by Amy Venzke May 09, 2018 9 min read

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 series.

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.

UPPAbaby made no changes to the MESA in 2019 but will add one new color, Bryce White Marl, in May.

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.

In 2019, Nuna updated the original PIPA to include new colors, all of which include a brown leatherette handle, and to remove all flame-retardant chemicals from the car seat. Aside from additional colors, no changes were made for the PIPA Lite or Lite LX.

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Price

The starting price of the UPPAbaby MESA and Nuna PIPA is the same at $300, 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. 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 than the Lite because of its magnetic "Dream Drape" cover and merino wool 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 series are both highly rated, though the PIPA has a superior crash protection rating and the MESA fares better in ease of use rankings.

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.

While UPPAbaby does not manufacture any car seat adapters for the MESA to fit other brands' strollers, the Thule and Mima brands make adapters for the MESA and some of their strollers.

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 (with included adapters)
  • Austlen Entourage (with front adapter or rear adapter)
  • Baby Jogger City Select, City Select Lux and City Premier (with adapter)
  • Baby Jogger City Mini/GT Single (with adapter)
  • Babyzen Yoyo (with adapter)
  • BOB single strollers (with adapter)
  • Bugaboo Donkey and Donkey2** (with mono or twin adapter)
  • Bugaboo Fox and Buffalo (with adapter)
  • Bugaboo Cameleon3 (with adapter)
  • Bugaboo Bee3 and Bee5 (with adapter)
  • Bumbleride Indie and Speed (with adapter)
  • Bumbleride Indie Twin (with adapter)
  • Mima Xari (with adapter)
  • Mima Zigi (with adapter)
  • Silver Cross Wave** (with included adapter)
  • Stokke Xplory*, Trailz* and Scoot* (with adapter)
  • Quinny Moodd (with included adapter)
  • Thule Urban Glide 1/2 Single and Double (with adapter)
  • UPPAbaby VISTA and CRUZ (with adapter)
  • UPPAbaby MINU (with adapter)

* = not compatible with PIPA Lite or Lite LX

** = not compatible with PIPA Lite only 

* = 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
  • Bryce White Marl (coming in May 2019)

UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Infant Car Seat Comparison

The 2019 Nuna PIPA comes in these colors:

  • Granite
  • Birch
  • Caviar
  • Frost

The Nuna PIPA Lite is currently available in these colors, with new colors coming later in 2019 at an undetermined date:

  • Aspen
  • Granite
  • Caviar (transitioning to brown handle from Ebony color with black handle
  • Sage (coming later in 2019)

    UPPAbaby MESA vs. Nuna PIPA Infant Car Seat Comparison

    The Nuna PIPA Lite LX comes in:

    • Aspen 
    • Caviar 
    • Granite
    • Frost
    • Birch

    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 the need for adapters and easily disconnects with one hand using the button on top of the handle
    • Requires fewer adapters than PIPA when using VISTA as a double stroller
    • 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

    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
    • Two of four colors are flame-retardant free, compared with all colors for PIPA series
    • Has plastic handle instead of leatherette handle on PIPA

    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, absorbs forces and minimizes impact on baby
    • Compatible with a wider range of stroller brands and types than MESA
    • PIPA Lite and Lite LX are more than 3.5 pounds lighter than MESA
    • All 2019 versions are free of flame retardant chemicals and feature a leatherette handlebar
    • Dream Drape cover on PIPA and PIPA Lite LX 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
    • Ring-shaped car seat adapters available for Nuna MIXX and Demi Grow, UPPAbaby VISTA and CRUZ, and Bugaboo Cameleon strollers allow the car seat to click in and out of stroller with one hand

    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 for other strollers 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.

    Shop Nuna and UPPAbaby infant car seats below!

    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.