10,000 fans giveaway

We have hit 10,000 fans on this page! It’s also the five year anniversary of our website. We think a celebration giveaway is in order. How about a seat of your choice up to a $500 value? We’ve decided to try something different from our usual Rafflecopter and run it on our page. To enter, see this Facebook post for details. Contest ends Sunday, April 30, 2017 around noon pst.

Don’t forget to follow us on YouTube and Twitter too!

Contest rules:

Open to residents of Canada age 18 or older except where prohibited. Not open to the four admins of VICST or their immediate family members, nor to anyone who won something from us in the past year or their immediate family members. Winners must respond within 48 hours to claim their prize. Winner will be chosen randomly with the help of AgoraPulse

The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary, up to a value of $500. The seat you choose must be in stock and available for free shipping within Canada and from our favourites list, and we ask that you follow best practice when choosing which seat (we can help!). Final seat selection is at our discretion.

If you have any additional questions – feel free to send us an email or a message on our page! (info@vicarseattechs.com)

Please note: This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Happy New Year!

_MG_9083-copyHow about a quick New Year’s Eve contest as a thank you to everyone for shopping through our links? Thanks to you all, we have managed to take advantage of sales and secure donation seats to help local families in need, and for a booster drive we hope to run in the new year.

Shop.ca is having a super deal that ends tonight where a purchase over $250 gets $70 off. We want to take advantage of this with a quick flash contest as a thank you to everyone using our links for their Christmas shopping. We will be using random.org instead of rafflecopter for this one. Just fill out the attached form and we will draw at 9pm est tonight (6pm pst). You can choose any car seat between $250-$300 that shows as in stock and free shipping. If you’d like a more expensive seat, you must be around at 9pm est to emt the extra funds. Please select a seat off one of our “favourites” lists.

The deal is good for anything, not just car seats, so if you would like to take advantage of it yourself, add your items to your shopping cart, and at checkout use code RMN70OFF250 Bonus? we get $25 into our donation fund if you are new to shop.ca!

One entry per person please! Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open to residents of Canada who are the age of majority in their province who have not won one of our contests in the last year, excluding the admins of VI Car Seat Techs and their families. Void where prohibited by law.

Contest is now closed!  Good luck – and happy 2015!

~Laura, Lindsay & Jen

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.

Fllo66 Fllo70

 

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.

adjusted2

 

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

Permalink

Thank you for helping us narrow it down! The results were close and it will be tough, but we will have our final decision soon.

School bus safety

photoHello, Id like to nominate a good friend of mine Cathy. Cathy has 5 children , her youngest being Randy at the age of 3. I actually steered Cathy away from her 3 in one eddie bauer seats and introduced her to the britax seats when he was ready for a carseat! She uses a marathon for him in her van but she is a school bus driver and has a cosco sceneria for him to ride in her bus for her daily route but he is quickly outgrowing it. I feel for her concern to keep him in the 5 point harness on her bus as our buses rarely get cancelled even when they should be cancelled and unlike me who may choose to keep my kids home so they don’t have to endure the unsafe ride on the bus she being the driver has no choice but to take him with her. Also he still has his afternoon nap on the afternoon run so he needs the comfort of his carseat as well. We had a discussion and both feel a seat like a nautilus or a frontier would be the best choice so he can continue to use it after hes outgrown his marathon, preferably the simplist install and lightest weight as she sometimes has to make quick switches from bus to bus.

Thank you for considering my friends Cathy and Randy

An itsy bitsy Lukas

An itsy bitsy Lukas
Snug in his bucket seat
Graco Snugride 35
Its safety hard to beat

A fave seat of VICarSeatTechs
Their reviews & tips I trust
In shopping for Luke’s next car seat
Read through their site I must

So many seats to choose from
Where to even start
A dozen brands of options
From Amazon to Walmart

Lukas is a tall boy
A consideration to be sure
You narrowed down the choices
Your passion true and pure

So now the big decision
The Foonf or Diono
I’m leaning towards the higher base
But can’t go wrong, I know

So much I didn’t know of
But now I can attest
V. I. Car Seat Technicians
Truly are the best!

Before & After: Do's and Don'ts

Video – click to watch!

A car seat tech in the making

IMG_1753I have 2 kids. They will be 5 and 2 in April. When I had my oldest daughter I knew nothing about car seats and am ashamed to say I just thought they were all the same and it wasn’t a big deal. We bought a snugride 22 that was on sale cheap (later found out it was 2 years old already and that was why). We were lucky that both our kids were tall and they both *just* fit with the straps below the shoulders. Now almost 5 years later I have become obsessed with car seats and safety. I go crazy watching all my daughters friends go into preschool after getting out of no back boosters. Most of them are 4 but very few are above 40lbs so they aren’t even legal. I have taught my kids that they are being safe. My daughter has taken on my obsession and now will tell people in stores that car seats don’t go on the carts or that the chest clip is too low. People seem to be interested when she tells them and they ask questions. All of them have been receptive to me helping them but I think if it wasn’t for her being the first one to say something they wouldn’t have listened. My daughter is now in a Britax Frontier XT in one vehicle and the CT in the other. Our Ct really doesn’t work well and is very hard to get it tight enough and we have been frustrated with it. My son is still rear facing and will be for a long time. We took advantage of the sale on the Evenflo sureride when it came to Canada. We even got it for my parents vehicle. We also have an APT for him. We have a Britax marathon that we used for my daughter but it is an older one (expires 2015) and only rear faces to 32 inches so that one is just not able to be used. I have passed on the seat to a cousin that was in need and could safely use it. I am bad for passing on my seats to those in need as I know that I have treated them properly and I want all children to be safe. I have even passed on one of my daughters frontiers to someone that still needed a harness. I am now scouting out seats that my husbands second cousin can use for an unexpected little bundle due in June. She doesn’t understand car seat safety and her mom gave her an old seat that was used 20 years ago. She is willing to learn and I am willing to teach! This is my son coming home and the straps are just below the shoulders.

They are listening!

DSC_9579This is my miracle baby, Abigail, nice and snug in her car seat ready to brave this winter! My story is about myself though 😉 I am a former car seat tech (had to take a break due to personal reasons) but I was very active in my community and on-line helping to educate those in my mommyhood. The other day, the subject of those “Healthy Canadians” commercials came up in a Facebook group I am a member of. Someone said “Those commercials remind me of Annabel”…I have never been so proud 🙂 They are listening 🙂

Baby talk

IMG_0287My name is Charli and I was born in July 2013. I am still pretty brand new but looking back at pictures, I am amazed how much I have grown! Mommy says that in just a couple of inches and a few more pounds I will need a new seat. As you can see, I was not a big fan of “the seat” the first time they locked me in. It was cold and scary and there was no mommy in there with me. But then they put that cold mommy-less seat in the car… OH the CAR!! I love the car, it is my happy place! I just wanted you to know that I can tell when my mommy has been reading your website or that funny page with the blue strip at the top, almost immediately she starts doing something new. My favourite was when she did something to the straps that lock me in tight, she made them way more comfortable and I felt so much safer once they were a bit longer! Thanks for teaching my mommy what I need to be safe. The other thing she started doing is the extra wiggle of the seat when she puts me in the car, it makes an extra click and I think it makes my mom happy. I like it when my mommy is happy. Although I have become very much attached to my current seat, I would love for you to give me a new one so that I can sit up taller.

New booster for a deserving kid

I have started driving my son’s friend to and from school when he moved out of our school area (his parents don’t have a vehicle) so he wouldn’t have to move to his 4th school since the start of the school year. I have committed to driving him home from school and have found someone else to drive him to school. A friend gave us 2 older booster (still good until the end of the school year!) but I would love for this little guy to have cool seat of his own. He is a great kid who deserves something new.

Grandma in need

I am a big fan of your website and have used it many times for myself and have referred others to it as well. I am very happy with our car seats (Diono Radian RXT and also Graco Snugride 35).

I wanted to nominate a family that is in need of four car seats. This particular family is a grandma who took custody of her four grandkids to keep the family together (she still has a teenager living at home, too). She had to quit work as the youngest is only 4 mos old, but she gets no support for the kids, of whom the older ones are 7, 5, and 3.

When you know better, you do better

Here is a quick story of our journey to better car seat safety:

In early 2006, we welcomed our very first babe. We were young and keen and thought we had it all figured out. When he turned one, we did what ‘all’ parents did and invested in our first convertable car seat, and turned our 20lb babe forward facing. After all, that was what was suggested at the time, and what the car seat manufacturers, public health, ICBC etc. recommended. In 2008, we welcomed another baby to the family, this time a wee girl! When she turned one, she had not reached 20lbs, and much to everyone’s dismay, we kept her rear facing until she reached that point at a whopping 15 months. Not gonna lie, we felt pretty darn proud of ourselves for going against the ‘norm’ and keeping her rear facing until she actually reached all of the requirements, When it seemed that most turned at one whether they were big enough or not. Fast forward to early 2011 and along comes baby number 3 – another boy:-) I spent the next year of his life researching the heck out of car seats and car seat safety, and when he turned one, without hesitation, we kept him rear facing. Which he remained up until he was nearly 3. We now have another beautiful baby girl, who is nearly 5 months old, who will remaining rear facing for a LONG time!

Although, I do have serious mommy guilt thinking back on how we did things with our first two, when you know better, you do better, and that is exactly what we have done. Thanks to Facebook pages and websites like this, we all have access to loads of valuable information as well as help and support from some amazingly knowledgable ladies, and I know I speak not only for my own family, but many many others, when i say, that we are beyond thankful for that!

We are now on the cusp of needing two more seats for our brood. A full sized seat for our little babe, that we are able to use for extended rear facing, and a forward facing seat for our skinny mini almost 6 year old who has nearly out grown her forward facing seat by height, but is only a whopping 32lbs, and has a long way to go before she can be out of a 5 point harness!
Thank you for this wonderful contest that our family would be absolutely thrilled to win!!

Funny things you can't see

DSC00265The funny things you can’t see when your kids rear face in the 3rd row of the van…my daughter decided to try out her new swimsuit on the ride home…bottoms on her head and all…and then fell asleep.