I’ve heard that Britax is the Rolls Royce of car seats. They’re expensive and packed with features (though sadly, none of which include a built-in umbrella). This review is on the 2011 Britax Marathon 70.
Worm’s working towards his first birthday. And with aging, comes growing (for now, it’s more upward than outward). The lankiness he’s developing pushed the limits of his previous car seat. Since Steph nixed my idea of welding extensions and bolting on modifications to his first car seat, we visited our local baby store to purchase the next size up.
Lo and behold, the Britax Marathon 70.
At around 20 lbs, there are some parents that want their child to face forward in the car. Others wish to keep a child rear-facing for a little longer. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear facing car seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.) Britax states that a child can be rear-facing in the Marathon 70 from 5 to 40 lbs. For children between 20 and 70 lbs, the child can be forward facing in this car seat. Given this information, the period between 20 and 40 lbs are up to the user’s discretion. We opted for forward facing. We can never have too many sets of eyes on the road ahead.
All baby car seats go through the same rigorous testing. They all meet the same minimum safety requirements to be allowed for public use. But meeting requirements and exceeding requirements can be at opposite spectrums depending on what is tested. There are many ways to crash a car and I doubt that any car seat is the best protecting seat in every type of accident. So, I can crunch crash test data until I’m blue in the face and still never be completely sure of what meeting and exceeding safety requirements fully means. And I’ll never be sure that one car seat purchase is much better than another. That being said, I hope I never have to personally see the safety limits of any car seat in my vehicle.
In the Britax Marathon 70, the quality of the build is there. The Marathon 70 is sturdy, but you pay the price in weight and size. This means it is not the type of car seat that you want to travel with (although you may even use it as a toddler airplane seat). It is mainly for installation into one car for long periods of time. There’s no such thing as an extra car seat adapter. It’s a one piece deal, so if you want to move it from one car to another, you have to take out the entire unit.
The Marathon came with press-release latches that easily allowed you to attach the seat to the child safety mounts found in most modern automobiles. Though, tightening these straps down was a bit of a pain. The adjusters required a significant amount of finger strength to slide up and down on the strap. I guess it’s to prevent the straps from coming loose over time. Either way, this amount of effort should not be required to tighten the car seat to the car.
On the flip side, measuring and adjusting the seat to accommodate the baby was convenient. There’s a shoulder strap height adjuster conveniently placed on the car seat back. It only took a slight lifting motion (with one hand) to move. A click sound ensures that the shoulder straps are locked into place. The crotch harness buckle has two settings so that important body parts are not being squished.
One of my gripes about the Britax is that there are pads for everything. (Though some people may love this extra padding.) There are shoulder pads, strap pads and crotch pads to prevent pinching of skin upon buckling the child in. There’s a “belly” pad under the crotch harness buckle that keeps you from being the reason your baby’s gonads are deformed. The HUGS chest pads seem to be more of a nuisance to me than a help. I’m always sliding the pads up or down. His clothes seem to get pulled by the rubber HUGS chest pads, so I’m always moving them out of the way. I just think that there’s way too much stuff covering the straps on the 5 point harness. If we were going to drive the baby around naked all the time, then I can see the reason for the extra strap padding. But seriously, who does that?
The cover is removable and the recommendation is for it to be handwashed, not machine washed. The pads can be washed as well. The people at the baby store seemed to like the aluminum bars on either side of the Marathon 70. They (2 floor salesmen) stated that it was added protection. My thought is that if you are at the point where those aluminum bars are providing protection in a car accident, the accident is most likely fatal.
The instruction booklet is 41 pages long. Did I read all of it? Almost. There are many options to mount the Marathon along with quite a few straps, buckles, and pockets for one to deal with. Installation wasn’t as straightforward as I thought it would be. But, I appreciate the numerous mounting options since it would allow us to adapt to various makes of cars (like our future yellow Aston Martin).
I look in the rear view mirror at the Worm and can’t help but think he’s riding in extreme comfort. I hope that as he grows, the seat will continue to accommodate his body well. That remains to be seen. With the durable design of the Marathon 70 and the attention to detail, I trust that it’s going to provide an ample amount of safety in case of accident. But, that is one feature I hope I don’t have to use.
Note that this is going to be an ongoing review as we get more and more usage out of the Britax.
Overall Rating: 8 Worms
Ease of Use: 7 Worms (Some features are easy to use, others are not so easy.)
Performance: 8 Worms
Features: 9 Worms
Durability: 8 Worms (It’s still early, so this rating will get modified as we use the Marathon more and more.)
Manliness: 8 Worms
Retail Price: $289.99
Latching lower connectors make installing and removing car seat easy. Approved for in-flight airplane usage. Can hold up to 70 lb child. Comes with infant body pillow. 3 adjustable reclining positions
Price. Adjustable straps are a pain to adjust. Too much padding on the straps. We may never use it up to its 70lb weight limit. It’s huge size may be a problem in narrow cars. It’s heavy. Toxic flame retardants used in material (see below for links).
Things I would modify:
Use non-toxic materials in production. Have a tilt or rotate setting to turn car seat for getting baby out of vehicle easier.
Where to find: