The Clek Foonf has created a lot of buzz with its innovative safety features and sleek style. The seat can keep most kids rear-facing for a while, and its narrow width makes it a good candidate for families with multiple car seats. But if the price doesn't break your budget, the 36-pound weight might break your back. The Foonf also can't be used until babies are 14 pounds and can sit up on their own.
Top-of-the-line safety features. The Clek Foonf boasts some of the most innovative safety features in the convertible market. Chief among them is the React system, which helps aluminum honeycomb inside the seat crumple in a specific way that absorbs energy in a crash. In turn, this helps reduce the force exerted on the child. The seat has an anti-rebound bar for use in rear-facing mode to keep the seat from over-rotating. It also has a steel and magnesium frame, energy-absorbing foam, protective side-impact head wings, rigid LATCH connectors and a five-point harness with a chest clip. Because it is relatively new to the market, it has not been independently crash-tested.
Some grumbles about straps and installation. Clek touts the Foonf's rigid LATCH system as providing "the easiest forward-facing installation in its class." While reviewers agree, they aren't as complimentary of rear-facing installation. The Foonf receives 3 out of 5 stars forward-facing and 2 out of 5 rear-facing for overall ease of use from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Testers say it can be tricky to properly route the seat or LATCH belt, and note that the cushion must be removed for this. The seat's harness gets a similarly lukewarm reception, with some owners complaining of too-short, hard-to-tighten straps. The straps must be rethreaded to accommodate a growing child, which may surprise some at this price point. Integrated magnets beneath the seat fabric help keep the straps open while putting a child in the seat.
A tall but narrow seat. The Foonf boasts stain-, bacteria- and moisture-resistant Crypton Super Fabric that is removable and machine-washable, though Clek recommends spot-cleaning first. While reviewers say the fabric's quality is evident, many complain that the seat lacks adequate padding and makes their children uncomfortable on long trips. The seat also has a three-position smooth-recline feature that reviewers say is easy to use, but some wish for a deeper angle that would better promote car naps. The seat can be used rear-facing from 14 to 50 pounds and forward-facing from 20 to 65 pounds. It has an overall height limit of 49 inches. While reviewers praise the high rear-facing weight limit, they dislike that the Foonf's 14-pound minimum means it can't be used from birth. At only 17 inches across, the seat is narrow and makes installing three car seats in the backseat possible. However, the shell is tall, and some may find it hogs too much space when installed rear-facing in smaller cars. A few reviewers complain that it can obstruct their view while driving. At 34 to 36 pounds, the Foonf is also the heaviest convertible on the market.
Nine years before expiration. The Clek Foonf has a limited one-year warranty, and reviewers generally give customer service high marks. The seat expires nine years from its date of manufacture, a more generous time frame than most convertible seats. Clek has a unique recycling program that lets parents ship the seat back for $20 when they're done with it or after it has been in a crash. In turn, Clek issues a $20 credit for its online store.
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1. Baby Bargains
"Baby Bargains" covers the Clek line in general and the Foonf specifically. Authors Denise and Alan Fields consider performance, ease of use and the brand's track record in their review, but don't assign a rating since the seat is fairly new.
Review: Car Seats: Picking the Right Child Safety Seat, Denise and Alan Fields, Tenth Edition, 2013
Schultz praises the Foonf's safety technology that absorbs energy in crash, magnesium and steel frame, rigid LATCH, narrow frame and high weight limits. She demonstrates an easy forward-facing installation and recline. But the seat is pricey, she says, and not for small babies. It also might be too big for some sedans.
Review: Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat Review, Hollie Schultz, Jan. 28, 2013
Podlaha calls the Foonf "innovative but expensive" and praises its safety features and ability to keep kids rear-facing for longer. But she says the seat is very heavy and not for small babies, a big drawback for the price.
Review: The Clek Foonf Child Seat Is Innovative, but Has Some Limitations, Michelle Tsai Podlaha, Aug. 6, 2013
The Foonf receives 4.4 out of 5 stars in more than 70 reviews. Most love the design, sturdy feel, safety features and ability to rear-face longer. A few complain the padding is hard and that the tall shell can obstruct a driver's view. Others say there is a lack of head support for naps and that the straps can be hard to adjust.
Review: Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2014
This website, run by professional child-passenger safety technicians and instructors, includes a Foonf preview that answers some common questions about the seat regarding the shell height and legroom.
Review: Oooo, Foonf!, Jennie Reiff, Feb. 17, 2012
6. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Clek Foonf receives 3 out of 5 stars forward-facing and 2 out of 5 rear-facing for overall ease of use in the NHTSA's tests. The Foonf has solid labels and instructions, but installation and rear-facing harness use can be tricky, testers say.
Review: Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings, Editors of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, As of February 2014
Horton praises the Foonf's streamlined, modern design, narrow width and long life span. She also likes the innovative safety features, easy installation and low-maintenance fabrics. However, she says it's pricey and not a good pick for small babies.
Review: Babble Blogger Favorites: Infant and Toddler Car Seats, Michelle Horton, Nov. 12, 2012