Alyssa's Top Picks: Extended Harnessing Combination Seats
Originally Posted on The Mommy Dialogues
What is a combination seat? A combination seat is a forward facing only harnessed to booster carseat. Some only turn into a high back booster, while others can turn into both a low and high back belt positioning booster. Compared to convertible and infant seats, the list of combination seats is quite small, but you do have several good options if your looking for extended harnessed seats.
Extended Harnessing Combination Seats:
#1 Britax Frontier 90/Pinnacle
-SUUUUUPPPEEERRR easy install. Britax’s new Click Tight installation is AHHmazing and revolutionary. It is so incredibly easy to install these seats, it pretty much negates user error as far as the install is concerned.
-Highest top harness slot harnessed weight available on the market for conventional seats. This bad boy boasts a top harness slot of 20.5 inches, which for those familiar with car seats….this seats rivals the harness capabilities of the now retired Regent (a personal favorite of mine) and harnesses to a whopping 90 lbs
-Tons and tons of covers to choose from. Britax always has some of the best cover choices in my opinion, and lots of them. While other carseats only come in a couple of choices, Britax seats come in a wide variety to suit everyone’s tastes.
-Newly FAA approved so you are now able to travel with, and install your Pinnacle or Frontier 90 on the plane
-Turns into a fabulous high back belt positioning booster which can accommodate children up to 120 lbs and with a seated torso height of 23 inches. Many small adults will even be able to fit into these seats in the top booster position.
-Comes equipped with Safe Cell Technology which is located in the base and compresses in an accident giving your child a greater ride down time in an accident and therefore less force exerted on their body
-Kickass front height adjust that you can even change while it’s installed
-Made in the USA with IMMI harness components
-Large seats. Both the Frontier and the Pinnacle are huge seats…the Pinnacle being doubly so because of the external side impact protection cushions. This would not be an ideal choice for most 3 across scenarios if your dealing with a limited space in the back seat.
-For me personally I really wish the armrests folded up like the original Frontier. It would make it easier for my kiddo to get in and out if he was able to just lift up the armrest
-The Click Tight is making my job obsolete! (Seriously though, great job Britax on making an awesome, easy to install extended harness seat…now bring back the Regent!!!!)
-Quite heavy. With the steel bars that reinforce the shell, the Frontier and Pinnacle both weigh as much as a small child
#2 Graco Argos/Nautilus
-These seats can turn into both a low and high back belt positioning booster seat after the harness has been outgrown. They are one of the only combination seats that breaks down from a harnessed seat, into a high back and then low back booster
-The Argos has a no rethread harness which makes changing the harness height a snap. It can even be done when the seat is installed, so no need to uninstall it just to move the harness up or down
-Like the Britax combinations, the Nautilus and Argos come in a wide array of different colors and patterns. My personal favorite being the Nautilus Elite in Tangerine.
-The Argos (and Nautilus Elite/Argos Elite) also come equipped with easy to use external lock offs for a secure seatbelt install. Lock offs are one of my favorite features on car seats, and I am tickled that Graco joined the lock off game with their external lockoffs.
-Amazing price point. For those who can’t afford the high purchase price of the Britax’s the Graco offers the 2nd tallest top harness slot at 18.5 inches and harnesses to 65 lbs (nautilus) and 70 lbs (Argos) respectively without breaking the bank
-Folds completely flat for easy storage or when traveling. Many seats don’t fit through the scanners at airports and so you have to do the whole pat down, and rub down with the bomb detector things….because this seat folds completely flat it will fit just perfectly into the X-ray machine at the airport.
-No premium latch connectors. I personally am not a fan of the hook latch connectors. I find them difficult to hook up and undo sometimes if your latch is located DEEP into the seat bite. I think with the Nautilus Elite and especially the Argos that premium latch connectors would be a really nice addition to the seats. I know many parents find the premium latch connectors easier to do and undo and it gives the seat more of a high end feel.
-Made in China….but so are many other seats. However I put this here because many people like to know where the things they purchase come from and some people will not buy China made products.
-The cover is pretty hard to remove. It wraps around a lot of little pieces so getting it off and back on laying like it should, can be a bit of a challenge
-Not the easiest seat to convert from harness to booster mode…it will take some effort and a good 10 minutes to get it switched over
#3 Recaro Performance Sport
-Made by Recaro who also makes the seats used in race cars. Very trusted company in the racing world. Many Dads (and Moms too) find this fact to be a deciding factor when purchasing this seat over others.
-Very kid friendly. With its super low profile sides, it makes it an easy seat for kids to get in and out of all by themselves.
-Made in the USA!!!!!!! Yay for domestic made carseats
-Amazingly smooth and easy to adjust harness to make it easier to get your child strapped in properly, as well as a no re-thread harness adjust for easy(ier) harness height adjust
-Super cushy and comfortable compared to many other seats. It’s like a Barka lounger in your backseat
-White stripe edged harness straps. These stripes along the outside of the harness webbing give parents a clear visual to see if their straps are twisted in anyway. For my terrible eyes, this is an excellent feature that’s easy to detect
-Harnesses to 90 lbs and boasts a top harness slot of 18 inches which will get most children harnessed until at least 7 for an average sized child
-Equipped with the Hero system which prevents the harness straps from twisting
-The recline foot is ridiculous. My friend and co-worker at MommyCon nearly knocked her teeth out and did a face plant on concrete trying to get the foot from recline mode into upright. It’s a really horrible design and honestly the recline foot makes little to no difference in the way the seat sits when it’s installed
-Top tether has a 52 lbs weight limit which is super disappointing
-I HATE the install of this seat. I cannot say enough how much I hate how this seat installs. I think the design is stupid, and it is pretty much the single reason I would never ever use this seat for my own kids. Recaro seriously needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out a better install design
-Harness cannot be adjusted while it’s installed. Recaro did a great thing making the harness a no rethread harness, but they dropped the ball in the end because you have to uninstall the seat anyways to change the harness position.
I’d like to give just 1 more Pro for all these that they all share in common. All these seats are latchable in booster mode, so when the seat is not in use it is still secured to the vehicle. No projectile carseats flying around in an accident with these!
Join me next week for my final installment of “Squishy’s Top Picks” where I will outline my favorite high back booster seats (and 1 super awesome kid positioning seat)
Full disclosure: This is my own PERSONAL list of favorite seats. That doesn’t mean that other seats aren’t good, or safe…these are just *my* personal favorites.