As a mother, I always worry about the safety of my kids, especially when they were younger. I make sure that they are as far away from danger as possible. Given this, I think I have bought every item there is to keep them protected and secure.
One of the things I have always had when my kids were still infants and toddlers was a child-restraint car seat. I have bought all kinds! I am a worrier and I panic easily, but it did pay off— my kids grew up without a scratch.
Child-restraint car seats helped a lot. I always take my kids with me wherever I go. So, having this device was really everything. My mind is always at ease while I am on the road driving, knowing that worse come to worst, my kids would not suffer severe injuries.
If you are a first-time parent, I bet you are worried about the safety of your baby. There are times when you would be torn about taking them with you as you drive yourself to the grocery store or just leaving them at home.
Choosing the right products is also a struggle! So, let me share everything I know about child-restraint car seats. I bet you have heard of the constant debate when it comes to Britax Pioneer vs Frontier vs Britax Pinnacle. Today, let us tackle everything about it and everything you need to know to pick the right car seat for your baby. So, let us start!
Factors to Consider When Buying a Child-Restraint Car Seat
I do not know about you, but personally, price is the first thing I consider whenever I buy anything. This is especially true for expensive things that may or may not last for years. Of course, I want it to be worth my money. Who does not, right? After all, I am technically investing!
When it comes to child-restraint car seats, there is one thing you need to remember. Price is not directly proportional to quality. Not all expensive models provide more protection than cheap ones.
Regardless of what brand you opt for, always go for something that is cost-efficient. Choose a model that will give you what you pay for. Of course, regardless of the price as well, it should withstand the test of time. It should not easily break nor become damaged.
Why would you buy a product that is cheap but only lasts for a few months? Similarly, why would you buy an extremely costly product that has the same features and quality as cheaper options? Always think hard about these questions when making purchasing decisions in general.
Design is everything when it comes to car seats. Mainly, the question is, are you opting for backless or high-back models?
Personally, I prefer a high-back car seat. This enables my kid’s shoulders to be positioned properly. Also, it comes with routing guides for the shoulder belt, so it is hassle-free. Of course, this is perfect for vehicles without a headrest.
On the other hand, the good thing about a backless model is that it is cheaper. It compensates for the shoulder belt routing guides with a clip that keeps the shoulder belt in place. Further, it provides a better position for the lap belt.
So, at the end of the day, it all depends on what you need. Of course, whether your vehicle has a headrest or not is an important consideration.
Fit is important because it is all about the comfort of your kid. The seat must accommodate your kid accordingly and comfortably. For those that can accommodate seat belts, there should be enough avenue for them to go around.
Moreover, the fit should allow for the lap belt to go across the upper thigh of your kid. This configuration is the proper way, as the impact is absorbed across his or her pelvic bones. It should not rest on his or her stomach, as this will cause discomfort. Abdominal tissues are extremely fragile at a young age; so, you would not want to direct all the impact in this area.
As for the shoulder belt, make sure that it goes across the middle of your kid’s shoulder. It should fit tightly that it does not fall off easily. More importantly, it should not be near his or her neck.
4. Weight Capacity
Child-restraint car seats are classified according to weight capacity and not age suitability, most of the time. Once your kid reaches the weight limit for a particular type of car seat, it is time that you switch to another type.
The bottomline is that, you would not buy a car seat that your kid could easily outgrow. For example, he or she weighs 38 lbs. now. Of course, you would not buy a car seat that has a weight limit of 40 lbs.
This brings us to our following topic!
Types of Child-Restraint Car Seat
The safety of our children must be of top priority. This is why the United Nations (UN) have come up with the highest of standards when it comes to child-restraint car seats. Every model in the market must conform to these standards. Otherwise, it will not be recognized as safe and secure.
As I have mentioned earlier, one of the most important factors in determining the right car seat for your kid is weight capacity. Largely, it must be suitable for his or her size and weight. In fact, weight factors in more than age does. Your kid can be four years old but can still weigh like a two-year-old. So, it really varies.
Mainly, there are three types of child-restraint car seat. Each has its own weight limit. Let us see how these three are similar and different.
Rearward-Facing Car Seat
Standard Weight Capacity: 0 to 29 lbs
The rearward-facing car seat is the first type you will buy for your kid. It is suitable for newborn babies because it reduces the risks of collision fatalities and injuries by 90%. Relatively, it provides greater protection for delicate parts such as the head, neck, and spine.
With an energy-absorbing interior and a strong harness, you need not to worry about your baby. Make sure that you exhaust its lifespan, switching only once your kid reaches the maximum weight limit for this type.
Forward-Facing Car Seat
Standard Weight Capacity: 0 to 79 lbs
Once your kid outgrows the rearward-facing car seat, it is time for you to switch to the forward-facing car seat. This is the one that is integrated with its own harness.
At this point, given the weight of your kid, it is safer to use a harness than a vehicle’s seat belt to secure him or her. It provides protection from impact in the case of a collision. Also, it comes with an impact shield that keeps your kid in place.
The harness does this by distributing the force of collision over the wide areas of your kid’s upper body. All you need to do is to make sure that the harness is correctly adjusted. The top part must be at least 2 cm above his or her shoulder. Its fit must be tight enough that only a maximum of two fingers can fit between your kid’s body and the harness.
More importantly, make sure that the buckle does not rest on his or her stomach. Otherwise, this would cause severe stress whether there is a collision or not.
Some models of this type come with an impact cushion or shield instead of a harness. Your vehicle’s seat belt holds it in place. The good thing about this is that it comes with an adjustable headrest, which you can adjust to suit your kid’s height.
You can use this type of car seat in front or rear of your vehicle. However, it is highly recommended that you just install it at the rear, especially if your vehicle comes with a passenger airbag in front.
High-Back Booster Car Seat
Car Seats Explained by Baby Gizmo
Standard Weight Capacity: 33 to 79 lbs
Typically, the high-back booster car seat is the last type you need. By last, I mean that it is the last stage of child-restraint car seat. Usually, it has no integral harness. Instead, the vehicle’s seat belt goes around your kid and the car seat. This is made possible by the car seat raising your kid’s seating position, allowing the seat belt to fit correctly.
To make installation easier for you, some models have red indicators or slots to show where the seat belt should go around. More often than not, there is one at the shoulder part, allowing you to position the diagonal part correctly. There is also one at the waist height, located under the armrests, allowing you to position the lap part correctly.
Make sure that the seat belt goes across your kid’s chest, pelvis, and shoulder. It should fit as tightly as possible, with a maximum of two fingers fitting between your kid and the seat belt.
Some models come with side wings for added protection for your kid’s head. Also, some models have adjustable headrests to suit your kid’s height.
Britax Pioneer vs Frontier vs Britax Pinnacle: REVIEWS
Pionner 70 -- LATCH Installation in Harness Mode
Britax is a reputable manufacturer of child-restraint car seats. It has a promising lineup of products that moms all over the world really love.
The Britax Pioneer, Britax Frontier, and Britax Pinnacle are three of its most popular products.
These are forward-facing car seats with harness. What most moms love about these three is that they easily transform from harness to booster. Yes, there is no need to buy a separate booster car seat once your kid outgrows the harness! This is just one of their similarities.
As we move along, we will discuss more about these three models and how they are similar and different. Let us begin with their common features!
1. Nine (9)-Position Quick-Adjust Harness
Our kids grow quickly. However, you do not have to worry about yours easily outgrowing a Britax child-restraint car seat. With this integration, the seat adapts with his or her growth without having to rethread it every now and then.
2. Compatible Accessories
These child-restraint car seats are all compatible with the following accessories from Britax:
# Britax Car Seat Caddy
When your kid’s things are not in use, the zippered top of this accessory keeps them secure. With two large, waterproof, insulated cup holders, your kid would still be able to enjoy his or her cold drink even if you have been on road for hours.
The Britax Car Seat Caddy comes with four mesh pockets inside and another four outside. These provide additional storage space for your kid’s toys. You also have the liberty to customize the compartments— thanks to the removable central insert.
You can easily attach this to the lap belt, with its reinforced, buckle-equipped webbing. To protect your vehicle seats, it offers a waterproof backing as well.
# Britax Car Seat Travel Bag
This accessory has built-in wheels that make it conveniently portable. It comes with padded shoulder straps— similar to those of a typical backpack— and multiple carry handles, making carrying and lifting a whole lot easier. These shoulder straps are protected by a storage pouch.
For further convenience, the Britax Car Seat Travel Bag also comes with wide, dual opening zippers. For increased stability, it is built with a rubberized base. The waterproof fabric makes it easier to clean.
How To Install The Britax Frontier 90 ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Video Review
# Britax EZ-Buckle Belly Pad
The Britax EZ-Buckle Belly Pad ensures that the harness buckle remains in its forward position. This permits easy boarding.
It is made with a flexible, lead-free stainless steel interior wire, plush fabric, and padding between the buckle and your kid. The fabric is washable, allowing you to clean it easily.
This has been crash-tested and approved for use with Britax car seats as well as models of other brands.
# Britax EZ-Cling Window Shades
The Britax EZ-Cling Window Shades provide protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays. The mesh screen further minimizes the sun glare, keeping your kid comfortable without compromising driver visibility.
It has a unique engineering with a lightweight, reinforced frame. This simplifies the installation and repositioning processes.
Since it has an optimal fit, it is compatible with most vehicle windows. If you do not need it, you can easily store it away.
# Britax Kick Mats
These come in large sizes to cover most vehicle seats completely. Not only do they protect, they also store your kid’s belongings— thanks to the deep mesh pockets that come with an elastic top.
The Britax Kick Mats have two attachment points— one at the top and one at the bottom of the vehicle seat. With this, you can trust that it has a secure fit.
With a waterproof fabric, you can easily wash and clean it. It is foldable; so, you may also store it away every time you do not need it.
# Britax SecureGuard Clip
It is important to position your vehicle’s seat belt around your kid properly, especially when it comes to booster car seats. This is where the Britax SecureGuard Clip becomes handy. As it secures the seat belt position and prevents your kid from sliding under it in the case of a collision, the risk of abdominal injury lessens. Remember, kids have extremely delicate stomachs. So, we should subject this area to as minimal force or stress as possible.
# Britax Vehicle Seat Protector
The Britax vehicle seat protector is made of a non-slip material that ensures the safety of your kid while traveling. It has been crash-tested; so, it is approved for use in conjunction with these three child-restraint car seat models. Particularly, it works well with the LATCH installation system.
It features raised edges that catch debris and spills, allowing for easier cleanup process. It covers the entire car seat base, minimizing the indentations on your vehicle’s rear seat. There is also a front seat guard that protects your vehicle’s front seat from your kid’s shoes.
What I like about this accessory is that it is easy to clean given its waterproof design.
Britax Pinnacle 90 Review: Switching to Booster Mode
# Britax View-N-Go Backseat Organizer
The Britax View-N-Go Backseat Organizer is perfect for kids who cannot stay away from their tablets, whether they are watching or playing games. It is a unique, touch-sensitive viewing panel made of nontoxic materials. It holds tablets with screens of up to 15”.
Moreover, it has easy-to-access port entry positions. So, you do not have to take so much time plugging in your kid’s earphones or chargers.
This accessory is multipurpose. Aside from holding your kid’s tablet, it can also store his or her things. The large central pocket can fit large items such as books, magazines, toys, among others. Then, there are also four deep and five shallow mesh pockets, which you may use to store just about any of your kid’s stuff.
You can easily attach this to the back of your vehicle’s front seat. It comes with adjustable straps, allowing you to install it correctly and securely.
With its waterproof nature, you do not have to worry about your vehicle seat as well.
3. Cup Holder
With a cup holder, it is easier for your kid to sip his or her favorite drink from his or her favorite cup. The good thing about this is that you can easily stow it away whenever it is not in use.
4. Easy Harness-to-Booster Transition
These models give you the best way to transition from harness to booster. All you have to do is to tuck away the buckles and straps within the seat. There is no need to buy a separate booster once your kid outgrows the harness!
5. Impact-Stabilizing Steel Frame
With this, you can be confident with a secure, stable, and strong connection between the car seat and your vehicle. You would not have to worry about your kid being repositioned and whatnot.
6. Multiple Recline Positions
All three models come with multiple recline positions. This allows you to adjust the seat, ensuring that your kid is at his or her most comfortable position. At the same time, this ensures the best installation angle for your vehicle.
7. SafeCell Technology
This proactive technology is an integrated system of innovative safety features working together to provide unparalleled protection. Britax takes pride in being the only one in the market with this technology.
This includes the impact-absorbing base, impact-absorbing harness pads, impact-stabilizing steel frame, and V-shaped tether. Britax believes that “safe enough” is never good enough, so it came up with this state-of-the-art integration of components.
First, the impact-absorbing base compresses to absorb the force of collision. Also, it counteracts forward movement to keep your kid in place. The impact-absorbing harness pads are designed to resist forward movement as well.
Then, the impact-stabilizing steel frame guarantees that the strongest points are where you need and want them the most. The frame goes through the spine and at the connection points to your vehicle, ensuring reduced forward flex.
The V-shaped tether has a unique two-strap design that helps prevent forward movement. It also has rows of stitching, which are specifically designed to “give way” one at a time in the case of a collision.
8. Side Impact Protection
This feature keeps your kid safe in case of a collision as well. All three models have energy-absorbing shells and foam-lined headrests. The Britax Pinnacle ClickTight has an additional layer of external cushion for added protection.
The energy-absorbing shell helps shield your kid from debris in the case of a collision. Then, the foam-lined headrest keeps your kid’s head and neck, which are the most delicate body parts, safe. Lastly, the external cushion compresses to divert the force of collision from your kid. It also serves as a protection for adjacent passengers.
9. US Made
Quality is rest-assured with Britax products. All these models are made with the finest equipment and the highest standards in the US. It is no wonder why it is a trusted brand globally.
10. V-Shaped Tether
This patented technology minimizes the force of collision, too. It diverts the energy away from your kid and prevents seat rotation.
11. Installation System
The Britax Pioneer is equipped with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) installation system while the Britax Frontier and Britax Pinnacle are equipped with the ClickTight Installation System.
# LATCH Installation System
The LATCH has been required for child-restraint car seats and vehicles alike since September 1, 2002. As I have mentioned earlier, these regulations seek to ensure the safety of our children while traveling. Further, this installation system was made a necessity to make installation easier than before.
The LATCH has two components— the lower anchors and the tether anchors. Each child-restraint car seat and vehicle come with these components. Let us begin with the car seat.
In a car seat, the lower anchor connectors are located at the lower part. Then, the tether anchor connectors are located at the upper part in the rear.
In a typical vehicle, the lower anchors are located at the seat bight. With this, you do not have to use your vehicle’s seat belt. Depending on your vehicle, the anchors can be easily visible or deeply buried in the seat bight.
Meanwhile, a typical vehicle may have three tether anchors. The location varies. Usually, they are located at the floor, rear part of the seat, roof, or the shell behind the rear seat.
# ClickTight Installation System
If the LATCH installation system was made to provide an easier installation process, then the ClickTight installation system is improved even further. With this, installation is as easy as buckling a seat belt! In fact, you just really need to use your vehicle’s seat belt each time your kid rides.
The ClickTight key is located at the lower seating portion of the car seat. You just need to unlock the front panel to access the belt path.
This installation system boasts with a tensioning mechanism. The all-steel tubing lining inside the front panel merges with the steel frame. As a result, the mechanism locks and tensions the seat belt at the same time.
What makes this better than its older counterpart is that it has no weight limits. Conveniently, you can use your vehicle’s seat belt to secure your kid— all without having to worry about weight limits. More importantly, there is no need to knee, shove, or yank just to install your child-restraint car seat!
Britax Pioneer Harness-2-Booster
The Britax Pioneer is available in the following color options:
Britax Frontier ClickTight
The Britax Frontier is available in the following color options:
Cool flow (gray)
Cool flow (teal)
Cool n dry (charcoal)
Britax Pinnacle ClickTight
The Britax Pinnacle is available in the following colors:
Cool flow (gray)
Cool flow (teal)
Difference Between Britax Pioneer vs. Britax Frontier
1. How are They Different?
# Installation System
The Britax Pioneer is equipped with push button LATCH connectors. You can easily lock these into place by clicking. Similarly, you can release them with a simple push of a button.
Meanwhile, the Britax Frontier is designed with a ClickTight installation system. With this, you can enjoy the same functions as with a LATCH installation system— all without worrying about the weight restrictions of the latter.
# Quick-Adjust Harness
Both the Britax Pioneer and Britax Frontier come with a nine-point quick-adjust harness, letting the car seat adapt easily as your kid grows. However, the Britax Frontier is slightly improved with a two-position buckle. This feature allows you to move the harness upward and the buckle outward. As a result, you can provide a more comfortable fit for your kid easily.
# AwardsThe Britax Pioneer has two recognitions, which are as follows:
● Five-star rating for ease of use from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); and
● Best Bet Booster from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
On the other hand, the Britax Frontier has not received any recognition yet..
2. The Verdict
In this case, my personal choice for the best travel car seat is the Britax Frontier.
Difference Between Britax Frontier vs. Britax Pinnacle
1. How are They Different?
# Side Impact Protection
The main difference between the Britax Frontier and Britax Pinnacle is their respective Side Impact Protection layers. The former has two layers while the later has three. Both have energy-absorbing shells and foam-lines headrests. For optimized protection, external cushions have been added to the Britax Pinnacle.
# Quick-Adjust Harness
Another significant difference between these two is the quick-adjust harness. They both have nine position points but the Britax Frontier comes with an added feature. It has a two-position buckle that enables you to position your kid comfortably and properly without any hassle.
The Britax Frontier has not yet been given any recognition. Meanwhile, the Britax Pinnacle has received quite a number of awards and certifications, which are as follows:
- Best Bet Booster from the IIHS;
- Five-star rating for ease of use from the NHTSA;
- Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) Certification; and
- Recommended 2016 by the CarSeatBlog.org
2. The Verdict
All things said, between these two models, my personal choice is the Britax Pinnacle.
Difference Between Britax Pinnacle vs. Britax Pioneer
1. How are They Different?
# Installation System
The Britax Pinnacle and Britax Pioneer are similar in almost every aspect. In fact, the only difference between these two is their installation systems. The former is equipped with the ClickTight technology while the latter comes with the older LATCH system.
Both these models are award-winning. They both have a five-star rating for ease of use from the NHTSA and a Best Bet Booster recognition from the IIHS. However, the Britax Pinnacle has two more recognitions— a JPMA Certification and Recommended 2016 by the CarSeatBlog.org.
2. The Verdict
It is really tough choosing between these two, but still, for me, Britax Pinnacle wins.
To Sum It Up…
Choosing the best travel car seat for our kids is an everyday tough decision. It never ends, especially when they are young. Even for a simple child-restraint car seat, there are several factors we need to consider. Is it worth the price? Is it built in compliance with the highest of standards?
Does it fit my kid comfortably? Is it suitable for his or her weight? Given these many questions, there are four main factors I consider important when buying the right car seat.
These include the following:
- Fit; and
- Weight Capacity
There are also several types of car seats.
To name the three most common types, we have the following:
- Rearward-facing car seat, which is suitable for kids weighing 0 to 29 lbs.;
- Forward-facing car seat, which is suitable for kids weighing 0 to 79 lbs.; and
- High-back booster car seat, which is suitable for kids weighing 33 to 79 lbs.
As you decide what car seat to buy for your baby, perhaps you have heard of the endless debate— Britax Pioneer vs Frontier vs Britax Pinnacle. Britax is the leader in this market space; so, there is no wonder why its products are competing against one another.
All of these models, made in the US, have the following features:
- Cup holder;
- Easy harness-to-booster transition;
- Impact-stabilizing steel frame;
- Multiple recline positions;
- SafeCell technology; and
- V-shaped tether
Further, they are all compatible with the following accessories:
Britax Car Seat Caddy
Britax Car Seat Travel Bag
Britax EZ-Buckle Belly Pad
Britax EZ-Cling Window Shades
Britax SecureGuard Clip
Britax Kick Mats
Britax Vehicle Seat Protector
Britax View-N-Go Backseat Organizer
All three of them have a nine-position quick-adjust harness system. However, the Britax Frontier comes with an additional two-position buckle for additional adjustment options.
Moreover, they all have Side Impact Protection; but only the Britax Pinnacle has three layers. The other two models only have two layers.
Lastly, both the Britax Frontier and Britax Pinnacle come with the ClickTight installation system. Only the Britax Pioneer is equipped with the LATCH.
Personally, out of these three choices, My favorite is the Britax Pinnacle. It is relatively more expensive but I find its features more innovative and safer. Nonetheless, I am not discounting the safety of the other two models. It is just that the Britax Pinnacle seems to be the latest and most integrated version of the Britax Pioneer and Britax Frontier.
Which of these child-restraint car seats do you prefer? Have you tried any Britax product? Share your story with us! I hope you have learned a lot from our discussion today.