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Britax Frontier: Review {Booster Seat with 5-Point Harness}

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Britax Frontier 85

The folks at Britax were kind enough to send Apollo a Frontier 85 car seat in exchange for a review. I was thrilled, but in an unfortunate turn of events, it arrived the very day we left for Houston, Texas (after we’d left, of course). That meant we couldn’t try out the seat until we returned. They have been so patient with us!

The Frontier 85 is Big and Sturdy

I can’t describe the car seat without first commenting on the size. This is huge. And heavy. And I mean that in a good way. It pretty much makes every other carseat/booster seat we’ve used in the past seem a little cheap.

Chuck and I are serious about car seats. I’ll never forget the time I got chased down after a MOPS meeting by a woman who had been trained in proper carseat installation and use. She quoted some crazy statistic about how many kids are in the wrong car seat and how many car seats were installed improperly. She asked if she could come to evaluate ours. Let’s just say she was astounded that all five of my children were properly restrained in car seats that were also installed properly. Yup, we take car seats seriously.

Boosters Are for Big Kids! The 5-Step Test

Experienced Mommy has a great post about how and why to use boosters for older children. She has a 5-step test is a checklist to find out whether your child is the right size to move from a booster seat to a standard vehicle seat. You should definitely take a few minutes to check it out.

Extended Rear Facing for Safety

To that end, Apollo has been rear-facing until our trip to Houston. When the car seat didn’t arrive by our departure date, we borrowed a car seat (by coincidence, a Britax) and had him forward-facing in Houston. We believe in extended rear facing because a child is so much better protected. And, of course, Apollo is small. He couldn’t legally be facing forward in our state until he was 20 months old and hit the 20-pound mark.

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The model that Britax sent to us is forward-facing only, meant for toddlers and preschoolers. This seat is seriously comfortable. No cheap fabric or padding on this baby.

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Clear Installation Instructions

One of my favorite features is the clearly illustrated installation directions on both sides of the seat. No more worries and whether or not grandma and grandpa (or the babysitter) can install it properly. My 12-year-old (Enoch) did it and had no problem getting it good and tight.

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The Britax Frontier 85 has cup holders on both sides. A perhaps frivolous but fun feature.

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Easy-to-Use Tether Strap

Check out the bracing in the back! This seat is not going to move in the case of a collision. I was able to confidently tighten this. With our other car seats, I’ve always left that up to Chuck because he’s stronger and I never felt like I could get it secure.

The Last Booster Seat Apollo Will Ever Need

The best part is, this is the only car seat/booster seat Apollo will ever need. It goes up to 85 pounds in car seat mode and 120 as a booster seat. He’ll never outgrow this (at least, not until he’s a teenager!)

To read about all the other cool features click here: Britax Frontier 85 Car Seat.

{I was provided this car seat at no cost in exchange for reviewing it. All opinions are mine.} 

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21 Comments

  1. Samantha

    We got a Britax Boulevard for our daughter when we got a second car. I was so happy with how easy it was to install (rearfacing) and how comfy she seems to be in it. Our other carseat is a Graco Snugride and it does seem cheap compared to the Britax. I’ll have to keep the Frontier in mind when we need to move to a booster (she’s only 18lbs at 16 months….so we’ve got a long while to go).

  2. Melissa

    I have this car seat and LOVE it!! I bought this for my son when he was 7, and now at 9 he still fits in the car seat(5 point restraint) mode. Most other car seats have a plastic frame and expire after 5 years. This one has a steel frame and is good for 10 years. I live in the Houston area and we have to be careful of the excessive heat damaging the plastic of a car seat. No worries with this one! Now my only problem is that my son doesn’t want to sit in a car seat and keeps asking when he can sit in a seat belt. My response…”When you outgrow your car seat”…which may be a few more years (he is small for his age)

  3. Jo

    It is a neat carseat, but I have a sorta crazy question. When you say 120 lbs, you don’t mean he needs to stay in one that long, right? I ask only because I have not yet met that weight. I have weighed 120, but my avg right now from hard work (muscle growth) is 118. I was pretty serious about car seats too, though I didn’t keep them in booster seats as long as 85 lbs. Not saying I shouldn’t have, just being honest. My daughter is not 85 lbs now and may not be for a long time, and she is the height of an avg 12 yr old.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Jo- nope. Washington state law is booster seat until 8 years or 80 pounds. And none of my kids have been anywhere NEAR 8o pounds at 8. I was just pointing out the weight limits for this particular car seat.

  4. Heather

    I’m thinking it makes the others seem/look cheap because compared to this $330 price tag the others are cheap! This is great that it can be the only one you buy once you go forward facing. I would think you would be tall enough not to need a booster well before you hit 120 pounds, wouldn’t you??? I was 85 pounds until I was 25 years old and then 95 until I hit 30. I would’ve looked mighty funny in my toddler booster!! ha ha ha!!

  5. Kelly

    I read some place that you’re not supposed to use the seat belt & harness contraption together. It’s one or the other. Am I wrong?

    • Samantha

      When you install a car seat you either use the seatbelt to anchor the carseat or you use the LATCH system. But you don’t use both. I think they would interfere with one another and so you wouldn’t have the right kind of tension.

      From the photos Renee posted it looks like its anchored with LATCH. Even if you used the seat belt to anchor it you’d still use five point harness to…anchor the child :).

      In some European countries they require booster seats until age 12, and since these are sold internationally I imagine that’s part of the range (and also some kids are larger….). I think with a medically fragile child like Apollo I’d be more likely to keep them in a booster or car seat as long as possible. Hopefully he’s much sturdier by the time he reaches the upper limits of his car seats.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Kelly- we are not using them together. I realize it kind of looks like that, but what you see is just a strap from the car seat- it isn’t attached to anything. I even when out to the van and double checked after I read your comment 🙂

  6. SAE

    I love that he gives it a thumbs up. I also like seeing proper car seat usage. Good job Mama! Also, as far as booster use, the law may be 8yo or 80lbs, but the 5 step test is a better judge as to whether they should stop using a booster. Kids don’t magically fit adult seat belts at 8yo. My small 10yo still uses a booster. I say this for you and others reading your blog to consider. Here’s more info on the 5 step test: http://www.carseat.org/Boosters/630.htm

  7. kris

    In regards to the hight weight limits…some special needs children need to be in a 5 point harness or booster for longer so this is nice for those parents. When my oldest was out growing his seat but we did not feel he was ready for a booster seat we had a hard time finding something. We ended up with a Britax and many of the reviews I read were from parents who had children that were not mature enough to be in a regular seat belt but were not little children (ie they were special needs children). I’m happy to see Britax is making more models of larger seats.

  8. Tonymasons

    I wouldn’t mind having a seat like that for myself. Seems very comfortable. But…I don’t know how I could install it on my motorbike 😀

  9. Jo

    In Europe, I knew some small women still using booster seats. It did seem to make them more comfortable. My son was 80 lbs at 8 yrs old, he is short and very muscular. Not an ounce of fat on his little body, he is still small and incredibly heavy. My daughter on the other hand, almost same height, 18 mo younger and nearly 30 lbs lighter! They are 1 size different in clothes. Crazy how different some kids are built.

  10. Jane

    Just curious if your van allows LATCH to be used in the center of the seat? Most vehicle’s only allow LATCH installs on the outer seats,check your vehicle manual to make sure and also wondering if That was a approved tether anchor spot on the back of the seat again check your vehicle manual for approved tether locations, if you have any questions you can ask at car-seat.org and find a local car seat technician to check your installation for you, it looks like a great combination seat that will last Apollo for many year’s, how great that Britax gave it to him 🙂

  11. liz

    We also practice extended rear facing esp if small. Our 2.5 yr old was rear until over 2 yrs. We then thurned him arund so we could see him as he is in the third row. Would like him in second, but we have some special needs and no way can oour 7 yr old sit next to 5 yr old..and the 9 month old needs to be rear facing in the second row so 7 yr old in third row can tell us what he is doing..lol.. We have maybe 6 Britax carseats and are about to buy our 7th and 8th!( for both cars) LOVE BRITAX. We buy off Amazon for great prices!!!!

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