Why aren't children's car seats just as safe as the seats in our vehicles?
That's the question an automotive industry veteran set out to answer by founding Clek.
In 2012, the Canadian manufacturer introduced the Clek Foonf, a first-of-its-kind convertible car seat inspired by the safety and styling of seats in the cars we drive.
The Clek Foonf introduced crumple technology, aluminum honeycomb zones that absorb energy in a crash to prevent forces from reaching the child. It also debuted other innovative safety features, like rigid (steel) LATCH connectors that provide an easier installation and stronger connection to the vehicle.
Two years later, the company launched the Clek Fllo, a slightly more compact, lighter and less expensive version.
So what are the differences between the Clek Foonf and the Clek Fllo?
The short answer: In addition to its smaller size, the Fllo lacks two key features of the Foonf, the rigid LATCH and a recline mechanism.
But the Foonf and Fllo also share a number of features, like the crumple technology, a high-strength steel and magnesium substructure, a steel anti-rebound bar, a narrow width, Canadian manufacturing, and a clean, modern design.
Both seats offer three different fabrics and price points: a plush fabric; a smoother, woven fabric, and a merino wool fabric called Mammoth.
The Mammoth versions of the Foonf and Fllo are the only convertible car seats on the market made with merino wool, a fabric that is naturally fire-resistant with no added flame retardants. Merino wool is also moisture-wicking, helping to keep your child cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather.
One other fit consideration: While the Foonf requires the anti-rebound bar for rear-facing installations, the anti-rebound bar on the Fllo is optional. Without the anti-rebound bar, the Fllo may be easier to fit in smaller cars.
Both seats weigh more in rear-facing mode with the addition of the steel anti-rebound bar; the Foonf also requires the attachment of a base when rear-facing.
The Foonf and Fllo offer the same height and weight limits in both the rear-facing and forward-facing positions. Both seats can be used for newborns with the addition of the Infant-Thingy accessory, which provides more head and body support for babies at 5 pounds and up.
One of the Clek Foonf's main selling points is its rigid LATCH system for forward-facing installations.
Most car seats have flexible LATCH connectors, plastic pieces sewn onto a fabric strap. With a rigid LATCH system, the connectors are steel pieces built into the base of the seat. The rigid LATCH connectors offer an advantage for multiple reasons.
For one, rigid LATCH makes the seat easier to install safely: Simply slide the connectors into the vehicle's lower anchors until they click in. Ease of installation is an important safety feature, as studies suggest three in four car seats are used incorrectly.
Rigid LATCH also provides an extra measure of safety by providing a more solid installation than a seatbelt or flexible LATCH can provide. Rigid LATCH offers a metal-on-metal connection that effectively makes the car seat an extension of your vehicle.
The rigid LATCH connection inhibits the seat from rotating in a side impact collision, thereby decreasing the risk of injury to your child.
With the rigid connection, the seat moves in a more controlled manner, channeling crash forces into the aluminum honeycomb cores into the seat base. The energy-absorbing crumple zone only works as designed when the Foonf is connected to the vehicle's LATCH anchors.
The photo below shows how the rigid LATCH connectors on the Clek Foonf are attached to the seat's base.
The LATCH system was designed to make car seats easier to install. But when the combined weight of the child and car seat exceeds 65 pounds, it can no longer be safely used, requiring parents to switch to a seatbelt-only installation.
The Clek Foonf is a rare exception to that rule: The rigid LATCH can continue to be used past the weight limit, as long as the seatbelt is also added. By continuing to use the rigid LATCH, families can take advantage of the seat's best safety features.
So why wouldn't every parent prefer the rigid LATCH on the Clek Foonf? The higher price and slightly taller height of the Foonf aside, there's another practical reason.
Not all vehicles have LATCH anchors in the center seat. If you're planning to install the seat there (or planning to install three car seats in one row), you may not be able to take advantage of the rigid LATCH on the Foonf—in which case you may opt for the Fllo.
Both the Clek Foonf and Clek Fllo are among the safest convertible car seats on the market—and Clek is one of the few car seat manufacturers that offers proof by publishing crash test results for the Foonf and the Fllo.
In addition to undergoing the compliance testing required in the United States, Clek seats also undergo the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) testing, which simulates more extreme crashes. Clek also tests its seats in additional conditions—such as side-impact crashes, misuse conditions and various installation positions—to ensure their safety in a wide range of situations.
U.S. compliance testing measures the acceleration of the child's chest, as well as the center of gravity in the head, in order to assess the probability of injury.
In both tests, the crash forces measured in Clek seats were significantly below the government's allowable threshold, indicating superior safety.
In all but one test, the Foonf performed better than the Fllo. For the 1-year-old test, both seats were tested rear-facing. Both seats were tested forward-facing for the 3-year-old test. For the 6-year-old test, the Foonf was tested with both LATCH and seatbelt installed simultaneously, while the Fllo was tested with the seatbelt.
See how the Foonf performs in a side-impact collision in the crash test video below.
See the video below for an overview of the Clek Foonf's safety features.
The Foonf offers three recline positions—two rear-facing and two forward-facing—which helps facilitate both your child's comfort and the fit of the car seat in your vehicle. The Fllo can only be installed at one set angle in rear-facing mode and one set angle when facing forward.
The Foonf and Fllo also differ in the way the rear-facing recline angle is achieved. For the Foonf, a wedge-shaped base is attached to the bottom of the seat, while the Fllo has a recline foot built into the bottom of the seat.
With their steel construction, energy-absorbing crumple technology, anti-rebound bars and industry-leading rear-facing weight capacity, both the Clek Foonf and Clek Fllo are among the safest convertible car seats you can choose for your child.
The Clek Foonf has two main features not seen on the Fllo: a recline option and a rigid LATCH system, which offers both additional safety features as well as an easier forward-facing installation.
The Foonf is the best choice if your vehicle allows the use of the rigid LATCH, if you want recline options and if you don't mind spending an extra $70. You'll prefer the Fllo if your seating position doesn't allow for rigid LATCH, if you need a slightly lighter or more compact seat, or if you'd like a safe car seat at a reduced price.
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