Britax Marathon CT Convertible Carseat Review
ClickTight isn’t considered new technology anymore since it was introduced almost 10 years ago on the old Britax Frontier seat but the ClickTight system is still the gold standard when it comes to mechanical advantages 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 newborns 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 $299.99/$339.99 with anti-rebound bar
- Britax Boulevard ClickTight – All the features of the Marathon CT plus deeper, plastic-surrounded headwings; “Click & Safe” snug harness indicator. Read our Boulevard ClickTight Review here. MSRP $324.99/$364 with anti-rebound bar
- Britax Advocate ClickTight – All the features of the Boulevard CT plus external side-impact cushions. MSRP $349.99/$379.99 with anti-rebound bar
Britax also makes a less expensive series of smaller convertibles. These models are based on the Britax G4 platform and do NOT have ClickTight. We reviewed the Britax Emblem that sells for $199.99 at Amazon.
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 built-in 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 makes it a good value; sells for under $280 at Amazon
- Made in the USA!
Marathon CT Measurements
Harness slots: 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 inflatable seat belts 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 are to hand wash with mild soap and water and to line dry. The cover is very padded and I suggest rolling it tightly in an absorbent towel to get the extra water out before hanging to dry.
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 CT & Advocate CT 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