Resources Archive

Happy Earth Day 2016!

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recycle-carseatToday is Earth Day, the day we love our planet and reduce, reuse, and recycle without abandon. To celebrate, we thought we’d share our list of carseat recycling centers found around the country. This way, we can keep carseats out of landfills when we can and put them to better use after they’ve been crashed or aged out.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=156221

Did you know that carseat companies recycle too? Dorel, parent company of Cosco, Safety 1st, Eddie Bauer, and Maxi-Cosi, has a zero-landfill manufacturing facility in Columbus, IN. Clek offers a recycling program for their carseats after you are done with your Clek seat. And many companies recycle the leftover plastics from the manufacturing process. So bit by bit we’re making progress for the world our kids will inherit.

2016 Britax Pioneer Review Update

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IMG_1141When the Britax Pioneer first came out, it was kind of the overlooked little sister of the Frontier ClickTight and Pinnacle ClickTight. It was the Jan Brady of combination seats: perfectly capable but not as talented or popular as Marsha. Not only did the Pioneer lack the ClickTight features, it also had harness and booster limits significantly lower than the other two seats.

Well, a lot has changed since the Pioneer first debuted.

It still doesn’t have the ClickTight feature (which is okay–that’s what makes it a more affordable option), but it now has a top harness height, standing height limit, and seated booster limit equal to the Frontier and Pinnacle, making it very attractive as a combination seat option.

Britax Pioneer 70 - KiwiBack in February 2014, Britax raised the Pioneer’s harness limit from the original 18.5 to 19.5 inches. For 2016, the Pioneer’s harness height is now raised to 20.5 inches, putting it on par with its big sisters that are the tallest 5-point harness seats on the market at this time. The seated booster height also increased from 22 to 23 inches to match the other seats.

Note: Although the changes to the harness height were effective as of October 2015, cartons and user guides might lag a bit behind. In the US, the white cartons were updated in January 2016. The kraft carton and user guides were updated in February. In Canada, the user guide and labels were updated in February. The cartons won’t be changing until April.

With these updates, there are more similarities than differences between the Pioneer and Britax’s other combination seats:

 

2016 Pioneer 70

Frontier 90

Pinnacle 90

Height range: harness

30-58”

30-58”

30-58”

Height range: booster

45-62”

45-62”

45-62”

Weight range: harness

25-70 lbs

25-90 lbs

25-90 lbs

Weight range: booster

40-110 lbs

40-120 lbs

40-120 lbs

Age minimum

2

2

2

Top harness height

20.5”

20.5”

20.5”

Top booster height

23”

23”

23”

No-rethread harness

YES

YES

YES

Front-adjust recline

YES

YES

YES

Safe Cell base

YES

YES

YES

Steel reinforced shell

YES

YES

YES

ClickTight system

NO

YES

YES

HUGS

NO

YES

YES

Side Impact Cushions

NO

NO

YES

The stats:

  • Age minimum, harness: 2 years
  • Harness limits: 25-70 lbs, 30-58″ (2016 Models)
  • Booster limits: 40-110 lbs, 45-62″ (2016 Models)
  • Lowest harness height: 12″
  • Highest harness height: 20.5″ (2016 Models)
  • Highest booster setting: 23″ (2016 Models)
  • Crotch strap positions: 6″ and 8″
  • LATCH limit: 40 lbs.
  • Top Tether use always recommended; required for children over 65 lbs

Features:

  • True Side Impact Protection: Deep sides and EPS foam.
  • SafeCell technology: The base is designed to compress and lower the center of gravity in a crash.
  • Front-adjustable harness height
  • Front-adjust recline
  • Cup holders! This isn’t a new thing, but kids want ’em and the Pioneer has ’em.
  • Easy transition between harness and booster mode
  • Easy-off cover (one of the easiest I’ve encountered)
  • SecureGuard compatible (SecureGuard clip sold separately)

Fashions:

coral domino reflect silvercloud

Top row fashions: Coral, Domino, Reflect, Silvercloud

Kiwi PacificaSummit

Bottom row fashions: Kiwi, Pacifica, Summit

Pros:

  • Price: Currently selling for around $180 on Amazon ($229 MSRP) the Britax Pioneer 70 is competitive to the prices of the Graco Nautilus, making it an attractive option for people who can’t/don’t want to shell out for the pricier Frontier 90 or Pinnacle 90.
  • Size maximums: 20.5″ slots are now among the highest on the market. The 70-lb weight limit is probably more than sufficient for what the vast majority of people will actually need/use.
  • Covers: Easy-on, easy-off, cute, plus with better placement of the harness-release slot.
  • Comfort: Well-padded and the design doesn’t promote head slump.
  • SecureGuard is a clever, optional accessory adding a 4th point of restraint for booster mode
  • Made in the USA!

Cons:

  • Quirky belt path: The open belt path makes installation easy, but people could easily route the belt incorrectly. The way the seatbelt bunches isn’t a safety issue, but is annoying.
  • Quality: Even at a more-budget price, parts of the Pioneer (especially the panel hiding the LATCH connectors) feel flimsy. Britax is known for quality, but the quality feels mixed on the Pioneer, especially in regard to the storage compartment. It’s still a very sturdy seat where it counts, though.

Bottom line:

The Pioneer 70 may not be as flashy as the Frontier 90, but it shares enough of the same features to make it a worthwhile consideration if you’re in the market for a high-weight, high-harness combination seat. Despite a few downfalls, the seat feels safe, sturdy, and comfortable when installed. The price makes it an attractive option for people considering mid-range combination seats.

For additional information on the Pioneer 70 please visit the Britax website: http://www.britaxusa.com/car-seats/pioneer-70

You can read our full review of the original Pioneer here. The Pioneer is available at Amazon and other stores for around $180.

Graco SnugRide Click Connect Infant Car Seat Model Comparison 2016

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Graco SnugRide - model comparison graphic

Are you confused about the differences between the various Graco SnugRide models? You are definitely not alone! In 2016 there are currently EIGHT different Graco SnugRide Click Connect infant seat models and each one is different in some significant way. Below we list each SnugRide Click Connect model (from lowest to highest MSRP) and explain the features. If possible, you want to avoid the least expensive models because they have a rear harness adjuster system which makes it very difficult to tighten and loosen the straps properly.

Graco click_connect_logo“Click Connect” refers to stroller attachment and compatibility. It has nothing to do with how the infant car seat snaps into the base. Click Connect Graco infant car seats are compatible with Click Connect Graco strollers and just as the name implies – the car seat clicks securely into the stroller. If you already own an older “Classic” Graco stroller or an older model “Classic” Graco infant car seat, it is NOT compatible with a new Graco Click Connect car seat or stroller.

(only available with certain LiteRider Travel Systems) 4-22 lbs., height 30″ or less; 4 sets of harness slots; no recline adjustment feature on base; no lock-off on base; hook style lower LATCH connectors; rear harness adjuster

4-30 lbs., height 30″ or less; 4 sets of harness slots; no recline adjustment feature on base; no lock-off on base; hook style lower LATCH connectors; rear harness adjuster. MSRP $99.99

4-30 lbs., height 30″ or less; 4 sets of harness slots; removable flip platform for base adjustment; no lock-off on base; hook style lower LATCH connectors; front harness adjuster. MSRP $129.99. Review here.

4-30 lbs., height 30″ or less; 4 sets of harness slots; 6-position base with knob adjuster; no lock-off on base; hook style lower LATCH connectors; front harness adjuster. MSRP $129.99

4-35 lbs., height 32″ or less; 4 sets of harness slots; 6-position base with knob adjuster; no lock-off on base; some new models have premium push-on lower LATCH connectors that Graco calls “In Right™ LATCH”; most models have the hook style lower LATCH connectors; front harness adjuster. MSRP $149.99-189.99

4-35 lbs., height 32″ or less; no-rethread harness with 15 height adjustments; 6-position base with knob adjuster & lock-off for simple seat belt installations; some new models have premium push-on lower LATCH connectors that Graco calls “In Right™ LATCH”; most models have the hook style lower LATCH connectors; front harness adjuster. MSRP $209.99. Review here.

4-35 lbs., height 32″ or less; no-rethread harness with 15 height adjustments; extra EPS foam in headrest; base with lock-off for simple seat belt installations; hook style lower LATCH connectors; front harness adjuster. Target exclusive. MSRP $199.99

4-40 lbs., height 35″ or less; no-rethread harness with 15 height adjustments; unique base has 8 recline positions, some new models have nicer push-on lower LATCH connectors that Graco calls “In Right™ LATCH”; most models have the hook style lower LATCH connectors; lock-off on base for simple seat belt installations; best-in-class legroom for older babies and toddlers. MSRP $219.99. Review here.

 

Note: Older “Classic Connect” Graco models are either discontinued or being phased out in favor of the newer “Click Connect” strollers and car seats. Classic Connect Graco strollers are only compatible with Classic Connect Graco car seats but you need to strap the car seat into the stroller if you are going to use it as a travel system. It doesn’t automatically snap in and lock.

Classic Connect SnugRide Models (pictured below) are the original Graco SnugRide, Graco SnugRide 30 Classic Connect & Graco SnugRide 35 Classic Connect.

Graco SnugRide - original Graco Snugride 30 - classic connect Graco SnugRide 35 Classic Connect - Rittenhouse

Will Skinny be back in 2016? A Plea for more narrow carseats & boosters.

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Discontinued width-adjustable Britax StarRiser/Comfy

Discontinued width-adjustable Britax StarRiser/Comfy

Skinny is in high demand – that is, if you’re a carseat or booster. Unfortunately, skinny is also very hard to come by these days and that’s a real problem. In a time when Americans parents are downsizing their vehicles in droves –  increased laws and awareness are keeping more kids in carseats and boosters longer. The combination of these two factors is creating a real space problem.

We need more seats that can fit in narrow seating positions and in those tricky 3-across situations. Manufacturers really need to work to address this issue because if I see one more parent without armrests on their Turbo booster because they’re trying to make it fit next to another carseat – I’m going to lose my mind!

Here are some suggestions for all CR manufacturers. Work on designing new, narrow seats, or even booster seats that are width-adjustable like some of the old Britax boosters and pay particular attention to how your various models fit/puzzle/mesh next to each other.  

For those parents and caregivers who can’t wait for future seats – the Cosco Scenera NEXT is a neat little convertible that is going to work in a lot of tight situations. But it’s small and really meant for infants and toddlers. The Evenflo Tribute convertible can be a saving grace in many 3-across scenarios too but again, it’s not that big and many kids will outgrow it by height before hitting 40 lbs. The Safety 1st Guide 65 convertible is narrow and will last longer before being outgrown but many parents wind up dismayed at the head slump issues when their child falls asleep – an issue caused by the tilted headrest. The Diono Radian models have built a reputation on being narrow and working well in a lot of 3-across scenarios but they have their quirks and incompatibility issues in some cases. I’ve seen the Harmony Defender forward-facing combination seat recommended for people looking for a slim seat but not everyone wants a carseat that has to be assembled like IKEA furniture. Last but not least, the Clek Foonf and Clek Fllo are narrow convertibles but they’re pricey and out of reach for many families on a budget.

In the last decade the industry has been very focused on bigger and wider. No doubt this is due to the fact that American kids are getting bigger and wider, not to mention they’re staying in carseats and boosters for much longer than in the past. Plus, there has been a strong, steady demand for higher-weight carseats and boosters that can accommodate bigger/older children. This is all well and good but you can’t focus exclusively on bigger and wider because if the bigger seats don’t fit in smaller vehicles – then what?

What do you think happens when a family of 5 trades in their Tahoe for a Prius? And what happens at a check event when a car pulls in with 3 kids in the back of an old Corolla and all 3 need to be in seats? My CPS program stocks Evenflo Tributes, institutional models of the Maestro and Harmony Youth Boosters but sometimes it’s not enough and parents are forced to make those “tough choices”. Do you put a kid up front? Let the oldest ride without a booster in back even though he clearly still needs one? This is reality. This is what we’re dealing with at events all across the nation because of space issues.

Manufacturers, you can help those of us in the trenches (and those who are personally in these predicaments) by meeting these challenges and making more 3-across-and-small-vehicle-friendly seats. We also desperately need more affordable options for our CPS programs that work in these tight situations and are made in USA so we can actually buy them with our grant funding! I know we can’t fix or solve every incompatibility that we encounter but this particular problem seems to have some possible solutions that are realistic and within reach. I hope you’ll agree.