Nuna staked their claim in the car seat market with the Pipa rear facing only car seat and has expanded their easy-to-use offerings to include the RAVA convertible car seat and AACE booster seat. Their latest addition to their lineup took the popular Pipa rear facing only car seat, removed a staggering 2 pounds of weight, and created the ridiculously lightweight Pipa Lite.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Weight range: 4-32 pounds
- Height range: up to 32 inches tall
- Shell height: 18 inches
- Lowest harness position: about 6 inches with newborn insert
- Expiration: 7 years from date of original purchase/ date of manufacture if original purchase date is unknown/forgotten
- Handle position: any locked position. The handle must not contact the interior of the vehicle.
- Carrier weight: 6 pounds, 5 ounces with cotton head insert, but without the body inserts or strap covers
- Carrier weight: 5 pounds, 14 ounces with the head insert removed
- Width of carrier at widest point: 17 inches
- Width of base at widest point: 13 inches
Additional Version: Nuna Pipa Lite lx
The lx version of the seat — currently available only at Nordstrom — is identical to the Pipa Lite, except that it features the zip-out dream drape canopy currently found only on the regular Pipa. In addition, the Pipa Lite lx is offered in some new colors.
Astonishingly Light Weight
The best feature of the Pipa Lite is in its name – at only 5 pounds, 14 ounces without the head insert, body insert, or strap covers, it’s pretty darn light weight. For caregivers who like to use rear facing only seats until the child reaches the height or weight limits, this lighter weight can be a game changer.
Nuna achieved this light weight by removing the baseless routing option, only having a single crotch buckle slot, using aeroflex foam that is lighter than traditional EPS foam, using aerospace aluminum that is stronger yet lighter than other metals, and using featherweight fabrics.
Most car seat covers are made from a single piece of material that’s cut and stitched into the proper shape. To keep the weight down on the Pipa Lite, Nuna used a thin stretchy fabric over the outer shell, with the thicker padded fabric behind the child.
Installation on Aircraft
The very first batch of Pipa Lites were shipped before Nuna received FAA approval for the base for use on aircraft. That changed very quickly, and Pipa Lites are now approved for use with the base on aircraft. Pipa Lite owners who do not have the FAA approval label on their seat can contact Nuna for a retrofit kit that includes updated labels and an updated manual.
The instructions are sparse, but the caregiver should buckle the airplane belt through the lockoff and close it. If the buckle ends up in the lockoff, the caregiver should unbuckle the belt and twist the side without the buckle a few times so that when the belt is buckled and tightened, the buckle is not in the lockoff.
While we welcome this development, we recognize that it will be unwieldy to lug the heavy base on the plane. In addition, the seat will not fit front to back on many airplanes when used with the base. While technically a passenger with this issue would have the right to be re-seated, in our experience, airlines may refuse to do this. We’d recommend buying an inexpensive rear facing only car seat for travel use and installing it without the base on an airplane, leave the Pipa Lite at home on airplane trips. Anyone who does want to bring this seat onto an airplane with the base should call Nuna to get an updated FAA approval sticker and updated instructions, if the seat was purchased before these were included.
The Pipa Lite includes a substantial canopy. Fans of the Nuna Pipa dream drape may be disappointed to find that the dream drape is not available on the Pipa Lite. We found that the Pipa Lite’s canopy is so light that it had trouble staying up at times.
The manual is quite thin and only includes instructions in English. The stickers on the seat are also only in English. The manual is clearly written, and we liked the design choice to put the words on the left side of the page with corresponding diagrams on the right side of the page.The manual clearly states Do not use without the base right on the front cover. We’re glad to see this key information in such a prominent loction since the base requirement is pretty unique.
Installation: Base Required
Our reviews usually contain two Installation sections: with the base and without the base. However, the Pipa Lite must be installed with the base, which is virtually identical to the Pipa base. So we’ll only have one Installation section here! The base may be installed with the lower anchors, the vehicle seat belt, or both the lower anchors AND the vehicle seat belt. The base features rigid lower anchor connectors, which need to be rotated forward and pushed onto the vehicle’s lower anchors. When the anchors are securely connected, the window will show green. One CPST referred to this as point and click, and we’d have to agree! When this works well, installing the Pipa and Pipa Lite are quite simple.The Pipa and Pipa Lite carriers can be used with either base in case you happen to have both hanging around.
Rigid Lower Anchors and Deep Vehicle Seats
The Pipa has been on the market for over three years, so we’ve seen the Pipa installed in a variety of vehicles.We’ve found a couple of scenarios that make installing the Pipa and Pipa Lite’s base with the lower anchors a challenge. The rigid lower anchors work as a safety feature by preventing extra movement and rotation of the base. When the vehicle’s lower anchors are very recessed or the vehicle seat very sloped, the Pipa’s connectors are simply too short to reach the vehicle’s lower anchors. When we’ve been able to attach the anchors in vehicles with this type of setup, the part of the base near the front of the vehicle lifts up in the air. Not only can this put the base at the wrong level, the upright angle can be dangerous for newborns and small infants who require a more reclined angle.
Vehicle Seat Belt
To install with the vehicle seat belt, open the blue lockoff, thread the lap and shoulder portions of the belt through the lockoff, tighten the vehicle seat belt, and close the lockoff. In certain vehicles, the geometry and anchor points of the belt can make it impossible to thread the belt through the lockoff and close the lockoff tightly. In these vehicles, the belt will move over the lip of the lockoff, and the lockoff will pop open. If that happens, we’d suggest trying a different seating position.
Stability (Load) Leg
The Pipa base has a load leg — Nuna calls this a stability leg — designed to help minimize downward rotation in a crash.The load leg is easy to operate. It folds out from under the base. To extend it, squeeze the handle in the center of the leg. The indicator turns green when the load leg makes secure contact with the floor.
The manual states the load leg should not be used to adjust the recline of the base. The load leg will not work in many center seating positions where there is a large hump on the floor of the vehicle because the leg will not go down far enough. In addition, the manual cautions to check the vehicle manual to see if a load leg may be prohibited, such as on a hollow floor with a compartment underneath. If the base lifts up when removing the carrier from the base, the load leg will often extend further and change the base’s recline angle. We’d suggesting spending some time practicing removing the seat from the base. First, squeeze the button on the base to remove the seat, and then pull up on the handle. Doing these steps in reverse will cause the base to lift and the load leg to descend.
Recline Foot and Level Indicator
The base features a recline foot which folds out from under the base. Because the rigid latch anchors are so short and the rigid latch installation so tight, often the recline foot doesn’t make a significant difference in the recline when the base is installed with the lower anchors. However, it can make a more significant difference with a seatbelt installation. The level indicator consists of a bubble and a vertical line. The bubble must touch the line for the recline to be correct. The line does not have to be in the middle of the bubble.
Fit to Child
Low Birth Weight Insert
The Pipa Lite’s inserts include a smaller insert that’s sort of hidden inside the larger insert. This insert can be a little confusing because it’s only mentioned in the latter part of the manual — it’s not mentioned specifically in the parts list at the front of the manual but it is mentioned in the Head and Body Support section. Here are the guidelines for the insert’s use:
The low birth weight pillow (located on the back of the body support) can be used in the body support for even smaller babies, but MUST be removed once a snug fit can be achieved without it, at approximately 11 lbs.
The Pipa Lite comes with two sets of inserts. One comes on the seat, and an additional set is included in the box. This additional set is made from GOTS certified organic cotton. Many parents might hesitate to use white inserts, as babies are messy, but then again, there is always a spare set! The head insert contains memory foam that’s between two pieces of plastic. Nuna asserts that this Tailor Tech Technology helps distribute crash energy evenly.
The head insert is attached via two straps that thread through the harness slot above the harness slot that the child currently uses and attach with Velcro. We found it tricky to attach the insert without pulling off the cover, but after a few times we got the hang of it. We applaud Nuna for labeling the insert itself with the instructions for this insert.
Our Huggable Images preemie doll weighs 4 pounds and is 17 inches long. The doll looked quite snug in the seat, but unfortunately the straps were above the doll’s shoulders, even with the low birthweight pillow added to the seat.
We asked Nuna if a crotch roll is allowed to help improve fit for the tiniest of passengers, and they said yes. This small rolled washcloth is placed between the baby’s crotch and the buckle. Since many parents may not know to add a crotch roll, and since it doesn’t always fix this situation, this wouldn’t be our go-to seat for preemies.
The Pipa Lite fit our newborn doll very well. The doll weighs 7 pounds and is 17 inches long. We left in the low birthweight pillow, but the manual says the pillow must be taken out when a snug fit is achieved, at around 11 pounds.
6 Month Old
This 6 month old weighs 17 pounds and is 27 inches tall. We put him in the seat with and without the head insert. He was a bit snug but seemed happy and comfortable with the head insert in. His parents will continue to use the seat with the head insert in, as Nuna has told us that the memory foam in the head insert does help with crash protection.
Without the head insert, he also fit well in the seat.
One Year Old
This little just turned 1. He weighs 28 pounds and is 30 inches tall. He has a similar fit to our 6 month old in this seat! He has a comfortable fit in the Pipa Lite without the inserts. Since many rear facing only car seats are outgrown at around 9 months, it’s nice to see that the Pipa Lite can last a bit longer than that!
Important Information: Where to Find
FAA Approval: The very first batch of Pipa Lites shipped before Nuna received FAA approval for use on aircraft. That changed very quickly and Pipa Lites are now approved for use with the base on aircraft. Pipa Lite owners who do not have the FAA approval label on their seat can contact Nuna for a retrofit kit that includes updated labels and an updated manual.
Manual Storage: The manual is stored in a compartment on the underside of the base. While we always advocate bringing the manual along for the ride, accessing this spot requires uninstalling the base. Thankfully the manual is also available for download on the Pipa Lite website.
Expiration: The Pipa Lite expires 7 years after the date of original purchase. Nuna has confirmed for us that it would expire 7 years after the date of manufacture listed on the seat, if the owner loses track of the orginal purchase date.
One of our favorite parts of the original Pipa was the European baseless install routing, so we were initially wary about the Pipa Lite’s required base. However, we are very impressed by the Pipa Lite’s extreme light weight and the extra inserts included with the seat. It’s hard not to be a fan of the easy rigid LATCH base install in most vehicles.
Parents and caregivers who frequently take the seat in and out of other vehicles, such as taxis, Ubers or friends’ cars, or who travel frequently, would probably want to consider a different seat which can be used without the base. Familes who stick to frequently-used vehicles in which the base installs well, or who don’t mind having a backup seat for travel are best suited for this seat.
Thanks to Traveling Tikes in Los Angeles CA for hosting one of our review photoshoots!
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