The Harmony Defender 360 is a budget friendly addition to the world of combination seats — car seats that convert from a forward facing five point harness into a belt positioning booster. It’s a nice option for tight spaces, let’s take a closer look.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Forward facing weight limit: 22 – 65 pounds
- Forward facing height limit: 27-57 inches tall
- Lower anchor weight limit: 46 pounds
- Highest harness position: 18.5 inches (18 inches with EPS foam in. Foam can be removed at 40lbs child weight – this is a retroactive change)
- High back or backless booster weight limit, United States: 30-110 pounds
- High back or backless booster weight limit, Canada: 40-110 pounds
- High back or backless booster height limit: 34-57 inches tall
- 20 inch top high back booster shoulder belt guide
- 10 year expiration
- Top tether is required in harness mode
- Lower anchors can be used in booster mode
- IIHS Booster Seat Best Bet
- Seat pan depth: 16 inches
- Width at widest point: 18.5 inches
- Weight: 19 pounds
In the interest of packaging efficiency, the Defender does not come assembled. The assembly requires some effort and attention to detail – the whole process took me about 45 minutes while taking photographs, so it’s probably a 20-30 minute ordeal and requires two Phillips screwdrivers.
Always, always, always read your manual! While these photos walk through the assembly process, it’s important to refer to the instruction manual for full, detailed instructions.
The first step is to remove the connectors from the armrests where they’re stored.
Next, remove this bar from the backrest. This requires a Phillips screwdriver for this. Unsnap the seat’s cover in order to slide the bar out.
Step three: move the backrest to the upright position, then re-insert the screws into the armrests. Align the grooves on the inner pieces.
Finally, adjust the seat into the fully reclined position using the knob on the front of the car seat. Then re-insert the bar and screw it in place. This final move requires two Phillips screwdrivers simultaneously – one for each side.
Once the seat is assembled, it’s time to adjust the Defender to fit the child.
It took me a minute to find the adjuster for the harness height. Reach under the cover at the head and feel around for this red handle. Pull up on it and the harness easily slides up and down, and it can be moved while the seat is installed. There are 9 options, from 11″ to 18.5″. For children who ride forward facing, always position the harness at or just above the child’s shoulders.
There are two available positions for the crotch buckle, they measure 6″ and 8″ deep. To switch between the two, simply slide the webbing sideways, then through the slot forward to the next position. This can also be done while the seat is installed. One downfall of the Defender when it was first released was that the crotch strap length was fairly short, and could be uncomfortable for some children’s legs. Shortly after production of the Defender started, Harmony thankfully started shipping the seat with a longer crotch buckle. If you have a seat manufactured in 2014 or later, your seat came with the longer crotch buckle.
Fit to Child
3 Years Old
This model is 3 years old. She weighs 35 pounds and is 41 inches tall. She found the Defender quite comfortable and she’s got plenty of room to grow in the seat.
4 Years Old
My model is 4.75 years old, weighs 40 pounds and is 42 inches tall. He fit comfortably in the harness, with lots of height room to grow. The crotch buckle was snug and did poke into his thighs a bit, but the buckle didn’t seem to bother him, nor was it difficult to buckle.
Harness Mode Installation with Lower Anchors
Installation was a breeze. The seat has clip style lower anchor connectors that were easy to use, and seat belt installation did not pose any problems. Harmony recommends use of the top tether at all times. Harmony has updated its instruction manual to permit up to 2 inches of overhang over the edge of the vehicle seat. Always use the top tether.
High Back Booster Mode
The booster function provided a great seat belt fit this young model. CSFTL advocates that children be at least 5 years old before riding in a booster. The belt fit perfectly, with the lap belt low on his hips, touching the tops of his thighs, and the shoulder belt even across the torso. The lap belt was a bit difficult to thread under the armrests, but otherwise it was very easy to use.
The Defender allows the use of lower anchors only in booster mode to secure the seat when it’s not occupied. Securing any booster seat with lower anchors still requires the use of the vehicle seat belt when the child is riding in the seat.
The Defender also becomes a backless booster once the child has outgrown the high back portion of the seat.
- Easy to install
- Narrow enough for 3 car seats across
- Requires assembly
- Short crotch strap that can be uncomfortable (longer strap is available at no charge from Harmony)
Important Information: Where to Find
Manual storage: the manual stores on the bottom of the seat. This is a fine location when assembling the seat but makes checking anything while the seat is installed a challenge since the Defender has to be uninstalled to access the manual.
FAA Approval label: the Defender is approved for use on aircraft in harness mode. The indicator label is found on the bottom of the seat.
Like all booster seats, the Defender requires a lap and shoulder belt so it’s not approved for aircraft use in booster mode.
Date of Manufacture: this label is on the bottom of the seat.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the Defender. The biggest two struggles are the complicated assembly process and the short crotch buckle length may be uncomfortable for some children. There was a lot that I did love about the Defender: the harness height and tightness adjustments are very smooth and easy to use, and installation did not pose any challenges. The slim profile is great for families with multiple kids, and the ten year expiration makes it a seat that would get the average preschooler all the way up to age 10-12 when they are ready to ride without a booster. And the affordable price tag makes it pretty friendly on the wallet, too.
Harmony did not provide a seat or sponsor this review, opinions are all our own!
Originally written by Emma Douglas. Edits maintained by CSFTL.