Britax Marathon CT Convertible Carseat Review
ClickTight isn’t considered new technology anymore since it was introduced over 10 years ago on the old Britax Frontier seat, but the ClickTight system is still the gold standard when it comes to a mechanical advantage featured on a car seat. Even though many other car seat manufacturers have copied the idea behind ClickTight, nothing else installs as easily as a Britax seat with this technology. ClickTight was a game-changer a decade ago and continues to be the easiest installation method available on any convertible car seat.
The Britax Marathon CT is a convertible carseat designed to fit babies to preschoolers.
Here’s a quick overview of the differences between the three ClickTight convertibles. All Britax CT convertibles have the ClickTight Installation System, an impact-absorbing base with 7 recline positions, rip-stitch energy-absorbing tether, HUGS harness pads, a steel reinforced frame, EPP foam, and other side-impact protection features.
- Britax Marathon ClickTight – This model has a no-rethread harness, headwings lined with energy-absorbing EPP foam, and rubber HUGS pads that are attached to the harness. MSRP $339.99
- Britax Boulevard ClickTight – All the features of the Marathon CT plus deeper headwings. MSRP $369.99
- Britax Advocate ClickTight – All the features of the Boulevard CT plus external side-impact cushions. MSRP $399.99
Britax also makes a series of smaller convertibles. These models are based on the previous Britax convertible platform and do NOT have ClickTight. Britax Emblem MSRP $249.99
2023 Britax Marathon Fashions:
Britax Marathon Specs:
- Rear-facing 5-40 lbs. AND child’s head is 1” below top of head rest
- Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., 49″ or less, at least 1 year old*
*Britax recommends that children ride rear-facing to the highest weight or height specified
Marathon CT Overview:
- ClickTight installation system (also acts as a lockoff device)
- 12 position headrest with no-rethread harness
- 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
- 2 position buckle with EZ-Buckle System to keep buckle to the front and forward of the child when loading
- Steel-reinforced frame
- SafeCell impact-absorbing base
- Energy-absorbing, rip-stitch Versa-Tether®
- 7 recline positions to help achieve a proper recline angle in any vehicle
- Smooth bottom base with grippy edges that won’t damage vehicle upholstery
- FAA-approved for use on aircraft
- 10 yr lifespan before expiration
- Made in the USA!
Marathon CT Measurements
Harness heights: 7 ½”-18 ½”
External widest point: 17 ½”
Shell height with headrest: 27”
Shoulder width: 14”
Crotch strap depth: 5”, 7”
Seat depth: 12”
Seat weight: 28 lbs.
The ClickTight panel, which closes down on top of seat belt, is a lockoff. The panel unlocks by pushing the dimple at the top of the CT dial and turning it clockwise.
Recline: There are 7 recline positions for rear-facing and as long as you stay within the proper zone for either your rear-facer or forward-facer, you’re golden. The Marathon can be adjusted as upright as you want for rear-facing as long as the level indicator ball isn’t touching the edge, which is fantastic for those older kids who don’t sleep, and it gives front seat passengers more legroom.
For forward-facing, the MA provides a nice recline as long as you stay within the indicator’s forward-facing zone AND the base isn’t pushed more than 3” off the vehicle seat. This recline is nice for kids who have special needs or if you’ll be traveling on a long trip overnight, but it really cuts down on the child’s legroom if you put it in the most reclined allowable position.
Seatbelt: Installation with the seatbelt is easy-peasy. Route BOTH the lap and shoulder portions of the seatbelt thru the correct beltpath. Pull the slack out of the lap belt portion of the seatbelt, make sure the belts are not twisted, and close the ClickTight panel. If the MA moves more than 1 inch, remove more slack from the seat belt. If it takes you more than a minute to do this process, there’s something wrong.
LATCH: Britax practically scoffs at LATCH with the CT system, especially in these convertibles. Which is probably why they’ve hidden the lower LATCH strap in a little compartment at the back of the base. They’re hoping you don’t even find the LATCH strap. Lol. Also, gone are the deluxe push-on style lower LATCH connectors that we’re used to on Britax products and in their place are standard hook-style connectors. They’ve done this for 2 reasons: 1. to save storage space and weight on the seat, and 2. to discourage the use of the lower LATCH connectors.
With the current Federal regulations, LATCH weight limits have been drastically lowered on heavier carseats and since it’s so incredibly easy to install the CT carseats using the seatbelt, it makes sense to discourage the use of the lower LATCH connectors. Of course, there might be times where you have a compelling reason to use those lower LATCH anchors instead of the seatbelt—like, say, when you have an adjacent child passenger who might accidentally unbuckle the seatbelt and unintentionally uninstall the carseat. However, for most people, it makes sense to install a ClickTight seat using the seatbelt instead of the lower LATCH anchors.
If you really want to use the LATCH strap to install your ClickTight convertible please note that uninstalling the seat after you’ve installed it using the LATCH strap has proven to be very challenging sometimes. This (and the low LATCH weight limits) are the reasons why we recommend using the seatbelt for installation. It’ll be easier in the long run.
- Rear-facing LATCH weight limit: 35 lbs.
- Forward-facing LATCH weight limit: 40 lbs.
- Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing: Allowed when the vehicle manufacturer has designated it as a LATCH location.
Inflatable Seat Belts: Britax has determined that the Marathon ClickTight cannot be installed with found in some Ford, Lincoln, and Mercedes vehicles. In these cases you MUST use LATCH to install the seat or move the car seat to a different seating position that does not have an inflatable seatbelt.
Attach the tether strap to the tether anchor in your vehicle anytime you install the seat forward-facing. Regardless of whether you are using the seatbelt or the LATCH strap, if the seat is forward-facing, use the tether. FYI – the tether strap on the ClickTight models has been shortened significantly. Because it has been shortened so much, Britax offers a tether extender if you need it. In most cases you won’t need it but if you do – call Britax customer service to request a tether strap extender.
Fit to Child
The Marathon CT comes with an infant insert, which puts the lowest harness position at about 7.5”. Fit to Romeo, my 20” newborn doll was good.
The infant insert, called the “comfort pillow” in the manual, is nicely designed to fit under the tuck in the back pad when it’s in the lowest position. There are no weight or height limits on its use, but I would remove it as soon as the child no longer needs it for a boost to the bottom harness slots.
Older children will find the MA very comfy too. My models, ages 4 and 5, loved the seat and said it was very padded. My 5 year old model sat comfortably rear-facing in the MA for about 15 minutes while waiting for me.
Quinn is 4 and weighs 44 lbs.
Addie is 4 and weighs 43 lbs.
Ava is 5 and weighs 38 lbs.
Cover/Maintenance/Ease of Use
The cover is in 4 pieces so you can pick and choose which part to wash, and is easy to remove and put back on. There are relatively few elastics to hold it on and the hard part is remembering to tuck it in all the way around, though a couple of the elastics that hold the front edge piece on are tricky to get attached. There’s no need to remove the harness (yay!) to take off the back portion for cleaning. Most important to remember is to tuck in the side cover where the CT panel locking mechanism can catch. There are red tabs and even warnings on the panel itself about tucking in the cover.
Instructions for cleaning the cover:
If you’re looking everywhere for the sticker label with the model number and date of manufacture – you’re not blind! It’s hidden under the cover on the front of the CT panel. You’ll want to know where this is because if you contact Britax with a question, they’ll ask you the DOM and model number.
The Marathon CT is FAA-approved; however, because of the unique belt path and the different seat belts airplanes use, installation on a plane is altered. For rear-facing, keep the ClickTight panel closed and run the airplane seat belt over the top of the cover in the rear-facing belt path. Pull tight. For forward-facing, keep the ClickTight panel closed and run the airplane seat belt under the cover (pull the seat pad back forward) before placing the seat belt in the forward-facing belt path and tightening. Think about it: this keeps the bulky latchplate from being directly on your child’s back.
The Marathon CT has a lifespan of 10 years and Britax follows NHTSA’s crash guidelines of replacing after a major crash only.
Marathon ClickTight Advantages
- Better than average height limits for rear-facing
- Super easy seat belt installation with ClickTight System
- ClickTight also acts as a built-in lockoff device so you don’t need to understand the locking features of your vehicle seatbelt
- No-rethread harness makes it easy to adjust the harness height when your child has a growth spurt
- Harness straps are thick and not prone to twisting
- EZ-Buckle System keeps belly pad and buckle out of the way when loading child in the seat
- IMMI buckle is easy to buckle and unbuckle
- Rip-stitch tether, HUGS pads, and impact-absorbing technology in base all work together to absorb energy in a crash
- Harness straps are replaceable, if necessary
- HUGS pads may be removed when the child is rear-facing (but they are required for forward-facing)
- Range of rear-facing recline angles allowed
- Doesn’t take up a lot of room rear-facing if installed more upright for an older baby or toddler
- Easy to remove cover
- Premium fabrics and extra padding for comfort
- Made in the USA!
- Limited rear-facing leg room for older children near the upper limits of the seat
- Newborn recline angle may require adding a pool noodle in some vehicles
Despite not having the more robust headwings that the Boulevard & Advocate models have, the Britax Marathon CT has its place in the winning Britax lineup. The ClickTight panel makes installation a breeze; as long as you thread the belt through the correct belt path, the carseat practically installs itself. Does the ClickTight system live up to the Game Changer hype promised when it was released? You betcha!
Thank you to Britax for providing the Marathon ClickTight used for this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog.
CarseatBlog Experts Rating
Editors’ Pick Premium Category: Boulevard ClickTight
Also Recommended: Advocate ClickTight, Marathon ClickTight
Heavy and very difficult to adjust, need an engineering degree. Can’t wait until I never have to use this car seat again.
Do yourselves a favor stay away from ALL BRITAX CLICKTIGHT CARSEATS! The worst customer servicce! I used Britax everything for over 6 years because supposedly they are great! My daughter started crying only while in her carseat (not any other carseat) that her private are hurt! I pushed down on the seat and after days of crying (initially I thought she was being cranky) and wow there is a ledge like hard bump in her seat where her private area region is! I called the company looking for advice to fix issue INSTEAD I got the runaround for a week lots of calls requesting a ton of photos, taking my carseat apart, measuring every angle of my daughter! They call me back to tell me my daughter (3) who weighs 32lbs & is 31 inches tall has outgrown the seat? Strange accirding to the seat it goes to 49 inches and 60 lbs? WOW! Nice job Britax, not your problem right?! Also their 3 wheeled stroller tips easily when used with the infant seat attached be careful it was a close call situation for us! Just save sone $ and use many of the other dependable brands out there.
Hi Mandy. Are you talking about the plastic casing around the harness release button? That’s the only thing I can see that could possibly cause discomfort. You could try calling back and requesting that they escalate the issue to a manager or see if just getting a different CSR helps any.
I can’t really comment on what they said to you regarding your daughter’s size. It may be possible that she has outgrown the seat despite what the stated limits are. Every child grows differently and will fit in each carseat differently. Some seats have more space in the crotch area, some seats are taller for longer-torsoed kids and it all depends on how your kid grows. And we know kids definitely have opinions on the things they use (and sit in), so if she’s not comfy, no one is :(.
But does the switch to the clip-on style LATCH connectors make installation with LATCH difficult? Heck no! Many of us have experience with the clip-on style lower connectors because they came on our rear-facing only infant seats, so it’s not new technology.
I like your review…except this part. This style of latch is rubbish. It is extremely difficult to unlatch and move the car seat. The friction lock on the side of the seat is incredibly difficult to loosen. Which makes the latches nearly impossible to release from the car properly. Especially with my man-mits. Britax did this for one reason and one reason only. To save money. I am not a fan of that feature.
What’s your opinion about the Consumer Reports finding that the harness straps pulled through the shell on the Boulevard CT but not the Marathon CT with a 62 lb dummy? Do you think, pragmatically, that the Marathon is safer, or at 62 lbs will most children be out of a convertible seat anyway and into a booster? I’m asking because I just got new Maxi Cosi Magellan Max seats after my infant outgrew her infant seat, but I am finding it extremely difficult to get the harnesses as tight as I would like. I called Maxi Cosi but so far they haven’t been much help. The Magellan max harness path is enclosed in the new design, so I can’t reach to the back of the seat and pull the harness tight from the back to facilitate tightening it. I am thinking about just replacing the seat with a Marathon CT but my child is currently in the 99th percentile and expect she will be tall and am wondering if the higher harness adjustment positions on the Boulevard are worth it, vs just going with the Marathon CT if Consumer Reports thinks it’s safer. CR rates the Marathon CT higher than the Boulevard CT at “better” and “basic” respectively in terms of safety.
From their site: “In Consumer Reports’ new crash tests, 2 of 2 Britax Boulevard ClickTight seats tested forward-facing with a weighted 62 lb. dummy, representing a heavier 6 year old child, experienced the seat’s internal harness pulling through the shell, when the harness was tested in the top harness position. This could provide a lesser margin of safety when compared to other models subjected to the same test protocol. Though the child-sized dummy remained within the harness, the loose harness could jeopardize the seat’s ability to effectively protect a child in any subsequent impacts occurring during a crash event. As required of all car seats sold in the U.S., the Britax Boulevard ClickTight must comply with all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and the manufacturers self-certify to such compliance. The federal standard is designed to ensure an essential level of crash protection. CR’s crash evaluation of infant and convertible car seats is based on how each seat’s performance compares with that of similar models in our 35 mph frontal crash tests. Given the results for the Britax Boulevard ClickTight, we believe there are better choices that could provide a greater margin of safety in certain crash conditions similar to those simulated in our tests. The Britax Boulevard ClickTight is similar in design to the Britax Marathon ClickTight, but includes two additional harness positions. This model is easily confused with the Boulevard (G4) model built on a different platform. The Britax Boulevard ClickTight performs Excellent in our ease of use and forward-facing fit to vehicle tests.”
Hi Alan. Since Britax raised the top harness height limit of the Marathon CT to be the same as the Boulevard CT, it will theoretically have the same testing issues as the BV CT in CR’s test. You’ve hit the nail on the head in terms of what our experience is with older children and convertibles is: most kids outgrow their convertibles forward-facing by height before weight. Of course, kids come in all shapes, so there will be outliers, but the majority won’t make it to those top harness slots at 62 lbs. and still fit comfortably in the seat. If your daughter outgrows any convertible seat before you feel she’s ready for a booster seat, there are currently lots of forward-facing combination seats (harnessed seats that convert to boosters) on the market with more likely to come later.
Hello, I have a marathon clicktight for my 2 year old. The instruction manual and website say the height limit is when the child’s head is 1” below the top of the “head rest”. Does this mean the top of the shell of the seat or the top of the adjustable center piece?
Brittany, the top of the center adjusting piece. We’ve clarified that with Britax in the past since it’s a bit murky.
Hello! Our Marathon CT was in our car with the windows down when the inlaw’s sprinkler system turned on. Everything got pretty wet, but we dried everything best we could and set it in the sun for the day. I’ve tried contacting Britax but was on hold for 35 minutes before the line disconnected. Could you tell me if the straps need to be replaced or not?
Hi Tori – don’t worry about it. The harness straps are fine. Plain water doesn’t degrade harness webbing in any way. Just make sure the straps are thoroughly dry before you use the seat again. 🙂
Just purchased two of these Marathon CT because they seemed like the smarter move than the simpler Marathon model. My kids are chunky, 10mo at 25lbs and 34mo at 43lbs and there is no way that crotch strap is going to cut it! My baby already seems small in it and my toddler has the buckles totally digging into her thighs. Does the G4.1 have these issues? I currently have a graco 4ever but the straps are hard to tighten so I got this one as my son is transitioning out of his infant carrier….do the other models have longer straps (crotch and shoulder). Also the shoulder height seems really short, my toddler is within a inch of the dotted red line already…maybe my kids are just not sized for this seat?! Any updates coming for this seat? I haven’t even installed them yet and I feel I already have to return it 😥
Hi Sara. For bigger kids, the Marathon CT isn’t the best choice because it does have shorter top harness slots than the Boulevard or Advocate CT models by about 2″. The Marathon CT harness slot heights are about the same as the G4.1 models (MA/BV), so you won’t get any more height there, but the G4.1 models do have longer crotch straps. The crotch strap length does bother some kids and not others, so it is completely a kid-by-kid issue.
Thanks for doing this review, it is very helpful! I am a little confused as to why the marathon did not make it onto the “recommended” list. I’m trying to decide what convertable to go with right now, but I’m a little lost. The marathon seems cheaper than the boulevard and advocate, but we don’t want to skimp on safety. I’ve read so many reviews and safety is our top priority but we were hoping that it wouldn’t break the bank. Advice?
Hi Emma. The Marathon is less expensive because the harness doesn’t go quite as high as the Boulevard and Advocate and it doesn’t have the headwings that the other seats have either. It didn’t make the Recommended Carseats List because it is so similar to the other 2 seats and we’d end up with a huge list—we had to draw the line somewhere.
We have 2 Marathon Clicktights (twin 5 year old grandsons). When using the latch connector method, even when i push in the lower connector adjuster release button to loosen the lower connector strap to be able to remove the car seat from the car, i can’t get any of the strap to loosen up. this is true of both of the Marathon CTs we have. Am i doing something wrong? Maybe you’ll say we should just use the shoulder/lap belt method? Thank you.
Hi Don, this is a common issue, unfortunately, with the ClickTight models. For this reason alone we recommend ONLY using seatbelt to install your ClickTight seats. If you cannot get the LATCH strap to loosen – call Britax customer service and ask for their blessing to cut the strap. That will mean you have to use seatbelt from now on but you probably want to do that anyway. There is no benefit to using LATCH to install these seats and as you’ve discovered, there is actually a significant downside when it comes time to uninstall the seats. For what it’s worth, the last time I had to wrestle (literally) with this issue, I was finally able to get the strap to loosen but it took about 20 minutes, a lot of effort from both the parent and me, and a significant amount of cursing. My thumbs hurt for 2 days after that. But, in the end we avoided having to cut the strap. Good luck!
You know how Britax goes on about varying layers of side impact protection. This being on the cheaper and more affordable end my question is, is the shell of the carseat the only part that has the EPP foam? Does the head rest that adjust a tleast have some or is it just a plastic piece with a cover? This concerns me, I know the boulevard advertises that it does, but maybe they just mean more? Can someone please explain this?
Karen, the Marathon CT has just the flat headrest. I don’t remember off the top of my head if the back of it is EPP foam or not and it’s in a storage room at the moment. The Boulevard’s headrest is constructed of EPP foam. The shells of the ClickTight seats are blow-molded, which allows energy-absorption.
Not exactly a safety question but how/where do you attach the cup holder that comes with some models? I happen to have one and have seen nothing on this anywhere.
My son is almost 3 and about 35 pounds. He says the crotch buckle hurts his private. Is there a fix or is there no way to get even close to your 65 pounds worth out of the 2015 Marathon? If he were in the 50 lb range I wouldn’t be so disappointed, but he is barely 50% of the weight advertised.
Hi Leo, I’m sorry to hear you’re having issues. Are you using the outer buckle setting? Is he still in diapers or pull-ups?
So for the 1 inch below rule for rear facing? Is it from the headrest or shell on the marathon?
Hi Justina, for all the Britax ClickTight convertibles, it’s 1 inch below the top of the adjustable headrest when rear-facing. HTH!
Here the width of the seat is listed as:
External widest point: 17 ½”
However the official specs mention 18.5″ width (http://www.britax.ca/car-seats/marathon-clicktight/specs).
Are your measurements more accurate?
Can the Clicktight be used in the center position with a “lap only” seat belt?
Brittany, yes, it can be used with a lap-only belt.
I’m torn between britax marathon CT and Maxi Cosi Pria 85. My daughter is almost 7 months and over 20 lbs, we are moving from an uppababy Mesa infant car seat and can’t seem to find a convertible I like as much as I like Mesa. Wish uppababy made a convertible already. Not looking to be moving the car seat frequently. Which of the two mentioned above do you think I should go with?