by Amy Venzke May 09, 2018 1 Comment

If you're considering an UPPAbaby stroller, you probably know that the UPPAbaby MESA is the go-to choice of infant car seat for many families.

But UPPAbaby strollers are also compatible with a number of other car seats, one of the most popular being the Nuna PIPA.

Both the UPPAbaby MESA and Nuna PIPA are highly rated for safety and ease of use, can be installed in a matter of seconds, and offer a similar price, style and level of comfort for your baby.

In this post, we'll compare the UPPAbaby MESA to Nuna's trio of infant car seats: the PIPA, PIPA Lite and PIPA Lite LX.

uppababy mesa vs nuna pipa infant car seat comparison

UPPAbaby MESA

Paired with an UPPAbaby stroller, the UPPAbaby MESA creates the easiest of travel systems: Connect the car seat directly to the frame of the UPPAbaby VISTA or CRUZ (no adapters required) and disconnect it by pressing a button on the top of the handle. 

Awarded the government's highest ease of use rating, the MESA simplifies car seat safety with features like a tightness indicator that signals a safe installation and a no-rethread harness that allows parents to make adjustments for a growing child without having to remove and re-attach the straps. Side impact protection and an adjustable headrest with EPP foam wings help keep babies safe as they grow.

Nuna PIPA

The Nuna PIPA is one of few infant car seats rated "best" in crash protection by Consumer Reports. Along with side impact protection, the PIPA offers a steel load leg that extends from the base to the floor of your car—adding stability and absorbing crash forces through its crumple zone.

Among the features that make the PIPA a best-seller: an innovative "Dream Drape" cover that protects baby from the elements, as well as compatibility with strollers from Nuna, UPPAbaby and several other brands.

In addition to the PIPA, Nuna offers the PIPA Lite and PIPA Lite LX—both of which are more than 2.5 pounds lighter than the original, thanks to a new type of lightweight, flexible foam.

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Price

The starting price of the UPPAbaby MESA and Nuna PIPA is the same, but both brands also offer higher-priced versions of their car seats.

Two colors of the UPPAbaby MESA—Henry Blue Marl and Jordan Charcoal Gray—cost an extra $50 because they're made with merino wool instead of polyester. Because merino wool is naturally fire-resistant, the Henry and Jordan MESAs are free of added flame retardant chemicals. Merino wool also helps regulate the baby's body temperature, keeping her cool on warm days and warm on cool days.

The Nuna PIPA Lite and Lite LX also command a higher price point because of their materials. In addition to being chemical-free, the PIPA Lite and Lite LX are made with a proprietary type of foam that's lighter and more flexible than that of most car seats. The LX version costs $50 more because of its merino wool fabric and "Dream Drape" cover, an upgrade over the PIPA Lite's micro-knit fabric.

  • MESA: $299.99
  • MESA in Jordan or Henry: $349.99
  • PIPA: $299.95
  • PIPA Lite: $349.95
  • PIPA Lite LX: $399.95

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Weight

The Nuna PIPA Lite and Lite LX are the lightest car seats on the market, weighing 2-4 pounds less than most others.

The weight of a car seat is sometimes advertised without pieces like the canopy or infant insert. The measurements below reflect the true weight of each car seat with all included pieces.

  • MESA: 10.7 pounds
  • PIPA: 9.4 pounds
  • PIPA Lite: 6.7 pounds
  • PIPA Lite LX: 7.1 pounds

uppababy mesa vs nuna pipa infant car seat comparison

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Weight and Height Limit

All infant car seats are similar in their height and weight limits and can be used for about a year, depending mostly on the height of the baby.

  • MESA: 4 to 35 pounds; 32" height limit
  • PIPA Series: 4 to 32 pounds; 32" height limit

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Safety Ratings

The UPPAbaby MESA and Nuna PIPA are both highly rated, though the PIPA has a superior crash protection rating and the MESA fares better in ease of use rankings.

The Nuna PIPA Lite and Lite LX, which debuted in late 2017, have not yet been tested by the NHTSA or Consumer Reports but use the same base as the Nuna PIPA.

Crash Protection Ratings

Consumer Reports performs independent testing on car seats for its "basic, better, best" rankings for crash protection. 

The Nuna PIPA earned a "best" rating for crash protection, compared with the "better" ranking for the UPPAbaby MESA.

What makes the PIPA safer than most car seats? Consumer Reports found that the "load leg," the steel stability leg seen on the Nuna PIPA and three other seats it tested, reduced the risk of head injury in a crash by 46 percent.

However, the MESA scored slightly higher in Consumer Reports' overall rankings, which also consider ease of use and fit to the LATCH system and seat belt. The MESA earned an overall score of 72, with reviewers praising the seat's indicators, labels and no-rethread harness.

The PIPA earned an overall score of 67. Consumer Reports noted that the car seat could not be installed with the seat belt in many cases but did not further explain the problems.

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Infant Car Seat Comparison

Ease of Use Ratings

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranks car seats not on crash protection but on their ease of use, considering that three in four car seats are used incorrectly. The NHTSA rankings consider evaluation of instructions and labels, installation, and securing the child.

UPPAbaby MESA earned the highest score of five stars in every category, while the Nuna PIPA earned an overall score of four stars. With the PIPA, the NHTSA critiqued a lack of illustrations and labels, as well as the need for disassembling and rethreading the harness through its slots for height adjustments and cleaning.

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Installation with Base

Both manufacturers say their car seats can be installed with the base in a matter of seconds, using either the LATCH system or the vehicle seat belt. Both methods are equally safe; the LATCH system was designed for convenience.

UPPAbaby MESA

To install the MESA, first level the base until the indicator turns green. Then, press the orange button on top of the base to remove the LATCH connectors from storage. Attach the LATCH connectors to the lower anchors. Push down on the base until the tension indicator on the top of the base turns green.

Watch how to install the UPPAbaby MESA base in the video below.

Nuna PIPA

Unlike the MESA, the PIPA's LATCH connectors are metal (also called rigid) and do not need to be removed from the base. Slide the connectors into the lower anchors until the indicators turn green to signal a secure connection. Adjust the load leg until it hits the floor of your car and the indicators turn green.

Check the bubble indicator on the side of the base. If the base isn't level, pull out the recline foot on the underside of the base to create a more reclined angle, or readjust the length of the load leg.

In this video, The Car Seat Lady provides a walkthrough of installing the PIPA.

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Installation with Seatbelt

If you're traveling or taking a cab, you'll need to install your car seat with the seatbelt instead of the base (assuming you don't want to carry the base around).

While the Nuna PIPA can be installed with a seatbelt, the PIPA Lite and Lite LX cannot and therefore must use the base at all times. 

The MESA uses what's known as the American belt path, in which the belt is routed through guides at the front of the car seat. The PIPA uses the European belt path, which also routes the seatbelt through a guide at the back of the car seat.

See how to do a carrier-only install for both car seats below.

UPPAbaby MESA

Nuna PIPA

Strollers Compatible with UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA 

uppababy mesa vs nuna pipa infant car seat comparison

While the UPPAbaby MESA is designed to fit only UPPAbaby strollers, the Nuna PIPA series of car seats are compatible with a variety of other brands in addition to Nuna's four strollers.

That makes the PIPA a more versatile choice if you're looking to use the car seat on a jogging stroller, travel stroller or on a double stroller in the future.

Strollers Compatible with UPPAbaby MESA

The UPPAbaby MESA fits the UPPAbaby VISTA and CRUZ strollers without the need for adapters. With the purchase of adapters, it will also fit the UPPAbaby MINU or Thule strollers.

  • UPPAbaby VISTA and VISTA
  • UPPAbaby MINU (adapters required)
  • Thule Urban Glide and Urban Glide Double (with Thule universal adapter)

Strollers Compatible with Nuna PIPA

Adapters are needed to attach the Nuna PIPA to any stroller but are included with your purchase of a Nuna stroller. For any other brand, adapters are sold separately.

  • Nuna Demi Grow, MIXX2, TAVO and PEPP
  • Austlen Entourage
  • Baby Jogger City Mini, Summit X3, City Select and City Select Lux 
  • Babyzen Yoyo+ 
  • Bugaboo Fox, Cameleon, Bee, Buffalo and Donkey*
  • Bumbleride Indie, Speed and Indie Twin
  • Mamas & Papas Sola
  • Mima Xari 
  • Silver Cross Wave**
  • Stokke Scoot*, Trailz* and Xplory*
  • UPPAbaby CRUZ, VISTA and MINU
  • Thule Urban Glide and Urban Glide Double

* = not compatible with PIPA Lite or Lite LX

** = not compatible with PIPA Lite only

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Colors

Colors available for the UPPAbaby MESA include:

  • Henry Blue Marl (merino wool material)
  • Jordan Charcoal Melange (merino wool material)
  • Jake Black
  • Denny Red
  • Taylor Indigo Blue

uppababy mesa vs nuna pipa infant car seat comparison

uppababy mesa vs nuna pipa infant car seat comparison

The Nuna PIPA comes in these colors:

  • Night Black
  • Berry Red
  • Indigo Blue
  • Graphite Gray

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Infant Car Seat Comparison

The Nuna PIPA Lite colors include:

  • Fog Gray
  • Ebony Black

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Infant Car Seat Comparison

The Nuna PIPA Lite LX comes in:

  • Aspen Blue
  • Caviar Black

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Infant Car Seat Comparison

Benefits and Drawbacks

So which car seat is better: the UPPAbaby MESA or one of the Nuna PIPA versions? Only you can decide which is best for your family, but here are the benefits and drawbacks we see.

Deciding between all three Nuna PIPA versions? See our Nuna PIPA vs. PIPA Lite vs. PIPA Lite LX comparison.

UPPAbaby MESA

Benefits

  • Awarded 5-star NHTSA rating, the government's highest rating for ease of use
  • Connects to UPPAbaby VISTA and CRUZ strollers without adapters and easily disconnects with one hand using the button on top of the handle
  • First-of-its-kind tightness indicators turn from red to green to show when the car seat is securely installed (for both base and seat belt installation)
  • No-rethread harness makes it easy to adjust the harness as the baby grows without having to disassemble the seat
  • Adjustable headrest is lined with EPP foam to add protection and comfort as your child grows
  • Fabrics are machine-washable

Drawbacks

  • Has lower Consumer Reports crash protection rating than Nuna PIPA and base lacks safety features of PIPA's load leg base
  • Not compatible with other stroller brands
  • About 1 pound heavier than PIPA and 3.5+ pounds heavier than PIPA Lite versions
  • Canopy is made of thin material and provides little sun coverage

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Infant Car Seat Comparison

Nuna PIPA

Benefits

  • Steel load leg in the base minimizes forward rotation of the car seat by as much as 90 percent
  • Crumple zone in load leg absorbs forces and minimizes impact on baby
  • Compatible with a wide range of stroller brands and types
  • PIPA Lite and Lite LX are more than 3.5 pounds lighter than MESA
  • Dream Drape cover attaches with magnets to provide completion sun protection and can be zipped away when not in use
  • Indicators in base and load leg show when car seat has been installed correctly; bubble indicator shows when seat is level
  • Rigid (metal) LATCH connectors make for quick installation
  • Fabrics are machine-washable
  • Ring-shaped car seat adapters available for Nuna MIXX2, Nuna Demi Grow, UPPAbaby VISTA and CRUZ, and Bugaboo Cameleon strollers allow the car seat to click in and out of stroller with one hand
  • Mesh window at back of canopy allows for ventilation and a peek at baby

Drawbacks

  • Harness must be threaded through back of seat to make adjustments as baby grows, adding inconvenience and risk for errors
  • Does not have adjustable headrest of MESA
  • Does not have tightness indicators of MESA to signify tight installation
  • PIPA Lite and Lite LX cannot be installed without the base for taxis and travel
  • With strollers for which a ring-shaped adapter is not available, removing car seat from adapters can be tricky and requires two hands
  • Extra car seat base costs $159.95, compared to $119.99 for MESA base

Nuna PIPA Lite/Lite LX 

Conclusion

The Nuna PIPA and UPPAbaby MESA are both highly-recommended car seats regarded for their safety, quality, comfort and style. The PIPA adds a measure of safety with its load leg base, but the MESA has a higher ease of use rating. Both brands offer chemical-free versions of their car seats, and Nuna offers two Lite versions of the PIPA that rank as the lighest car seats on the market. The PIPA connects to a wider variety of strollers, but the MESA offers an adapter-free connection to UPPAbaby strollers. 

Questions?

Strolleria is a family-owned and operated retailer dedicated to making the baby gear buying experience less overwhelming for parents. We also offer free shipping and no sales tax outside of Arizona! If you have more questions about the Nuna PIPA vs. UPPAbaby MESA, feel free to contact us at 480-442-9433 or customercare@strolleria.com.

Amy Venzke
Amy Venzke

Amy Venzke is the co-owner of Strolleria, along with her husband, Drew. Together, they have a mission to make the gear-buying experience easier on parents. That includes you! Feel free to contact her with questions at amy@strolleria.com


1 Response

Mya
Mya

June 22, 2018

Great piece has the comparison. Easy to read and compare. Thank you for all the information you provided. It was so helpful.

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