When our first-born graduated from his Graco Lauren snap-in style infant carrier, we cheaped out and bought a safe-but-low-end car seat.
I regretted the purchase almost immediately. Everything about that wretched car seat was a pain, from installing it to getting a wriggling toddler in and out of it. The seat wasn’t well designed for use with shoulder belts, and even when it was properly installed it tended to slide around quite a bit.
We finally had enough and decided to upgrade. This time we did our homework and researched the top end car seats, reading reviews and watching Youtube installation videos.
After comparing the options, we settled on the Britax Marathon 70-G3 Convertible Car Seat, and we’ve been very happy with it.
Everything about this car seat screams quality. Each part is well finished, from the plastic base and back to the nicely fitted cover. The materials chosen are high-quality: the straps feel like a better quality webbing, and the clips and buckles are solid and operate smoothly and easily.
Each part seems to have received careful thought and attention. The Britax designers seem like they thought about how their product would be used and weren’t just looking to meet minimum safety standards. This results in nice touches like velcro to hold the shoulder straps in place while you put your child into the seat.
I give the Britax Marathon 70-G3 an A+ for quality.
Installing this car seat is a cinch if your vehicle has a LATCH system–and a frustrating ordeal if it doesn’t.
Don’t get me wrong–the Britax works well with over-the-shoulder seatbelts once you get it installed.
But that initial installation involved a lot of struggling and sweating in the mid-summer heat (which always puts me in a “patient” mood).
The tricky part with the installation is the clips that lock the seatbelt in place. These clips keep the shoulder belt from retracting and tipping the seat (a major problem with our previous car seat). And while I’m glad they’re there, they were a challenge to fasten.
First you have to open the clips–a tricky feat to begin with. The real fun starts once you’ve threaded the seatbelt through both sides and buckled it. At this point you have to lock the clips down. The clips lock the belt tightly, but they don’t give you a lot of clearance to work with. If you don’t keep both the shoulder and lap portions of the belt completely flat, the clip won’t shut. This was the main source of frustration while I was installing the seat. It’s hard to simultaneously tighten the belt, prevent it from twisting and snap the clips shut.
On the plus side, removing the seat’s cover was easy, so I was able to see clearly while I worked.
Once you’re able to get the seatbelt fastened and the clips locked down, the Britax is anchored firmly in place. Forget sliding around–I could barely even wiggle the seat.
Easy to use
While installing the seat was a harrowing experience, in day-to-day usage it’s a joy to use. With our old car seat, getting our son in and out was a struggle. After placing him in the seat, I’d have to root around under his bottom for the buckle, then wrangle the straps in place and fumble around to untwist them.
The Britax addresses both of these issues. The buckle is enclosed in a paddle-shaped flap, which makes it more comfortable for the occupant but also keeps the buckle from sliding down into the seat when I’m loading my son into the car.
Similarly, two little velcro tabs on the shoulder straps help to keep them out of the way until it’s time to buckle up. The top portion of the strap is covered with a rubber slider that greatly reduces twisting. This seat is almost fumble-free.
The only feature that I’m not thrilled with is the mechanism that allows you to tighten and loosen the shoulder straps. The release lever is tucked away inside the seat. It’s simple enough to operate once you figure it out, but it took me a little while to figure it out. It’s also hard to reach when the seat is installed in a rear-facing position in our vehicle.
Despite the difficult installation, we’re completely satisfied with our Britax Marathon 70-G3 Convertible Car Seat. In fact, we liked it so much that we bought a second one a few weeks later when it was time to graduate our younger son from the snap-in carrier.
It’s pricey, for sure, but it’s one of those purchases that makes me smile every time I use it.