base is installed tightly
- Recline angle indicators on both sides of base
- Allows European-style belt routing when installing baseless (2014 version only)
- Storage pockets in cover for keeping buckles out of the way when placing a child in the seat
- Carrier weighs 11.1 lbs
- 7 year lifespan before expiration
MESA Base – the base is very low profile and clean looking. The entire base is rounded and smooth so it won’t leave a dent or scuff in your vehicle upholstery. The blue lockoff is located in the center of the beltpath. The LATCH connectors are stored in neat little compartments and you release them by pushing a button on top of the base. That’s a nice touch because then you don’t have LATCH straps flapping around interfering with your seatbelt installation or whacking you in the shin when carrying the base. There are recline angle indicators on both sides of the base and a button on top to adjust the recline on the base (there are 4 positions). A little window above the lockoff turns from red to green when the base is installed properly. I will discuss this more in the installation section.
Extra MESA bases can be purchased separately and retail for $119.99
Currently, MESA is available in 4 fashions. Drew (Tangerine), Sebby (Teal), Lindsey (Wheat), and Jake (Black) were all named after children of UPPAbaby employees (fun fact!).
A button on top of the handle allows you to release the MESA from the VISTA or CRUZ stroller with one hand. The handle has 3 positions, all of which can be used in the car. The release mechanism to detach the carrier from the base is located on the back of the seat above the blue panel that serves as the shoulder belt guide for European-style beltpath installation when the seat is installed without the base (2014 version only)
The seat itself is fairly long front to back and should accommodate tall babies well. It measures about 28″ front to back when attached to the base and almost 26″ when installed baseless. It’s not particularly narrow and measures about 17″ wide. The base itself is a tad over 14″ wide and should puzzle well next to other seats due to its low profile. Internal seated height measures about 17.5″ tall to the top of the adjustable head rest.
Installation and Fit to Vehicle:
UPPAbaby claims that the LATCH installation on this seat only takes about 10 seconds and I will say that is accurate. As you can see in the video above, there’s not much to it and it’s as easy as they claim. Lower the recline foot until the recline indicator shows green, then push the LATCH release buttons to remove the LATCH connectors, clip them onto your lower anchors, and press down on the base. You will hear a ratcheting sound as the base tightens. Keep pressing down on the base until the tension indicator turns from red to green in the little window. That’s it! A rock solid install, effortlessly. Once it’s installed tightly, double check the recline angle indicator to be sure it’s still properly reclined. Also, UPPAbaby states that the Mesa must not be touching the vehicle seat in front of it so make sure there is at least a millimeter of space between the carseat and the back of the front seat.
Center LATCH Installations with Non-Standard Spacing: UPPAbaby allows the center seating position to be used with LATCH if the lower anchors are spaced less than 22″ apart and the seating position is approved for use with LATCH by the vehicle manufacturer. If the anchors are more than 22″ apart or the manufacturer does not approve that seating position for LATCH, then the vehicle seatbelt must be used for installation.
You can see the green window above the lockoff that indicates appropriate tightness. The gray button above it is to release the recline foot and the orange buttons on the sides are to release the LATCH connectors from their storage compartments.
To install the MESA base with a seatbelt – open the blue lockoff, thread both portions of the lap and shoulder belt through the base and under the lockoff, then buckle. Pull on the shoulder belt portion of the belt to remove all the slack from the lap belt portion and clamp the lockoff shut over both the lap and shoulder belt until it clicks. Check for tightness by tugging at the beltpath – if the base doesn’t move more than 1″ from side-to-side or from front-to-back then your MESA base is properly installed!
Inflatable seatbelts (available on certain Ford and Mercedes vehicles) are NOT approved for installation but in these vehicles you can use the lower LATCH anchors to install the MESA base instead.
The carrier attaches easily to the base. There is no jiggling around to find that sweet spot to click it in. You literally just set it there and it clicks right in like butter—if butter could click. To release the carrier from the base, pull the handle on the back of the seat and lift. This was also very seamless without any hang-ups or effort.
The MESA (2014 version only) is capable of being installed baseless with European-style belt routing and this is the preferred installation method if installing without the base. To install the carrier directly- place the carseat on the vehicle seat then thread the lap portion of the seatbelt through the blue lap belt guides and over the top of the seat. Buckle the belt and then wrap the shoulder portion around the back of the seat through the open shoulder belt guide. Ensure that the belt is snug around the seat then lock the belt by switching the retractor to automatic locking mode (if your seatbelt has this feature). Tighten the seatbelt and feed the excess webbing into the locked retractor. The carrier is installed properly if it doesn’t move more than 1” when you tug on it from side-to-side and front-to-back. You may also install the seat with standard belt routing and not use the preferred European-style routing if your seatbelt is not long enough to reach around the back of the shell.
*Please note that the toys on the handle were used to keep Declan happy during the photographic process this day. 🙂 CarseatBlog doesn’t recommend the use of toys on infant seat handles because they can become projectiles in a crash, and UPPAbaby does not approve their use with the MESA when in a moving vehicle.
Fit to Child:
I had two models for this seat. The first was my son Declan, who is 16 weeks, 13 lbs and 26.5 inches. I love the fit on him. He has the harness on the second position and actually needs the buckle in the second outward position, probably due to his fat cloth diaper butt. The harness is extremely easy to tighten on him, which is a perk to me because he HATES the tug-tug-tug other seats require to tighten instead of the one smooth movement the MESA has. The shoulder pads provide adequate protection from the harness rubbing on his neck without being big and intrusive. Sometimes I feel as though infant seat harness pads make it difficult to get a good fit on the shoulders of tiny babies, and also prevent the chest clip from being in the appropriate place; not so with this seat. The chest clip is a nice size and doesn’t swallow him. One thing that I really like is how deep the seat is. Declan has long legs, and they hang off the edge of his usual infant carseat. He can almost kick the vehicle seat already and I’m constantly whacking his feet on things when I carry him in it from the house to the car. None of this is unsafe (well, I guess whacking his feet on the doorframes isn’t the nicest thing), but I like the fact that he’s completely contained in the MESA. The head protection is close enough to his head to make me feel like it would give it the proper support in a collision, but not so close to his head that he gets annoyed.
My second model was Declan’s tiny buddy, Logan. Logan was 4 weeks, 20 inches, and 7 lbs 8 oz at the time of the photos. He isn’t the biggest fan of the buckling/tightening process so I didn’t want to retake the pictures with him in the seat using the infant support cushion that comes with the seat, but he fits amazingly well without it. In fact, I had to raise the harness up a slot to fit him properly. Even with his tiny little body, the chest clip and harness covers were not intrusive. He was adequately supported, and the recline was appropriate for a newborn, and a low birth weight one at that.
For a preemie or very small newborn, the harness strap covers should be removed. The fit on the Huggable Images preemie doll is very good. This doll represents a 4 lb., 17″ preemie. Using the lower body infant insert is recommended for babies 4-8 lbs and is necessary to get a good fit on this very tiny doll.
Adjusting the harness and headrest is a snap. Simply pull the tab at the top of the seat and push the head rest up or down. It slides effortlessly and clicks into place with each position. There are 5 height positions that range from approximately 5.5″ to 10″ tall.
Cover/Maintenance/Ease of Use:
The MESA I received was a bright (but not neon) happy orange color called the “Drew” fashion. The cover is not plush, but it’s not rough either. It’s easily wipe-able for those well-known projectile spit-ups, and is also easy to remove to machine wash (cold water, delicate cycle, mild detergent, air dry flat). The cover has these nifty little cut-outs on the sides where you can place the tongues of the buckle so you don’t have to dig them out from under the baby when you place him in the car seat. The canopy is made of a different material, is SPF 50, and can be spot-cleaned or removed completely for washing (cold water – hang to dry). It’s stretchy and pretty slick. My favorite part? The way it folds down. There is none of that obnoxious flapping around of the canopy when folded and the handle doesn’t get caught up on it. It simply folds down seamlessly against the top of the seat and almost looks like there isn’t a canopy at all.
The manual is very easy to read: the pictures are clear and the directions are easy to follow. I appreciated the additional comments of keeping children rear-facing to at LEAST two years old, and to not place bulky jackets or blankets on the child that interfere with the harness. The cleaning instructions are also very detailed, and accompanied by pictorials. There are illustrated instructions included for attaching the seat to the CRUZ or VISTA strollers. The manual is also downloadable from UPPAbaby’s website in case the paper copy is lost.
MESA is compatible with both the UPPAbaby CRUZ and VISTA strollers to create what UPPAbaby refers to as a “Performance Travel System.” Attachment to the CRUZ does not require any adapters but attachment to the VISTA does and those adapters are included in the box with the carseat. There are also MESA adapters available from Baby Jogger that make this carseat compatible with several Baby Jogger strollers. One adapter works specifically with the City Mini, GT, Elite, Summit XC & Summit X3 strollers. A different adapter is required for attachment to Baby Jogger City Select or City Versa strollers.
The UPPAbaby MESA is certified for use on aircraft, but the carrier must be installed baseless; the base is not FAA-approved. In the event of expiration or any type of vehicle crash, the MESA needs to be replaced. The lifespan of this seat is 7 years from the date of manufacture. You can find this information on the bottom of both the carrier and the base.
Extra Bases & Optional Accessories:
Extra MESA bases are sold separately and retail for around $119. A MESA carseat rain shield is available for $19.99 and also fits over the VISTA or CRUZ stroller bassinet. For sun and insect protection in warm weather there is the UPPAbaby MESA Cabana Shade for $29.99.
- 35 lbs. weight limit and tall shell to accommodate larger babies
- 4 lbs. minimum and great fit on small babies, including preemies
- Generous fold-away canopy with no excess fabric
- Small chest clip
- IMMI buckle is easy to buckle and unbuckle
- No-rethread harness with a front adjustable headrest
- Super easy LATCH installation and built-in lockoff for seatbelt installs
- Recline angle indicators on both sides of base
- Slits in fabric on cover allow buckles to be tucked out of the way when putting a child in the seat
- Cover is machine washable (cold water, delicate cycle, mild detergent, air dry flat)
- 7 year expiration allows for use with multiple siblings
- 2 year warranty with proof of purchase (keep that receipt!)
In fairness, these may not be a problem for everyone but I list some potential disadvantages that may be an issue for some parents:
- Harness is not removable or replaceable (harness can be spot cleaned using warm water and mild detergent but it cannot be removed or replaced)
- Height of the carrier increases the likelihood that the seatbelt may not be long enough for Euro belt routing when installed without base
- Carrier alone is a hefty 11.1 lbs
- Made in China
The UPPAbaby MESA is an outstanding infant seat with a seamless install, cute color options, and it fits babies of various sizes nicely, including low birthweight infants. My son (who is not a big fan of being strapped in the carseat) doesn’t fuss as much in it as he does in his current ride, and doesn’t get as angry when I buckle him up. It’s nice and roomy on the inside and the head protection slides up and down with ease to fit to its occupant. It comes with attachments to UPPAbaby’s high-end VISTA stroller and can also be used with the CRUZ (without any adapters needed) which can save you a few bucks if you wanted to use this seat as a travel system. I was highly impressed with the canopy, which I’m very picky about.
Overall, the MESA is packed with an abundance of premium safety and convenience features. There is a lot to love and for that reason MESA is now on our updated list of Recommended Carseats! Since it fits preemies and low birthweight babies so well, MESA is also on our separate list of Recommended Infant Carseats for Preemies & Multiples.
Thanks to UPPAbaby for providing this seat for review and to baby Logan for allowing me to utilize his itty-bittiness. No other compensation was provided and the opinions and comments are entirely those of CarseatBlog!
Updated: May 16, 2016