B540 PacificThis is a review of the B540 Compass Ultra Adjustable Folding Booster made by First Years/Learning Curve.

The B540 model is very similar to the B530 (they actually share the same instruction manual) but there are a few notable differences.

  • B540 has more padding built into the cover
  • B540 headwings are 2″ deeper for better SIP and sleep support
  • B540 has EPP foam lining the headrest (B530 has EPS).  Both EPP and EPS foam are energy absorbing materials but EPP is more durable and is less likely to crack under normal wear and tear conditions.

Since they do share the same instruction manual I can tell you that both the B540 and B530 models are rated for children 30 – 100 lbs, from 38 – 57 ” tall and who are 3 years or over. This doesn’t mean that it would be an ideal choice for a 30 lb, 3 year old child but for a booster here in the US these minimums are fairly common. Still, best practice is to keep children in a 5-pt harness until they reach 40 lbs – assuming they can still fit height-wise. With that “best practice disclaimer” out of the way, let’s look at what the B540 has to offer:

  • For starters – it folds! I’m not one for gimmicks but this is actually a neat feature. You might not need to fold it often but it can be very handy in certain situations.
  • Flip-up armrests make buckling and climbing in easier (just make sure they’re down when the vehicle is moving)
  • No-gap backrest stays fully enclosed in any height position
  • 6 height positions
  • Comfortable recline angle (single position)
  • Deep supportive headrest (on B540 model)
  • Headrest fully lined with thick energy absorbing EPP foam
  • Exceptionally well padded
  • Soft plush and suede-like fabrics (on the Giraffe pattern)
  • 7 year lifespan
  • Smooth “seat-saver” bottom won’t damage vehicle upholstery
  • 2 retractable cup holders
  • May work well in seating positions with fixed, angled head restraints (more to come on that subject in another blog)

B540 foldedB540 lowest heightB540 tallest heightB540 side tallestB540 back viewB540 bottomB540 headrest EPP

Belt fit on my 5 year old, 45 lb, 44″ child was decent in both seating positions that I tried.  The lap belt portion of the seatbelt was low, touching the tops of his thighs (where it should be) and the shoulder belt was positioned correctly across his collar bone. Equally important – he said it was very comfortable and he had plenty of growing room in it.

B540 belt fit 1B540 belt fit 2B540 belt fit 3

B540 belt fit 4B540 belt fit 5B540 belt fit 6B540 growing room

Measurements:

  • Overall height:  32″
  • Seated height to top of headrest:  30″
  • Seated height to top of belt guide:  20″
  • Total width from armrest to armrest:  19″
  • Seating area width:  11″
  • Seating area depth:  13″

B540 measurement to guideB540 measurement headwing depthB540 measurement seating widthB540 measurement seating depthB540 measurement overall width

Disadvantages:

Most of these aren’t really disadvantages, but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific issues regarding the B540.

  • This is strictly a highback booster – the back is not removable.
  • The B540 & B530 cannot be used in the backseat of a small, extended cab pick-up truck.  This prohibition is clearly stated in the instruction manual.
  • There is only one, fixed, semi-reclined position for the backrest although there is a little bit of “play” in that position.
  • Although the headwings are deep – the side torso wings are very shallow.

Overall, the B540 is a well-made booster with some unique features. I like how sturdy it feels but it only weighs 10 lbs. I appreciate the fact that you need to press two releases simultaneously to change the headrest height. It’s a very simple process but it eliminates the possibility that the headrest will be lowered or raised unintentionally. It’s also a very good value for the price, which is generally under $90. Bottom line –  the B540 is definitely worth considering if it meets your needs, fits your child well and positions the lap and shoulder belt appropriately in your vehicle. As always, the best advice is to “try before you buy” whenever possible.