Reviews Archive

Graco SnugRide 30 LX Review: History Repeats Itself in A Good Way

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Graco SR30 LX - GlacierReview of the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX  Rear-Facing Only Infant Seat

Graco’s SnugRide has been around in one form or another since 1998. That’s an honor only given to a very few carseats on the market and as the SnugRide has matured, it’s gotten more safety items—EPS foam—and better design—easier-to-install bases. Let’s see why this lightweight seat, the SnugRide 30 LX in particular, has remained a favorite of parents for so many years.

SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX Specs & Features:

  • Rear-facing only: 4-30 lbs.; 30″ or less and head must be 1” below top of seat
  • 4 harness height positions
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Thick energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Easy to remove cover is machine washable
  • FAA-approved for use in an airplane
  • 7 year lifespan before expiration

Extra SnugRide 30 ClickConnect bases are available for $49.99

SnugRides come in 2 flavors: Classic Connect and Click Connect. Unlike some ice creams, these 2 flavors don’t mix well and a Classic Connect SnugRide carrier can’t be paired with a Click Connect SnugRide base and vice versa. The “Classic” and “Click” describe the connections the carriers make to the carseat base and strollers. What’s currently available in each line?

There are 2 versions of the SnugRide 30 Click Connect: the $99 version has a rear-adjust harness while the $129 LX version has a front harness adjuster. The LX version also has a larger infant insert and includes harness strap covers. Another difference that sets the LX version apart is that it has a removable flip piece for the base that helps adjust the recline angle in 4° increments. If more recline is required, noodles may be used. This flip piece can be easily lost because it’s not connected to the base in any way, but when properly attached to the base, you will hear and feel a “click” as it snaps on. If you lose the flip piece, either order a new one from Graco or use a piece of noodle or tightly rolled towel.

SnugRide 30 LX flip piece 2 SnugRide 30 LX flip piece 3 SnugRide 30 LX base bottom SnugRide 30 LX base bottom with flip piece

SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX Measurements:

  • Harness slot heights: 6 ¾”, 8 ¾”, 10 ¾”, 12 ¾”
  • Lowest harness slot height with body insert: 6 ¾”
  • Crotch strap/buckle positions (without insert): 4”, 5 ½”
  • Internal shell height: 20”
  • Width of base footprint at beltpath: 13 ¾”
  • Length of base footprint: 17”
  • Width of base at widest point: 14”
  • Width of carrier at widest point: 17 ¼”(outside of handle)
  • Carrier weight: 7.4 lbs. with insert; 7.2 lbs. without insert

GlacierMarcoSapphire

Fit-to-Vehicle

Recline angle indicator

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Infant Carseat Review – The New Generation of Britax Safety

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Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - cowmooflageThe B-Safe 35 Elite is the newest rear-facing only infant carseat from Britax USA. Don’t confuse this new model with the original B-Safe model. The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite is a completely different seat which shares the same platform as the newly released B-Safe 35 model but offers a no-rethread harness feature not found on the standard B-Safe 35 model. For more info on the B-Safe 35 (non-elite) model, see our full review here.

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Specs & Features:

  • Rear-facing only: 4-35 lbs.; 32″ or less (1″ rule also applies)
  • No-rethread harness with 6 height positions
  • SafeCell Impact Absorbing Base
  • Enhanced side-impact protection
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions (use inner position for babies under 11 lbs. and outer position once baby weighs more than 11 lbs.)
  • 5 position adjustable base with lockoffs for simple seatbelt installations
  • Premium push-on lower LATCH connectors
  • Energy-absorbing EPS and EPP foam
  • Handle can be in any of the 4 locked positions in the vehicle
  • Large canopy
  • Easy to remove cover
  • FAA approved for use in an airplane (carrier only – base cannot be used on the plane)
  • 6 year lifespan before expiration

Extra B-Safe 35 Elite bases are available for $99.99

2015 B-Safe 35 Elite Fashions 

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - Vibe Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - cactus green Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - cowmooflageBritax B-Safe 35 Elite - red pepper center  Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - domino

Each B-Safe 35 Elite comes with a lower body newborn insert (optional for babies 4-11 lbs.), a buckle cover and harness strap covers. The buckle cover and harness strap covers are entirely optional.  If used, the infant insert cushion should be removed when the baby weighs more than 11 lbs.

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - inserts

B-Safe 35 Elite Measurements:

  • 6 harness height positions
  • Lowest harness height with lower body insert: approximately 5.5″
  • Highest harness height setting: 11.5″
  • Crotch strap/buckle positions: 4″, 6″
  • Internal shell height:  20.5″
  • Width of base at beltpath: 9″
  • Width of base at widest point: 14″
  • Width of carrier at widest point: 17.5″ from the outside of the handle
  • Carrier weight: 11.4 lbs. (according to my digital scale)

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - naked Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - naked Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - naked

Fit-to-Vehicle

Bicycle Helmet Ratings: Giro, Bell, Schwinn and Scott

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Comparison of Safe Bike Helmets for Older Kids and Adults: Bell Piston Review, Giro Revel Review, Schwinn Merge Review, Scott ARX Plus Review

In our previous blog on bicycle helmets, we covered some of the statistics involving brain injuries to cyclists.  While serious injuries are not uncommon for adults or kids, fatal injuries tend to be much more likely with increasing age.  That’s not only a big deal for tweens and teens, but especially for parents!  But how do you pick a helmet?  Here are a few tips:

  • Select one with a CPSC certified label.  This means it passed basic requirements and testing.
  • Make sure it fits correctly.  If it is too hard to adjust or doesn’t stay in place correctly, it may not be in the right spot to protect well after shifting around during a long ride.  Most helmets should fit snugly and should not move much front-to-back, side-to-side or twisting.  Have a question?  Try shopping at a local bike store and have an expert help you!
  • Select one for comfort.  If it is too hot, or pokes you or gives you a headache, you won’t wear it and it won’t protect you.  Ventilation and padding differ greatly and it’s not always the priciest models that are the best ones for you, because everyone has a different head and preference.
  • Choose a helmet for cycling or one labeled for dual or multi-sport use. Models specifically for other sports like skateboarding may not be as suitable for cycling use.
  • Select one you like.  Fashion may seem irrelevant for safety, but if you aren’t going to wear it, it won’t protect you.  Styles vary a lot, from motorcycle style with drab colors  to ultralight racing models with fancy designs.

Much like carseats, independent testing is difficult to find.  To my knowledge, only Consumer Reports® has done additional safety testing of select models in the USA.  Their ratings of 22 models are available to subscribers online and can be found in the June, 2015 issue of the magazine.  I don’t know if their testing is consistent with industry expert analysis, but much like carseats, it appears to be the only independent testing out there.

Consumer Reports also tested youth helmets.  Their top choice was the Bontrager Solstice Youth at $40, available online and at local bike stores and Trek stores.  For tweens, teens and adults, you probably need an adult sized helmet. Below, I have quick reviews on a few budget models that were recommended in CR’s ratings.  In addition to being best buys, all three received very good impact absorption scores.  All three have dial adjustments that ratchet to tighten and loosen the helmet.

Quick Reviews:

Giro Revel (Left), Schwinn Merge (Center) and Bell Piston (Right):

HelmetComparsionSide HelmetComparisonBack HelmetComparisonInside

I recently tested four helmets, ranging from $15 to $150.  Do you need to spend a fortune to protect your head, or does a bargain model work just as well?

SCOSCHE MagicMount Review

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Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.48.28 AMI have a confession to make: I use my cell phone in the car.

Before you jump on me, though, I use it in place of a navigation system. I don’t play Candy Crush while I’m driving.

The problem I’ve had, though, is finding a good way to mount my phone so I can glance over at the map. Until recently, I’ve had to keep my phone in a console down low under the dash board, meaning I’d either have to grope around and raise the phone up when I needed to see it, or I’d have to glance very far down, without even my peripheral vision on the road. Not safe.

I’ve tried a couple cellphone mounts before, the kind that stick to my windshield with a suction cup, and then have a clamp to put the phone in. I found the suction cups fell off a lot, and it was a pain to get the phone in and out of the clamp.

Then I found the SCOSCHE MagicMount system. There are various mounts available, but they all contain a powerful magnet that clings to a metal plate you stick onto your phone or set inside of your case. This means that the phone can be put on or taken off the mount in a split second.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 11.17.46 AMI chose the dashboard mount, which sticks onto the car with powerful 3M adhesive. The nice thing about this mount is that it can be placed on a horizontal or vertical surface, or even a curved surface. The face of the mount can swivel in any direction, meaning you can place it pretty much wherever you need it. There are also mounts that use the suction cup, a gooseneck that sits in a power outlet, and one that clips to a vent.

FullSizeRender-2Each mount comes with two adhesive metal plates about the thickness of a business card. The small plate can adhere directly to the back of a phone or phone case. Or, if you’re like me and aren’t thrilled with the idea of sticking something to your phone, you can simply place the larger plate (without removing the cover from the adhesive side) between your phone and its case. I worried it might not be strong enough, but it’s worked perfectly on my CandyShell case and my husband’s Otterbox.

IMG_0789  FullSizeRender

Since I needed two of the large plates (one for my phone and one for my husband’s), I ordered a replacement kit, which comes with a small and large plate for the phone, a mini-size metal plate for any other small object you might want to display, plus extra 3M adhesive for the mount. All together, the original mount and replacement kit were less than $30. Once we figured out where we wanted to stick the mount, we were installed and ready to go in minutes.

We’ve been using the MagicMount for several weeks now, and I still get a little nerdy thrill each time I pop my phone onto the mount. It’s just so easy! It’s also nice that if you’d prefer a landscape view, you can just turn your phone before sticking it on—no adjustments necessary.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 11.17.33 AM FullSizeRender-1

Here’s a video showing how easy the mount is to use:

There is one important warning: Because the mount uses a strong magnet, you shouldn’t use it if your phone case also holds credit cards. It’s fine for smart phones, though, and since the metal plate you put on the phone isn’t magnetic itself, you don’t need to worry about it co-mingling with credit cards in your purse or pocket.

Now, readers of this blog probably have two main concerns with this product, and I’ll address them.

1) What about projectiles???

Yes, in a crash, the mount and/or phone could theoretically come off. That could happen with any mount, though. I’m not sure if it’s more or less likely with this one, but so far this one hasn’t fallen off at all, which is more than I can say for my previous clamp-style suction-cup mount, or the suction cup that holds our Garmin unit in our other vehicle.

And I have another confession: My car is not otherwise free of projectiles. I try not to keep excess stuff in there, but at any given time, we have water bottles and travel mugs in the cup holders, and my kids usually have books, toys, or tablets to keep them entertained. My phone would be somewhere in the car anyway.

2) Isn’t it a distraction?

Sure, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Like I said, I’m not texting or watching movies on it. I have a map displayed, which is no different than a display on a car’s built-in screen or a stand-alone navigation unit (except that it’s better positioned, in my opinion). Can I guarantee that other people won’t misuse it? No, just like I can’t guarantee they won’t misuse any other mount, or skip the mount all together and text away while driving. Anything has the chance to be misused–it depends on the person using it.

I can’t say how well this device will hold up over time, but so far I’m loving it.

CarseatBlog was not compensated in any way for this review, not even with samples. I spent my own money, and I’d do it again…and probably will when it comes time for holiday shopping. I’ll give the gift of magnets. The SCOSCHE MagicMount system used in this review can be found for under $20 at Amazon.