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Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Winter Coat Suggestions for Kids in Carseats

snowconePumpkin Spice lattes, falling leaves, Christmas decorations showing up on store shelves even though it isn’t even Thanksgiving…it can only mean one thing: It’s getting cold, and your kids are going to need winter clothes.

Michelin-man-style snowsuits might be fine for sledding, but in the car they can be dangerous. Too much bulk means that the harness won’t tighten properly against the child. In a crash, that extra bulk can compress, leaving a too-loose harness, and leaving the child inadequately protected.

So what can you do?

One option is to have your child take her coat off before she gets in the car. Then after she’s buckled, she can slip her arms into the backwards coat.

But what if your kids don’t want to take off their jackets? No problem–just look for something car-seat-friendly.

What constitutes a good coat for the car seat? Anything that doesn’t add extra bulk to the child will do. That might be a sweater, thin fleece, or a squishy down jacket.

To see if your child’s outerwear is ok for the car, put it on your child, put him in his seat, and tighten the harness. Then, WITHOUT LOOSENING THE HARNESS, unbuckle your child and take him out. Take off the jacket, then put him back in the seat and re-buckle. If there’s no extra slack (or just a teeny bit), the jacket is good! If there’s a significant amount of slack, consider another option.

 

Winter Coat Infographic

 

Those two jackets look pretty similar, but you can see how different they really are. In the first photo, my daughter is wearing a Snozu jacket. Without the jacket, the harness had no slack. (In fact, before I took the picture my daughter had been in the seat with no jacket. I didn’t need to loosen the harness at all to buckle her with the jacket on.) The second coat is another story. It’s your typical winter coat, and honestly, it didn’t seem that bulky to me…until I took it off and re-buckled. Wow! There was a lot of slack in that harness!

Here are some good jackets to try:

Last year I got my daughter a Snozu jacket from Costco, pictured above. (There are also some available from Amazon.) They squish down into almost nothing, so they’re perfect for the car. This year’s version has a thin layer of fleece inside, but still works well in the car.

People at car-seat.org also love the Patagonia Puffball.

Many have also said good things about the North Face Moondoggy.

LL Bean and The Gap both have PrimaLoft jackets that look very squishable.

This “Packable Puffer” jacket from Lands’ End also looks like it might work very well.

Besides working well in car seats, these options will also pack well in a backpack or diaper bag when you don’t need them. Safe AND convenient!

What great car seat coats have you found?

CarseatBlog’s Recommended Carseats List – 2013 Update!

The-Best-Ribbon

It’s been 12 months since we last updated our list of recommended child restraints. Some models have been updated, some discontinued and many new products have been introduced. A few weeks ago we started the process of revising and updating the entire list and after much thought and discussion we arrived at a consensus. Behold our Updated 2013 List of Recommended Carseats!

We acknowledge that many certified child passenger safety technicians have had it ingrained upon them that they are supposed to act completely neutral toward child restraints. All current seats pass the same FMVSS 213 testing, they are all safe when used correctly, etc., etc. In the class to become certified, most techs were told never to tell a parent that one child seat or brand is better than any other. Instead, technicians are instructed to tell parents that the best seat is the one that fits their child, installs well in their vehicle and is easiest for them to use correctly. Nothing wrong with that.

However, the reality is that once you’ve installed even a dozen different seats, you quickly learn that there are real differences. Some child restraints do tend to install better in general, while some really are easier to use in general. Features like lock-offs for seatbelt installations and premium push-on lower LATCH connectors do make a difference in the vast majority of installations but that doesn’t necessarily mean that every seat that lacks those features is a bust or not worthy of your consideration.

Several years ago, the mighty NHTSA started recommending seats. They didn’t make these recommendations based upon crash testing. No, they were made upon a subjective determination of factors relating to ease-of-use. Ironically, these factors were no more likely to apply to someone’s child and vehicle than the recommendations of an experienced technician! Enter another respected institution, the IIHS. A few years back they began rating booster seats based on fit to a standardized 6 year old dummy. Again, no crash testing whatsoever. Again, no guarantees that the results would apply to your child in your vehicle.

So, who is CarseatBlog to go recommending specific child seats? Well, Heather and Kecia are very experienced Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructors. Darren has been a certified technician for over a dozen years and has like a zillion websites on the topic. Our newest blog writers, Jennie (an experienced CPS Technician) and Alicia (nurse and former tech), are moms with younger kids who can actually use the infant seats and convertible seats that our own kids have long outgrown. We also like to think that we’ve earned a respectable reputation in the child passenger safety community of manufacturers, agencies and advocates. Most importantly, though, we’re just parents who have used a lot of different car seats. Collectively, we have 12 kids ranging in age from newborn to 16. We’ve been through every stage, survived every transition, and personally used an astonishing number of different carseats and boosters. Like many other products we use daily, we know which ones we tend to like in general, which ones we’d use without reservation for our own kids and which ones we are comfortable recommending to CarseatBlog readers and visitors.

With all that said, please take our recommendations with a grain of salt. They are merely opinions, after all. And while we did thoughtfully consider the pros and cons of each seat and combine that with our personal experiences with the product – there’s no crash testing involved. Some seats were omitted because we opted to include a similar model from the same manufacturer. For others, we simply didn’t have enough experience with the product yet to form an opinion. There are a number of products that we don’t mention, if only because a list of every seat we like would be too inclusive, so products that we don’t include may still be worth your consideration! Conversely, some seats we do list may just not work well for you, your child or your vehicle. We’re not saying these are the best or safest choices in child car seats, we’re just saying they’re models we think you should consider. If nothing else, it’s a good place to start when you are carseat or booster shopping!

Please feel free to leave a comment if you think one of our recommendations is rubbish or if you know of a product that you feel deserves a mention! Unlike some other organizations that think their word is the final one, we know our readers have experiences and opinions just as valid as our own!

Special Promotion for Amazon Mom Members – Extra 20% Off Select Carseats & More!

Britax Frontier 90 - ZebraHappy Labor Day! It’s officially September and that means sales and special promotions of Baby Gear! We love a good deal on a great product just as much as you do so we wanted to make sure everyone knew about the Amazon Moms Customer Appreciation Event!

Amazon Mom Members with Prime can use the promotional code BABY0913 to save 20% on hundreds of eligible baby products in select colors and styles, for up to $100 in total savings from August 28, 2013 through September 14, 2013 11:59 p.m. (Pacific time) and while supplies last. Enter the code once and all subsequent purchases will automatically apply the code to the qualifying items, for up to $100 in total savings. See full details. Discount does not apply to products sold by third-party merchants and other sellers through the Amazon.com site. Not an Amazon Mom Member? Join Amazon Mom now.

The 20% off discount applies to select offerings from Britax, Diono, Graco, Clek, Chicco, Recaro, Orbit Baby, The First Years, ERGObaby and more. It includes many popular seats like the Britax Boulevard 70-G3, Frontier 90, Pinnacle 90, Diono Radian RXT & Clek Foonf. There are also plenty of cool strollers and baby carriers eligible for the discount too. Just remember that you’re limited to a total savings of $100.

Diono Radian RXT - cobalt  Britax Blvd 70 G3 - Onyx  Graco Nautilus EliteGraco MyRide 65

As usual, the big bonus of ordering directly from Amazon is free shipping and free returns in case your purchase doesn’t work out for whatever reason. That’s important because the best advice is always to “try before you buy” but we understand that sometimes that just isn’t an option.

Click here to see the complete listing of all carseats eligible for this promotion.

Click here to see the complete listing of all strollers eligible for this promotion.

 

 

Rear-Facing Convertible Seats: Measurements, Height Limits & Weight Limits

Convertible MeasrementRecently, we published our Rear-facing Convertible Space Comparison blog, but it wasn’t an all-inclusive list and the primary focus was on how much room different convertible seats take up when installed in the rear-facing position. As part of that review, we listed the rear-facing seated height measurements and stated height limits of various convertibles. In the breakdown section for each seat, we included additional information such as RF weight limits and FF height & weight limits.

Now, we’re expanding that database and making an all-inclusive list, specifically of rear-facing convertible measurements, height and weight limits. We have data on almost every convertible seat currently in production. I have measured each seat personally because measuring is a bit subjective but I have done my best to be consistent in the way I measure each seat. Even then, measuring isn’t an exact science since the contours of these seats aren’t in a straight line. But again, I have done my best to be consistent in my measuring techniques.

Here are the results:

 

Convertible

RF Shell Height Measurement

RF Child Height Limit

RF Weight Range

Britax “Classic”  Marathon 65

25.5” tall

1” rule from top of shell

5-35 lbs.

Britax “Classic” Roundabout 50

25.5” tall

1” rule from top of shell

5-35 lbs.

Britax Roundabout

24” tall

1” rule from top of shell

5-40 lbs.

Britax Marathon, Boulevard, Pavilion & Advocate (G3 or G4 models)

24” tall

1”rule from top of main shell, not from top of HR

5-40 lbs.

Chicco NextFit

26” with HR fully extended

1” rule with HR fully extended

5-40 lbs.

Clek Foonf

26.5″ tall with HR fully extended

Child height 43” max and 1” rule from top of HR when fully extended

14-50 lbs.

Combi Coccoro

21.5″

Child height 36” max

3-33 lbs.

Cosco Apt 40RF

23” tall

Child height 40” max

5-40 lbs.

Cosco Scenera

23” tall

Child height 36” max

5-35 lbs.

Diono Radian R100

25” tall

Child height 44” max and 1.5” from top shell

5-40 lbs.

Diono Radian R120 & RXT

25” tall

Child height 44” max and 1.5” from top shell

5-45 lbs.

Eddie Bauer Deluxe 3-in-1 /Comfort 65

26” with HR fully extended

Child height 40” max and top of head below top of HR

5-40 lbs.

Eddie Bauer Sport

23” tall

Child height 40” max

5-40 lbs.

Eddie Bauer XRS 65

24.5” with HR fully extended

Child height 40” max

5-40 lbs.

Evenflo SureRide

25” tall

Child height 40” and 1”rule from top of shell

5-40 lbs.

Evenflo Symphony/ Snugli All-In-One

23” tall

Child height 37″ and 1” rule with HR in 2nd lowest height setting

5-40 lbs.

Evenflo Tribute

22” tall

Child height 37” and 1” rule from top of shell

5-40 lbs.

Evenflo Triumph 65

23” tall

Child height 37″ and 1” from top of shell

5-40 lbs.

Graco ClassicRide

23” tall

1” rule from top of shell

4-40 lbs.

Graco ComfortSport

23” tall

1” rule from top of shell

5-30 lbs.

Graco Head Wise

27.5” tall

1” rule from red plastic actuator when HR fully extended

4-40 lbs.

Graco My Ride

24” tall

1” rule from top of shell

5-40 lbs.

Graco My Size

27.5” tall

1” rule from red plastic actuator when HR fully extended

4-40 lbs.

Graco Size4Me

27.5” tall

1” rule from red plastic actuator when HR fully extended

4-40 lbs.

Graco Smart Seat

24.5″ tall

1” rule with HR in third lowest height setting

5-40 lbs.

Maxi-Cosi Pria  (with TinyFit)

26” with HR fully extended

Child height 40” or less and head below top of HR

4-40 lbs.

Maxi-Cosi Pria (without TinyFit)

26” with HR fully extended

Child height 40” or less and head below top of HR

9-40 lbs.

Orbit Baby Toddler G2

25” tall

None stated

15-35 lbs.

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP

24” tall

1” rule with HR in max RF height position (7th notch)

5-45 lbs.

Recaro Performance Ride

23.5″ tall

Child seated height max 22.5”

5-40 lbs.

Safety 1st Advance 70 Air + (Plus)

29” tall

Child height 40” max and top of head below top of restraint HR

5-40 lbs.

Safety 1st All-In-One Sport

25” tall

Child height 36” max

5-35 lbs.

Safety 1st Alpha Elite 65

26” with HR fully extended

Child height 40” max and top of head below top of HR

5-40 lbs.

Safety 1st Chart Air

24.5” tall

Child height 40” max

5-40 lbs.

Safety 1st Complete Air

27.5” tall

Child height 40” max

5-40 lbs.

Safety 1st Elite Air 80

29” tall

Child height 43” max and top of head below top of restraint HR

5-40 lbs.

Safety 1st Guide 65

24.5” with HR fully extended

Child height 40” max

5-40 lbs.

Safety 1st onSide Air

23” tall

Child height 40” max

5-40 lbs.

The First Years True Fit Premier C670

27” tall

1” rule from top shell with upper headrest portion attached

5-35 lbs.

The First Years True Fit SI C680/I-Alert C685

27” tall

1” rule from top shell with upper headrest portion attached

5-35 lbs.

www.CarseatBlog.com

©2013 All Rights Reserved

 

For more detailed information please see our list of Carseat Reviews and our list of Recommended Carseats.  There is also a similar database of Carseat Measurements database at our Car-Seat.Org forum.  Unlike this chart above, the database measurements are mainly contributed by members, so some of the numbers may vary slightly from those I’ve measured.  The database is also easily viewed on the Car-Seat.org app for Apple and Android, on the iTunes and Google Play stores!

 

The Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison – Size Matters!

size-mattersIs your vehicle’s front-to-back space limited? Are you and/or your partner tall or just leggy? Or maybe you just want the ability to stretch out a little bit more on a long ride. Regardless of why you need more leg room up front, the reality is that you’re not alone. The rear-facing carseat/space issue comes up over and over again here at CarseatBlog, on our blog’s Facebook page and on the Car-Seat.org forums. Everyone, it seems, is looking for a good quality, higher-weight-harness convertible that will keep their child happy and comfortably seated in the rear-facing position while still allowing the front seat driver and/or passenger to be safe and comfortable too. Because let’s face it, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your comfort or safety just to accommodate junior who is optimally seated rear-facing in a convertible behind you!

Additionally, as a mom and a Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor, I know that space factors play an important role for many parents in their decision on when to make that “demotion” in safety from rear-facing to forward-facing.  Ideally that switch from RF to FF shouldn’t occur until the child has maxed out their convertible seat by either height or weight, but that’s rarely the reality. The reality is that the vast majority of parents in this country are still turning their toddlers forward-facing before the recommended minimum age of 2 and, in most cases, way before the RF weight or height limits of their convertible seat are actually reached. I know space issues play a role in many of those decisions. Hopefully this blog can help by giving parents some useful info on which rear-facing convertibles take up the least amount of room.

I must stress that every vehicle is different and our measurements may not translate exactly to your vehicle. For example, if you are installing in a center seating position or have a larger vehicle, you may have plenty of room – even for the space hogs. Since there are too many variables from vehicle to vehicle and even from one seating position to the next (within the same vehicle), I can’t and won’t tell you that seat X or seat Y is going to be the best choice for your child in your vehicle. But I can tell you that seat X takes up 3″ less room when rear-facing than seat Y when installed properly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions in the same seating position. The rest of the factors (specs, features, price, etc.) are going to be up to you to take into account. Because even though size matters, it’s not the only thing that matters!

With that in mind, I chose convertibles that are either on our list of Recommended Seats or just popular higher-weight convertibles. I did not include small convertible seats like the Combi Coccoro, because I know that most of our readers are looking for convertibles that can last for several years and can be used for extended rear-facing. The Coccoro is a great little seat that doesn’t take up much room when rear-facing and is fairly narrow, too. That’s a huge bonus in compact cars. The trade-off is that it’s hardly bigger than some of the infant seats currently on the market so it’s quickly outgrown by height and weight in the RF position. Average size models, like the Britax G4 convertibles and Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible, have modest rear-facing height limits but can still accommodate many kids rear-facing past 24 months old AND fit easily in your small car!

rfprius

Britax Advocate G4 in Toyota Prius

While this list does include 31 current convertible models, it is NOT an all-inclusive list and I was limited to what I had available or had access to during the project period. More models may be added in the future.

grade-b-plusSeats have been given letter grades for simplicity. This “Space Grade” relates only to the amount of room that the seat takes up when rear-facing as compared with the other seats on this list. Keep in mind that even seats with an “A” rating aren’t guaranteed to fit rear-facing or install properly in the back seat of your vehicle but they’re a good place to start if you’re on a quest to find a good rear-facing convertible that doesn’t take up a lot of room. By the same token, just because a seat has a “C” or “D” rating doesn’t mean it won’t fit well rear-facing in a smaller vehicle. There are just so many variables in each specific situation that you really never know for sure until you try it.

For the record, my installation method for each seat was pretty basic. I didn’t use any tricks to try to get the seats more upright or anything like that. I also didn’t attach the rear-facing tether in cases where that was specifically an option (Britax, Diono). I used the lower LATCH anchors for each install (with the exception of the Britax Boulevard ClickTight) just to be consistent, and because it was easier in most cases. Each seat was installed properly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. In most cases I didn’t need to any pool noodles to increase the recline angle because it wasn’t necessary – but there were a few exceptions. Normally, I like to get behind the rear-facing convertible and use my hips or mid-section to compress the seat down and into the vehicle seat cushion, leaving both hands free to tighten the seatbelt or latch strap. However, I couldn’t do that with these installs because that would have required moving the front seat forward to get my body back there, and that wasn’t an option. The front passenger seat stayed in its precise position throughout the project period.

I set the front passenger’s seat in a specific fixed position with the seatback angle neither too reclined nor too upright for an adult to sit comfortably. Then, in each case I measured the distance between the convertible and the point on the back of the front passenger seat or head restraint that was likely to make first contact. That “contact point” varied depending on the height and contour of the CR. So, this means that these measurements and grades could vary somewhat in a different vehicle that has a different contour of vehicle seats, different geometry of head restraints or is simply installed somewhat differently. In other words… 

Britax Blvd installed in Freestar - YMMV

Your mileage may vary!

In cases where the convertible had a height-adjustable headrest (HR), I took separate measurements with the HR flush with the shell and also with the HR extended to the max RF height limit. If the convertible allowed more than one recline position on the base to be used for RF then I installed the seat using the different recline positions as long as it installed within the acceptable recline angle range. There was one exception I made and that was for the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 installed in the semi-reclined position. I was just so blown away by the amount of room that I gained with that seat in the #2 recline position that I couldn’t throw it out just because the level line wasn’t level with the ground. More specific details on that installation and those results can be found in the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 notes below.

Okay, enough rambling… this is what you’re here for! Below is a table comparing the various convertibles and listing their space grade, the amount of space gained in relation to the most space-consuming convertibles tested and the seat’s RF weight and seated height limits.

UPDATED APRIL, 2015

*Hint: if you’re viewing this on your phone – turn it sideways to see all 4 columns.

Convertible Carseat Name (Details) Space Grade Space Gained RF Weight Max RF Height Limits & CR Interior Ht Measurement
Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 & Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 (Very upright angle; HR fully extended) A+ +7.5” 40 lbs. Child height 40” max; 25” tall with HR extended
Britax Boulevard ClickTight* (More upright angle; HR fully extended) A +5″ to +6″ 40 lbs. 1″ rule with HR fully extended; 28.5″ tall
Britax Boulevard G4** A +5″ 40 lbs. 1” rule from top shell; 24” tall
Britax Roundabout G4 A +5″ 40 lbs. 1”rule from top shell; 24” tall
Chicco NextFit (More upright angle; HR fully extended) A +5″ 40 lbs. 1” rule with HR fully extended; 26” tall
Diono Radian with optional Angle Adjuster accessory A +5″  40 or 45 lbs. Child height 44″ or less and 1.5″ rule from top of shell; 25″ tall
Diono Rainier***with optional Angle Adjuster accessory A +5″  50 lbs. Child height 44″ or less and 1.5″ rule from top of shell; 25″ tall
Graco Size4Me**** (HR flush with shell) A +5″ 40 lbs. 1” rule from plastic headrest adjustment lever when HR fully extended; 27.5” tall
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible  (HR flush with shell) A +5″  45 lbs. 1” rule with HR in max RF ht position (7th notch); 24” tall
Britax “Classic” Marathon or Classic Roundabout 50 A- +4.5″  35 lbs. 1” rule from top of shell; 25.5” tall
Evenflo Triumph A- +4.5″  40 lbs. Child height 37″ max; 1” from top of shell; 23” tall
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible (HR extended to max RF height position) A- +4.5″  45 lbs. 1” rule with HR in max RF ht position (7th notch); 24” tall
Safety 1st Guide 65 (Most upright recline angle, HR fully extended) A- +4.5″  40 lbs. Child height 40” max; 24.5” with HR fully extended
Evenflo Momentum  B+ +4″  40 lbs. Child height 37″ max; 25” tall
Evenflo Symphony (HR extended to max RF height position) B+ +4″  40 lbs. Child height 37″ max; 1” rule with HR in 2nd height setting; 23” tall
Graco 4Ever All-in-One (More reclined HR Flush with shell and more upright HR fully extended) B+ +4″  40 lbs. 1” rule from plastic headrest adjustment lever when HR fully extended; 27.5” tall
Graco Milestone All-in-One (More upright angle; HR fully extended) B+ +4″ 40 lbs. 1” rule from plastic headrest adjustment lever when HR fully extended; 27.5” tall
Chicco NextFit (Max recline angle; HR flush with shell) B +3.5  40 lbs. 1” rule with HR fully extended; 26” tall
Graco Milestone All-in-One (Max recline angle; HR flush with shell) B +3.5 40 lbs. 1” rule from plastic headrest adjustment lever when HR fully extended; 27.5” tall
Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 & Pria 85  (Max recline angle; HR flush with shell) B +3.5″  40 lbs. Child height 40” max; 25” with HR fully extended
Safety 1st Guide 65 (Max recline angle, HR flush with shell) B +3.5″  40 lbs. Child height 40” max; 24.5” with HR fully extended
Britax Boulevard ClickTight (Max recline angle, HR flush with shell) B- +3″ 40 lbs. 1″ rule with HR fully extended; 28.5″ tall
Graco My Ride 65 B- +3″  40 lbs. 1” rule from top shell; 24” tall
Clek Foonf (HR Flush with shell & HR fully extended) C+ +2.5″  45 or 50 lbs. Child ht 43” max and 1” rule from top of HR when fully extended; 26.5” tall
Evenflo SureRide C+ +2.5″  40 lbs. Child height 40” max and 1” rule; 25” tall
Safety 1st Advance EX 65 Air+ (Most upright position for over 22 lbs.; HR fully extended) C +2″  50 lbs. Child height 49″ and top of head below top of headrest; max; 28″ tall with HR fully extended
Safety 1st Advance SE/LX 65 Air+ (Most upright position for over 22 lbs.; HR fully extended) C +2″  40 lbs. Child height 40″ max; 28″ tall with HR fully extended
Graco Size4Me*** (HR fully extended) C- +1.5″  40 lbs. 1” rule from plastic headrest adjustment lever when HR fully extended; 27.5” tall
Safety 1st Advance EX 65 Air+ (Max recline position for under 22 lbs.; HR flush with shell) D +.5″  50 lbs. Child height 49″ and top of head below top of headrest; max; 28″ tall with HR fully extended
Safety 1st Advance SE/LX 65 Air+ (Max recline position for under 22 lbs.; HR flush with shell) D +.5″  40 lbs. Child height 40″ max; 28″ tall with HR fully extended
Safety 1st Complete Air (Max upright position) D +.5″  40 lbs. Child height 40” max; 27.5” tall
Diono Radian  D +0″  40 or 45 lbs. Child height 44” or less and 1.5” rule from top shell; 25”
Diono Rainier** D +0”  50 lbs. Child height 44” or less and 1.5” rule from top shell; 25”
www.CarseatBlog.com ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Space Grade” is not our rating of the carseat overall. It is an indicator of how much extra space it offered the front seat passenger in our test vehicle.

* Britax Boulevard ClickTight is equivalent to Britax Advocate ClickTight and Marathon ClickTight

** Britax Boulevard G4 is equivalent in size to Britax Marathon G4, Pavilion G4 and Advocate G4

*** Diono Rainier is equivalent in size to Diono Pacifica and Diono Olympia

**** Graco Size4Me is equivalent in size to the Graco HeadWise, Graco MySize and Graco Fit4Me

Note: CR Interior Height Measurement refers to the measurement of the Child Restraint (CR) from the bottom of the seated area to the top of the restraint in its maximum rear-facing height position (picture below).  This measurement may range from 23″ to 28″.  The overall “Child Height”, or standing height limit is also stated for seats that list one in their owner’s manual. The “1 Inch Rule” states that the child has outgrown the CR by height if there is only 1″ of shell or headwing structure (this varies from seat to seat so check the notes in the chart above) left above the child’s head. In other words, you always want more than 1″ of shell or structure above your child’s head. Once they get to the point where there is only 1″ left above their head – the seat is outgrown in the rear-facing position.

Interior Height Measurement

Here is a breakdown of each convertible tested with a few additional details and pics of the installation:

Britax Boulevard ClickTight (results also apply to to Britax Advocate ClickTight)

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from top of headrest when fully extended; RF seated height 29″ tall; FF 20-65 lbs. or up to 49″ tall.

Space Grade:  A  (when installed at a more upright recline angle with head rest fully extended)

Space Gained +5″ to +6″ depending on recline angle for toddlers or older kids (the more upright the seat, the more space is gained)

Space Grade:  B-  (when installed at a more reclined angle appropriate for a newborn or young baby; head rest flush with main shell)

Space Gained +3″

Notes:  Britax Marathon CT is very similar but about 2″ shorter than the Blvd CT & Advocate CT models. Any of the 7 recline positions on base may be used to achieve an appropriate RF recline angle as per the angle indicator. These options create more potential for finding a suitable recline angle and taking up less space. Full Britax Boulevard CT review here. Marathon CT review here.

Britax Blvd CT - max recline  Britax Blvd CT - more upright recline angle

 

Britax Boulevard G4 (results also apply to Britax Marathon G4, Pavilion G4 & Advocate G4 models)

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from top of main shell (not from adjustable headrest); RF seated height 24″ tall; FF 20-65 lbs or up to 49″ tall.

Space Grade:  A

Space Gained +5″

Notes:  Only 1 base position (#3) allowed for rear-facing installation. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base. Full Britax Pavilion Review Here.

Britax Pavilion

 

Britax Roundabout G4

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from top of shell; RF seated height 24″ tall; FF 20-55 lbs or up to 46″ tall.

Space Grade:  A

Space Gained +5″

Notes: Only 1 base position (#3) allowed for rear-facing installation. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base. Full Britax Roundabout Review Here.

Britax Roundabout 55

 

Britax “Classic” Marathon  (discontinued)

Specs:  RF 5-35 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from top of shell; RF seated height 25.5″ tall; FF 20-65 lbs or up to 49″ tall

Space Grade:  A-

Space Gained +4.5″

Notes:  Results also apply to Britax “Classic” Roundabout 50 and to previous generation higher-weight harness Britax convertibles. Single base position (reclined) allowed for rear-facing installation. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base.

Britax "Classic" Marathon 65

 

Chicco NextFit

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from top of adjustable headrest when fully extended; RF max seated height 26″ tall; FF 22-65 lbs or up to 50″ tall.

Space Grade:  A- (when installed at a more upright recline angle with head rest fully extended)

Space Gained +4.5″

Space Grade:  B (when installed at a more reclined angle appropriate for a newborn; head rest flush with main shell)

Space Gained +3.5″

Notes:  Any of the 9 recline positions on base may be used to achieve an appropriate RF recline angle as per the angle indicator. These options create more potential for finding a suitable recline angle and taking up less space.  Full Chicco NextFit Review Here.

Chicco NextFit - Reclined  Chicco NextFit - Upright & HR Extended

 

Clek Foonf

Specs:  RF 14-50 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from top of headrest when fully extended and child height 43″ or less; RF seated height 26.5″ tall; FF 20-65 lbs or up to 49″ tall.

Space Grade:  C+ (same grade with headrest flush or with headrest fully extended)

Space Gained +2.5″

Notes:  Single recline position (position #3) for rear-facing installation. Must use rear-facing base and anti-rebound bar for rear-facing installations. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base. Full Clek Foonf Review Here.

Clek Foonf  Clek Foonf - headrest fully extended

 

Diono Ranier (results also apply to Pacifica) & Diono Radian RXT (results also apply Radian R120)

Rainier/Pacifica Specs: RF 5-50 lbs.; RF height limit 1.5″ rule from top of shell and child height 44″ or less; RF max seated height 25″ tall; FF 20-90 lbs or up to 57″ tall.

Radian RXT/Radian R120Specs:  RF 5-45 lbs.; RF height limit 1.5″ rule from top of shell and child height 44″ or less; RF max seated height 25″ tall; FF 20-80 lbs or up to 57″ tall.

Space Grade:  A (when installed using the optional Diono Angle Adjuster accessory)

Space Gained +5″

Space Grade:  D (when installed without Angle Adjuster)

Space Gained +0″

Notes:  Seat installed very upright with the optional Angle Adjuster accessory. Angle adjuster only allowed if child has complete head control and can sit up unassisted. Results also apply to Diono Pacifica, Olympia, Radian R120 & R100. Full Diono Rainier Review HereFull Diono Radian RXT Review Here.

Diono Rainier without angle adjuster in Freestar  

Diono Rainier with Angle Adjuster installed in Freestar  

 

Evenflo Triumph

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs; 19-37″ tall; RF seated height 23″; FF 22-65 lbs or up to 50″ tall.

Space Grade:  A-

Space Gained +4.5″

Notes:  Only 1 base position (#1) allowed for rear-facing installation. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base. Full Triumph Review Here.

Evenflo Triumph

 

Evenflo Momentum DLX

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs; 19 – 37″ tall; RF seated height 25″; FF 22-65 lbs or up to 50″ tall.

Space Grade:  B+

Space Gained +4″

Notes:  Only 1 base position (#1) allowed for rear-facing installation. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base. Review coming soon!

Evenflo Momentum - RF space comparison

 

Evenflo Symphony DLX/e3/Elite

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs.; 19 – 37″ tall and 1″ rule from top of headrest in second height setting; RF seated height 23″ tall; FF 22-65 lbs or up to 50″ tall.

Space Grade:  A-

Space Gained +4.5″

Notes:  2 lowest headrest height positions may be used for RF. Only 1 base position (#1) allowed for rear-facing installation. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base. Results also apply to Symphony LX. Full Symphony 65 Review Here.

Evenflo Symphony DLX All-in-One

 

Evenflo SureRide (results apply to Titan 65)

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from top of shell and child height 40″ or less; RF seated height 25″ tall; FF 22-65 lbs or up to 54″ tall.

Space Grade:  C+

Space Gained +2.5″

Notes:  Single position for rear-facing installation. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a tightly rolled towel under recline leg (pool noodle won’t work in this case). Results also apply to Evenflo Titan 65.

Evenflo SureRide

 

Graco 4Ever All-in-One

Specs:  RF 4-40 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from bottom of plastic headrest adjustment lever when headrest fully extended; RF max seated height 27.5″ tall; FF 20-65 lbs. or up to 49″ tall.

Space Grade:  B+ (when installed more reclined with headrest flush with main shell)

Space Gained +3.75″

Space Grade:  B+ (when installed more upright with headrest fully extended)

Space Gained +4″

Notes:  Recline positions 1, 2 or 3 on base may be used to achieve an appropriate RF recline angle as per the angle indicator. These options create more potential for finding an appropriate recline for your baby or older RF child. Full Graco 4Ever Review Here.

Graco 4Ever - reclined HR flush with shell   Graco 4Ever - upright HR extended

 

Graco Milestone All-in-One

Specs: RF 5-40 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from bottom of plastic headrest adjustment lever when headrest fully extended; RF max seated height 27.5″ tall; FF 20-65 lbs. or up to 49″ tall.

Space Grade: B (when installed more reclined with headrest flush with main shell)

Space Gained +3.5″

Space Grade: B+ (when installed more upright with headrest fully extended)

Space Gained +4″

Notes: Recline positions 1 or 2 on base may be used to achieve an appropriate RF recline angle as per the angle indicator. These options create more potential for finding an appropriate recline for your baby or older RF child. Full Graco Milestone Review Here.

Graco Milestone - more reclined angle   Graco Milestone - more upright angle

 

Graco Size4Me / Head Wise / My Size

Specs:  RF 4-40 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from bottom of plastic headrest adjustment lever when headrest fully extended; RF max seated height 27.5″ tall; FF 20-65 lbs or up to 52″ tall.

Space Grade:  A (when installed with headrest flush with main shell)

Space Gained +5″

Space Grade:  C- (when installed with headrest fully extended)

Space Gained +1.5″

Notes:  Only 1 base position (#1) allowed for rear-facing installation. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base. Full Size4Me Review Here.

Graco Head Wise/ Size4Me  Graco Head Wise/Size4Me - HR fully extended

 

Graco My Ride 65

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from top of shell; RF seated height 24″ tall; FF 20-65 lbs or up to 49″ tall.

Space Grade:  B-

Space Gained +3″

Notes:  Single position for rear-facing installation. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base. Results also apply to My Ride 70. Full My Ride 65 Review Here.

Graco My Ride 65

 

Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 & Maxi-Cosi Pria 85

Specs:  Pria 70 RF 9-40 lbs.; Pria 85 14-40 lbs.; RF height limit is child height 40″ and top of head below top of headrest; RF max seated height 25″ tall; FF 22-70 lbs or up to 52″ tall.

Space Grade:  A+ (when installed in semi-recline position #2 with headrest fully extended)*

Space Gained +7.5″

Space Grade:  B (when installed in full recline position #3; headrest fully extended)

Space Gained +3.5″

Notes:  Recline position #3 (full recline) or #2 (semi-reclined) may be used to achieve an appropriate RF recline angle as per the level-to-ground-line angle indicator. These options create more potential for finding a suitable recline angle and taking up less space. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base. *When CR was installed in semi-recline #2 position in my vehicle, the level line was NOT quite level to ground (see pics below) and the seat was very upright. Since the level line on this CR is just a line on the side of the shell and there isn’t an allowable angle range for RF, the angle achieved will vary based on the slope of your vehicle’s seat cushion. The recline angle achieved using the #2 position was similar to how the Radian installed with the angle adjuster in this seating position. Technically, it isn’t a correct installation because the level line isn’t level to the ground. However, with a whopping +7.5″ of RF space gained, perhaps this could fall under the “parental decision” category if you had an older RF child who preferred to sit very upright? Full Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Review Here.

Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 - reclined  Recline position #3 (level line is level)

Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 - upright  Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 - level line not level

 

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 5-70

Specs:  RF 5-45 lbs.; RF height limit 1″ rule from top of adjustable headrest when extended to 7th height setting; RF max seated height 24″ tall; FF 22-70 lbs or up to 49″ tall.

Space Grade:  A (when installed with headrest flush with shell)

Space Gained +5″

Space Grade:  A- (when installed with headrest extended to max RF height setting)

Space Gained +4.5″

Notes:  Only 1 base position allowed for rear-facing installation. Headrest height positions 1-7 may be used for RF. Positions 8, 9 & 10 are FF only. Recline may be increased, if necessary, by using a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under base. Full Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible Review Here.

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible  Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible - HR extended

 

Safety 1st Advance SE/LX 65 Air+ & Advance EX 65 Air+

Specs for Advance SE & LX models: RF 5-40 lbs.; RF height limit is child height 40″; RF seated height 28″ tall; FF 22-65 lbs. or up to 52″ tall

Specs for new Advance EX model: RF 5-50 lbs.; RF height limit is child height 49″ and top of head is below top of headrest; RF seated height 28″ tall; FF 22-65 lbs. or up to 52″ tall

Space Grade:  C  (when installed at most upright angle allowed for children over 22 lbs.)

Space Gained +2″

Space Grade:  D  (when installed at max recline angle for babies under 22 lbs.)

Space Gained +.5″

Notes:  These carseats have a dual level-line indicator for rear-facing. Recline positions 1, 2 or 3 may be used for rear-facing to achieve the appropriate recline angle as per the line indicator on the sticker label. Even with the base in recline position #1 (most reclined) I still needed to add a pool noodle to achieve the necessary recline angle for a baby under 22 lbs. Children over 22 lbs. who can sit upright unassisted may have the seat positioned more upright as long as the angle is still within the dual line indicator.

Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air +   Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air +   Dorel - dual level line recline indicator sticker

 

Safety 1st Complete Air 65

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs.; RF height limit is child height 40″; RF seated height 27.5″ tall; FF 22-65 lbs or up to 52″ tall.

Space Grade:  D

Space Gained +.5″

Notes:  This carseat has a dual level-line indicator for rear-facing. Single recline position for rear-facing installations. Seat was installed with more upright line level to ground. This angle is allowed for child over 22 lbs. who can sit upright unassisted. If I needed to install the seat at a more reclined angle for a child weighing less than 22 lbs. then it would have taken up a ridiculous amount of room, even in my minivan. Even at the max upright angle this seat is a space hog and would have required the use of noodles or a tightly rolled towel to achieve the appropriate recline (this was the basic Complete Air model and lacked the adjustable base found on the LX model). Since I was installing just for the sake of measuring, I took the lazy way out and just wedged the edge of the carseat into the vehicle seat cushion and it stayed tight. Full Review of the Safety 1st Complete Air Here.

Safety 1st Complete Air

 

Safety 1st Guide 65 (results also apply to Eddie Bauer XRS)

Specs:  RF 5-40 lbs.; RF height limit is child height 40″; RF max seated height 24.5″ tall; FF 22-65 lbs. or up to 49″ tall.

Space Grade:  A-  (when installed at most upright angle allowed for children over 22 lbs.; HR fully extended)

Space Gained +4.5″

Space Grade:  B  (when installed at max recline angle for babies under 22 lbs.; HR flush with shell)

Space Gained +3.5″

Notes:  Single recline position for rear-facing installations. This carseat has a dual level-line indicator for rear-facing. Babies under 22 lbs. should be positioned at the max recline angle. Children over 22 lbs. who can sit upright unassisted may have the seat positioned more upright as long as the angle is still within the dual line indicator. Even at the most upright angle this seat would have required the use of a pool noodle or thin rolled up towel to achieve an appropriate recline. Several noodles would have been necessary to achieve the maximum reclined needed for babies under 22 lbs.

Safety 1st Guide 65 - max recline angle  Safety 1st Guide 65 - most upright angle

 

Conclusion:

There are so many variables that go into every carseat/vehicle compatibility scenario that it’s impossible to accurately predict which seat is going to be the “best” convertible for rear-facing *your* child in *your* vehicle. The complexity of the situation is amplified by the plethora of options and features available on various convertibles. Still, it was our intention here at CarseatBlog to put together a comprehensive comparison that would serve as a resource for parents and caregivers searching for an extended-use convertible that would keep their rear-facing toddler or older child safe and comfortable without sacrificing the safety and comfort of the driver and/or front seat passenger.

As always, the best advice for any carseat purchase is to “try before you buy”. However, in cases where that isn’t possible then the next best thing is to order from someplace with easy, free returns in case it doesn’t work out.  For example, Amazon offers a wide selection of carseats at competitive prices and they offer free shipping AND free returns on all seats that they sell directly.

We hope this info was helpful to you! It was an exhausting but enlightening process for me too!

 

Check out our other blogs on the subject of rear-facing convertibles:

Rear-Facing Convertible Measurements, Height Limits & Weight Limits

Best Convertible Carseats for Extended Rear-Facing: the definitive guide for savvy shoppers!

Comparison of Budget-Priced Convertible Carseats under $100

See our Extensive List of CarseatBlog Carseat Reviews for additional information!