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Hands-on Gear Review
Britax B-Safe 35 Review
Price: $210 List | $156.99 from Amazon - 25% Off
Pros: Nice fabric, easy to use LATCH, works with Britax strollers
Cons: Heavy and difficult to use
Bottom line: Not the best Britax we tested, we prefer the B-Safe
We had high expectations for the Britax B-Safe 35, but we were surprised to find that this higher priced Britax seat scored significantly lower in our overall performance points than the less expensive sibling the Britax B-Safe. While it did perform slightly better for ease of use than the lower-end B-Safe model, it didn't really impress us all around. In general, it is hard to go wrong with Britax for quality, and parents might like that this seat works for babies up to 35 pounds and its easy install using the LATCH system, but it didn't do well compared to the competition. If parents want a Britax seat, the Britax B-Safe (not 35) earned more points overall than this product, and we'd recommend you save $30 and consider that seat instead.
RELATED: Our complete review of infant car seats
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Britax B-Safe 35 infant car seat provides support for babies from 4 to 35 pounds. It features what Britax calls their "SafeCell Impact Protection" and "Complete Side Impact Protection" in a shell designed to absorb crash forces and protect baby from potential debris. Britax describes its key safety features as an impact absorbing base, stabilizing steel frame, complete side impact protection, and "SafeCenter" LATCH Installation. It has a design that takes up less space, while still offering adequate protection. It comes with a removable head pillow for proper newborn head positioning, in addition to a canopy, easy on/off LATCH connectors, spring assisted recline, and dual level indicators. This car seat works with any Britax stroller with the Click & Go system and quick-release handle.
Britax has issued an important safety recall for the Britax B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite. This recall concerns the carry handle on the seat and does NOT affect the performance of the seat as it is used in a motor vehicle. Reports indicate the carry handle can fracture or break resulting in the carrier falling while being held by the handle. Britax is offering a repair kit that consists of a bracket that supports the handle to prevent it from failing. If you currently own the seat, Britax is advising that you do not hold or carry it by the handle until the repair can be made. The Britax website has more information on the affected seats and how to obtain a repair kit.
crash test results indicate a basic level of protection compared to the competition. It exceeds the Federal guidelines for safety outlined in FMVSS 213, but some other seats, including the Britax B-Safe, appear to offer an additional margin of protection relative to the B-Safe 35 based on crash test result analysis.
Chicco Keyfit 30, with results furthest from the Federal maximum allowable score. The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 has the best results for force exerted on the chest (in black).
Ease of Install - LATCH
Phil and Teds Alpha and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35. The high score for this test is a 9 shared by the Chicco Keyfit 30, Cybex Aton 2, and the UPPAbaby Mesa. The low score is a 3 earned by the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect.
This seat has a built in recline foot near the foot portion of the base. This feature can help parents find the right angle for the best installation. The included level indicator can also ensure parents install the base correctly by giving a visual cue to guide them.
Ease of Install - Belt
Phil and Teds Alpha and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35. The Evenflo Embrace LX earned a 4 of 10 for the low score.
B-Safe feels more stable installed using the vehicle belt than the B-Safe 35. It is easier to install using the lap style belt than the shoulder/belt ombination.
Ease of Install - Without the Base
Graco SnugRide Classic Connect. The high score for this metric is a 10 earned by the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 and the UPPAbaby Mesa. The low score is a 4 shared by the Chicco KeyFit 30 and the Orbit Baby G3.
This seat is difficult to install without the base compared to the competition. It did not require a towel to get the proper angle, but it didn't feel as secure as the Britax B-Safe probably because the foot of the seat is smoother. We think it might feel more secure if we had used a pool noodle or a towel, but we also think it isn't very convenient if parents have to take a towel or pool noodle every where they go.
Ease of Use
Britax B-Safe scored lower with a 4. The high score for this group is an 8 shared by the Evenflo and the Recaro Performance Coupe. The low score is 3 shared by the Orbit Baby and the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40.
The buckle on this Britax is easier to use than that on the B-Safe. It isn't as stiff to push, and the two sides are easier to position than its little brother. The chest/retainer clip has an easy to depress button and slides apart smoothly. It is also pretty easy to mate the two up when buckling. We preferred this clip over the one used on the other Britax.
The harness shoulder height adjustment is a rethread style adjustment with 4 positions. This means parents will need to adjust the height with baby out of the seat and from behind. The shoulder straps are detached from the splitter plate and threaded through the slots on the back of the seat. They are then rethreaded through higher slots and once again attached to the splitter. It isn't necessarily difficult to do, but it is kind of a hassle considering the number of steps involved and the fact that some of the seats can be adjusted with baby in the seat and from the front without rethreading. The corresponding crotch strap has 2 possible positions and the two together offer enough variability to achieve a proper fit for babies of most sizes.
The LATCH anchors store by tucking under the base on each side. Storage is good and prevents the straps and anchors themselves from getting in the way of the carrier connecting firmly to the base. Some of the other products in this review allowed the straps of the anchors to potentially flop over the carrier connection points on the base, this means the carrier might not install correctly.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 and the Phil and Teds Alpha. Two other seats tied this score including the B-Safe, Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air, and the UPPAbaby Mesa. The low for the group is a 2 earned by the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect.
The padding on this Britax is a little on the slight side; it is fairly thin and flexible compared to the competition. The fabric on the seat isn't as plush as the competition, but isn't as stiff as the other B-Safe in this review. We would have liked to see a little nicer fabric on the Britax offerings in general, given their usual attention to quality and detail.
The shell quality on this seat is better than the cheaper seats in the review, but not as nice as some of the more expensive options or its cheaper brother the B-Safe. However, the fit and finish of the fabric and padding on the seat, and fabric on the canopy is rather nice and looked good compared to a lot of the competition.
The heaviest seat in this review is the Orbit Baby G3 with a weight of 12.5 pounds. The lightest is the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect with a weight of 7.06. pounds. Neither seat scored very well in our tests overall, proving that weight has little to do with price, ease of use, or installation. So while seat weight is important it is not the most important factor when weighing one seat against another (pun intended).
Parents drawn to the Britax name who plan to use their infant seat as long as possible might be drawn to the B-Safe 35. However, if you are looking for a good Britax seat we think the lower end model, the Britax B-Safe, is nicer and it will save you some money. Yes, it is only good for children up to 30 pounds, but that is still a reasonable size for switching to a convertible car seat that still allows for rear facing installation. If you opt for one of the Britax strollers, such as the impressively light and compact Britax B-Agile 3, then you may be limited to one of the Britax infant seats, and in that case we still think the B-Safe (not 35) is the better of the two Britax products.
This is simply not the best value for your dollar compared to the other seat options we looked at. It scored so similarly to the cheaper B-Safe, but with less impressive crash test results, that you should save yourself some money and get almost the same seat for $30 less. However, several seats in this review scored higher than both Britax products and sport similar list prices. Overall, this makes the B-Safe 35 not the best value in the group. Sure the price isn't huge, but it isn't great for what you get either. The Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air earned 8 points more and costs about $50 less on average, making it a better value than this Britax model. In addition, the Chicco Keyfit 30 and Phil and Teds Alpha also scored higher than the Britax products each with $200 price tags, cheaper than the B-Safe 35.
Britax B-Agile 3 stroller, you're still better off getting the $30 cheaper basic model Britax B-Safe car seat. It isn't so much that we don't like the B-Safe 35, or that there is anything drastically wrong with it, it's just that so many products in our review offered more or functioned better.
Other Versions and Accessories
Britax makes several car seats including the Britax B-Safe 35 Elite (not included in this review), the Britax B-Safe (included in this review) and the BOB B-Safe 35, which appears to be the exact same product as the Britax B-Safe 35 but with the BOB logo and a different color scheme with a higher price tag.
Other accessories for the seat include:
Back Seat Mirror from Cozy Greens is an accessory that we recommend for any parent wanting to keep an eye on baby from the front seat while they are rear facing. The mirror is attached to a flat base that rests against the back seat headrest. It is kept secure by two adjustable straps that fit both horizontally and vertically around the headrest. The mirror is held out a few inches from the base and is able to pivot and adjust. It also has a convex shatter proof safety surface. Both of these features help to provide a much wider field of view without distorting the reflection. Once adjusted correctly, there is a device to tighten the pivot point so that the mirror won't be knocked out of position. This mirror does require an adjustable headrest in order to attach properly therefore may not be compatible with all cars, but aside from that, Amazon users seem to love this accessory and claim that it provides a very clear reflection compare to that of other back seat mirrors.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD, Wendy Schmitz, and BabyGearLab Review Team
Most recent user review: October 14, 2015
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