Clek Liing Infant Carseat First Look Review
In a market filled to the brim with good rear-facing only (RFO) infant carseats, it’s not easy to make one that stands out. So many features that used to be luxuries are now standard, and coming up with something truly unique is a rarity lately. For the last 2 years, we’ve all been waiting to see what Clek would bring to the RFO table. Since they have a history of innovative designs and advanced safety features, the expectations were high. I’m happy to report that I recently got my hands on a final demo model of the Clek Liing and let me just say, you won’t be disappointed. At the risk of spoiling all the good stuff, let’s just jump right in.
Clek Liing Overview
- 4-35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall (must have 1 inch of shell above head)
- Rigid lower LATCH anchor connectors that extend up to 8 inches
- Metal load leg for crash stability
- Belt-tensioning system in base
- 7-position recline adjuster built into base (folks, hold onto your hats!)
- European belt routing for baseless install
- Extendable canopy with peekaboo window, 100+ SPF
- 2-piece shell for ventilation and side impact protection
- EPP energy-absorbing foam lining the shell
- 2-stage infant insert
- Narrow enough for 3 across
- 3 fabric options (jersey knit, C-Zero+ and 100% Merino Wool), all are free of brominated and chlorinated flame-retardants and the wool fashion is also free of all flame retardants
- 9-year lifespan before expiration
- MSRP $399-$479 (depending on fabric)
Liing Fabrics & Fashions
Merino Wool fashion is Mammoth: luxuriously soft 100% non-mulesed Merino Wool is free of all chemical flame-retardants and is naturally temperature regulating.
- Carrier weight: 9 lbs., everything included
- Harness heights: 3.5″ with lower body insert; 5”, 7”, 9” without insert
- Infant insert pillow padding: 1.5” under baby’s bottom
- Crotch buckle position: 5”
- Carrier external width at widest point: 17”
- Internal width at headwings: 4.75” across the back, 8.25” wide the front
- Base width: 13”
- Base length: 22.5”
- Base weight: 17 pounds
- Load leg heights: 10”- 20.75” from base bottom to floor (13 settings)
Fit to Child
The Liing has 3 shoulder harness positions and only one crotch buckle position, the latter of which may sound like a bad thing, but from a CPS Technician perspective, it’s one less thing that parents need to adjust/manage as their child grows. I’m thrilled with this and I had no fit issues because of it. The Liing has a manual rethread harness and it tightens and loosens like butter.
The Liing comes with a 2-piece Newborn Support System. The lower insert slides over the crotch buckle with a 1.5” tall pad that goes underneath baby’s bottom. The thing I love the most about this pad is that it has padding behind baby’s back that prevents baby from slumping or from pushing the head forward in the head insert. The head support attaches to the harness and can be removed by detaching the harness from the splitter plate and pulling the straps out from the back of the seat. I didn’t have a totally fresh baby to try this with, but I feel pretty confident from the design that head slump won’t be an issue with this infant insert system. In the models with the C-Zero+ fashions, the infant insert will be the same jersey knit material that comes in the jersey fashions just to maximize comfort for baby.
I was able to borrow some babies to check the fit on the Liing because my baby is 17 months old (I don’t want to talk about it ~ I keep telling myself he’s still a baby) and doesn’t give a great sense of what the Liing can handle.
Since I didn’t have a new baby, I got creative. The preemie Huggable Images doll that is often used for gauging preemie fit has a 6″ torso, so I found a comparable model. Elmo here has a 5.75″ torso and gets a really decent fit. 😀 His shoulders were definitely at the lowest harness slot and I was able to get him in nice and snug, despite him being rather squishy. His head laid back in the headrest rather than being pushed forward, as some rear-facing-only seats with robust infant inserts tend to do.
My first actual baby model is Ronen. He’s 2 months old and he’s close to 11 pounds and 23 inches. I tried him first with both parts of the infant insert because he’s right around the 11-pound limit but the fit was kind of wonky. When I took the lower insert cushion out, he had a perfect fit. I was able to get him snugly harnessed, without removing the strap covers(!), with only the upper head insert in place. His mom marveled at how comfortable he looked and she wasn’t wrong.
My second model is Noah. Noah is 4 months old and he’s on the other end of the baby spectrum at 18 pounds and 25.75”. While his face does not convey his joy, he also got a great fit. At first, I used the head support insert and the harness strap covers but the strap covers squished his adorable cheeks, so I took them off and that helped. I then tried him without the head support insert and he seemed a bit more comfortable. He is able to hold his head up just fine so using the head support insert or not would be a parental preference at this point.
My final model is my baby, Ben, who is 17 months old. He’s 23 pounds and 31” as of last week. He’s definitely pushing the height limit with almost exactly 1” of shell above his head, but he does tend to be a bit longer in the torso, so babies with shorter torsos are likely to make it to the full 32” without issue. There was plenty of length left to loosen the harness for taking him in and out of the seat and I was easily able to get him snugly secured.
My only real gripe in this whole fitting experience was that the chest clip is above average in difficulty of adjustment. This has some obvious benefits because it would be darn near impossible for even the most danger-seeking babies (cough, mine, cough) to shove the chest clip down and a lot of parents don’t do major chest clip movement regularly. But when I was switching between models, it was more of a challenge than I expected. It’s not a shortcoming, just an observation.
Fit to Vehicle
There are a lot of specifics here to get to, but the thing that I was most struck by when installing the Liing is how compact it is, without sacrificing space for baby. Even in the most reclined position, it took up less front to backspace than my pretty upright convertible seat did in the same position. On the left, is the seat fully reclined, on the right, it is maximally upright.
For fun, I tried it in the third row of my Odyssey because it’s not a terribly deep seating position and it seemed like the ultimate size test for a seat. On the deepest recline, the Liing touched the 2nd row seat, but on the 4th-7th recline positions, there was no contact between the Liing and the vehicle seat back. That is a pretty impressive feat.
Internal Recline System
So the big difference between the Liing and…well, every other infant seat ever, is that the recline system isn’t on the bottom of the base. It’s inside it. So you’ll install the base the same way in every car and then you adjust the recline once the base is in. And you can adjust the recline without uninstalling the seat! This is a true recline-on-the-fly feature. All you do is squeeze a handle, slide it up or down and that’s it. It’s as close to instantaneous as you can get. There is a bubble indicator on the recline mechanism to let you know if the seat is properly reclined for the occupant. Disclaimer – the demo model I got my hands on didn’t have the final markings to indicate different age and/or weight ranges on the angle indicator. With 7 recline positions that give you 15 degrees of recline range to work with, I was easily able to get the seat adequately reclined for a newborn and more upright for an older infant with basically zero effort. We will update with a picture once the final version is out with the labeled bubble indicator. It is not an exaggeration to say that this was the easiest recline changing/adjusting experience I’ve ever had with a rear-facing only seat.
The Liing boasts rigid lower LATCH connectors that are similar to what you find on the Foonf. To install the Liing with the rigid-LATCH system, you fully extend each lower anchor connector independently, attach them to the anchor bars in your vehicle and then slide them back in until the base is against the vehicle seat. You can ratchet each side in independently for a super snug installation that reduces the front-to-back space. It is fast, easy and immediately secure. There are red/green indicators on the sides of the anchors to show that they are properly attached. Unlike the Foonf and some other seats with rigid LATCH, you may NOT use the lower anchor connectors and seatbelt together on the Liing (not that you would need to, this is just an FYI).
Belt Tensioning System
If you can’t take advantage of the rigid latch feature, the seatbelt installation is also pretty fabulous. The belt tensioning system in the Liing is a true lockoff, so no need to switch your seatbelt to locking mode or spend time tugging out the last millimeter of slack. You simply route the seatbelt through the guides, remove excess slack and close the panel. That’s it! There are red/green indicator windows that show when the panel is secure. I was able to get a solid installation in each car and seating position I tried without breaking a sweat or a fingernail. Worth noting is that my vehicle belt has a fabric loop that went into the lockoff and it didn’t cause any issues with closing it at all.
The metal load leg stores underneath the Liing and extends/shrinks easily and smoothly. There is a red/green indicator on the foot to show if the position is correct for a secure installation. If you’re hoping to install the Liing in a seating position that has a storage area in the floor below it, you’ll need to check the vehicle manual to see whether or not the vehicle manufacturer permits the use of a load leg.
In Canada, the load leg is required for infants over 22 pounds.
In the U.S., if the load leg cannot be used for some reason, then it is recommended (but not required) that you install the base with the seatbelt instead of using the rigid latch connectors.
The Liing features European seatbelt routing for its baseless installation, meaning that the lap belt goes across the carrier, and the shoulder belt goes around the back of the seat. This reduces rotation in a crash and can provide better front to back stability. The placement of the belt guides on the carrier is somewhat unique in that they’re on the sides, not the top of the shell, which provides a really nice fit. I was able to easily install it baselessly in several different vehicles, had adequate seatbelt length in each case and found the process pretty seamless.
Inflatable Seatbelt Policy
The Liing base cannot be installed with an inflatable seatbelt (found in some Ford, Lincoln or Mercedes-Benz vehicles). However, all vehicles with inflatable seatbelts have LATCH anchors in those seating positions. Therefore, you would install the base with the rigid latch connectors instead. If using an inflatable seatbelt for a baseless installation, the European routing option cannot be used.
Handle & Canopy
The canopy, while pretty generous in size to begin with, also unzips to extend for near full coverage and boasts 100+ SPF. There is a peekaboo window so you can see baby even in the sun. And, best of all in my opinion, with the canopy extended there is plenty of room for a hand or arm on the handle to carry the seat.
Cleaning & Maintenance
It is recommended that the cover be spot cleaned, but it can be removed and hand washed using a mild detergent and then left to air dry.
Removing the cover is a unique process with this seat because of the dual shell design. You must remove the inner shell from the outer one and then you can remove the cover once they’re separate. The benefit of this is that you can get the cover itself on and off a little easier than a seat where it’s all tucked in, though the process of separating the 2 shells is a bit challenging on the first try. I found that once I did it a few times, it got much smoother and less daunting.
Lifespan, FAA certification, Crash Replacement
Liing has a 9-year lifespan and may be used on an airplane without the base. The seat must be replaced after a crash of any kind.
The Liing is compatible with a variety of different strollers. It is likely to be compatible with most Maxi-Cosi adapters as long as the Liing can be securely clicked into place. The list of Liing-compatible strollers will grow and evolve over time. Currently, look for strollers that advertise that they work with Maxi-Cosi, Nuna or Cybex infant carseats. Obviously, that includes strollers made by those companies. If you’re planning to pair the Liing with an UPPAbaby, BabyJogger, Bugaboo, Mamas and Papas, Peg Perego or other stroller brands, you will probably have to purchase a separate carseat adapter accessory for your specific stroller. Get the adapter made for Maxi-Cosi/Nuna/Cybex carseats – these brands all use the same stroller-to-carseat adapters. Whenever possible, it would be smart to try the Liing on your stroller of choice before making your final decision, just to make sure it fits securely.
Clek Liing Advantages
- Rigid lower anchor connectors make LATCH installation a breeze and reduces the amount of front-to-back room required.
- Lockoff in the seatbelt tensioning system reduces the effort required to install the base properly and allows for easy installation in the center seating position of vehicles that don’t have dedicated LATCH anchors for the center (this is most vehicles).
- Load leg prevents rotation and absorbs energy, reducing crash forces by up to 40%.
- European beltpath routing for baseless lap/shoulder belt installation.
- Chemical flame-retardant-free cover available (Mammoth wool cover is naturally flame-retardant) and all fashions are free from brominated and chlorinated flame retardants.
- Internal recline mechanism is truly revolutionary: 7 recline options that can be adjusted after installation without uninstalling the base.
- The Liing is narrow enough for 3-across and small enough, front-to-back, to fit darn near anywhere I can imagine.
- At 9 lbs. fully loaded with inserts, the Liing is one of the lightest weight infant seats out there.
- Let’s address the elephant in the room: this is among the most expensive infant seats in the high-end category. There’s no question. But it lasts for 9 years, so it should get plenty of use in a multi-baby household and the quality and features are outstanding.
- Lacks a no-rethread harness – which really isn’t a big deal, it just means that you have to detach the harness from the splitter plate and route the straps through the next set of harness slots as baby grows. The trade-off is that the harness is very easy to tighten and loosen and it can be removed and replaced if necessary.
- Rigid LATCH attachments require standard 11″ lower anchor spacing (which the center seating positions of many vehicles don’t have). In these cases, parents will have to choose between installing the base with LATCH in an outboard seating position or installing the base with seatbelt in the center. Either installation method is easy and secure but it’s still worth mentioning.
- Color panel is mostly gray and black for now. Many people would not consider this a disadvantage but it can be a consideration for those who want bright colors or feminine fashions.
The Liing is exactly what you hoped it would be and then some. It boasts rigid LATCH, a load leg, an innovative recline system, plus Clek ingenuity and quality. The design is thoughtful from top to bottom, integrating safety with everyday usefulness and it’s gorgeous too! My only Liing-related disappointment is that my last baby is already 31 inches tall and so I won’t get to use this seat myself, because trust me, I would. Clek devotees and newcomers alike will be thrilled with the newest addition to the Clek family and those just entering the car seat market won’t find anything quite like it.
The Clek Liing is available now on several baby websites and will be sold on Amazon and in boutiques and other stores where current Clek seats are sold. The Liing is a tough seat to find right now, depending upon which fashion you choose.
Thank you to Clek for use of their production demonstration seat for this review. There may be minor variations to the full retail version, particularly in regard to labeling. No compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are my own. Editors Note: We may update or re-review the Liing once CarseatBlog acquires a production retail sample and has more time to evaluate it.