It was a very exciting day a few weeks ago when I arrived home to find this little beauty sitting on my front porch. The day had finally come: our inaugural seat review. And what better seat to start things off with than one we’ve been hearing about for ages, but rarely get our hands on! Let me introduce you to the Clek Foonf, and all the ways we’ve gotten to know each other over the past little while as I put it through its paces to really test it out.
Foonf was designed to accommodate a rear-facing child able to sit upright with good head control and who is 25-43″ tall and 14-40lbs, and a forward-facing child who is at least one year old, 30-49″ tall, and 22-65lbs. Clek advocates for rear facing to the limits of the seat, with age two as a minimum goal before turning forward facing. Foonf can accommodate even the largest of children rear facing for quite some time past that age two threshold. Update: the Infant Thingy, available as a separate add-on to the Foonf, now enables use from birth…and it’s awesome.
Some interesting features of the Foonf I was keen to explore: anti-rebound bar, rigid UAS, Crypton fabric, narrow width, nice smooth seat bottom that will be kind to vehicle upholstery, gorgeous colours, and trendy prints.
The primary seat tester for our Foonf is this three year old (and me of course). Her favourite colour has been blue for…well, forever. There was a back order on the denim-like Blue Moon cover and my second choice was Flamingo, a striking bright pink on black. Conveniently for everyone said three year old decided the day before the box arrived that she no longer liked blue and PINK was her favourite. I didn’t tell her about the colour change until she opened the box and discovered it herself!
I wanted to evaluate both fit-to-child, and fit-to-vehicle. That’s hard to do and boring all in one picture, so here are some kid pictures first. They’re obviously the most interesting, and luckily I have some super cute kid testers who were willing to be my car seat models.
Main tester: just turned 3, 35lbs, 40″ tall with a long torso, 97th percentile for height. She’s outgrown almost everything else rear-facing so I was especially thrilled to see she still has about two inches in torso height or about three inches in overall height, or 5lbs, before outgrowing Foonf in the rear-facing mode. I’m optimistic that will get us at least through the winter. Lots of leg room for her to stretch out. She’s on the 3rd harness slot from the top but close to moving up to the 2nd from the top.
Same child, forward-facing. She’s on the 2nd harness slot from the top which is just a hair above her shoulders. This being her first (and only, for quite some time yet!) forward-facing ride she didn’t know what to do with her feet and discovered there’s ample room to cross her legs.
Tester #2: just turned 5, 48lbs, and 45″ tall. He’s on the top harness slot with about 1/2″ to grow. There’s enough harness length left to buckle him easily. He had adequate shoulder room and could easily get into the seat and his arms into the harness, while wearing his car seat safe outerwear.
Tester #3. At almost six she usually rides in a booster and did not enjoy being back in a harness, even for a quick photo. She still had about 1/4″ of harness height left though, despite having outgrown many other harnessed seats on the market. Miss Grumpy’s only complaint was the shortness of the crotch buckle. She likes to buckle and unbuckle herself but couldn’t. Thankfully Clek has listened to consumer feedback and is about to release a new crotch buckle for their 2014 seats, with a replacement available for purchase for those already with a Foonf. The new buckle will have two lengths and the longer option will be usable in the outer crotch buckle position, solving the problem for bigger kids.
My 22-month old tester wouldn’t allow a photo that didn’t include crying; he thought I was taking him with me, and although his parents were able to get him in and buckled I don’t like torturing children for the purposes of testing a seat. Sorry little guy.
Tester #4 is six months old, 15lbs, and 28″ long. She was in between the lowest and second-lowest harness slot. She fit really nicely in the seat, and with the head rest on the lowest setting and the seat in full recline for her age it was compact enough to sit comfortably in front of it in a small sedan. The belly pad is required for the under-22lb crowd for those observant readers who might have noticed its absence in all photos except for this one. Main tester #1 pulls the belly pad off of every seat she rides in, so thankfully it’s optional at that higher weight.
Tester #5 is here to show that Foonf is NOT for small babies – not without the Infant Thingy anyway. The minimum of 14lbs, 25″ and sitting is a very appropriate minimum and I appreciate that Clek doesn’t claim to fit every child from birth to booster. This little helper is 7 weeks old and much too short — his shoulders are well below the lowest harness slot and we didn’t even try to buckle him. He was trying to convince his older brother (crying 22-month old) to try it out, but alas, to no avail.
Overall impressions of fit to child: Very realistic height and weight specs for the bottom and top end of the spectrum. The smallest child I tried forward-facing was the large three year old. Given Clek’s and our stance on rear-facing to the limits of the seat a person buying a Foonf should be encouraged to do just that, and be prepared to easily rear-face their child to age 3-4 if not longer. Forward-facing longevity was surprising as the older testers have outgrown other seats, and for all but the tallest or long torsoed kids it’s reasonable to expect Foonf to last to booster readiness. It’s important to remember that each child is different and due to their shape might fit a seat, or not, that a tape measure might indicate they’ve outgrown. My only complaint — the short crotch buckle — is being rectified now and I’m pleased that Clek was responsive to consumer feedback. The harness height adjustment is straightforward and similar to many other brands of seats, and the harness adjuster was the smoothest I’ve ever tried. Anyone who’s ever been frustrated by an uncooperative adjuster might swoon when trying Foonf out.
How about fit-to-car? You might have noticed that this is a big seat. It’s tall, it sits up high on a base, and weighs in at a hefty 36lbs. I gave myself a workout, a stern reminder to lift with my legs, and had a go in a variety of vehicles both rear- and forward-facing, and installed with UAS or seat belt. In all photos the head rest is fully extended showing maximum height.
’03 Civic, and ’03 Odyssey in the 3rd row and 2nd row. Excellent fit overall. A range of angles is permitted when installing rear-facing, and the installed angle can be adjusted by shifting how the Foonf snugs up to the vehicle seat; depending entirely on the geometry of the vehicle seat it was sometimes easier to manipulate it with the seat belt instead of UAS. Before using this seat I was concerned with how high it sat in the vehicle – would I be able to lift my daughter into it and would she be able to climb in? Not a problem. Although the seat itself sits up high the sides are low, so it’s a straight-across movement with a child rather than hoisting up and over a deep shell. After a few tries the 3-year old perfected her climbing-in motion and now quickly scampers up on her own.
’12 Focus in the centre and then driver’s side outboard, and ’98 Taurus wagon. In a small car like the Focus the Foonf was a much nicer fit rear-facing in the centre. The shape of it seems to be made to nestle in between the driver’s and passenger’s seats, leaving ample room for a long-legged 5’8″ driver like myself. Foonf is also very 3-across friendly, easily taking the place of the narrow infant seat that usually occupies its spot in the ’98 Taurus. For those with long buckle stalks in their vehicle the Foonf is an ideal choice with its high belt path.
Fit forward-facing was excellent. The high, narrow centre hump in an ’03 Civic was no barrier to successful installation. Its forward-facing height certainly fills a rear-view mirror but no more than an adult passenger or high back booster would. Head rest interference is likely to be minimal due to the shape of the Foonf at the top. Two thumbs up for forward-facing fit!
Clek has recently come out with instructions for installing with UAS and seat belt at the same time. Woah, you say. That’s not right. Right? Due to recent American changes (that will likely trickle north eventually) in total allowable weight of child+car seat when using the lower anchors it’s becoming impossible to use lower anchors for as long as many would like. As the Foonf was developed with some very interesting energy management technology in the form of the REACT cartridge, and the full benefit of REACT isn’t realized unless the seat is installed with the super-duper-easy rigid UAS connectors, Clek tested the seat when installed with both systems. Provided the car doesn’t forbid doing so and there is no /overlap of the rigid UAS and the belt it’s a great solution to UAS limits that will no doubt eventually make their way to Canada.
A few other features: Foonf comes with Crypton fabric on most of its covers, making clean-up easy. I poured some milk on the belly pad to test it out – it beads up easily. After rubbing it in I was then easily able to wipe it clean with a cloth. Good news for kids who are spilly. Straight out of the box the Foonf comes with quite a few parts, with most of the extras required for rear-facing. Thankfully they’re all nicely labeled for easy identification. The smooth-bottomed base of the seat will be very friendly to vehicle upholstery.
Clek is unique among manufacturers in that they have eye-catching, trendy covers on their seats that consumers seem to either love or hate. The Paul Frank (Julius the Monkey) covers are discontinued and are being replaced by Tokidoki prints. Not something I was familiar with before seeing them on a Foonf I have to admit they’re growing on me. They would certainly hide dirt amazingly well and you could play ‘I Spy’ for hours!
Foonf is heavy, has a lot of parts to manage when switching between rear and forward facing, and comes with a hefty price tag. It’s not a seat I’d pick to truck around an airport or onto an airplane (although it’s approved for aircraft use and others have done it with success!), not a seat I’d want to move between vehicles on a daily basis, or frequently switch between rear- and forward-facing modes.
However…it’s also got rebound management in the form of an anti-rebound bar, rigid UAS, built-in lock-offs that make a seat belt install as easy as with UAS if not easier at times, super specs for rear-facing and forward-facing longevity, striking covers, is made in Canada, is good for nine years before expiry, and is overall extremely awesome. It has absolutely earned its spot on our list of favourite infant/child seats. If I was seat shopping today and budget was no issue it would top my list. As always we recommend trying a seat in a vehicle first, and your child in the seat, to ensure it suits YOU, because no one seat is perfect for everyone.
Thank you to Clek for providing the Foonf used in this review. All opinions are our own.
Thank you also to Clek for giving away a Foonf in a solid colour to one lucky reader in Canada! Woo hoo!