Fun with Fllo: Review & Giveaway

Clek FlloFllo07 — the so-called ‘lite’ version of the previously reviewed (and loved!) Clek Foonf — is a star in its own right, a much appreciated addition to Clek’s already impressive line up of seats, and absolutely earns its place on our list of favourite seats.  We are thrilled to put it through the paces and test it out. Thank you Clek for providing us with a seat to review.

Clek has trimmed several pounds off Fllo, coming in 10lbs lighter in rear-facing mode and 8lbs lighter in forward-facing mode, due to a change in the base of the seat.  For someone switching between vehicles frequently, your back will surely notice. For those keeping their seat in one spot, a minor detail.  Foonf comes with an anti-rebound bar plus a detachable wedge-shaped base; Fllo with an anti-rebound bar plus integrated ‘flip foot’ that swings and locks into place for different modes of use.  This chart nicely compares the two seats.

We are so pleased to see that Canadian Tire carries Fllo in Drift (the only non-Crypton fabric available), making it easily accessible to so many parents coast to coast.  Fllo can also be found in various cover options at Amazon.ca, Shop.ca, Babies R Us, at boutique stores, or directly from Clek for $369-$450 depending on the cover.

The lesser weight of the seat also comes from a change in the energy-management system integral to Fllo. Foonf features REACT (Rigid-LATCH Energy Absorbing Crumple Technology), an energy-absorbing honeycomb structure much like a crumple zone on a car. REACT relies in large part on the use of the rigid LATCH for maximum benefit.  Lacking the rigid LATCH (rigid UAS) of Foonf, Fllo features instead EACT (Energy Absorbing Crumple Technology) to deliver the crumple-zone technology without the need of rigid LATCH.  Rigid LATCH accounts in part for the extra weight and cost of the Foonf, but isn’t always usable by a parent based on a variety of factors.  Fllo offers a very attractive alternative!

Based on the Foonf, the seating area and fit-to-child remains the same. Either seat will accommodate your child interchangeably as the internal seating area is identical.  As with any seat, however, the way in which it installs in a vehicle can cause you to effectively lose or gain harness height in a way that is often described as magical. Furthermore, kids come in different shapes and proportions.  It is important to try a real child in a seat and not rely just on a tape measure to determine fit. Fllo is an extremely good gamble though, for kids within the stated fit range.

 

Rear-Facing Forward-Facing
Weight Range 14-40lbs and able to sit upright alone 22-65lbs
Height Range 25-43” 30-49”

We are especially excited to see how fit on the lower end of the range will be affected by the soon-to-be-released ‘infant thingy’ that will be compatible with existing Foonf and Fllo seats, and enable proper fit and safe use by babies from birth (5lbs+). Woohoo! Knocked that one out of the park Clek, if the production units are as good as the prototype looks.  Not quite exciting enough to want another baby to test it out with…but almost.  Update: Infant Thingy is now available…and it’s awesome.

adjusted1Thunder fabricFllo scores high marks for aesthetics, and the new fabric on this seat is called Thunder — and it’s beautiful! “Thunder” is grey on a black frame (also available on a white frame for Foonf and called “Cloud”), and has a look like a linen suit but feels more like thick k-way (pretty sure I just dated myself there with that reference). Very sleek and classy looking, and will coordinate nicely in grey or black interiors. Easy to clean up as well as it is a Crypton fabric.  Four year old girl child cried that it wasn’t pink, but sometimes mom or dad gets to pick.

For those familiar with Foonf a few other tidbits that are different:

Fllo53Fllo has one manual recline position in each mode – accomplished by swinging the flip foot and then locking it into place.  How it then sits in the vehicle will depend largely on the contours and compressibility of the vehicle seat, as well as your installation technique.  Perfect your ability to shimmy it around how you want it, and install it tightly in place with 1” or less of movement in any direction at the belt path and you can sweet talk it into installing just about any way you want it.  There are two level lines that must be followed when rear facing, one for infants under 14-22lbs, and one for children 22-40lbs.  If you are unable to shimmy the seat as reclined as you want it to be, it is permissible to use a rolled towel at the seat bight to make the seat more reclined.  Pool noodles won’t work properly with the shape of the foot, so Clek allows a rolled towel only.  Clek has clarified that provided the child has adequate head control and is comfortable, the seat may be installed anywhere in between the two recline lines at any weight.

Fllo49 Fllo50

 

crotch buckleFirst editions of Foonf came with a single length crotch buckle, but later versions came standard with a dual-length strap, as does Fllo. It’s an ingenious design and greatly improves fit for bigger kids both rear and forward facing. Note that the longer crotch buckle position can not be used in the inner slot, but as that position is for smaller kids anyway, it should not be a problem.

 

 

 

So how do these physical differences reflect fit to vehicle?  Here are my results, but your mileage may vary. We’ll talk about why as we go.

In the following photos Fllo is in Thunder (grey) and Foonf is in Flamingo (pink).

This vehicle is a 2003 Honda Civic – fairly small, and decently representative of compact vehicles.  Fllo sits a tad lower than does Foonf, when rear facing at the more upright angle. This may be beneficial if you have limited clearance to load a child in through.  Installed at this angle there is still adequate room for an average to short driver.

Fllo09

Fllo14

I was able to shimmy the Foonf to be more upright than shown, and gain a bit more front-to-back space by doing so (only appropriate if the child can tolerate the more upright angle based on age/head control), but that ran the fully extended head rest into the curving head liner of the car — not something I’m okay with, and potentially an issue if you have side air bags in that location (read your vehicle manual to know).  If you are seat shopping make sure to try a seat in all of the configurations and positions you may one day use it in.

I tried installing Fllo to the more reclined angle suitable for infants 22lbs and under — and my long-legged self could comfortably sit in the passenger seat:

Fllo20 Fllo22

Centre installs are often a great solution when extra front seat room is needed, as the shape of Fllo cooperates quite nicely with the contours of the front seats, nestling right in between without making firm contact.  Here it is with the front seats all the way back – tall drivers take note!

Fllo17

 

The shape of Fllo’s head rest will potentially gain you extra front-to-back space, depending on how it meshes with the head restraints of your vehicle.  Here in this 2012 Focus hatchback I would not be able to drive comfortably with the seat behind the driver (it’s a tight squeeze with most rear-facing seats), but installed centre – ample room.

Fllo60 Fllo57

 

 

 

When rear-facing it is a requirement that ALL of the base be supported by the vehicle seat with no overhang. This overhang as shown (left) would not be permitted. If you have shallow vehicle seats (extended cab trucks, for example), you must be aware of this requirement. However, install technique may be able to overcome this barrier.  With a bit of effort I was able to turn the incompatible install on the left into a wonderful fit on the right.

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Fit in this 2012 Ford F-150 Super Cab (extended-cab version – wide but not deep) was extremely tight behind the passenger. It seemed like it was practically made for the centre position though, even at the more reclined angle.

Fllo69 Fllo62

 

Fllo comes with premium push-on connectors for use with lower anchors (UAS)…

Fllo72

 

…and an easy to use open rear-facing belt path for use with the seat belt: remove the seat cushion to reveal it. Fllo has lock-offs (blue) for use with a lap/shoulder belt, and Clek allows the use of either or neither (if your belt locks at the retractor). This flexibility is wonderful depending on your needs.

Fllo76

 

Forward-facing fit is similarly excellent, with potentially a slight bit more natural recline than Foonf due to the shape of Fllo’s base.  Fllo also sits a tad lower than Foonf.  Four year old girl child was so pleased that she could reach the ceiling handle while riding in her Fllo for this test!  The shape of Fllo’s head rest works very well with vehicle head restraints that jut forward.

Fllo83 Fllo27

 

 

I dazzled myself with my contortionist abilities to take this picture (in a Civic!) but it nicely demonstrates the front profile of the two seats. Foonf (pink) sits up a bit higher than Fllo (grey). This could be advantageous, or not, depending on your vehicle and your preference.

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Other fabulous forward-facing features (yeah, alliteration!) include easy-to-use lock-offs (in red on left), a top tether locking mechanism that is smooth and easy to adjust, and a nice high belt path (on right) to avoid interference with long buckle stalks. My inner car seat geek swooned a little when I saw the genius bit of engineering that was!

Fllo84 Fllo89

 

Two other attractive features Fllo has to offer is its narrowness, at 16.9” at the widest point, and the anti-rebound bar for use while rear-facing.

The slim profile of Fllo is no guarantee it will fit in any given location, but chances are excellent that it will. If you are fitting three children across, or need two side by side, give Fllo a chance to impress.

Here it is with room to spare on the ‘40’ part of a 60/40 split of this truck:

Fllo90

 

The anti-rebound bar is required for use rear-facing, and inserts easily into the base.  Excellent instructions in the manual walk you through this process. Store the ARB for use while forward facing.  What’s the point of an ARB, you wonder? Why bother with another part to keep track of? It can make it easier to achieve a rear-facing install, it limits post-crash movement toward the back of the vehicle (rebound), and can offer improved stability in a side-impact.  This is a feature we’re seeing more and more on rear-facing seats lately.

Fllo58

 

Fit to child in Fllo is super:

For all but the tallest or long-torsoed of kids it is reasonable to expect to get to a safe, mature booster age in Fllo.

This child (requiring a bribe to a) sit in the seat for a photo, and b) produce a tiny smile) is at almost age 7, 50lbs, and slightly over the standing height of 49”, still able to just fit by harness height (the top harness position must be at or above a forward-facing child’s shoulders).  She does not ride in Fllo because it is outgrown, but it’s a nice indicator that kids with her torso height still fit.

Fllo42

 

This child  fit in Foonf a year ago, and the minimums of 14lbs and sitting unassisted are very reasonable minimums. Ignoring them would be unwise, potentially compromising a younger baby’s airway.  As mentioned above, stay tuned for the ‘infant-thingy’ to enable use by younger babies.  Have we mentioned how excited we are to see this development?

Fllo01

 

This child is quite close to the rear-facing limits at 37lbs and about 41” tall, but at age 4 she is a great indicator of who this seat is made to fit. TONS of leg room make for a super comfy ride for her.  Fllo is an absolutely wonderful contender for those who want to rear face well beyond the legal bare minimums and kudos to Clek for not only actively promoting that practice, but making it easy to do.

Fllo06

 

Overall impressions:

Fllo is..fabulous. Sleek appearance, excellent fit to vehicle, superb longevity both rear and forward facing, LOTS of leg room,

Fllo's head rest makes a nice place to rest a sleeping head.

Fllo’s head rest makes a nice place to rest a sleeping head.

butter-smooth harness adjuster, easy-to-follow labelling and manual, and some lovely ease-of-use features as described above.

Potential cons, compared to every other seat on the market?

  • Cost (there really are some long-lasting economical seats out there);
  • Colour or fabric preference – maybe you just aren’t a fan of the feel of the various fabrics available;
  • High profile – maybe you prefer something with lower sides, or you have limited roof clearance in your vehicle to load a child;
  • Frequent use by more than one child – the need to swap out parts, and rethread the harness is going to be cumbersome if you use the seat for multiple kids or in both rear- and forward-facing modes on a regular basis.

So you’re sold on all the features that Clek brings to the table, but can’t decide between Foonf and Fllo. Why might you choose

Fllo over Foonf?

Perhaps if you are moving it often – the lighter weight of Fllo will be noticeable.

Perhaps if you are after the energy management system of REACT but can’t make use of the rigid UAS connectors in your vehicle in the position you want to install the seat in – capitalize on the technology with EACT of Fllo.

Perhaps Fllo simply fits better in your vehicle – that one’s a no-brainer!
Thank you to Clek for providing a Fllo in Thunder to review – but all opinions are our own.

This giveaway is now over – congrats to the lucky winner!

And now we share the love with you! Clek will provide one (1) Fllo in a solid colour of your choice (pending stock availability) to one lucky reader in Canada. Contest closes 11:59pm Pacific 30-Oct-2014. See the fine print in the Rafflecopter widget to enter, and for all terms and conditions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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