Clek Foonf Review

For our first seat review, we decided to do the beloved Clek Foonf. With the tagline “What the foonf?” It is a seat that many are curious about. As a CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) who also owns a foonf, this was an obvious choice for our first review.

At a Glance:

  • Rear facing: 14-50 lbs, once the child can sit up on their own, 25″ – 43.99″ in height.
  • Forward facing: 20-65 lbs (at least 2+ years old, strongly recommended), 30″ – 49″ tall.
  • Shell height: 27″ (Which makes it pretty compact when installed more upright)
  • Lowest harness height: 10″
  • Highest harness height: 17″
  • 5 harness positions total
  • Lower anchor limits: Model years differ, so please read your manual
  • Expiration: 9 years from date of manufacture
  • 2016 foonf has new and improved rear facing lock offs that can be ordered for previous model years.

Top 10 Best Features:

  • Built-in lockoffs both rear and forward facing
  • Rigid LATCH forward facing
  • REACT technology for forward facing children (we will discuss that more later)
  • Anti-rebound bar for rear facing
  • 3 recline position. #2 and #3 can be used rear facing to get the best recline for your vehicle and child.
  • Two buckle positions (4″ and 6″) and when the buckle is in the outer position, it can be lengthened to accommodate a larger child.
  • Steel Frame
  • Video user manual from Clek
  • Crypton Fabric
  • Harness is smooth, like butter!

Dimentions

( Clek Inc., 2016)

Set up:

It is important to note that when the seat comes out of the box, it has some assembly that requires the user to read the manual closely. In order to set the seat up for a rear facing rider, the ARB (Anti-rebound bar) must first be added. This is pretty simple once you read the manual and/or watch the video online (Click the highlighted link to watch the video). The head rest must also be inserted; this is straightforward. However, it should be noted that the head rest only locks in on the right-hand side. Once the headrest and ARB are on, it is now time to put the rear-facing wedge on to the bottom of the seat pan. Then you are pretty much done, as far as seat set-up is concerned.

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How long will this seat last?

This seat has considerable capacity for children while rear facing. With a 50lbs rear facing weight limit and a 43.99-inch height limit, this will get even your 99%ile child to 4 years old rear facing! That is a significant milestone in the child passenger safety world. As CPSTs we want children to stay safer longer and this seat helps parents do just that. So, this means, if you have an average child, or even a child who is on the petite side, then this seat will likely get them past 4, 5, or even in some cases 6 years old, rear facing. However, if you have a tall, long-torso kiddo, who doesn’t have a lot of weight on them, then, while this is a great seat, there are longer lasting seats on the market to accommodate that specific body type.

When forward facing, this seat has a 65 lb. weight limit and a 49” height limit and the child’s ears must be at or below the top of the car seat headrest. Also, the shoulder harness must be above the shoulders of the child. Once the child’s shoulders are over the top harness slot, then the seat is outgrown forward facing.

Note: if the seat is installed with a lap belt only, then the straps must be through one of the top two sets of harness slots.

When using the seat rear facing:

Before the seat can be used rear facing. There is some set up that must be done.

  1. The car seat comes without the headrest attached and that must be installed prior to using the seat. This information can be found on page 86 of the manual or in a video manual provided by Clek.
  2. The rear facing base must be attached to the bottom of the car seat. This was simple to do and very straightforward. There are designated spots to attach the base.
  3. Next, adjust the harness to the appropriate height of the child. The harness must be at the closest level that is at or below the child’s shoulders. This is simple with the foonf. Even though it is a rethread harness, the splitter plate is very accessible. And the harness is stiff enough that it can be threaded through without any trouble. This is also a good thing because it means that the harness is not twisty either.
  4. Select recline position 3 and then install the anti-rebound bar. The anti-rebound bar can only be used rear facing and is required to be used. It attaches to the seat using locking pins. The instructions for this can be found here.

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Once you have the seat set up, it is ready to be installed. While the foonf has its quirks, the rear facing installation was very painless. There are two methods of installation. You can us lower anchors (LATCH) or the seatbelt to install the seat. The seat has built in lock offs which means that it can be installed without having to lock the seat belt at the retractor, or using a locking clip. However, this seat is NOT compatible with inflatable seatbelts. If you have inflatable seatbelts in your vehicle, you will need to either install the seat in a position without inflatable belts or use the lower anchors to install the seat. Also, lower anchors cannot be used after the child reaches the lower anchor limit for the seat. At which point, the seat belt must be used.

Again, the seat belt installation is so simple with the provided lock-offs. When I installed the seat, I first removed the seat pad to expose the rear facing belt path. Then I opened the lockoffs and routed the seat belt through the rear facing belt path and buckled the seat belt. Then I pushed down on the seat, with all my weight, and pulled the slack out of the seat belt. While holding tightly to the shoulder belt, I closed the lockoff closest to the seat belt buckle. Then I closed the next lock off (This was with the 2016 series lockoffs, with the earlier lockoffs you should pick one lock off to close and route the seatbelt over the other ones). It is important to note that the seatbelt must be in between the belt guides and you must check your manual to know which lock off to use or if you are allowed to use both. My foonf has the 2016 lockoffs and therefore I must use both lockoffs to install the seat. This is super simple and makes for a rock-solid installation. Once it was installed, I replaced the seat pad and the seat was ready to go.

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The seat also has the option of installing with LATCH. However, due to the weight of the seat itself, please note that the lower anchor limit for this seat is 25lbs. So once your kid is 25 lbs the seat must be installed with a seatbelt while rearfacing. This means, for many kiddos, a lower anchor installation will not be an option. To see how to install the seat rear facing, using lower anchors, click here.

Once the seat is installed, it is important that you make sure the seat is level and within the allowable recline, as indicated on the recline range indicator. The Foonf has a very generous range and can be installed quite upright when needed/desired.

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FOONF CROTCH BUCKLE QUIRKS:

The foonf is also very specific about the crotch buckle position, with respect to the child. There are two buckle positions. “The crotch strap must be through the…slot located at or behind and closest to the front of the child’s crotch…For larger children, the crotch strap can be lengthened and installed in the forward…slot.” Also, the crotch buckle can now be used  on the longer setting in both the inner and outer position. This is retroactive to all Clek Foonfs. However, Clek recommends that children be at least 22 lbs. before using the longer length.

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When using the seat forward facing:

Before the seat can be used forward facing there is some set up that must be done. The anti-rebound bar and the rear facing base must be removed. When using the seat forward facing the LATCH limit is 35lbs. For children who are more than 35lbs., there is the option of installing using both rigid LATCH AND seatbelt. This is the only seat on the market that allows such an installation, and it is only allowed in forward facing mode.

Prior to installing the seat, make sure you adjust the harness to fit your child. For forward facing, the harness straps must be at or above the child’s shoulders and the tops of the child’s ears must be below the top of the headrest.

To begin a forward facing installation, select a seating location. To use LATCH, select a location with standard LATCH spacing, as Clek does not allow a non-standard spacing for their seats. Then make sure the vehicle seat back is locked in an upright position and not reclined. Once I did this, I adjusted the recline of the seat. For my car, recline one was a better fit. Next I routed the seatbelt through the forward facing belt path and buckled the seatbelt. Then I opened the lockoff on the side with the shoulder belt. I put the shoulder belt through the lockoff, then pulled the handle on the bottom of the seat to release and extend the rigid LATCH, while pulling on the connectors themselves at the same time to extend them. This was super easy, although I would not have known to do that without reading the manual. Then I pushed the anchor connectors on to the lower anchors until I heard them click and saw the red dots turn green on the connectors. Next I pulled the shoulder belt tight to take out any slack and locked the lockoff. Lastly, I attached the top tether. ALWAYS USE A TETHER! After attaching it, pull it tight enough to remove all the slack. Make sure you read your VEHICLE OWNERS MANUAL to find out how the top tether strap should be routed (i.e. under the head restraint, over the head restrain, or around the head restraint).

Note: We recommend installing this seat with both seatbelt and LATCH, in order to take advantage of Clek’s REACT technology. Here is what Clek has to say about it:

“The REACT™ Safety System integrated into every Foonf child seat protects your child much like the crumple zones in the cars we drive — one of the most effective innovations in automotive safety.

In a collision, the vehicle comes to an abrupt stop, but the child continues to move at the same speed. The less time that it takes for the child to come to a complete stop, the higher the forces exerted on the child. The REACT Safety System allows that sudden change in momentum to happen over a longer period of time through a series of controlled events. Foonf is designed to ride down the collision crumpling the aluminum honeycomb and absorbing energy from the collision resulting in less force transferred to the child. See how Foonf performs.”

REACT

( Clek Inc., 2016)

Fit to Child:

We tried this seat with a variety of children, both rear and forward facing. Our first model is Desmond. He is 2 years old, 36″ and 29 lbs. He rides rear facing, because we go by best practice and he is safer that way. He gets a great fit in the foonf and loves to ride in it. In this picture, the seat is installed in the back of a Mazda CX-9, on recline 2. He is on the third harness slot, since he has a long torso. This seat was purchased with him in mind, as he is very tall.

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Our next rear facing model is Silas. He is 5 years old, 42.5″ and 33 lbs. He also rides rearfacing, because he is below the seats limits, and again, it is safer. He likes this seat because it is “high and comfy”. There is a good chance he may make it to 6 years old rear facing in this seat, but it really depends on when he hits the standing height limit of 43.99.

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Our next batch of models tried the seat forward facing. Our first model is Conner. He is 4.5 years old, 44.5″ and 40lbs. Conner liked this seat the best out of all the seats he tried that day. He said it was comfortable. The harness fit him with about an inch to spare before the seat would have been outgrown. This gives him roughly another year in the seat.

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Our next model is Silas again. He tried it forward facing because he is 5 and would be perfectly safe riding forward facing in the seat. He had a good fit in the seat and had about 2″ of harness height left before the seat is outgrown. So he will definitely get to a booster appropriate age before this seat is outgrown.

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Our last model is Addison. She is 7 years old and 47.25″ and 41lbs. She was just under the top harness slot. But even though she was close to outgrowing the seat, it still fit her very well.

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Here you can see how close the harness was for her.

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Pros and Cons:

Pro Con
Butter-smooth harness. Seriously, there is not a smoother harness on the market! Super heavy and hard to move from car to car.
Low profile and easy to get kids in and out. Does not have a no rethread harness.
Large seat pan = more leg room for rear facing kiddos. Does not have a bubble leveler.
Can accommodate even 100%ile kids rear facing until their 4th birthday. Only has 2 rfing reclines. (only 1 in Canada).
Anti-Rebound bar to manage rebound forces in a crash. Sits up VERY tall in the car. When installed in the middle or on the passenger side, blind spots can be a problem.
Crypton fabric, doesn’t stain and is easy to clean. Oh So Easy! Expensive. MSRP is $400 – $700 depending on fabric choice.
Can be installed very compact if space is an issue.
RIGID LATCH
REACT technology when forward facing

Overall Thoughts:

We love this seat! It is easy to use, if you read the manual and follow the instructions. Plus, Clek has AWESOME customer service. All of their reps are CPSTs. Both my kids love our Foonf and they fight over who gets to ride in it. It is well made, easy to get a perfect installation, and has some really nice, state of the art safety features. Being able to rear face EVERY kid to 4 years old is a definite plus! So, if you like stain resistant fabric, easy to use harness, rigid LATCH, rebound and REACT technology, then this may be the seat for you.

References

Clek Inc. (2016). What the foonf: The mother of all car seats. Retrieved from clek foonf: http://clekinc.com/foonf/

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