Britax Boulevard ClickTight Britax Marathon ClickTight
The New Britax ClickTight Convertible Car Seats
Britax convertible car seats have been very popular amongst parents and car seat safety technicians for many years now. They have consistently manufactured seats with impressive safety and convenience features, and they are always looking for new and innovative ways to improve their products.
The new series of Britax convertible car seats has been branded “ClickTight” and is now an alternative to the existing “G4″ series. This new branding reflects that fact that that they have taken their revolutionary “ClickTight” installation system and added it to ALL of their newly released convertible seats.
ClickTight is now a standard feature on Britax Convertible Car seats and this has been widely viewed as a very positive development.
Why Is ClickTight So Good For Parents?
There are 2 very important reasons why the introduction of the ClickTight installation system on all Britax convertible cars seats is such a great thing:
- The 2014 LATCH Law changes mean that convertible car seats now need to be re-installed using the seatbelt once your child reaches a certain weight (40 lbs for the Britax ClickTight seats);
- Standard belt-fitting systems can be confusing for parents and research suggests that about 75% of seats are incorrectly installed.
So, although the ClickTight installation method does not bring any “direct” safety benefits, there are likely to be some major “indirect” safety benefits for those parents that otherwise might find it difficult to install their child’s seat safely using more traditional belt-fitting mechanisms. Getting a proper installation is a huge part of child car seat safety and any technological development that makes this process easier is to be warmly welcomed.
As you can see from the images and videos below, installing a convertible seat using the Britax ClickTight system is very simple and quick process and these new seats even come with a handy indicator to confirm that you have done it correctly!
So, in short, ClickTight takes away most (if not all) of the stresses of trying to install convertible car seats using the seat belt and significantly improves your chances of getting it right and, thereby, keeping your child safe.
There are 3 seats in the new series of Britax convertible car seats:
The Advocate is the most expensive option, followed by the Boulevard and then the Marathon.
Edit: You can now buy all 3 seats with an anti-rebound bar fitted.
Note: The old Pavilion model name is being phased out altogether and the Click & Safe harness adjustment system will now be a standard feature on the Boulevard and Advocate seats.
In this post, I am going to compare the Boulevard ClickTight and Marathon ClickTight car seats so that you can make a better informed decision as to which is most suitable for your child and, importantly, whether the Boulevard is worth the extra $70 or so.
So, what are the similarities and differences between the Britax Boulevard ClickTight and the Britax Marathon ClickTight?
Before I get into the detail of each seat’s specific features, let’s take a look at the NHTSA’s assessment of them.
THE NHTSA “EASE OF USE” RATINGS = 5-STARS
Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does NOT carry our the sort of tests that enable anyone to rank all convertible car seats in order of safety, it does carry out pretty extensive “Ease of Use” evaluations on the seats and publishes the data to help parents.
Many people often incorrectly consider the NHTSA “Ease of Use” tests to be comprehensive “safety” tests, but they are NOT full safety tests. The NHTSA makes it clear on its own website that these “Ease of Use” tests should not be mis-used in this way.
They are, however, a useful starting point when considering which convertible car seat to buy.
SO, WHAT ARE THE NHTSA “EASE OF USE” RATINGS?
According to the NHTSA, the safest car seat is the one that:
- is appropriate for your child’s age, height and weight
- fits in your vehicle correctly
- is easy to use
So, a seat’s “Ease of Use” rating is awarded based upon an examination of the following factors:
- The Content & Clarity of the Seat’s Instruction Booklet
- How Easy it is to Install the Seat
- The Content & Clarity of the Seat’s Labels
- How Easy it is to Restrain the child in the Seat
Research suggests that about 75% of all car seats are incorrectly installed – this is one of the biggest car seat safety risks to a child and there is little point in paying $300 for a top-of-the-range seat if you can’t work out how to fit is properly.
Since correct car seat installation is such an important factor in ensuring that it is safe, it is perfectly reasonable to look at these ratings because they are specifically measuring the ease with which the seat can be use safely.
This is why the NHTSA “Ease of Use” ratings are such a useful starting point on your quest for the safest convertible car seat for your child.
You can find the latest NHTSA “Ease of Use” ratings for convertible car seats here.
Each of the 4 “ease of use” factors listed above are given a “star rating” out of 5 and then an overall star rating at the end that takes account these individual factors.
The only series of convertible car seats that can currently boast a 5-Star Overall Ease of Use Rating in the forwards-facing position are the Britax ClickTight Convertible Car Seats.
Boulevard ClickTight vs Marathon ClickTight – The Similarities
Before I look at the differences between these seats, I want to just list the most important features that are found on both.
Both seats come with:
- ClickTight Installation System
- SafeCell Impact Protection System
- SafeCell Complete Side Impact Protection (Plus on Boulevard, Standard on Marathon) – see below
- SafeCell Impact Absorbing Base compresses to absorb crash energy and counteract forward movement
- SafeCell Impact Stabilizing Steel Frame provides added strength through the spine of the car seat and reduces forward flex
- SafeCell Impact Absorbing Tether minimizes potential seat rotation with our unique two-strap design and slows forward movement
- SafeCell Impact Absorbing Harness keeps your child’s chest clip correctly positioned and absorbs energy in the event of a collision
- Quick-Adjust, Harness and 2-Position Buckle allows you to easily move the harness upward and buckle outward for a comfortable, secure fit as your child grows (see below for differences)
- 7-Position Recline with Automatic Level Indicator adjusts for your child’s comfort while ensuring the best installation angle for your vehicle.
- Plush Foam Padding in the cover, buckle pad, shoulder pads and removable pillow surrounds your child in comfort at every touch point.
- EZ-Buckle System keeps buckles and straps out of your way when placing your child in the car seat.
- Easy-Remove Cover for cleaning convenience.
- Certified for Aircraft Travel
- Made in the USA with global components
So, you can see that both seats come with an impressive list of premium safety and convenience features, but what about their child weight / height limits?
The Boulevard ClickTight and Marathon ClickTight have THE SAME WEIGHT LIMITS:
- Rear-facing between 5 to 40 lbs
- Forwards-facing between 20 to 65 lbs (must be at least 1 year old)
Note: Although these seats are rated as suitable for forwards-facing use from 20 lbs (if child at least 1 year old), the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that children should remain rear-facing for at least 2 years and preferably longer. So, do NOT rush to switch your child to forwards-facing mode once they reach 20 lbs. Instead, try to keep them rear-facing for as long as they remain within the height / weight limits for that mode of use.
The Boulevard ClickTight and Marathon ClickTight have VERY DIFFERENT HEIGHT LIMITS:
Whilst both seats have a maximum standing height of 49 inches, the maximum seated shoulder height on the Boulevard ClickTight is 1.7 inches more than the Marathon ClickTight.
The Boulevard ClickTight has a maximum seated shoulder height of 18.65 inches.
The Marathon ClickTight has a maximum seated shoulder height of 16.95 inches.
As you can see from the tables below, the increased height limit on the Boulevard ClickTight means that there are 2 more harness slot height options at the top of the range on that seat (14 vs 12).
This extra height is obviously a very big bonus for those with children that are above-average in torso-height (or likely to develop that way in the future). Children very often outgrow the height limits on convertible seats before outgrowing the weight limits and the extra seated shoulder height on the Boulevard will help to prolong the useable lifespan of a convertible car seat.
(The Britax Advocate ClickTight also has the same extended seated shoulder height as the Boulevard ClickTight).
Note: Britax have changed the reference point for assessing whether your child has outgrown the seat’s height limit. Instead of using the top of the outer shell as a guide, you should now use the top of the inner shell and ensure that your child’s head is not positioned higher than a a point 1 inch below the read “headrest” adjustment lever. You should read the user manual carefully to check that you fully understand this height-checking procedure prior to using the seat.
The Similarities Explained
The most important features found on all Britax ClickTight convertible car seats include:
#1 The ClickTight Installation System
Instead of trying to describe the ClickTight Installation System in words, it is much better demonstrated instead.
ClickTight Installation has 3 very simple steps:
- Open the Compartment
- Feed the Belt into the Slots
- Close the Compartment
Although you use the 3 same steps, there are different belt-retaining slots for forwards-facing and rear-facing:
This short video from Britax introduces the ClickTight system:
The promotional video above doesn’t show you in detail how to install seats using the Britax ClickTight system, but fortunately this great video from “The Car Seat Blog” does:
#2 SafeCell Base
The SafeCell Base is designed to compress in a crash, lower your child’s center of gravity, and counteract the forwards rotation of their seat. In so doing, this reduces the risk of your child’s head hitting the back of the seat in front of them.
Here is a short video that demonstrates the potential safety benefits of Britax SafeCell Bases:
#3 SafeCell Impact Stabilising Steel Frame
The SafeCell Impact Stabilising Steel frame is designed to strengthen the seat’s connection to the vehicle and reduce forward flexing in the event of a collision. This is said to reduce the risk of your child’s head coming into contact with the back of the seat in front of them.
Here is a short video that explains how the Britax Steel Frame can help to protect your child in a collision:
#4 SafeCell Impact Absorbing Tether
The Impact Absorbing Tether is essentially a strap that is attached to 2 upper parts of the seat and which is used to secure it to the lower anchors in your vehicle. The upper tether system is a very important safety feature and you should read the user manual very carefully to ensure that it is used correctly.
The safety benefits of using the Impact Absorbing Tether is that it:
- Diverts crash forces away from your child by distributing them across a larger surface area of the seat shell;
- Minimises movement of the seat in a crash (in all directions);
- Helps to slow your child’s body down in a crash.
You can see how the Impact Absorbing Tether helps to protect your child in a crash by watching this video:
#5 7-Position Recline with Automatic Level Indicator
The 7-position recline and automatic level indicator serves at least 2 useful purposes. Firstly, it helps you to find a comfortable position for your child when using the seat. Secondly, it ensures that you can quickly and easily install the seat at a recline angle that is safe for your child. Vehicle seats are all manufactured differently and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether or not you have installed the seat correctly.
The Britax automatic level indicator means that you can get peace of mind that the recline position is correct rather than having to take an educated guess.
#6 Quick-Adjust Harness
You simply press the red button and pull the top handle until you get the desired position. More information about how to use this feature and choose the correct settings are found within the user manual.
Boulevard ClickTight vs Marathon ClickTight – The 3 Big Differences
There are 3 big differences between the Boulevard ClickTight and the Marathon ClickTight:
- Side Impact Protection Systems
- Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator
- Seated Shoulder Height Limits
#1 Side Impact Protection Systems
The Boulevard ClickTight comes with the mid-range “Side Impact Protection Plus“.
Instead, the Marathon ClickTight comes with Standard Side Impact Protection.
So, what is the difference?
In short, although both seats have the same side impact protection foam around the upper part of the shell, the Boulevard ClickTight also comes with extra padding on the adjustable headrest.
Unlike the Advocate ClickTight (which is 20.5 inches wide due to the SICT wings), both the Boulevard ClickTight and the Marathon ClickTight seats are 18.5 inches wide.
So, if you need to fit 3 seats across a single row in a standard-sized family vehicle, you can immediately rule out the Advocate as being too wide and you would be much better off choosing the Marathon or Boulevard instead.
As for the extra padding on the headrest that the Marathon does not have, I can’t point to any independent tests to prove that there is any significant safety benefit, but it certainly does look reassuring and obviously can’t hurt.
#2 Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator
The Boulevard ClickTight comes fitted with the Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator and the Marathon ClickTight does not.
Click & Safe is an audible indicator to help determine when your child’s seat harness is within the appropriate range of “snugness”. It is designed to be used as an additional safety feature as opposed to replacing your own judgment completely in this matter. Obviously, if the indicator suggests that your child is snug enough but s/he still looks a little insecure – tighten a little more! It is best used as a warning that you are not snug enough (if not within the range) rather than an absolute guarantee that your child is snug enough.
So, if it says your child is not snug enough then tighten more. If it says that your child is snug enough, still check with your own eyes and hands that this is correct.
Watch the video below to see how the Click & Safe feature works (it shows the G3 model but is still valid):
Whilst the Click & Snug Indicator is a nice feature to have, it is not an essential safety feature if you take the time to learn how to tighten your child’s harness properly and make sure you follow the guidance every time you use the seat. However, if you are concerned about you ability to ensure a safe and snug fit on each journey, then you should consider paying for this extra feature.
Note: The Advocate ClickTight seat also comes fitted with the Safe & Snug Harness Indicator.
#3 Seated Shoulder Height Limits
I have already mentioned the fact that the seated shoulder height limit on the Boulevard ClickTight seat is higher than that on the Marathon ClickTight.
Different Fabric Color Options
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight and Marathon ClickTight seats come in very different fabric color options.
Where to Buy the Britax ClickTight Convertible Seats?
The MRSPs for these seats are as follows:
- Boulevard ClickTight – $369.99
- Marathon ClickTight – $329.99
The MRSP for the Britax Boulevard ClickTight seat is $369.99, but there are some better deals available online.
The MRSP for the Britax Marathon ClickTight seat is $329.99, but there are some better deals available online.
Canadian ClickTight Seats
After purchasing any child car seat, you should always read the User Manual thoroughly before using it. It is also advisable to visit your local Fire Department or NHTSA Child Car Seat Inspection Centre to ensure that the seat is definitely suitable for your child’s specific requirements and that you have installed it correctly. These services are usually provided free of charge.
You can find your nearest NHTSA Centre here.
Get in Touch
If you have any comments to share or questions to ask about my Britax Boulavard ClickTight vs Britax Marathon ClickTight post, please leave a comment in the box below or send me an email.