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My passion for car seat safety started fourteen and a half years ago with the birth of my first son. His infant seat was a secondhand seat and I quickly learned that was a bad idea and I made it my mission to educate myself thoroughly on car seat safety and proper use. I researched, bought him a new seat, and from then on followed all of the guidelines of proper installation and use.
With the birth of my second son almost eleven years later I had to educate myself all over again since guidelines had changed and seats had changed. There are so many choices on the market, how do you choose? First I will say this: ALL car seats on the market meet a minimum standard for safety and your child is only as safe as your installation and use. The “best” seat on the market isn’t going to keep your child safe if it isn’t installed and used correctly. That said, there are seats on the market that make proper installation and use easier with their added features and the Clek Foonf is one of those seats.
This review is very photo intensive. I like to see things from all angles before I purchase, especially when it’s something as important as a car seat. You’ve been warned.
- Rear facing – child weight: 14 – 50 pounds and able to sit upright unassisted, child height: 25 – 43 inches. (note that this seat is not to be used for newborns).
- Forward facing – child weight: 20 – 65 pounds, child height: 30 – 49 inches.
- Anti-rebound bar for rear facing.
- Rigid latch and tether for forward facing.
- Deep headrest with steel rods and energy-absorbing foam for maximum head protection.
- Energy-absorbing foam inside and outside the frame for maximum protection in a side impact collision.
- REACT™ Safety System which allows the seat to ride down the impact of a collision over a longer period of time resulting in less impact on your child.
I love that Clek calls their seat “the mother of all car seats”. It is a perfect description. The Foonf is a monster of a car seat and I don’t use that term lightly. This seat is heavy and big weighing in at 38 pounds with the rear facing base attached and 33 pounds without the RF base. If you travel a lot and are looking for a car seat that you can easily carry through the airport and use on an airplane then this seat isn’t it unless you also purchase a Weelee to transport your Foonf. If you’re looking for a tank of a seat that will keep your child safe and allow you to rear face until their fourth birthday and beyond then keep on reading.
For this review I have the Foonf installed in a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe and since Dub is 3½ I installed the seat in both the forward facing and rear facing positions to test it out both ways.
The first thing you will need to do is get the seat adjusted to your child’s size. The head rest adjusts much like the seats in your car do which is a really nice feature. They click into place so there isn’t any guess-work as to whether it’s in position or not. You can hear that it is and I love that.
To adjust your harness you have to turn the dial on the back of the seat and pull the plastic cover off. Once inside adjusting the harness is self-explanatory. Thread it through the proper slot for your child’s size (at or above the shoulders for forward facing, at or below the shoulders for rear facing) and put the cover back on.
If your child is a toddler you may also have to adjust the crotch belt which requires you to remove the seat cushion.
The Foonf has what’s called rigid LATCH. Instead of LATCH belts with a clip on the end, rigid LATCH is two solid bars that come out from the seat with the press of a button.
To install the rigid LATCH you just locate the anchors in your car’s seat and push the LATCH clip into them. They attach very easily and then you press the button again and push the seat back. The rigid LATCH will slide back into the base of the seat until the Foonf is flush with the back of the car seat.
Since Dub is about 36 pounds he is very close to the limit of needing the seat belt for installation instead of just the LATCH so I installed it with both the rigid LATCH and the seat belt.
*Note: you can use BOTH the LATCH and seat belt for the forward facing installation of the Foonf. This is NOT the case for most seats so please don’t install other seats this way unless the manual specifically says that you can.
The seat belt is also very easy to install. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to open the locking clip but once I got it open I slid the belt through, clipped it, tightened it, closed the locking clip and was good to go. The Foonf also has a tether that I connected to the tether anchor on the back of my car’s seat.
One of my (and Dub’s) favorite features is that the Foonf has two recline settings in the forward facing position. In his other seat he sat straight up while forward facing and stopped falling asleep. In the Foonf he is taking naps again!
Another great feature on the Foonf is that the chest clip and crotch buckle both make an audible click sound so you know they’re secure. His other seat didn’t always click and I would have to undo his belt and redo only to find out that it was secure.
Remember when I mentioned that you would need to remove the seat cushion to adjust the crotch buckle on an older child? This is what that looks like and what you will also need to do to access the LATCH buckles for the rear facing position and the seat belt locking clips if installing the seat rear facing with the seat belt, which I did.
*Note: if your child is heavier than 25 pounds then the seat belt must be used for installation. LATCH cannot be used along with the seat belt in the rear facing position and must be discontinued once your child reaches 25 pounds.
In the rear facing position the Foonf has an anti-rebound bar which prevents the seat from rebounding in a crash. This means that the seat won’t flip toward the back seat. An added bonus is that it also provides a place for a toddler to put their feet so your seat back doesn’t get as dirty. It’s the little things sometimes. (Note: the tether is to be used for forward facing installation only.)
Dub is 3½ years old in this picture and has plenty of leg room for extended rear facing. Also the front seat is still in a comfortable position for the front seat passenger. Note though that I am not a tall person and neither is my husband. I am 5’3″ but this seat allows for me to sit further back than his other seat did due to its high profile.
The high profile does have its drawbacks though. While they aren’t deal breakers by any means, they are inconvenient.
- When installed in a crossover SUV or other higher vehicle this seat is very high and lifting a bigger child into it can be a bit cumbersome, especially if you’re on the shorter side. It’s not a big deal for us though since Dub is big enough to climb in by himself for the most part.
- When the Foonf is installed on the passenger’s side and the headrest is up for an older child you can’t see anything out the side window. This was a problem so to fix that it we installed the seat on the driver’s side. Problem solved and not much of an issue since both my husband and I are on the short side.
The bottom line
I am in love with this seat and so is Dub! I have heard amazing things about it and it wasn’t all a bunch of hype. Sure, it’s big and heavy, but it’s so easy to use. The harness straps adjust like a breeze unlike my old seat and installation is relatively painless. You do have to rethread the harness as your child grows which is kind of a pain but not a big deal.
The other semi-con is that at about $450 it isn’t light on the wallet but I think it’s worth every penny. You really do get what you pay for. Plus you can get it for less if you shop around. Take the Clek Foonf for a ride. You won’t regret it!