BRITAX CONVERTIBLE CAR SEATS – AN INTRODUCTION
Britax have been manufacturing high quality premium convertible car seats for many years. They are a tried and tested brand and Britax Convertible Car Seats remain very popular with both parents and car seat safety technicians.
Their first convertible car seat was introduced to the US market in 1996/7 and since then they have continued to develop and introduce new and improved safety and convenience features on their products.
The speed of change and improvement is such that the seats of the late 1990s bear little resemblance to the seats of 2017. Yes, the overall shape of the seats are similar but, beyond that, every single important aspect of the seats have been dramatically improved.
In addition to introducing new and improved features, Britax soon decided to offer a range of convertible car seats to the US market rather than stick to a single seat. Each of these seats comes with slightly different specifications and each comes with a slightly different price point. Whilst this provides parents with extra choices, it also creates the possibility for confusion as the subtle differences between the models are not always obvious from simply looking a pictures of the seats.
In this post I will try to help you to overcome this confusion by describing the full range of Britax Convertible car seats that are currently on sale today and then direct you towards some more in-depth reviews of the particular seats that might interest you.
BRITAX CONVERTIBLE CAR SEATS – THE OPTIONS
There are 8 different convertible car seat that are actively being promoted for sale by Britax at the moment, but a number of these seats share very similar model names.
Those 8 seats (starting with the top-of-the-range model) are:
- Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB – $469.99
- Britax Advocate ClickTight – $439.99
- Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB – $409.99
- Britax Boulevard ClickTight – $379.99
- Britax Marathon ClickTight – $339.99
- Britax Boulevard – $329.99
- Britax Marathon – $289.99
- Britax Roundabout – $179.99
So, you can see that there is a huge difference in price between the top-of-the-range Advocate ClickTight ARB and the Roundabout. As you might expect, there is also a huge difference in the safety and convenience features that are found on these seats too.
In order to better understand the models on offer and how they related to each other, they can actually be broken down into 3 general categories:
- ClickTight ARB
- The Basic Models
I strongly suggest that you start the process of choosing the right Britax convertible seat for your child by identifying which of these general categories is most suitable for your needs.
Here are the important differences between theses 3 categories of seats …
1. ClickTight ARB
The 2 obvious differences between the ClickTight ARB seats and the Basic Seats are that they come fitted with the ClickTight Installation System and Anti-Rebound Bars (ARB).
The only real difference between the ClickTight ARB seats and the ClickTight seats is the Anti-Rebound Bars.
Note: Although the ClickTight models aren’t supplied with ARBs, you can actually buy the ARBs separately and fit them to a standard ClickTight model if you wish. The ARBs cost about $30 to buy separately, which is why there is a $30 price difference between the ARB and non-ARB models.
There is no ARB version of the Marathon ClickTight seat.
What is the ARB for?
The Rebound Bar is a padded steel bar that is attached to the foot-end of the seat and is designed to manage the rebound or reactive motion during a collision.
If the vehicle in which the seat were installed drove into collision with the rear of a vehicle in front, for example, the initial forces involved would compress the seat into the back of one of the front seats. The secondary reaction, however, would cause the seat to rebound back towards the rear of the vehicle and, without an anti-rebound bar, there is a real risk that the child occupant would come into forcible contact with vertical part of the vehicle seat upon which it sits. The anti-rebound bar effectively cushions this secondary reaction and reduces the risk of the child occupant injuring themselves as a result of their body striking the seat.
In testing for the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Britax found that the ARB minimizes the risk of injury to rear-facing children by reducing rebound rotation by 40% and stabilizes the car seat during frontal, rear-end, and side-impact crashes
What is the ClickTight Installation System?
The ClickTight Installation System is designed to help you to install the car seat securely into your vehicle when you are unable to use the LATCH connectors.
There are 2 very important reasons why the ClickTight installation system has proved popular:
- The 2014 LATCH Law changes mean that convertible car seats need to be re-installed using the seatbelt once your child reached a certain weight (40 lbs for the Britax ClickTight seats);
- Standard belt-fitting systems can be confusing for many parents and research suggests that about 75% of seats are incorrectly installed.
Although it would be misleading to suggest that the ClickTight installation method automatically makes the car seat safer, is does lead to an “indirect” safety benefit in many situations. As I have already mentioned, the majority of child car seats are incorrectly installed and any system that helps those who find it difficult to install seats properly using traditional belt-fitting mechanisms is to be welcomed.
Achieving a proper and safe installation is vital to child car seat safety and the ClickTight system make the process pretty much fool-proof.
As you can see from the images and videos below, installing a convertible seat using the Britax ClickTight system is very simple, very quick and there is even a handy indicator to confirm that you have done it correctly!
So, ClickTight takes away most (if not all) of the stresses of trying to install convertible car seats using the seat belt, and since it is almost fool-proof, it vastly improves your chances of getting it right the first time and keeping your child safe.
ClickTight installation involves 3 very simple steps:
- Open the Compartment
- Feed the Belt into the Slots
- Close the Compartment
Note: Although you use the same 3 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:
So, if you have any concerns about your ability to install a convertible car seat safely using the conventional seatbelt methods and you want the added peace of mind provided by the ARB, you should seriously consider buying one of the ClickTight ARB seats rather than one of the ClickTight or Basic Models.
Read User Reviews of the ClickTight ARB seats here:
2. ClickTight (without ARB)
Obviously, these seats do not come with the ARB (although it can be added later) but do still come with the ClickTight Installation System.
In all other respects, the ClickTight ARB and ClickTight seats are identical.
So, if you are worried about your ability to install a convertible car seat safely using the conventional seatbelt methods but are not sure if you want the ARB, you should opt for one of the ClickTight seats rather than one of the ClickTight ARBs or Basic Models.
Read my in-depth comparison reviews of the ClickTight Seats here:
- Advocate ClickTight v Boulevard ClickTight
- Boulevard ClickTight v Marathon ClickTight
- Advocate ClickTight v Marathon ClickTight
3. The Basic Models
If you don’t want (or need) the ClickTight Installation System or an Anti-Rebound Bar (or if you are on a tight budget) the basic models would be the best place to look.
They are still great seats. Naturally, the further down the price point that you go, the fewer safety and convenience features that you can expect to be included.
Read Reviews of the Basic Seats here:
WHERE TO BUY THE BRITAX CONVERTIBLE SEATS
If you have already made up your mind about which of the Britax convertible car seats to buy, then look for the best prices here:
- Advocate ClickTight ARB
- Boulevard ClickTight ARB
- Advocate ClickTight
- Boulevard ClickTight
- Marathon ClickTight
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 Convertible Car Seats 2017″ post, please leave a comment in the box below or send me an email.