The Clek Foonf and the Clek Fllo, which is the cheaper sibling of the Foonf, are two of the most impressive car seats sold in the United States. These are my thoughts on the Foonf, and why it’s easily one of the best car seats you can consider today. In short, it lets you rear-face longer than nearly every other car seat in the country, and rear-facing is the safest position you can put your child in. Let’s dig into the details together!
The Clek Foonf sounds like something between a baby sneeze and a Swedish dessert, but the truth is that this is one of the most impressive seats on the market. It’s a convertible car seat, which means it can be used in two configurations, including as a rear-facing infant seat, and as a forward-facing seat. It’s the newest version of the Foonf, which is rather similar to the previous 2015 version, except that the harness straps fit better and a few behind the scenes changes were made by Clek in order to improve the seat.
Clek Foonf Limits for Weight and Height
Rear-facing: 14-50 pounds, and 25-43″ in height. Your child should be able to sit upright without assistance, which typically isn’t reached by most infants until after 6 months, and his or her head should not reach past 1″ below the top of the headrest. The Foonf is one of the best seats for making sure kids actually reach the useful limits of the seat, as it measures around 26.5″ in shell height when the headrest is extended to its fullest position. Most seats top out at 23″ or 24″ in shoulder height, which means a lot of children will outgrow them by height before doing so by weight. Clek took note of this and made sure to provide a usable height range throughout the weight range of the seat.
Note: Using the Clek Infant-thingy infant insert reduces the rear-facing weight limit to 5 pounds and overrides the need for your infant to be able to sit upright without assistance.
Forward-facing: 20-65 pounds, and 30-49″ in height. Your child should be at least 1, and it’s recommended that s/he is at least 2. Of course, research into car safety indicates children should remain rear-facing for as long as possible (the average is 4 years in Sweden, which posts the lowest child fatality rate on Earth), and after rear-facing, the child should remain forward-facing as long as possible.
Dimensions of the Clek Foonf
The seat is 17″ wide at its widest point and only 13″ wide where installed at the base. The seat weighs 38 pounds when rear-facing, as this includes the base for rear-facing as well as the anti-rebound bar; it weighs 33 pounds when installed forward-facing.
Using the Clek Foonf
I’m going to be honest: the Foonf is a bit of an intimidating seat when you take it out of the box, partially because you need to spend a few minutes putting it together and partially because it looks even larger once you have it set up in a car. It reminds me a lot of an ejection seat; the kind a fighter pilot would wear, except with much cooler colors. However, that also makes it look solid, and it feels solid too, which shouldn’t matter in car safety, but it’s a nice psychological boost that makes it easier to stand paying as much as one of these can cost.
Something I like about the Foonf is the height it gives children when rear-facing; in most cases, it will allow them to look out the rear window, which is handy for entertaining children while on the road. The seat itself might not look very comfortable, but when you touch it and put weight in it, it’s quite comfortable. It’s also easy to clean if you spill regular liquids on it, which is inevitable sooner or later.
When it comes to the installation, remember that you need to install it with the anti-rebound bar while rear-facing, and that you should use the tether only when forward-facing. The anti-rebound bar, as its name suggests, is designed to reduce the rebound, or rotational motion, of the seat during a collision, absorbing energy that would otherwise go into the child. The more forces you can reduce in a crash, the better, and Clek even includes a neat little video of their seat being crash tested in a side impact.
Keep in mind that when you’re forward-facing with the Foonf, Clek recommends you use the tether all the time. You shouldn’t ever use it while rear-facing. When forward-facing, you are required to use the tether if you have the seat set in Recline 1. Besides that, Clek states it’s okay to skip it if you’re using a seat belt installation and there isn’t an available tether anchor.
Something else I like about the Foonf is that it’s a plush, plush seat. I can’t fit into it, but children who can tend to like it. I’ve consulted with many parents who own them, and most agree that their kids don’t mind sitting in it. Of course, this will vary from one child to the next, but it’s something I’ve seen and heard mentioned several times. However, I’ll definitely acknowledge that it’s a seat that some kids just don’t work well with; the foam might vary from one seat to the next.
Furthermore, since the Foonf sits very high, it’s easy to get to the harnesses and buckles it takes to secure it even if you install it next to other seats. It has a good solid feel that makes you trust it, and that’s backed up by its 9-year product life, which is longer than that of most seats on the market. Even the Dionos, which I’ll recommend all day long, can’t match that when it comes to their harness lives.
Something else I’m fond of regarding the Foonf is that it’s quite easy to install in both cars and on airplanes. Keep in mind that it’s not likely to fit in the X-ray systems at most terminals, so you’ll want to leave a bit of extra time for being screened manually. Similarly, in most smaller and mid-sized jets, you aren’t going to get it to fit in the aisles, so you’ll need to be prepared to hoist it above them. However, the Foonf will fit the actual airplane seat well. Don’t even bother trying to fit it in the storage compartments above; that’s just an exercise in frustration unless you’re in first class.
Why Buy the Clek Foonf?
This is the meat and potatoes of this car seat. The Foonf is one of a handful of seats in the United States that allows you to rear-face a child for up to 50 pounds. Every pound is precious, as the longer you rear-face, the safer your child is. In the US, parents tend to turn their children around into the line of fire at 1. In Sweden, this typically isn’t done until 4. Children in Sweden are far less likely to die in car crashes than children in the US. It makes that much of a difference. This alone is reason enough to buy the Foonf.
Besides that fact, the Foonf also features crumple zones through its “react” safety system designed to reduce the forces in frontal collisions. There are also metal (e.g., steel and magnesium) substructures and foam on the sides to reduce forces from side impacts. As I mentioned before, the anti-rebound bar is designed to keep the seat more stable in a collision by keeping the seat from rotating as much, reducing tensional forces. All of these are good things.
Something else I love about the Foonf, as I mentioned above, is the 26.5″ rear-facing shell height measurement. Many children outgrow their seats by height before weight, which means that in some seats, you don’t get as much RF time as you otherwise would expect; this is a problem with a number of Britax seats. Clek designed the Foonf smartly and as a result, kids actually have a better chance of reaching past 40 pounds with it than they would with several other seats.
Finally, as noted above, the Foonf is also simply an easier seat to install than most, due to its narrow width of 17 inches. That means it’s actually possible to install 3 across in a number of smaller vehicles. Wider seats restrict your vehicle options, and of course, it’s much more expensive to buy a new vehicle than a new car seat.
In conclusion, I’m not going to say the Foonf is the best car seat in the history of car seats, as there isn’t one seat that does everything perfectly. For example, I wish you could RF younger infants with the Foonf; because of its lower weight limit, you do need to wait several months until your little one reaches the lower weight limits and can also sit up unassisted. However, for what it does–provide nearly-unparalleled RF abilities by weight–it has very few equals (namely, the Rainier, the Fllo, and the Pacifica). It is an amazingly safe seat that can be fit in just about any vehicle while reassuring you as a parent that you have literally done everything possible to transport your child safely. Along with the Fllo, Rainier, and Pacifica, this is one of only four seats I would unequivocally trust my children in while rear-facing.
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