Nuna’s smartly designed strollers, swings, and other baby gear have been making parents’ lives easier for some time and their car seats add to this product line. The first to market was the Pipa rear facing only car seat. It’s since been joined by the Pipa Lite rear facing only car seat, the RAVA convertible car seat, and the AACE booster seat.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Weight range: 4-32 pounds
- Height range: up to 32 inches tall
- Shell height: 19 inches
- Lowest harness position: 6 inches with newborn insert
- Weight (carrier only): 9.4 pounds
- Expiration: 7 years
- Handle position: any locked position
- Seat belt lockoff
- Adjustable crotch strap; length and depth
- Adjustable recline foot
- Euro belt routing
- Rigid lower anchor connectors
- Load leg
- Dream drape canopy
Installation with the Base
Installation of the Pipa using lower anchors is a breeze. The seat features rigid lower anchor connectors, which simply need to be rotated forward and pushed onto the vehicle’s lower anchors. When the anchors are securely connected, the window will show green.
Nuna includes lower anchor guides with the Pipa to help get the rigid lower anchor connectors into those pesky buried vehicle lower anchors. This nice accessory attaches to the vehicle lower anchors so the rigid lower anchor connectors can easily slide in without the installer having to struggle to get them attached.
The Pipa base can also be installed using the seat belt, and features a lockoff clamp for easy installation. Open the blue clamp, run the seat belt through, tighten, and close the clamp. I especially like the size of this lockoff because it’s so easy to work with. I worry very little that it will cause a fingernail casualty when I open it, or “bite” me as I close it. It is probably one of the most user-friendly lockoffs that I’ve used. Since the purpose of a lockoff is to “lock” the seat belt in place, it is not necessary to manually lock the seat belt, but you may.
At 23 inches long, the base is a bit longer than most bases on the market. The manual doesn’t state how much overhang is okay, but we’ve gotten confirmation from Nuna that without the load leg in use, no more than 20% of the base may overhang the vehicle seat. If the load leg is in use, more than 20% may exceed the vehicle seat.
Additionally, the Pipa allows the seat to be installed using both the rigid lower anchors and the seat belt if you desire. It is not, however necessary to use both and it does not provide a safety advantage.
It is important for a newborn’s car seat to be reclined enough that their head does not fall forward, which could constrict their airway and cause a breathing issue. To adjust the Pipa’s recline, there is a block on the base that rotates forward and backward.
There is a bubble recline angle indicator on the base. When the car seat is properly reclined the bubble should be touching the line.
This is one area that could be problematic: there are only two recline settings, and with varying shaped vehicle seats, it may be difficult to achieve the correct recline. The manual does not give directions for using a pool noodle or rolled towel to further recline the base, but Nuna has confirmed that is acceptable to use either in place of the recline block.
Pro tip: for deep vehicle seats that require a pool noodle or rolled towel, install the Pipa with the vehicle seat belt.
The Pipa base has a stability leg designed to help minimize downward rotation in a crash. There are only a few seats currently available in the U.S. with this feature, so it’s pretty unique.
The leg is easy to operate. It folds out from the base, and the indicator turns green when it makes secure contact with the floor. The manual states the stability leg should not be used to adjust the recline of the base. There are two potential downsides to the stability leg. It 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. Also, the manual states the stability leg is not to be used over a storage compartment (such as the Dodge Stow and Go).
Installation Without the Base
For convenience, the Pipa can also be installed without the base. The seat belt allows for euro-routing, which makes it very easy to get a secure installation. Perfect for traveling or riding with a friend or family.
The Nuna allows the handle to be in any locked position when traveling using their easy to push handle release button. This is a nice feature because it takes away having to remember to put the handle up or down. Remember to read your owner’s manual since other seats on the market may vary. You can also check our Handle Position Guide for a list of most of the infant seats on the market.
Fit to Child
*** Seat Update 10/24/2014*** We received the new insert! It’s difficult to see the difference between the 2 inserts with an infant in the seat. This photo shows how they differ though. The slits really do help with that wrap around of the hip straps! All new seats will be starting to be sent out with the new inserts.
The Pipa has 2 crotch buckle slots with an optional, even smaller routing on the smallest position for the tiniest of passengers. The smallest crotch buckle setting offers the smallest fit for the tiniest of passengers and requires a little assembly. It’s also such a small setting, that we’ve only seen it in use a handful of times.
To set the crotch buckle in this smallest position, thread the crotch buckle’s webbing through the rear slot on the seat’s shell, then back up through the front slot.
The second and third crotch buckle positions remove this extra routing and thread directly through the slot.
We did notice a possible misuse with a necessary adjustment to fit of the seat. The harness requires rethreading to move between positions, and there are two metal bars on the bottom of the seat that connect it to the base. The harness straps MUST be threaded under the bars, rather than over, which could be easy to overlook.
This Huggable Images doll is a preemie at 4 pounds and 17″, our smallest model. In the first picture she is modeling the seat with both the newborn insert with the low birth weight pillow and the smallest crotch buckle position. In the second picture she is modeling just the newborn insert minus the pillow and on the middle crotch position. I found she definitely fit better with the pillow and smaller crotch buckle position. Her shoulders are also right at the bottom harness position.
This model is 12 days old. He weighs 8.6 pounds, is 20.5 inches long, and is wearing a cloth diaper. Here he is modeling the infant insert with low birth weight pillow with the crotch buckle in the newborn position, then without the newborn insert using the medium crotch buckle position, and then without the infant insert using the newborn crotch buckle position. He fit very well in both the first and third pictures and I would be comfortable with him using either position until he weighs 11 pounds.
Once he reaches that weight, I would probably want the insert back in to reduce the length of the crotch strap since it would need to be in the medium position at that point.
This Huggable Images doll is 7 pounds and 17 inches long — an average size for a newborn. Like our preemie doll, we have her modeling 2 different positions. The first picture she is modeling the seat with both the newborn insert with the low birth weight pillow and the smallest crotch buckle position. In the second picture she is modeling just the newborn insert minus the pillow and on the middle crotch position. I also found she had better fit with the pillow and shorter crotch buckle position. Her shoulders were also at the lowest harness slot.
7 Week Old Infant
Meet our 7 week old model! He weighs 11 pounds 10 oz, and is 23 inches long. We’ve been using this seat with him for the last month (7 weeks to 3 months). I’ve found both positives and negatives with it.
- Very smooth harness adjuster
- Peek-a-boo window in the canopy
- Extra large canopy
- Rattling on the base when installed with the rigid lower anchors. The blue lock off rattles when the seat isn’t on it. I was told by an engineer with Nuna that a small piece of fabric could be placed in the lock off to help with this rattle.
- Stroller clip on the back of the seat to attach it to the Nuna stroller can get in the way. This clip can easily clip on to other things that it shouldn’t. This includes the basket section of a shopping cart when sliding it in feet first (remember car seats should never be placed in the child seat of a cart). I had to very carefully unhook the clip while trying to steady the seat with Anders in it. Not an easy feat. There is a gray button right above the blue Euro routing piece on the back of the seat that can be pushed to release the clip, but the clip is rounded enough that it still stays attached to everything I’ve had it clip to.
- The dream drape magnets aren’t very strong, causing the drape to hang in his face. It is a nice canopy though and I really like the window on the top of it.
- Infant insert makes the hip straps go around the hips awkwardly. The insert doesn’t have any type of dips in the sides to accommodate the straps, so they wrap around the outside of it making it hard to get the hip straps tight. His fit without the insert is fine though. I’ve also been told by Nuna that they are working on an updated insert for it with these dips to help fit. *Note: Nuna has modified the insert, so this is no longer an issue.*
10 Months Old
This model 10 months old. She weighs 18 pounds and is 28 inches tall. She had lots of room to grow in the Pipa, and fit nicely on the middle harness slot. I found the harness strap covers to be a bit bulky on her, I would prefer if they were a bit thinner, but longer to keep the straps from rubbing on her neck. The harness strap covers are not required, though, and can be removed if desired.I found the harness very easy to tighten and loosen while the carrier was clicked into the base, something that can be problematic on some infant carriers. The Pipa however, loosens and tightens like a dream.
15 Months Old
Here we see a 15 months old model. She weighs 20 pounds and is 29.5 inches tall and sporting a cloth diaper.
She was using the top harness position with little room to grow and the farthest out crotch buckle position. She was close to the 1″ mark as she has a longer torso than she does legs. Overall, I liked the seat. It was very lightweight and a breeze to install with lower anchors or seat belt. The belt guides for the baseless install are big enough that the convenience button on my seatbelt didn’t get caught up in it. This was wonderful as baseless installs with other seats in my vehicle can be a bit tricky. When installed in my Town and Country van, the recline was only barely on the edge of acceptable, and would have been too upright for a newborn in my experience as a CPST.
My biggest issue was that the release for the seat is on the base instead of on the seat. This can be hard to maneuver for a shorter adult in a taller vehicle as you release with one hand and pull upwards with the other. I also have stow and go, so the manual said I should not use the stability leg in that position.
20 Months Old
This model is 20 months old. She weighs 19 pounds and is 31 inches tall She was right at the limit of fitting in the Pipa. Even with 1″ left until she reaches the 32″ height limit, she was right at the 1″ limit from the top of the shell to the top of her head.
Even at the top of the height limit, the Pipa still fit her well. Her shoulders were right at the top harness slot and she had plenty of room without being too squished. The harness tightened nicely and she didn’t have any complaints.
The one drawback I found with using this seat with a child at the height limits is that the canopy doesn’t push all the way back to the shell and rubbed on her head even as far back as it would go. The canopy is easily removable though, so just removing it all together solved that problem. The comfort pads and belly pad were also removed for a better fit.
The canopy on the Pipa is ingenious: the basic canopy is a great size, and features a flip out visor and a mesh panel that can be open or closed on top. They didn’t stop there, though, the Pipa has a dream drape mesh canopy that comes down over the child to shade them from the sun. The dream drape secures at the child’s feet with magnets; it’s best used for a young, sleeping child, as our older testers could easily kick the dream drape free.
The Pipa also comes in a variety of great colors, our review features the Night fashion.
Overall, we like the Pipa. The rigid lower anchor installation is incredibly simple in many vehicles. The built-in lockoff is beautifully and thoughtfully designed. The load leg and euro-routing option for the baseless installation is something that we don’t see very much of in U.S. seats, so that’s exciting. The carrier itself is very lightweight, and I found the manual to be very well-written and illustrated. We’re looking forward to seeing a lot more from Nuna in the future! Nuna graciously provided the seat used for this review, but opinions, as always, are all our own. CSFTL was not compensated for our opinions.
Thank you to Huggable Images for providing the safety training dolls used in this review!