We should stick to car seats.
This is going to sound sappy but there’s something kind of amazing about the ability to meet so many manufacturers in person, have them show us their seats, offer our feedback on those seats, and in some cases, see things improve as a result of our conversations.
So many times during this show, we’ve had a chance to put the car seats through their paces. We’ve lifted covers, reclined bases, raised headrests, measured top harness slots, poked shoulder belt guides, tested lockoffs, deployed load legs, and carried seats around. In more than one booth, we’ve sat on the ground with a manufacturer, sharing our excitement and concerns around a particular seat.
Though it’s happened countless times while we’ve been here, it still strikes me as pretty amazing.
Today was our final full day at the show. While our feet will welcome the break, we’re only beginning to process what we’ve seen and heard here at the show. The coming months should bring a few new seats for us to review, we look forward to sharing that with you.
Our first visit of the day was to the Clek booth. We had a chance to test drive the updated lockoffs for the Foonf and the Fllo. They are easier to use, easier to close (the likelihood of pinched fingers just went way down!), and have a rubber piece behind them for extra grip on the belt. We were quite impressed with these lockoffs. They’ll ship along with the 2016 seat models. Current model Foonf owners who are having issues with their lockoffs can add their name to a list to purchase the updated model as soon as it’s available by calling Clek customer service.
We also took a peek at the mat-thingy, a thin yet rubbery mat that’s approved for use with all Clek seats. 2016 models of the Foonf and Fllo will have updated harness pads that are longer and softer than previous versions. The updated pads attach via snaps so they’re easily removed. 2016 will also bring a number of new colors and fashions for the Clek line.
The Nuna Pipa is updated a bit. The lower anchors now store upright rather than pointing toward the back of the base. Other changes include new label placement for the warning labels by the child’s head and a cover update where the pattern wraps around the front of the seat. Nuna also mentioned a new product that’s due out next year. We’ll keep you posted about that.
Our second stop of the day was UPPAbaby. There are a few changes to the seat — it now weighs a pound less, so it’s ten pounds. Updated covers include breathable fabrics on everything that touches the baby. There are now snaps on the harness pads instead of velcro, a weight recommendation label on the infant insert, new handle icon, and a discontinuation of Euro routing for baseless seat belt installations. Changes to the base include a new belt path, updated labeling and color coding (blue for seat belt, orange for lower anchors) featuring graphical labeling rather than written labeling.
Peg Perego had updates to the covers on their current lineup of seats plus a few surprises for us in the booster department! The Viaggio Flex is a high back booster with rigid LATCH that features no armrests and folds for portability. When folded, the seat was a bit heavy and a bit bulky so we don’t anticipate it to be a great option for carpooling. However, the lack of armrests could make it an excellent option for three across situations. Expected availability is mid year 2016. Around the corner from the Viaggio Flex was the backless Viaggio Shuttle. This well-padded booster features rigid LATCH that retracts into the seat when not in use. The Viaggio Shuttle has a generous seat pan that would provide lots of thigh support, it could be a great option for carpools!
In addition to taking a look at some new fabrics for a variety of Evenflo seats, we got to meet the Serenade travel system (no relation to a past Evenflo seat of the same name). This seat features a base with a belt tensioning lockoff that we rather liked.
We also got to take a sneak peek at a pretty exciting seat that will be available in the coming months. We were sworn to secrecy so you’ll just have to trust us that it’s worth getting excited about. Not to worry, we’ll let you know as soon as there’s news to share!
A walk through the RECARO booth highlighted many current seats and introduced a couple of new convertibles. The Performance Rally and Performance Racer include anti rebound protection that’s integrated into the seat and utilizes the cupholder as part of the protection system. Instead of an anti rebound bar that attaches to the seat, RECARO has increased the size of the seat around the feet area to act as rebound protection. RECARO will be launching a few seats in Canada shortly.
Our last meeting of the day was with the mifold’s creator, Jon Sumroy. We’ve heard a lot about this extremely portable backless booster so we were eager to see one in person. Lucky for us, we got to see three mifolds in person! The mifold is tiny. It folds into a little package, which tucks into a very cute little bag. We can definitely see the mifold’s appeal for carpoolers or as a spare seat. Unfortunately, we didn’t yet get a chance to see it installed or see a child use it so all we can say at this point is that it seems quite promising.
We’ll definitely keep you posted about the mifold’s progress.
It’s been an amazing, exhausting three days at the ABC Kids Expo. We’ve met so many manufacturers, talked to so many other CPSTs, and seen so many great car seats. We truly value our relationship with all of these people: our community is so large and so focused on child passenger safety. As we prepare to wrap up our time here in Vegas it’s impossible to feel anything other than pride and exhaustion.
Bonus: Day 4
The nice people at Combi were generous enough to meet with me on the fly about their seats. They had a lovely rainbow lineup of their beloved Coccoro seat, including a new red and black fashion that is very sharp looking. They informed me they are still manufacturing the Shuttle rear facing only and Kobuk booster seat as well. Combi has recently acquired the Ferrari brand and are testing the waters with those seats. We are excited to see what changes Combi will be coming out with!
Cybex had the most colorful booth of the expo and I loved every minute of it! If color is important to you, Cybex has you covered. I got a glimpse at both their Platinum and Gold lineup of seats. The Cybex Cloud Q rear facing only seat will finally be available in March 2016. This is exciting news for those who have been waiting for its arrival! The Aton 4 will also be available next year as well. This will be similar to the current Aton 2, but with improved features making it part of Cybex’s gold line of seat.
Cybex had the 2016 colors available to see, but told me they would not be releasing here in the US until late 2016. They have added new colors and some texture as well to their current seats making them even more glamorous. We look forward to testing the Cloud Q when it becomes available.