For many years I have considered myself a Connoisseur of fine Child Restraints. To those who aren’t into Child Passenger Safety, that probably sounds just as weird as proclaiming to be a Geeky Carseat Freak, but I really do revel in all the small details that go into a well-made seat.
Such is the case with the SafeGuard Child Seat. I’ll admit, it didn’t blow my socks off as soon as I took it out of the box. But honestly, you can’t fully appreciate something like this right out of the box. Especially since there are no cutesy or uber-plush covers here that could make you squeal with delight at first glance. What there is, however, is an extremely innovative, solid, well thought-out and highly-engineered child restraint.
Darren already has a full review of the SafeGuard Child Seat here so I won’t bother to reinvent the wheel. However, I’d like to add my own thoughts and some additional pictures so here it goes…
What I love about the SafeGuard Child Seat:
- The lower anchor Posi-LATCH attachments. It’s like an ALR (automatic locking retractor) feature on the lower anchor LATCH strap. This is so smart! Let’s face it, the majority of consumers don’t get the CR installed as tightly as it should be. That is the beauty of these Posi-LATCH attachments. It could actually tighten itself over time. Every time the child sits in the seat, or shifts his weight, or the vehicle makes a hard turn, the vehicle seat cushion is compressed and the LATCH attachment can ratchet itself a little tighter. Obviously, I’m not recommending that you purposely leave the seat installed loosely and hope it tightens itself. I’m merely pointing out that the seat may actually correct this typical installation mistake on its own and that is pure genius!
- Comfort. I know Darren commented on this in his review too but look at the amount of memory foam that they packed into this seat! And they didn’t just put the memory foam on the bottom, they added some to the back and the headwings too.
- Energy absorbing foam. Here they used EPP foam instead of EPS foam. EPP is more durable and doesn’t crack or break as easily as EPS foam. What’s really impressive is the thickness of the EPP foam. There was clearly no skimping to save money here. They used a ton of really thick EPP foam. I was very impressed.
- Adjustable crotch strap. There is only one position for the crotch strap but the length of the strap will be automatically adjusted depending on the height setting. Raise the headrest to a tall setting and it gives you more crotch strap length. Lower it and it will give you less. Pretty cool! I was originally concerned about my 4-year-old DS not having enough room in that area since it looked like he was sitting on the area where the strap originates from but he said it was fine. I think the buckle pad (SafeGuard’s equivalent to Britax’s Belly Pad) helps him to not feel the actual strap.
- Supplemental Instructions on DVD. I can’t even explain how wonderful it is to pop this standard-sized DVD into my computer or laptop and watch the tutorials. Every CR manufacturer should do this. I think it would really cut down on some of the rampant misuse of carseats. Even the “real” print instruction manual is very well done. Probably the best written manual I’ve ever seen for a harnessed seat.
The only downsides that I’ve encountered so far:
- Sheer size and weight of this seat. It takes up a lot of room front to back and top to bottom. This isn’t a problem in the captain’s chair of my minivan but it could be an issue for others in different vehicles or seating positions.
- The harness retractor feature doesn’t work as well as I had expected. So far, I have always needed to use the knobs to tighten the straps after retracting the harness. And getting those last clicks with the knob takes a bit of strength and force.
- Finally, I’d like to note that the shoulder pads are mandatory. Even though it’s possible to remove them with a little work – they should NOT be removed. One side of the shoulder pad has a grippy surface which serves a function in a crash. Similar, I guess, to the HUGS pads that Britax uses on their higher-weight harness seats. This isn’t necessarily a downside unless you or your child doesn’t like the shoulder pads.
At the original MSRP of $429 it was still a great seat but it was out of the price range that most consumers were willing or able to spend for a forward-facing only seat. For the current sale price of $299 it’s practically a bargain! LOL! Okay, so maybe not, but it certainly puts this seat in the same price range of other popular CRs. Even if you get an older DOM, it’s still worth it IMO because the lifespan of this seat is 7 years from the date it was made. Worst case scenario, you get something that is already a year old and you only have the standard 6 years to use it. Nothing gained but nothing really lost either, KWIM?
Now, not only does the SafeGuard Child Seat have a 7 year life span. It has an unbelieveable 7 year warranty on the seat’s hardware components. SafeGuard is the only company that I am aware of that has a warranty period greater than 1 year. This limited 7-year warranty covers defects and not necessarily normal wear and tear kind of stuff but it’s still way more coverage than any other CR manufacturer will offer you. Here is the exact wording from the owners manual:
IMMI warrants that the SafeGuard Child Seat’s hardware components (buckles, retractors, frame, SmartCore Foam, adjusters, etc.) will be free from defects in material and workmanship for seven (7) years from the date of manufacture. IMMI warrants that the SafeGuard Child Seat’s harness and fabric will be free from defects in material and workman ship for one year (1) year from the date of original purchase.
They also have a crash exchange program for seats that qualify.
My 4-year-old, 41 lb, 43″ tall son loves this seat. He says it’s “very comfortable” and it’s his “favorite seat” at the moment. Not sure how much of that is just the novelty of something new but I have no doubt that he really is very comfortable. He also has a LOT of growing room in this seat as you can see from the picture above. He probably won’t last until 65 lbs in it, but I expect that he’ll fit comfortably in the SafeGuard Child Seat for at least another 2-3 years.