2020 Clek Foonf Review Update
This isn’t just any ol’ carseat. This is a FOONF. I won’t bore you with any Foonf jokes, because it’s hard to get the play on words across when they’re written anyway. The model I have is the latest and greatest, the convertible carseat from Clek with the dual position, dual length crotch strap, improved anti-rebound bar, rigid LATCH, and REACT Safety System that pushes other carseat manufacturers to find newer, better technologies so in the end, all carseats are better. All that hardware aside, is it going to fit your kid?
Weight and Height Limits
Rear-facing: 14-50 lbs., 25-43”, able to sit upright alone, head is 1” below top of headrest
Infant-Thingy (sold separately) allows minimum rear-facing limits to drop to 5 lbs. and 19″ (must follow Infant-Thingy manual for use)
Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs., 30-49”; age 1 minimum, age 2+ recommended
- Rigid LATCH forward-facing installation
- Anti-rebound bar designed to limit rebound in the aftermath of a crash
- Available Q-Tether: rear-facing Australian-style tethering prevents rotation of carseat toward vehicle floor
- Built-in lockoffs for both rear- and forward-facing
- Approved for use with Ford Motor Company inflatable seat belts
- Rigid sub-structure: Foonf has a steel and magnesium sub-structure
- Structural headrest: headrest is lined with energy absorbing foam and connected to seat frame with steel rods
- Energy absorbing foam both inside and outside the frame of the carseat
- Designed for extended rear-facing: designed to accommodate rear-facing kids to age 4
- Three recline positions
- Adjustable crotch strap: crotch strap has 2 different lengths to accommodate bigger kids
- REACT Safety System: The Rapid Energy Absorbing Crumple Technology Safety System is an aluminum honeycomb that sits under the child, designed to absorb crash forces.
- Crypton Super Fabrics: Crypton covers are GREENGUARD Select Certified and are waterproof, wipe clean, resist bacteria and a NEW 100% Merino wool cover that’s naturally flame retardant
- Narrow footprint: Foonf is one of the narrowest convertibles currently on the market
- 7 covers from which to choose, including exclusive Tokidoki prints
- Harness slots: 9 ½”, 11”, 13”, 14 ½”, 17”
- 16 ½” shoulders, 17” at its widest point at knees
- Max shell height with headrest fully extended: 26 ¾”
- Shoulder width: 12”
- Crotch strap positions: 4”, 6”
- Seat depth: 12”
- Seat weight: 33.7 lbs. forward-facing, 36.4 lbs. rear-facing (includes rear-facing base and anti-rebound bar)
2020 Clek Fabrics and Fashions:
Clek is known as much for their luxurious and kid-friendly fabrics as they are for the safety features on their carseats. Here’s a brief run-down of each type of fashion:
tokidoki for clek: These are fun, soft jersey knit prints that change by year and feel like pjs. Like the other Clek fashions, they are free from brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. Available in tokidoki reef rider (not a Crypton fabric) for $459.99 at AlbeeBaby. Unicorno Disco is still available too for $349.99 at Amazon.
Standard C-Zero Plus: This fabric feels more like a soft terry cloth and also cleans up with a wipe of a washcloth. This is a Crypton fabric and in addition to being free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, it’s fluorine-free and is GREENGUARD Gold certified. Available in Shadow (discontinued) for $449.99 at Amazon, Capri (discontinued) for $359.99 at AlbeeBaby, and Flamingo (discontinued) for $412 at Amazon. New for 2020 are the beautiful Snowberry, Ten Year Blue and purple Aura, all on white shells.
Tailored C-Zero Plus: This sophisticated Crypton fabric feels like soft suiting material. It’s free of fluorine, brominated, and chlorinated flame retardants and is GREENGUARD Gold certified. Available in Thunder for $479.99 at AlbeeBaby and Slate (discontinued) for $469.99 at AlbeeBaby. New for 2020 is the Pitch Black (available in March on all Clek carseats) for $479.99 at AlbeeBaby.
Carbon: Carbon has been on the Liing rear-facing only seat, but is graduating to the bigger seats. It’s a soft, comfy jersey made from a polyester-spandex blend. Available in March for $439.99 at AlbeeBaby.
100% Merino Wool: Merino wool is naturally flame retardant and soft. It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Available in Mammoth for $509.99 from Amazon. New for 2020 are the navy Twilight and Full Moon available for $509.99 at AlbeeBaby, both available in March.
A tightly rolled towel or pool noodle(s) is allowed if you need more help to achieve the proper rear-facing recline angle.
The steel anti-rebound bar (ARB) is used ONLY for rear-facing installations and its use is required on the Foonf. It prevents rotation into the back of the vehicle seat in the split seconds after a crash has occurred. Using the ARB does increase the amount of front-to-back space you’ll need for your rear-facing installation by about an inch and a half. Think of it as a kickstand that keeps your Foonf from falling into the back seat in a crash and it sticks out some. This, in turn, leads to more legroom—not a bad thing if you have a leggier or older child who needs the room. In fact, my models had room to fold their legs up criss-cross-applesauce and still didn’t touch my back seat.
Be sure to remove the ARB when you turn the seat forward-facing. Some caregivers leave it on thinking it’s a good footrest, but in a crash, crash forces can cause your child to bend all the way forward and hit it, causing severe injuries.
In addition to the ARB, clek just introduced the Q-Tether as another method for managing energy in a crash. It’s not a new concept: the Australian-style of tethering has been around for decades, but clek is making it more mainstream by making it an accessory for all unexpired Foonfs (and Fllos) on their website.
The Q-Tether limits the ability of the Foonf to rotate down toward the floor of the vehicle in a frontal crash, performing similarly to a load leg or to using a Euro belt path which is found on more and more rear-facing only infant seats, including clek’s Liing. When forward energy is limited, rebound energy, which is typically 1/3 the energy of the initial crash, is reduced as well. What does this mean for your child? The less bouncing around in a crash, the safer she’ll be.
Installation with the Seat Belt
Installation with the seat belt for rear-facing was a cinch and I really preferred installing the Foonf with the seat belt over installation with LATCH (see LATCH installation section for why). It was easier for me to pull the shoulder belt tight while pushing the carseat down than for me to pull each LATCH belt tight.
For rear-facing, the seat belt is routed through both lockoffs. The belt-tensioning lockoff handles are long and provide extra torque for closing. You may use either recline position 2 or 3 for rear-facing. Pull the recline handle under the front of the carseat to change between recline positions. Because of the anti-rebound bar, the Foonf can be adjusted forward or backward on the vehicle seat, which can change the angle of recline. There’s a wide range of recline allowed for the Foonf, so finding a comfortable position for both child and front seat user is easy. In my 2016 Tesla Model X and 2018 Tesla Model 3, the Foonf gave me quite a bit of legroom up front. I was able to have it behind my driver’s seat without having to make any adjustments and it gave the front seat passenger plenty of legroom in both vehicles.
For forward-facing, the seat belt is routed through a single red lockoff on the side opposite of the buckle. How you install the carseat dictates the recline you can use when forward-facing. If you have a lap-only belt and a tether, you can only use recline position 2. All other methods of installation (lap/shoulder belt, rigid LATCH, rigid LATCH and lap/shoulder belt) may use reclines 1 or 2. Don’t forget to attach the top tether to an approved vehicle tether anchor! If you don’t use the top tether, you must put the Foonf in the most upright recline position 1.
As with most tall carseats, I removed my vehicle’s head restraint so it didn’t interfere with my installation and push the carseat forward. Sometimes you have to take the vehicle head restraint off (and try not to lose it!), sometimes you can turn it around, and sometimes you can get away with leaving it on. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for guidance.
Installation with LATCH
The Foonf is a heavy seat and there are LATCH weight limits for it.
Rear-facing lower LATCH anchor weight limits: 25 lbs.
Switch to installing with the seat belt when your child reaches 25 lbs. Or just install the Foonf with seatbelt right from the start and that way you don’t have to worry about switching to a different installation method once your child reaches a certain weight.
Tools required for installation: Foonf and a step stool. Just kidding! Seriously, the Foonf is up pretty high when the rear-facing base is attached and I found it tougher to use my usual technique of pressing down on the side of the carseat while pulling the LATCH strap tight in my Acura MDX SUV. When I stood on a step stool, problem solved. In my dh’s Tesla Model S sedan, no problem with height because it obviously sits lower to the ground (and I can adjust the height of the suspension as needed too, hehe).
For rear-facing installation, the Foonf has a separate flexible LATCH adjuster on each side of the seat and the connectors are the deluxe push-on style connectors. There are designated storage areas under the seat pad to store the LATCH connectors and a spot on the shoulder harness access panel to store the tether strap when not in use.
When you switch the Foonf to forward-facing and install it with rigid LATCH, all you do to release the LATCH connectors from their hiding place in the base is to pull the black LATCH handle below the recline handle and pull the connectors out. Once they’re extended push the Foonf onto your vehicle’s lower anchors. Attach the tether strap to the tether anchor and you’re done! You’ll be amazed at how easy the install is and you’ll stand back, scratch your head, and wonder if there’s something you missed because it couldn’t possibly have installed that easily. To uninstall the rigid LATCH installation, pull on the two red handles on the front of the base. Installing the Foonf with the rigid LATCH engages the REACT Safety System, an energy absorbing system that crushes in a crash, positioned under the child. So when forward-facing, LATCH is the preferred method of installation. However:
Forward-facing lower LATCH anchor weight limits: 35 lbs.
The rigid LATCH weight limit is 35 lbs. and once your child reaches that weight limit, you must either switch to exclusively using the seat belt and tether or add the seat belt and tether if your vehicle manual doesn’t expressly prohibit use of LATCH and seat belt together. Yes, because the rigid LATCH and vehicle seat belt path don’t share the same belt paths, you can use both at the same time. There are a couple of vehicle manufacturers that frown upon this and say so in the manual, so you really have to read to see if yours specifically says “don’t install the child safety seat using both lower LATCH connectors AND the seat belt at the same time” or whatever terminology they choose to use. If they don’t mention it, you’re good to go!
Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing:
Clek does NOT allow center LATCH installation where lower anchors are spaced more than 11” apart.
Inflatable Seat Belts
Clek has determined that the Foonf CAN be installed with inflatable seat belts found in some Ford Motor Company vehicles.
The tether is not to be used in the rear-facing position. Use the top tether whenever the carseat is installed forward-facing, whether installed with the vehicle seat belt or the lower LATCH anchors. Clek requires tether use when the Foonf is in recline position 1 when forward-facing. After double-checking with Clek’s awesome tech representative, if you don’t have a tether anchor available in a position where there’s a lap/shoulder belt available for install, that’s OK. But every other installation requires a tether.
Fit to Child
There are some harness rules to follow based on how you install the Foonf. When installing the Foonf forward-facing without a tether for smaller kids under 40 lbs., you must use the top set of harness loops to shorten the harness. Just be sure to tuck the harness ends behind the metal splitter plate so it won’t catch as you’re tightening it. The crotch strap must also be threaded through the inner slot.
Crotch Strap Adjustment: The strap adjusts by turning it sideways and sliding it forward or back. There are 2 strap lengths sewn together to the buckle; this way you don’t lose a buckle when your child grows larger. It’s a rather ingenious design. Take it from me and don’t do what I did! In trying to figure out how to get the longer length strap out so I could get the shorter length strap in for my doll (I didn’t have the proper manual yet), I accidentally got both of the strap anchors into the slots. No biggie, right? It’s crazy hard to get the anchors back out of the slots when they’re both in there. Just don’t do it. One at a time, folks! Here are the positions:
- Rear-facing: use inner crotch strap slot; either length allowed
- Forward-facing: use outer crotch strap slot; adjust to longer length
- if installing with a seat belt without a tether AND child is under 40 lbs., use inner slot
As you can see in the pictures below, the Foonf fits all sizes of kids well. We even tried a 3 mo. old in the seat who was a couple of pounds under the weight limit and she fit very well too. But you won’t see pictures of her because we are a proper use blog, after all ;).
E is 4 years old and 35 lbs. She can be either rear-facing or forward-facing in the Foonf.
I is almost 6 years old in these pics and 40 lbs. He’s too tall to rear-face in the Foonf and has about another half-inch to forward-face before outgrowing the top harness slots.
J is 7 years old and 45 lbs. She fits weight-wise rear-facing and like her brother, has about a half-inch before outgrowing the harness forward-facing.
Cover Padding and Maintenance
It’s hard to believe there’s any padding on the Foonf because of the clean lines and narrowness of the carseat, but it’s there. Somehow Clek has managed to make the Foonf have not only one of the narrowest outside measurements on the market, but it also has roominess on the inside AND it’s comfy to boot.
Keeping the cover clean should be easy. With the Crypton fabric, spills wipe up fairly easily. The fabric on the seat cushion is removable and the seat back cover is as well, though Clek highly discourages it because it’s very difficult to get it back on (both Jennie and I have done it and it’s a little like giving birth—the memory never really goes away). Clek has their Fabric Cleaning + Stain Remover Kit, which includes a product for cleaning protein-based messes and one for dye-bases messes. The cleaning kit works well and leaves the fabric very fresh-smelling. As long as you stay on top of keeping your carseat clean, you’ll never have any problems!
Ease of Use
Out of the Box: If you’ll be using your Foonf rear-facing when you first get it, you’ll have to do some setup by adding the rear-facing base and the anti-rebound bar. There’s some flipping back and forth in the manual as you figure out how to do this or you can watch the video I made:
9 Year Expiration and Crash Guidelines: The Foonf has a 9 year expiration; the date of manufacture sticker is on the lower back of the seat. Clek specifies to replace the carseat after any crash.
Airplane Certification: The Foonf is FAA-approved for use in aircraft. It also is a heavy restraint, so if you do travel with it, you’ll want to use a luggage cart or the Clek Weelee to avoid having to carry it. The nice thing about the Weelee is that you can stuff other travel things in the bag with the carseat that you’ll be using on the plane while you’re using the carseat, so it’s not just a carseat bag.
The Infant-Thingy allows the Clek convertibles to be used from 5 lbs. instead of 14 lbs. When the Infant-Thingy is used in the convertibles, its own manual is followed. Read our review on the Infant-Thingy.
Clek has a vehicle seat protector available called the Mat-thingy. It is approved for use with only Clek carseats and is a thin rubber mat that protects the seat bottom and “waterfall” only.
- 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit
- Anti-rebound bar
- Available Q-Tether: rear-facing Australian-style tethering prevents rotation of carseat toward vehicle floor
- Rigid LATCH for forward-facing installation
- Approved for use with Ford Motor Company inflatable seat belts
- Steel and magnesium sub-structure
- REACT Safety System: aluminum honeycomb designed to absorb crash forces
- Structural headrest lined with energy absorbing foam and connected to seat frame with steel rods
- Replaceable harness: great if you have a pukey kid
- One of the narrowest convertibles currently on the market
- Deep seat pan for kids with long legs
- 9-year lifespan
- Crypton fabrics allows for easy cleanup of messes and are GREENGUARD Select Certified
- No chlorinated or brominated flame retardants used AND a 100% Merino wool fabric option
- Excellent customer service
- Made in Canada
- Recyclable through Clek’s recycling program
(In all fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific Foonf issues)
- Weight: at 33.7 lbs. without the rear-facing accoutrements, it’s plain heavy. It’s a beast coming in at 36.4 lbs. with those items.
- Assembly: Using the Foonf rear-facing takes a methodical approach. This isn’t a carseat you can pull from the box and think you can assemble without reading the directions and labels.
- Sits up high on the base when rear-facing (this could be a pro or a con depending on personal preferences)
- Not suitable for a newborn without the Infant-Thingy (not really a big deal since most parents use an infant seat first)
- Must manually adjust harness height: for a carseat in this price range, it should automatically adjust the harness height as the car door opens. Just kidding. But seriously, Foonf could benefit from a no-rethread harness. However, if it had that feature the harness might not be replaceable. There are always trade-offs.
Like any queen, the Clek Foonf is multi-faceted and sophisticated. It takes time to get to know and understand her, but you ultimately end up singing her praises because, even though she’s complicated, she’s royalty. Her harness is smooth as butter and she fits in tight places. She’s also got the high-tech safety features and exceptional rear-facing weight and height limits you’ve come to expect from royalty. For forward-facing, you simply can’t beat the rigid LATCH installation; it’s the way LATCH installs were meant to be—completely foolproof. Her fashion sensibility is on point: as your kid climbs in and out of the Foonf, the cover stays put, form-fitted against the sides of the seat. She’s as much a piece of modern art as she is an advanced safety device.
The Clek Foonf is on our updated list of Recommended Carseats.
See the Clek website for additional information: http://www.clekinc.com/foonf/
Thank you to Clek for providing us with this Foonf for our review. No other compensation was provided and the comments and opinions are entirely those of CarseatBlog.