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Clek Fllo Review with 2016 Clek Fllo Updates

fllo-flamingoInnovators in carseat coolness, Clek doesn’t disappoint with its latest to the convertible seat lineup: Fllo. Fllo will always be the princess to Queen Foonf, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t mighty in her own right. Both have abundant safety features to keep your child’s crown safe. Read on to find out what makes Fllo majestic in her own right.

Weight and Height Limits

Rear-facing: 14-50 lbs., 25-43”, able to sit upright alone, head is at least 1” below top of headrest

Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs., 30-49”; age 1 minimum, age 2+ recommended

Fllo Overview
  • Retails for about $70 less than Foonf; the Fllo is typically $379 or less at Amazon.
  • Optional steel anti-rebound bar designed to limit rebound in the aftermath of a crash (required in Canada)
  • Built-in lockoffs for both rear- and forward-facing
  • Rigid sub-structure: Fllo has a steel sub-structure that prevents twisting in a crash
  • Structural headrest: headrest is lined with energy absorbing foam and connected to seat frame with steel rods
  • Energy absorbing foam both inside and outside the frame of the carseat
  • Designed for extended rear-facing: designed to accommodate rear-facing kids to age 4
  • Recline adjustable based on child’s weight
  • Adjustable crotch strap: crotch strap has 2 different lengths and 2 different positions to accommodate bigger kidsEACT
  • EACT Safety System: The Energy Absorbing Crumple Technology Safety System is an aluminum honeycomb that sits under the child, designed to absorb crash forces.
  • Narrow footprint: Fllo is one of the narrowest convertibles currently on the market
  • Crypton Super Fabrics: 8 Crypton covers that are waterproof, wipe clean, and resist bacteria; Crypton is also GREENGUARD Select Certified and free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants (Drift not included)
  • FAA-approved

 

fllo-driftfllo-inkfllo-shadowfllo-slatefllo-tankfllo-thunderfllo-flamingo

fllo-tokidoki-all-overfllo-tokidoki-rebel

Fllo Measurements
  • Harness slots: 10”, 11 ½”, 13”, 14 ½”, 17”
  • External widest point: 16 ½”
  • Shell height with headrest: 26”
  • Shoulder width: 13”
  • Crotch strap depth: 4”, 6”
  • Seat depth: 12”
  • Seat weight: 25.8 lbs. without anti-rebound bar; 28.9 lbs.— with anti-rebound bar
2016 Clek Fllo Updates
  • Increased comfort padding to the seat cushion, side and back panels, and the head rest
  • New harness covers have additional comfort padding as well, are longer, and now attach with snaps
  • Rear-facing lockoffs have been redesigned to be easier to open and close, and the rules on how to use them have changed. When installing a Fllo with redesigned lockoffs:
    • Use *both* lockoffs for both seat belt and LATCH installations; if a plastic button or other seat belt feature keeps the lockoff from closing, then use one lockoff.
    • Make sure the seat belt or LATCH belt is placed under both forward belt tabs in the belt path.
    • Leave the vehicle seat belt in unlocked mode; don’t pull the shoulder belt out the full length to switch the retractor to locked mode.
    • If you would like new rear-facing lockoffs for your seat, they are available for $5 shipping/handling through customer service and are easy to replace.

old vs. new Clek lockoffs 2016 Clek lockoff

Clek has also updated their crotch strap policy:

  • Place the crotch strap so it’s in the slot closest to and even with, or behind, the child. There should not be any space between the child and the crotch strap.
  • The longer length strap may be used in *either* crotch strap slot, though Clek does recommend a 22 lbs. minimum before switching to the longer length. This change is retroactive as long as the 22 lbs. weight minimum is observed.
  • The crotch strap must be routed through the same slot in the seat cushion as it routed in the carseat shell.

Clek has a new vehicle seat protector available called the Mat-thingy. It is approved for use with only Clek carseats and is a thin rubber mat that protects the seat bottom and “waterfall” only.

2016 Colors (all Crypton Super Fabrics): Noire, Shadow, Tank, Ink, Flamingo, Capri, Thunder, Slate, Tokidoki Space

 

Installation

Anti-Rebound Bar

Clek Fllo - ARBThe steel anti-rebound bar (ARB) is used for rear-facing installations and is entirely optional (though required in Canada). It’s used to prevent rotation into the back of the vehicle seat in the split seconds after a crash has occurred. Some manufacturers use rear-facing tethers to accomplish anti-rebound—Britax, Diono, and Combi—but Clek feels the ARB is the way to go. In fact, the overall feeling in Canada is very against rear-facing tethers and pro-ARB and that’s one reason why Clek, a Canadian company, uses them.

Using the ARB does increase the amount of front-to-back space you’ll need for your rear-facing installation by about an inch and a half. Think of it as a kickstand that keeps your Fllo from falling into the back seat in a crash and it sticks out some. This, in turn, leads to more legroom—not a bad thing if you have a leggier or older child who needs the room. In fact, my models had room to fold their legs up criss-cross-applesauce and still didn’t touch my back seat. If you need the Fllo more upright, don’t use the ARB. You’ll still be pleased with the amount of rear-facing legroom. Or tweak the location of where it hits the back seat. There’s not just one way of installing it.

Legroom created by ARB Legroom without ARB

Clek Fllo to front seat difference without ARB

Installation with the Seat Belt

As I was thinking about how to write this portion of the review, I had to decide whether or not to compare the Fllo to the Foonf. As a parent, you may not be in the market for a Foonf or have never used one. On the other hand, they’re very similar so if you already have a Foonf and you want something like it but don’t want to sell a kidney to get it – just know that the installation of both seats is very similar. I’ll try to take it easy on the comparisons, but still give you a flavor for how they’re similar and different. If you’d like to read my complete Foonf review, it’s here.

Installation with the seat belt for rear-facing was easy and like the Foonf, I really preferred installing the Fllo with the seat belt rather than with LATCH. It was easier for me to pull the shoulder belt tight while pushing the carseat down than for me to pull the LATCH belt tight. For rear-facing, the seat belt is routed through either blue lockoff—only use one. The lockoff handles are long and provide extra torque for closing. The lockoffs have a tendency to pop open if there’s too much tension on the seat belt. If that happens to you (it did to me), loosen the seat belt just a smidge and close the lockoff again and it should be fine. Remember, as long as the carseat moves less than 1” when you tug at the belt path, it’s installed properly. Or, if you want, you can skip the lockoffs completely and lock your seat belt’s retractor instead.

Finding a rear-facing recline angle is taken to an art form for the Fllo. It has 2 recline level lines based on weight but as long as you’re anywhere in between them and your child is comfortable, you’re golden.

Clek Fllo - rf level lines

The anti-rebound bar affects recline angle, as does where you place Fllo on the vehicle seat. A tightly rolled towel can be used to get a proper angle as well, but absolutely NO POOL NOODLES are allowed. And don’t forget to flip that recline foot forward for rear-facing and back for forward-facing. Yeah, you will time and again. But don’t. When Fllo is reclined to the max recline angle, my front passenger seat had to be moved all the way forward. There’s no way it could be installed behind the driver in my 2011 MDX, but that’s also true of just about every rear-facing convertible seat I can recall installing in this vehicle.

The base is NOT allowed to hang over the edge of the seat cushion at all so keep that in mind if you have shallow vehicle seats. If you encounter this issue try ditching the ARB and/or installing the seat more upright to get 100% of the base over the vehicle seat.

Clek Fllo RF with ARB Clek Fllo RF without ARB

Clek Fllo bottom Clek Fllo recline foot rf

For forward-facing, the seat belt is routed through a single red lockoff on the side opposite of the buckle. Don’t forget to attach the top tether to an approved vehicle tether anchor! Using the tether isn’t required when installing the Fllo with a 3-point lap/shoulder seat belt, but it *is* required when installing forward-facing with the lower LATCH connectors or using just a lap belt. Tethering provides such an enormous safety benefit that you should always try to position the forward-facing carseat in a spot with a tether anchor if possible. If you install the Fllo using a lap/shoulder seat belt without using the tether AND your child is under 40 lbs., you MUST use the belly pad. Aw heck. Use the tether, eh. And the belly pad. As with most tall carseats, I removed my vehicle’s head restraint so it didn’t interfere with my installation and push the carseat forward. You may be able to turn your vehicle head restraint around so you don’t have to worry about losing it.

Clek Fllo FF Clek Fllo FF lockoff Clek Fllo FF 2

Installation with LATCH

There are two separate LATCH weight limits with the Fllo. Once your child reaches these weight limits, you must switch from using LATCH to using the vehicle seat belt for installation.

Rear-facing LATCH weight limit: 35 lbs.

Forward-facing LATCH weight limit: 40 lbs.

For rear-facing installation, the Fllo has one flexible LATCH strap and the connectors are the deluxe push-on style connectors. There are designated storage areas under the seat pad to store the LATCH connectors and a spot on the shoulder harness access panel to store the tether strap when not in use.

Clek Fllo LATCH storage

If you install the carseat with the lower LATCH connectors for forward-facing, you must switch to using the seat belt when your child reaches 40 lbs. Clek requires use of the top tether in conjunction with LATCH for forward-facing use.

Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing:

Clek does NOT allow center LATCH installation where the seating position is not designated as a LATCH seating position and where lower anchors are spaced more than 11” apart.

Tether

The tether is NOT to be used in the rear-facing position. Use the top tether whenever the carseat is installed forward-facing, whether installed with the vehicle seat belt or the lower LATCH anchors. When Fllo is forward-facing, attach it to a vehicle manufacturer-authorized tether anchor whether you’re installing with LATCH connectors or seat belt.

Inflatable Seat Belts

Clek has determined that the Foonf cannot be installed with inflatable seat belts found in some Ford, Lincoln, and Mercedes vehicles, and in some airplane seat belts.

Fit to Child

The Fllo does very well fitting a wide range of kids from 14-65 lbs. In January, Clek will offer an Infant Thingy insert to take the rear-facing weight range down to 5 lbs. (watch for an upcoming Infant Thingy mini-review!). Because of the clean, modern lines, it’s a roomy seat for the biggest kids and they appreciate it. You can see in the pictures that there’s plenty of room for my 4 year old rear-facing models and loads of legroom. My 3 year old forward-facing model had another harness slot to go before outgrowing by height.

Quinn is 4 and weighs 44 lbs.
Addie is 4 and weighs 43 lbs.
Sullivan is 3 (only a few weeks from turning 4) and weighs 48 lbs.

Quinn in Fllo rf side Quinn in Fllo rf Quinn in Fllo rf straight

Clek Fllo Addie RF Clek Fllo goofy Addie RF

Clek Fllo Sullivan FF

Cover Padding and Maintenance

It’s hard to believe there’s any padding on the Fllo because of the clean lines and narrowness of the carseat, but it’s there. Somehow Clek has managed to make the Fllo have not only one of the narrowest outside measurements on the market, but it also has roominess on the inside AND it’s comfortable to boot. I asked my models how comfy the seat was. They loved it because it was roomy and “comfy” and they loved that they could buckle themselves in. I couldn’t get any more out of them—hey, they were 4 and 5. I love that they can practically eat the cover because it’s free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. And you know some kids like to gnaw on covers ;).

Keeping the cover clean should be easy. With the Crypton fabric, spills should wipe up fairly easily. The fabric on the seat cushion is removable and the seat back cover is as well. To remove the seat back cover (“jacket”, if you want to be cool), you’ll need a standard sized phillips head screwdriver and a little fearlessness to know that you aren’t going to break the sides as you yank them off, then snap them back on again. It’s time-consuming and something you’ll only do because the Fllo has been doused in something truly foul. Of course, you’ll follow the directions that Clek sends you. Fortunately, Clek has their Fabric Cleaning + Stain Remover Kit, which includes a product for cleaning protein-based messes and one for dye-bases messes. The cleaning kit works well and leaves the fabric very fresh-smelling. The 2015 Drift fashion is not a Crypton fabric and is priced accordingly, though all 2016 fabrics are Crypton fabrics. According to the Clek representative, it has not been tested yet to know whether or not it is free of the same chemicals as the Crypton fabric.

Ease of Use

Crotch Strap Adjustment: There are two crotch strap positions located approximately 4” and 6” from the back of the seat. The strap adjusts by turning it sideways and sliding it forward or back. There are 2 separate crotch strap lengths sewn together to the buckle (picture below); this way you don’t lose a buckle when your child grows larger. It’s a rather ingenious design. The longer crotch strap length can ONLY be used for a child in the outer slot position. Make sure you don’t put both strap anchors into the slots at the same time. Yes, it can be done. No, don’t do it.

Foonf crotch strap

Of note, the buckle pad must always be used until the child reaches 22 lbs. It also must be used if you install Fllo with the lap/shoulder seat belt forward-facing without the tether and your child is under 40 lbs. Be careful not to lose it as you remove the seat cushion to install the anti-rebound bar.

Drink Thingy cupholder (optional accessory- sold separately):  May be used on either side when Fllo is installed rear-facing using LATCH. When installing using the vehicle belt, the cupholder may only be attached on the side of the seat the buckle is closest to. When using the Drink Thingy with a rear-facing seat, install the seat first, then attach the Drink Thingy according to instructions.

9 Year Expiration and Crash Guidelines: The Fllo has a 9-year expiration; the date of manufacture sticker is on the lower back of the seat.  Clek specifies to replace the carseat after any crash.

Airplane Certification: The Fllo is FAA-approved for use in aircraft. The sticker with the RED text stating that it is approved for use on aircraft is on the bottom of the seat and if you’re using it rear-facing, the rear-facing foot will be covering it. That’s a good thing to note if you travel with the seat so you can be prepared to show airline officials if they ask.

Clek Fllo FAA sticker

It also is a heavier restraint, so if you do travel with it, you’ll want to use a luggage cart or the Clek Weelee to avoid having to carry it. *A note about the Weelee: *I* fit in the Weelee! This is not your ordinary carseat storage bag for sure.

 weelee weelee with foonf

Fllo vs. Foonf
fllo vs foonf

If you click on the 4 arrows in the upper right corner which are visible after clicking on this graphic, you will see the graphic in full size. Alternatively, you can right-click and save it.

 

Clek Fllo back-2 Clek Foonf back-2 Clek Foonf Fllo sides

Fllo Advantages
  • 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit to hold the heaviest kids
  • Anti-rebound bar
  • Steel sub-structure
  • EACT Safety System: aluminum honeycomb designed to absorb crash forces
  • Structural headrest lined with energy absorbing foam and connected to seat frame with steel rods
  • Tall top harness slots
  • One of the narrowest convertibles currently on the market
  • Deep seat pan for kids with long legs
  • 9-year lifespan
  • Crypton fabric allows for easy cleanup of messes
  • Excellent customer service
  • Recycle through Clek’s recycling program
Disadvantages
  • Heavy seat: Fllo weighs close to 29 lbs. with the ARB
  • Assembly: Like the Foonf, using the Fllo rear-facing takes a methodical approach. This isn’t a carseat you can pull from the box and think you can assemble without reading the directions.
  • Must manually adjust harness height. I’d like to see a no re-thread harness adjuster on a carseat in this class.
Conclusion

As you can see, there are advantages to being a princess. Princess Fllo has the flexibility of the flip foot instead of Foonf’s recline base, which reduces visibility problems for drivers, the option of using the anti-rebound bar (required in Canada), and the option of using the rear-facing lockoffs for seat belt installations. Need 3-across? Not a problem since Fllo is so narrow on the outside and roomy on the inside (and won’t cost the price of a used car to get it). The Crypton fabric seals the deal, especially if you have messy eaters or potty trainers in your car. Fllo doesn’t have rigid LATCH connectors like Foonf, but the deluxe push-on style LATCH connectors are easy to use and when stored, you don’t even know they’re there. Now your coach can truly travel in style with your prince or princess on board!

For additional information see Clek’s website:  http://clekinc.com/support/fllo/

Thank you to Clek for providing the Fllo for our review. No other compensation was provided and all opinions expressed in this review are those of CarseatBlog.