Clek Foonf Review with 2016 Clek Foonf Updates
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. What’s the Foonf? 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
Forward-facing: 20-65 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
- 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 waterproof, wipe clean, resist bacteria
- Narrow footprint: Foonf is one of the narrowest convertibles currently on the market
- 10 covers from which to choose, including exclusive Tokidoki prints (Note: Paul Frank fashions are discontinued so if you really want one of those, you’d better get it now while you still can)
- 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)
2016 Updates to Clek Foonf
- Increased comfort padding to the seat cushion, side and back panels, and the head rest
- New harness covers have additional comfort padding as well, are longer, and now attach with snaps
- Rear-facing lockoffs have been redesigned to be easier to open and close, and the rules on how to use them have changed. When installing a Foonf with redesigned lockoffs:
- Use *both* lockoffs for both seat belt and LATCH installations; if a plastic button or other seat belt feature keeps the lockoff from closing, then use one lockoff.
- Make sure the seat belt or LATCH belt is placed under both forward belt tabs in the belt path.
- Leave the vehicle seat belt in unlocked mode; don’t pull the shoulder belt out the full length to switch the retractor to locked mode.
- If you would like new rear-facing lockoffs for your seat, they are available for $5 shipping/handling through customer service and are easy to replace.
Clek has also updated their crotch strap policy:
- Place the crotch strap so it’s in the slot closest to and even with, or behind, the child. There should not be any space between the child and the crotch strap.
- The longer length strap may be used in *either* crotch strap slot, though Clek does recommend a 22 lbs. minimum before switching to the longer length. This change is retroactive as long as the 22 lbs. weight minimum is observed.
- The crotch strap must be routed through the same slot in the seat cushion as it routed in the carseat shell.
Clek has a new 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.
2016 Colors (all Crypton Super Fabrics): shadow, dragonfly (white shell), tank, ink, flamingo, capri, capri white (white shell), cloud (thunder with a white shell), thunder, slate, tokidoki space, cooper (black leather), paige (beige leather)
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 one blue lockoff. You can use whichever lockoff gives you the tightest installation. The lockoff handles are long and provide extra torque for closing. There are 3 recline positions, though you must use the most reclined (position 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.
For forward-facing, the seat belt is routed through a single red lockoff on the side opposite of the buckle. Don’t forget to attach the top tether to an approved vehicle tether anchor! 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.
Installation with LATCH
There are LATCH weight limits for Foonf and they will vary depending on when your seat was manufactured.
Rear-facing lower LATCH anchor weight limits:
For models manufactured before February 27, 2014, if you install the carseat with the lower LATCH anchor connectors for rear-facing, you must switch to using the seat belt when your child reaches 40 lbs.
For models manufactured after February 27, 2014, 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 strap 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. Attached 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.
Forward-facing lower LATCH anchor weight limits:
For seats manufactured before February 27, 2014, if you install the carseat with rigid LATCH for forward-facing, you must switch to using the seat belt when your child reaches 48 lbs. (or earlier if your vehicle has lower LATCH weight limits), OR you may continue using rigid LATCH and add the vehicle seat belt if your vehicle manual doesn’t expressly prohibit it. And don’t forget that top tether—you should always use the top tether when forward-facing.
For seats manufactured after February 27, 2014, 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 doesn’t expressly prohibit use of LATCH and seat belt together.
Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing:
Clek does NOT allow center LATCH installation where lower anchors are spaced more than 11” apart.
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.
Inflatable Seat Belts
Clek has determined that the Foonf CAN be installed with inflatable seat belts found in some Ford Motor Company vehicles.
Fit to Child
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. It’s not going to win awards for having the most padded cover, let’s be honest, but the kids who sat in the seat for me all said it was very comfortable for them and they wanted to keep it. And these kids aren’t sitting in cheap seats either.
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. Normally I jump right in and tear apart a carseat, but this is one seat I’m not going to do that to—I’m happy with the old wipe-a-roo. Clek now 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.
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:
Crotch Strap Adjustment*: There are two crotch strap positions on the shell located approximately 4” and 6” from the back of the seat. 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, lol. 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!
Of note, the buckle pad must always be used until the child reaches 22 lbs. Be careful not to lose it as you remove the seat cushion to install the anti-rebound bar.
*Don’t forget the 2016 updates above to the crotch strap!
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.
- Industry-leading 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit!
- Anti-rebound bar
- 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
- Tall top harness slots
- 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
- 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 (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.
I’ve been waiting for a while to get my hands on a Clek Foonf and it was fun when it finally arrived. I’ll be honest: the rear-facing set-up was more complicated than I thought it would be. This may not an issue for many of our “seasoned” readers, but could be a concern for some parents shopping for simplicity. However, once you’ve read the directions, have the anti-rebound bar attached and you’ve had some practice installing the seat – you’re golden. The payoff for your time and effort is that you get one of the most advanced convertible carseats on the market, with unique, high-tech safety features and exceptional rear-facing weight and height limits. For forward-facing, you simply can’t beat the rigid LATCH installation; it’s the way LATCH installs were meant to be—completely foolproof. The harness is smooth, the belt paths are wide, the instruction manual is intelligently written: when you feel the Foonf, you know you’re getting your money’s worth. And it looks nice; as your kid climbs in and out of the Foonf, the cover stays put, form-fitted against the sides of the seat. It’s as much a piece of modern art as it 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.