Monthly Archive:: May 2013

First Peek: Britax Announces Pioneer 70 Combination Seat and Updated 2013 Parkway SGL & Parkway SG

As some have already noticed on Amazon.com and the Britax USA website,  there are a couple more new products, starting with the new 2013 Britax Parkway SG and 2013 Parkway SGL!  It has an updated look, with deeper head wings and enhanced side wings reminiscent of the old Britax Monarch booster.  It will also incorporate the Britax SafeCell technology in the base and has an improved SecureGuard clip.  The ratings and limits are mostly the same as the current model.  The MSRP will be $159.99 for the SGL version with LATCH, and $129.99 for the SG version.

2013 Britax PW SGL2013 PARKWAY® SGL

120 lb Belt-Positioning Booster Seat

Standing Height 38″ to 63″

Seated Height 15″ to 21″

Forward Facing: 40-120 lbs

The BRITAX PARKWAY® SGL Belt-Positioning BoosterSeat offers premium safety, comfort and convenience for your big kid.

This booster seat incorporates BRITAX’s leading safety innovations, including
one of BRITAX’s Head Safety technologies, a base engineered with SafeCells. The Base with SafeCell Technology® is designed to keep your child safe and secure in a crash by compressing and significantly lowering the center of gravity, reducing the forward movement of the car seat. The ISOFLEX® Flexible Lower LATCH Connection System allows for an easy installation in seconds from either side of the booster seat with only two clicks and a pull.

This system not only secures the booster seat to the vehicle, but also stabilizes it during a crash, preventing it from becoming a projectile when not in use. The PARKWAY® SGL also features SecureGuardTM anti-submarining technology and industry leading True Side Impact Protection® now with deep, high side walls lined with energy-absorbing EPS foam to protect your child.

Comfort and convenience features include a quick-adjust head restraint, retractable cupholders, comfort foam and an easy-remove cover.



Britax Pinnacle 90 Review: Pictures, Videos, More Pictures!

Fri, Jan 18, 20138:56:29 AMWhen I first heard about the new combination seat from Britax, I was intrigued. It has a new way of installing a carseat using the seat belt so easy that you can do it one-handed. Right. Somebody’s been smoking something and it’s not me! Then Kecia and I went to Lifesavers and tried it out ourselves. The word “revolutionary” came out of my mouth. “Out of a job” may also have slipped out, but I know that no matter how good the technology gets, someone will always have a belly clip, so there will always be a need for CPS Techs. The Pinnacle 90 and its sister, the Frontier 90, are Britax’s new combination seats that employ the new ClickTight installation system that is going to make parents jump for joy and actually want to install their carseat several times over just to say that they can!

Weight and Height Limits

  • 25-90 lbs., 30-58” (and over 2 years of age) with harness, shoulders must be at or below top harness slot position, and tops of ears must be below top of head rest
  • Belt-positioning booster from 40 to 120 lbs. and 45-62”, shoulders must be at or below red shoulder belt positioner, and tops of ears must be below top of head rest

Britax Pinnacle 90 Overview: 

  • ClickTight installation system for easy and secure installations using the seat belt
  • Side Impact Cushion Technology (SICT)
  • EZ buckle system holds belly pad out of the way when loading and unloading child
  • Standing height 30″ – 58″ tall in harness mode, 45″ – 62″ tall in booster mode
  • Industry-leading 20.5″ top harness height
  • SafeCell technology in base
  • Integrated steel bars reinforce the shell
  • Quick adjust no-rethread harness
  • Front adjust recline feature
  • Easy remove cover
  • 9-year lifespan
  • MSRP $329.99, currently around $280 at Amazon.com.
  • Fashions include Broadway, Cityscape, and Manhattan

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 8:58:43 AM  Fri, Jan 18, 2013 9:01:26 AM  Fri, Jan 18, 2013 8:39:42 AM

Darren reviewed the Frontier 90 and this is a review for the Pinnacle 90. What’s the difference between the two? I’m glad you asked. The difference is that the Pinnacle has Britax’s patented Side Impact Cushion Technology. Those are the energy-absorbing cushions on the outside of the torso area that add extra protection for the child in the Pinnacle and also to any adjacent passenger sitting next to the restraint. The SICT cushions absorb some of the crash energy before they even reach the child by expelling air through strategically placed vents when the cushions are compressed under extreme crash forces.  Britax claims that the SICT feature reduces side impact crash energy by 45%. More info on SICT can be found on the Britax website.

So, is it worth the extra $40 for the SICT?

Graco Connext Booster Review: Two Thumbs Up!

Graco ConnextDarren says: Looking for an inexpensive backless booster to keep your older child safe?  Want one that LATCHes into your car to keep it from moving around?  Look no further!  The Graco Connext, $17.98 at Walmart, keeps big kids in a low profile booster from 40 to 100 pounds and up to 57″ tall.  It measures 16″ wide, so it’s not particularly wide, either.  Most older kids should have no problems buckling themselves in most seating positions.  For the cost of a few premium cups of coffee, you can keep your older child safe in a booster until they are big enough to fit properly in the adult seatbelt. For most kids that doesn’t happen until around age 10-12, when they can pass the 5-step test.  It’s light, easy to carry and tapers nicely in the back to allow small hands to reach the seatbelt buckle.  It may not fit the narrowest seating positions, but it should be wide enough to fit your older child!

Kecia says: This is my favorite new backless booster! My almost 9-year-old son (pictured below) recently went through a huge growth spurt and packed on 15 lbs in the last year! He went from being thin to ummm… not so thin! Lol. I’m not too concerned about his extra chub right now because it’s summer and he’ll burn some of it off between sports, camp and swimming. But his size has given me a new appreciation for wider boosters that also have good leg support for older kids with longer legs. At the moment he is 54″ tall and about 85 lbs. That puts him somewhere between the 90-95th percentile in weight for a 9 year old boy. And around the 75th percentile for height. He is a big kid, no doubt about that, but he doesn’t pass the 5-Step Test yet in the captain’s chairs of my minivan so he still needs a booster to help the adult seatbelt fit him correctly. The Graco Connext is wide enough and deep enough to accommodate him comfortably and I love the lower LATCH attachments!

Graco Connext    Graco Connext




  • ConnextPathfinderLower LATCH attachments
  • Inexpensive, under $18 at Walmart!
  • Lightweight
  • Good belt fit on children of different sizes
  • Fits well in contoured seating positions
  • Smooth bottom is vehicle upholstery friendly
  • Includes shoulder belt positioning strap (if necessary)
  • Cover is machine washable (cold water – delicate cycle – air dry)
  • 10 year lifespan before expiration



  • Made in China
  • Not as well padded as some other models (cover is padded but there is no additional comfort padding)




Thank you to Graco Baby for providing the Connext used in this review.  No other compensation was given.  Please visit the Graco website for more details!



Guest Blog: What’s your motivation?

Most of us involved in CPS have a story about what launched them into the field. For some it may have just been a requirement of a job, for others it may have been born out of some personal tragedy, and in some cases it may have been the result of a chance encounter with an influential person. However, “influential” doesn’t always imply it was a positive encounter …


Back in the summer of 2009, our oldest was just having her 18-month “well baby” check at a local military hospital (which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent … and the guilty!) Back then, they brought families in for a sort of “mass” appointment where they would cover some basic information as a group and then split up for various checks and immunizations. At that time I wasn’t involved in the world of CPS other than with my own daughter, however I had taken an excellent academic course before she was born taught by the Fire Chief at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona. My wife had signed us up for the class and I recall being rather ambivalent about the prospect of giving up my Saturday to learn about something as benign as car seats. The class turned out to be excellent, in no small part due to the enthusiasm this particular Fire Chief had for child passenger safety.

Now fast-forward again to summer ’09. All of the parents are in the waiting room of the pediatric clinic when a young Airman walks out to give some very basic information. Things like “your child should be eating solids” and “should be taking 1-2 naps per day,” but then she says “car seats” followed by a long pause after which she continues, “so … 18 months, they need to be forward-facing now.” (Insert sound effect of needle scraping across record here.) I immediately raised my hand and said, “Excuse me, I think you mis-spoke – what you really meant to say was they can be forward-facing at 1year and 20 pounds, but they’re safer staying rear-facing, right?” To which her response, delivered with a dismissive tone was, “no, you’re wrong – I’ve been doing this for two years.”

Now, interestingly, I happened to be in “civvies” that morning, which in retrospect was a great thing because had I been in uniform wearing Officer rank, she would have just said “oh, yes sir, I’m sure you’re right” – but because I was just “some dude” that morning I was able to get a first-hand glimpse into how awful their program really was.  I should also mention that, at the time I was nothing like the “ERF zealot” I’ve now become.  In fact, I think the only thing I’d read on the subject prior to this point was, coincidentally, Car-Safety.org’s excellent page on the subject.  I will even admit that I had turned her forward-facing just after one year old “just for a couple of trips” because she “wanted to see outside” or some other silly excuse. However, I am a huge believer that when we know better, we have to do better, and I do my best to live by that principle.

Now, back to the story –

After that, I turned to the rest of the parents and said “OK, that’s incorrect, but don’t believe either of us – please look it up for yourself when you get home.” As you can imagine, that didn’t endear me much to the Airman in question. I pulled her aside after she was done talking in an attempt to say that I wasn’t trying to undermine her, but that she was giving some dangerously incorrect information. She again told me I was wrong, so I asked to see her supervisor before she turned and disappeared behind the cypher-locked door into the bowels of the hospital. I waited for about 15 minutes for a supervisor, and when none arrived I approached the front desk to ask how much longer I was going to have to wait. I was then greeted by a Senior Airman (and for those of you who don’t know military rank, we’ve now gone from two stripes to three) who handed me a crummy copy of an old AAP handout (which of course supported what I was saying) and told, “we talked to our car seat experts, and they say you’re wrong.” Now, like most people, I try to avoid direct confrontation when I can, but at this point I went absolutely ballistic!  In my loudest, and most perturbed voice, I replied “Well let me talk to your car seat experts then!”

At this point I was still in a “heightened emotional state” shall we say, but I was honestly expecting this had turned into a game of “telephone” gone awry, and when I actually had a chance to talk to these “car seat experts” they would be thrilled that I’d caught such an egregious mistake. Unfortunately my hopeful expectations were immediately dashed. It turns out their “car seat experts” were the contract security guards at the front of the hospital, and as I walked up to their desk for what I thought might be a friendly conversation, I was instead met with a full frontal assault. The next few minutes were sort of a blur, but it consisted mainly of gems like “whadda you know, what’re you, like 22 years old?!?” (which in different circumstances would have been flattering since I was 32 at the time) and “I was a Cop for 24 years!” and “you’re just arguing semantics.” Clearly, however, this gentleman did not understand the meaning of the word “semantics” because we were most certainly not saying the same thing in a different way.

After a few verbal volleys, he actually threatened to handcuff me and escort me off the premises (which in retrospect would have been a much better story!) By that point I had realized there was no point in continuing the argument, but as I walked away, he decided to call his supervisor to report this “very unreasonable and belligerent” individual at a volume obviously intended for my ears. I then spun back around and said, “You know what, why don’t you get your supervisor down here to talk to me!!!

This is exactly how it looked ... in my head.

This is exactly how it looked … in my head.

Again, at the time, I really thought I might be able to start over and convince somebody there was a serious problem that needed addressing. But as you can probably guess, I was mistaken. Seriously mistaken. I asked said supervisor to please join me in private because I had at least regained my composure enough to realize another public kerfuffle wasn’t going to make either of us look good. Once in private though things went quickly downhill. I tried the standard arguments all of us know, but to no avail. I kept getting responses like “physics has nothing to do with it” and “rear-facing seats only go to 22 pounds” and the one that he kept repeating, and made my blood pressure go through the roof was “Is this really worth it?”

My answer to that question is of course, an emphatic YES!!! And furthermore, if you don’t think it’s worth it then please do everyone a favor and stop passing yourself off as a “car seat expert.” This experience was one of the most frustrating of my entire life, but in many ways I’m glad it happened. Car Seat ObsessionIf it hadn’t, I likely would have turned my kids forward-facing at age two (which I still did for a month or so with our oldest until I did some more research.) I likely wouldn’t be providing my kids with state of the art protection every time they get in the car. I wouldn’t have written an award-winning article for the Air Force safety magazine.  I wouldn’t have become a Tech, or had the opportunity to influence parents, or had the opportunity to be writing this blog entry right now.

So, the question becomes, what’s my point? Well, I have a theory that while the CPS community does an excellent job of reaching out to the most at-risk demographics, a large segment of the population would use best practice if only the guidance were clear, concise, and unified. I also believe that Techs have an ethical duty to at least mention best practice before they judge any caregiver unable to “get it.”  Your average parent (as I was at the beginning) assumes if they’ve taken the time to go to a Seat Check event, or the Fire Station, that they’ve left with the best, most current information available.  Since they make this assumption they’re unlikely to go home and cross-check the information they’ve been given.  Remember that class I took from the D-M Fire Chief? I listened intently to everything he said, and I’m sure if he’d spent just five minutes covering the advantages of keeping kids rear-facing I would have “gotten it” and could have avoided the multi-year odyssey that has deposited me in the place I am now. I’ve got to believe that I’m not an anomaly, and more parents and caregivers are ready, willing, and able to “get it” as well — if only we would take a few minutes to explain the theory behind the practice.


AK Dad is a former US Air Force fighter pilot who decided that wasn’t challenging enough and became a stay at home dad to three (usually) wonderful preschoolers.  He is also a part-time Officer in the Alaska Air National Guard where he flies search and rescue helicopters and is a Flight and Ground Safety Officer. He became a volunteer CPS Technician in 2012.