Our 8-month-old is growing, as babies do. And he’s getting a lot heavier to tote around in his infant car seat—to the point where we don’t carry it beyond the car unless he is in a deep snooze and we don’t want to disturb him (but even then, he usually wakes up within 10 minutes despite our best efforts). Because he is right about the age and size to move up to a convertible car seat, my wife and I immediately began thinking about which model would be best for our family. Honestly we put a lot of thought into this because we know that he will be using this seat for the next several years. After hours of research and comparisons, we settled on the Clek Fllo, and we are so glad we did.
The first thing I noticed when I saw the Clek Fllo was its simple design. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I’m not at all drawn to the majority of baby products with their wacky color combos and bright prints. The Fllo comes in a variety of color options (ours is a slate color with a nice texture to the fabric, giving it a higher quality look and feel). To put it simply: It looks good. The design is very modern and sleek. There isn’t any unnecessary bulk. In fact, at 16.9 inches at its widest point, the Fllo is trim enough that you can fit three across the backseat of most cars. My wife and I both drive small compact cars, so this was a major boon for us because we want plenty of room for other passengers, our dog and eventually future kiddos. With the Fllo, that’s not an issue.
Despite its slim size, the Fllo is smartly designed to give tots plenty of space to grow. It’s an extended rear-facing dream come true as it accommodates babies from 14 all the way up to 50 pounds! (You’ll need to purchase the infant insert to use it with smaller kiddos.) Only a handful of convertible car seats in the U.S. can match that 50-pound weight limit, and none do it with the style of the Fllo. In addition to a higher weight limit, the Fllo also boasts a taller than average seat back at 26.5 inches. This is important because many children outgrow their car seats in height before they do in weight. Our son has always been long, since the day he was born, even though he isn’t the chunkiest monkey. So, we knew he’d likely be one of those kids, and the high seat back means he can stay comfortable rear-facing for longer.
You many know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing until at least 2 years of age. But the longer you do it, the better—or safer, I should say. So, in my opinion, every pound and every inch counts!
As far as set up and installation goes, the Fllo was a breeze. The seat came in just two pieces, and putting them together was as simple as sliding the headrest into the seat. To adjust the shoulder straps you will need to rethread them through the back, but it’s not hard to do. My wife and I are used to it from our infant car seat, so we had no qualms with this.
Installing the seat in the car took a matter of minutes. First you want to make sure that the Recline Foot (a plastic wedge under the seat) is flipped to rear-facing mode; this helps you achieve the correct level of recline. When you’re ready to switch to forward-facing, simply flip it to face the other direction.
In rear-facing, it has two different levels of recline dependent on the weight of your child. Those levels are marked with clearly labeled lines printed on the seat, so just makes sure which ever line matches your child’s weight range is parallel to the ground. (I would love to see a bubble level system similar to that found on our infant car seat bases. I think that would make it just that bit more reassuring to know you have it correctly level.)
Like most seats, the Fllo has seat belt and anchor installation options. Being that the seat is rear-facing for us right now, we went with the anchor option, which actually uses a belt threaded under the seat cushion. Make sure you push down on the front of the seat as you tighten it in place; otherwise you might notice it wobbles more than it should. This tip (and more) is clearly explained in the manual, so follow it step by step even if you’ve installed your fair share of car seats before. Once we had everything properly secured, the seat definitely felt sturdy. Note: You’ll need to switch to a seat-belt installation while rear-facing once your baby weighs 35 pounds.
I will note that the one downside of the high seat back is that in its most reclined position we do have to move the front passenger seat up a good bit to accommodate the Fllo. There is still ample room for one of us to ride up front, but it can feel snug. Honestly, we will only be using it this way for a short time because our son is already on the verge of moving up to the next weight range, which means the seat will be more upright. So, we don’t mind it, especially considering how helpful that tall seat back will be as he gets older.
The Fllo also comes with a steel anti-rebound bar that attaches at the foot of the car seat when rear-facing. It secures the car seat in place (and prevents rotational motion) in a collision. It also helps to absorb the force of impact, transferring less to your baby. I haven’t seen this on any other seats and having that added piece of protection for our baby is definitely a plus.
The real test was buckling my son in, and as soon as we had his straps secured he looked up at us and grinned. He was clearly comfy and loved being able to see more from his new perch, and he didn’t seem as sunken in as he was in his infant car seat. We’ve taken him for numerous rides since then, and he is so comfortable that he usually falls asleep.
When it comes time to switch to forward-facing (make sure your child meets the height and weight requirements first: 22-65 pounds and 30-49 inches), you’ll need to flip the Recline Foot I mentioned and remove the anti-rebound Bar. It can again be installed via LATCH or seat belt. Either way you’ll also need to use the tether hook, found at the top of the car seat, to anchor the Fllo to your vehicle. Where your tether anchor is located depends on the car, so check your owners manual if you can’t find it. Note: You’ll need to switch to the seat-belt installation while forward-facing once your child reaches 40 pounds.
While searching for the best car seat for our brood, my wife and I agreed that safety was paramount, and the Clek Fllo came up again and again for its superior side-impact protection, energy-absorbing headrest, anti-rebound bar and energy absorbing crumple technology, which essentially means it has a crumple zone to slow down the momentum and force from a front or rear crash. Plus, the Fllo is made with rigid steel and magnesium substructure, so safety is literally at its core.
Its safety features coupled with its extended rear-facing capabilities were what sold us. The fact that it’s also good-looking, has a slim footprint and is easy to clean (the fabric prevents stains, moisture and odor!) is just icing on the cake.
Now, the Fllo is an investment, but considering how long you’ll use it and the peace of mind it brings, I’d say it’s more than worth it. Plus, with the new 2018 model, you can now get an extended three-year warranty to help protect your investment, while it protects your baby.
Price: from $380
To buy: clekinc.com