Reviews Archive

2018 Essentials by Britax Emblem Review

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2018 Essentials by Britax Emblem Convertible Carseat: Bye-Bye Britax Boulevard G4.1!

Britax has always been a premium carseat brand with luxe padding, push-on LATCH connectors, innovative safety features, and more. Late last year, Britax retired their G4.1 line of convertible carseats and focused solely on their ClickTight convertibles. Rather than abandon a solid platform altogether, they shifted it over to a new company: Essentials by Britax, a line of more affordable and accessible carseats for parents and caregivers who want the Britax ease-of-use and safety features without the top-of-the-line Britax price tag. The Britax Marathon G4.1 and Boulevard G4.1 are now the Essentials by Britax Allegiance and Emblem. The changes between the Britax and the Essentials by Britax seats are minor, but just enough to justify the price drop. We focus on the Emblem in this review.

Allegiance Emblem
5-40 lbs. RF 5-40 lbs. RF
20-65 lbs. FF 20-65 lbs. FF
10 no re-thread harness positions 10 no re-thread harness positions with EPP headwings
9"-17" harness height (6 ½” bottom slots with infant cushion) 9"-17" harness height (6 ½” bottom slots with infant cushion)
49" standing height 49" standing height
40 lbs. RF | 50 lbs. FF LATCH weight limit 40 lbs. RF | 50 lbs. FF LATCH weight limit
7 year lifespan 7 year lifespan
$199 $239

Tesla Model X Review

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Tesla Model X Review: Kids and Carseats

I’ve been driving my Tesla Model X for a long time now and I finally feel I have enough data to write about it without sounding like an advertisement. We’ve been through a couple of Vegas summers together and a couple of winters. I’ve been thrilled, frustrated, and entertained by my SUV with a personality. Hop in and see what the fuss is all about.

Probably the first thing you notice about the Model X (MX) is the windshield. It’s humongous and when you sit inside, you instantly feel like you’re in a fishbowl. Even though Tesla has tinted the top portion, the sun is still intense during the summer and I did get sunburned during long afternoon drives, so it was a little weird to get in the habit of putting on sunscreen before hopping in the car to run an extended errand (I know, I know—I should be wearing sunscreen all the time anyway but I hate the stuff). The 2nd row has windows in the ceiling as well, which makes it feel even more spacious than it already is.

Canadian Graco Extend2Fit Review

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2018 Graco Extend2Fit Review (Canada)

Editor’s Note: For readers in the USA, click here for our full review.  The Extend2Fit is a 2018 CarseatBlog Editors’ Pick from our Recommended Carseats list.

I think the first words out of my mouth were, “Whoa.  This has serious potential for a new favorite seat!”

I had just unboxed the Graco Extend2Fit, a convertible carseat option that looks sharp, installs easily, and has the coolest extendable tray to give a bit of extra leg room to those bigger rear-facing kids traveling in the back of our Canadian cars.  It also has dual cup holders, a 22.5 kg (50lb!) rear-facing weight limit, and a no-rethread harness.  Oh, did I mention the six recline positions?

Here’s the need to know info:

Weight and Height Limits

  • Rear-Facing: 1.8-22.5 kg (4-50 lb), 46-125 cm (18-49 in).  Child’s head must be 2.5cm (1″) below the headrest adjustment lever.  Harness straps should be at or just below the child’s shoulders.
  • Forward-Facing: 10-30 kg (22-65 lb), 69-125 cm (27-49 in).  Child’s ears must be below the top of the headrest.  Harness straps should be at or just above the child’s shoulders.

Features / Advantages:

  • 22.5 kg (50 lb.) rear-facing weight limit
  • 4 position extender tray for adding extra rear-facing leg room  (Note that position 1 is with the tray retracted.)
  • Dual cup holders (Required!  These came separately in the box and must be installed by snapping into place)
  • Push-on style UAS anchors that store nicely along the sides of the seat
  • 10-position headrest with no re-thread harness
  • Two crotch buckle positions
  • Ball level indicator for checking the rear-facing and newborn recline
  • Six positions of buttery smooth recline.  I’m talking hold-that-carseat-steady-as-you-go because if you squeeze the recline handle it will lean back into the most reclined position VERY easily!
  • Buckle storage pockets on each side of the seat – no digging for the buckles!
  • Easy height adjustment with a no-rethread harness
  • 10 year expiration
  • MSRP of $349.99 CAD

  

Installation

I found installation of this carseat among the easiest I’ve done.  I went straight for a seatbelt install first as that’s what I use personally most of the time, but did install with UAS after taking photos and found it equally easy.

Nuna PIPA Lite Infant Carseat Review: A Master Class in Function

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2018 Nuna PIPA lite and PIPA lite lx Review

I think one of the biggest challenges for a car seat company is when they already have an exceptional product on the market. Typically, it’s not that difficult to find ways to improve your existing product. But when you already have a great seat, like say, the Nuna PIPA, it’s tough to find ways to make it better. Nuna seems to have been working hard on this and for a great majority of families, I think they’ve knocked it out of the park.

First, I’d strongly recommend you read our original Nuna PIPA review because the PIPA lite is, at the most basic level, a PIPA, and that review is a very thorough look at it. I’m not going to waste words retelling the PIPA story because I want to highlight the features of the “lite” model.

The Nuna PIPA lite and PIPA lite lx have the same exceptional base, the same stroller adaptivity, and basically the same dimensions. If you looked at one from a distance, you might not notice it wasn’t an original model PIPA. But when you get closer and especially when you get your hands on it, you can see the ways they’ve taken an already outstanding rear-facing-only seat and thoughtfully upgraded it.

PIPA lite Specs & Features

  • 4-32 pounds; 32” or less AND at least 1” of shell above baby’s head
  • 3 harness height positions, 1 crotch buckle position
  • PIPA base with rigid lower LATCH connectors, seatbelt lockoff AND “stability leg” (otherwise known as a load leg)
  • Energy-absorbing EPP foam through entire top and back of shell
  • FAA-approved for use in an airplane WITH the base
  • 7-year expiration
  • Luxe leatherette carry handle
  • Weight of carrier is only 6.7 pounds including infant insert and canopy
  • The entire seat, foam, fabric, and inserts are flame resistant but contain zero chemical flame retardants
  • Infant insert is now 2 separate pieces
  • 2 sets of inserts/strap covers, one of which is certified organic cotton. The head support insert contains tailor tech memory foam to make it fit and grow with baby.

PIPA lite Measurements

  • Harness slot heights: 6”, 8”, 10”
  • Lowest harness slot height with infant insert and low-birthweight pillow: approximately 4”, the curved nature of the insert makes it tough to measure precisely, but it’s looooow.
  • Crotch strap/buckle position (without insert): 6”
  • Widest point (at the outside of the carrying handle adjuster): 17”
  • Internal shell height: 19”
  • Carrier weight: 6.7 pounds with canopy and inserts (5.3 pounds without)

What Makes it Lite?

So the base is the same, the shell is essentially the same and you might be tempted to dismiss the PIPA lite as nothing new, but you’d be wrong because there are some substantial differences between the original PIPA and the PIPA lite and these differences are big deals.

PIPA lite on left, original PIPA on right

The original PIPA model weighs in at a very reasonable 9.4 pounds, but the PIPA lite (without the inserts) is only 5.3 pounds, making it the lightest rear-facing-only car seat out there. When the seat is empty, it’s almost unbelievably light for an infant seat, especially for such a solid seat made of quality materials. It’s so light you can literally carry it with a single finger. Once you put a baby in it, it’s not quite as light, but I will tell you, without hesitation, the difference in weight between my 4-month-old baby in the PIPA and in the PIPA lite is noticeable. Those 4 pounds make a difference.

I routinely have to carry several handfuls of kid paraphernalia out of the car in addition to the baby, and the PIPA lite is so much easier to carry than other infant seats. I often carry it with 2 fingers or hook it in the crook of my arm and even with Ben in it, it’s generally not the heaviest item in my arms. You might be tempted to dismiss the weight reduction as insignificant, but you would be wrong. I really mean that.

To make the PIPA lite so light, the folks at Nuna had to trim some “fat” from the original PIPA and adjust some of the materials.

What’s missing from the original PIPA?