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Hands-on Gear Review

Clek Foonf Review

Top Pick Award
Price:   $450.00 List | $449.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Anti-Rebound Bar, easy to install, steel frame
Cons:  Higher price, heavy, rethread harness
Bottom line:  Innovative seat with unique features that looks cool and is easy to install
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Clek

The Skinny

The Clek Foonf is a really cool seat that has some nice innovative design features that make it a winner in our book. With a third place finish in this review and features like an anti-rebound bar, steel magnesium frame, GreenGuard Select certified Crypton fabric, it isn't hard to see why this seat performed so well in testing and won the hearts of more than one tester. The Foonf has a ridiculously easy to install rigid LATCH system for the forward facing configuration, and almost equally trouble free LATCH anchors for rear facing that make installation almost completely foolproof. We loved that the seat has additional features for safety, is made with quality materials, and is one of the sharpest looking seats around. If you can afford this high end seat, it might just be the different kind of seat you've been looking for. We really liked this seat and gave it a Top Pick for Innovation award.

Update — April 2017
Clek released an updated version of the Foonf convertible seat for 2017. Read more on the changes down below.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Convertible Car Seats of 2017

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Score Product Price Our Take
84
$380
Editors' Choice Award
Impressive option with quality features and super easy installation parents will love
82
$290
Editors' Choice Award
Everything you're looking for with ease of installation, ease of use, and quality construction
79
$450
Top Pick Award
Innovative seat with unique features that looks cool and is easy to install
76
$470
Easy to install but poor crash test results make the similar Boulevard a better choice
74
$180
Best Value Award
Great easy to install option with a reasonable price
72
$300
A really nice seat that is easy to install, but the price is higher and the crash results only average
70
$350
Nice quality option that is easy to use but the competition is hard to keep up with
67
$250
Good looking seat that is average in most ways and harder to install or use
62
$70
Best Value Award
Inexpensive choice with impressive crash test results
54
$120
A boring feeling seat with below average performance most tests
53
$360
Expensive seat with below average crash test results that is heavy and harder to use
49
$159
Very difficult to install seat that is equally hard to use

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Saturday
April 8, 2017

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New Foonf for 2017


The updated version of the Clek Foonf has better padding and protection around the crotch strap. This new padding is available for purchase separately from the seat in order bring an older Clek Foonf up to date. We tested the seat with the new buckle pad and found that scoring is remains the same for the seat. Below are photos of the buckle padding on the newer Foonf (left) and the older version (right).
The Clek buckle and chest clip were similar in difficulty level as the Britax. It isn't the best in the bunch  but it doesn't hurt or take two hands to operate
 


Performance Comparison


The Clek is shown on this comparison chart in blue. This chart includes all the convertible seats we tested for this review.


The sections below include performance details for each metric on how the Clek performed during testing. Individual metric scores were used to determine the overall score and rank.

Crash Test


The Clek Foonf has a mixed bag of crash test data. The important thing to understand is that this seat, like all the others in the review and on the market, meet or exceed the Federal safety guidelines outlined in the FMVSS 213, and so therefore, are considered safe.


Data from sled crash testing is recorded from the head and chest sensors in the crash test dummies used in each seat during testing. Our testing was designed to the same specifications as those used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in their testing for a true side-by-side comparison. Some seats have test results that seem to indicate that the seat offers an additional margin of protection with less G forces than the average values recorded. Clek has G-force data for the chest sensor that is lower than all of the other seats we reviewed, and chest sensor data that is second to the highest in this review, but is still half of the maximum allowable amount.

The chart below show the test data from the sensors in the test dummy for the Clek (shown in black). The charts also include the crash test data for the seat that has the least amount of G forces recorded in the head sensor for comparison (shown in green).

This chart shows the head sensor data for the Clek compared to that of the Evenflo  which had the lowest recorded G forces in the group for the head sensor
This chart shows the head sensor data for the Clek compared to that of the Evenflo, which had the lowest recorded G forces in the group for the head sensor
The Evenflo Tribute LX head sensor recorded a lower amount of G forces in crash testing than any of the other seats in this review. The Clek has the lowest recorded G forces for the chest sensor.

Forward facing LATCH is the easiest way to install the Clek thanks to the rigid LATCh system
Forward facing LATCH is the easiest way to install the Clek thanks to the rigid LATCh system

Ease of Install - LATCH


The Clek earned the high score for ease of installation with a perfect 10 of 10 in this metric, tying with the Britax Boulevard ClickTight.


It has a relatively unique (for the group) rigid LATCH anchor system that is ridiculously easy to use because it doesn't require any tightening. The Britax Roundabout, Britax Marathon and the Chicco NextFit all earned 9s for this test.



The Clek is the only seat in this review to offer a rigid LATCH system that makes installation very easy with no straps to tighten
The Clek is the only seat in this review to offer a rigid LATCH system that makes installation very easy with no straps to tighten
Installation of this seat using the LATCH system forward facing will leave you wondering why all seats do not offer a rigid LATCH design. Adjusting the anchors to pull out from the base is easy and the clips can be attached to the vehicle at the same time, or one side at a time; depending on your vehicle both can seem easy or one might feel better than the other, but whichever method you choose you will still be pleasantly content when that is essentially the end of the installation process.

The Clek recline range is clearly defined on the side of the seat base
 
The photos above show the seat without the recline attachment (left) and with the attachment (right). This is an entirely separate part that will need to be stored elsewhere when not in use (rear facing attachment only). This is the same for the anti-rebound bar.

Forward facing is simpler and doesn't require any extra steps while rear facing requires the addition of a base recliner and an anti-rebound bar, but either direction will leave you feeling like it was too easy and you must have missed a step, only you didn't. Rear facing does not offer rigid LATCH but is still easier than most seats in this review. With the rigid LATCH anchors, there is almost no movement at all in the seat, and it always feels secure no matter what car we tested it in (4 various models). The anti-rebound bar adds to the feeling of security, and it is the only seat in this review that did not tip toward the vehicle seat back when pushed because the bar makes this virtually impossible. Overall, we can't imagine a seat being easier to install.

The Clek Foonf has the highest weight limit for rear facing installation out of all the car seats we tested. This means baby can stay rear facing up to 40 pounds. Rear facing installation is the safest riding position for baby no matter what their age and it is recommended that baby stay rear facing as long as the seat indicates it is safe to do so.
The Clek Foonf has the highest weight limit for rear facing installation out of all the car seats we tested. This means baby can stay rear facing up to 40 pounds. Rear facing installation is the safest riding position for baby no matter what their age and it is recommended that baby stay rear facing as long as the seat indicates it is safe to do so.

Ease of Install - Belt


The Clek continued to impress in the ease of installation using the vehicle belt by once again earning the second highest score of 9 of 10. The high for the group is a 10 for the Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB and the Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB.


The LATCH system was created to make installation easier and more foolproof, but with the Clek even the belt installation is fairly foolproof and hard to mess up.

To gain access to the rear facing belt path on the Clek  you will need to lift the seat bottom up
The belt lock off on the Clek seat is harder to use than some  but not as hard as the Britax that required a screwdriver to open
The rear facing Clek Foonf has a recline adjustment attachment and a anti-rebound bar  as well as an under the seat belt pathway that includes a belt lock off. It is the most innovative seat in the review and includes a rigid forward facing LATCH system.
 
The photos above show the rear facing belt path that includes lifting the seat bottom up to access the path.

The Clek forward facing belt path isn't as convoluted as it looks
The forward facing belt path and belt lock off on the Clek are easier to use than the rear facing design
The forward-facing installation of the Clek Foonf for kids over 2 years old using the vehicle belt is very secure feeling and easy to accomplish.
 
The photos above show the forward-facing belt path.

The downside to this seat is similar to some of the others in that the belt path is under the seat bottom and somewhat requires the seat to be dismantled. The pathway is in a different location depending on if it is forward or rear facing, but both require moving seat part around to thread the belt. Installing rear facing is done by pulling up on the seat bottom to thread the belt and access the belt lock off. This is fairly easy, and the bottom stays up, so you have a clear view and don't have any parts in your way. The belt lock-off is one of the easiest in the group to use, and our only caution is you will need to double check that you have the belt as tight as it will go before you close the lock-off or you will have to start over. If you get the belt too tight the lock off won't close. Rear facing is once again a little more convoluted, and it requires the putting on additional parts, so you'll need to allow time and space for that.


Ease of Use


Ease of use is the one category where the Clek didn't shine as much as the competition.


It only earned a 5 of 10 in our tests, which puts it below average for the group, tying for the lowest score with the Britax Roundabout, Maxi-Cosi Pria 70, Diono Radian RXT, and Safety 1st. The high score in this metric is an 8 earned by the Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB and the Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB.



The harness release button on the Clek is on the foot of the seat almost under it. It is easy to use  though marginally more difficult in rear facing position when pressed against the vehicle seat
The harness release button on the Clek is on the foot of the seat almost under it. It is easy to use, though marginally more difficult in rear facing position when pressed against the vehicle seat
The Clek buckle isn't the greatest, but it isn't the worst either. The Evenflo Tribute has the easiest buckle in the group with an easy to press button and side straps that pop out easily when you press the button. The Clek is stiff in comparison, but not as stiff as the Diono Radian RXT. The chest clip is marginally better, and while not our favorite, it doesn't cause pain to operate and fingers of just about any size will be able to manage it without difficulty. Tightening and releasing the harness is relatively easy with a button that is hidden and deep near the foot of the seat, but still reachable and easy enough to find and use. The strap to tighten is also located at the foot of the base and pulls smoothly.

The headrest on the Clek is not a harness height adjuster and moves in a similar fashion to those found in many cars
The headrest on the Clek is not a harness height adjuster and moves in a similar fashion to those found in many cars

The Clek does not have a non-rethread adjustment option. This feature is a shame given that the seat costs so much and has an adjustable headrest like those models that do have a non-rethread harness. The harness rethreads with a double hook in the back and threads through slots in the back of the seat shell. It is a little harder than the some of the other rethread seats because the shell is thick and the seat is heavy. The shoulder straps have six height positions and two crotch positions to help ensure a proper fit. Alternatively, the Britax Boulevard and Britax Advocate both have 14 height options and easy to use non-rethread height adjustment.

The forward-facing LATCH is rigid and retracts into the seat base when not in use. The rear-facing anchors store under the seat bottom cushion which pops up. The tether clips to the back of the seat, and the strap rolls up and comes together with hook and loop closure. The LATCH storage does keep the straps and clips out of the way.

The fabric on this seat is not supposed to be removed and is spot clean only. While the fabric fits the seat bottom and seat back nicely in a look we liked, it is unfortunate that it cannot be laundered in some way. The fabric is made from materials that Clek says is resistant to spills and stains, but it remains to be seen how well this will wear over time.

We like the way the seat fabric on the Clek is tucked into the shell offering a smooth transition and sleek look
We like the way the seat fabric on the Clek is tucked into the shell offering a smooth transition and sleek look

Comfort/Quality


The Clek scored an 8 of 10 in the metric for comfort and quality and impressed us with how well it was put together and the innovative design features that help make it a unique seat.


The Chicco NextFit, Britax Advocate Clicktight ARB and the Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB earned the high score for the review with 9s, thanks in part to thick padding, soft fabric, and overall attention to detail.

The fabric on the Foonf is like none other in the group. It is soft and plush, and it seems like the passenger would be less likely to sweat in this seat as the fabric seems breathable. The fabric is made with GreenGuard Select Certified Crypton fabric that Clek claims provide permanent protection against stains, moisture, and odor causing bacteria. It is also the only seat to claim free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. The padding under the fabric is a very firm foam covered in thick fabric. The foam is not cushy and comfortable in a traditional sense, but it still feels like it would be comfortable in a similar way to a high-quality mattress. We could not feel any bumps or ridges under the seat, and there is no infant insert with the Foonf.

The back of the Clek is nice looking without a mess of straps and spaces
The back of the Clek is nice looking without a mess of straps and spaces
The shell on the Clek is a hard plastic surrounding a metal frame. It is mostly smooth and self-contained with a little bit of open webbing on the lower portion that might be harder to keep clean. The seat has a tidy look with everything in its place and nothing swings or flails about when you move it. The foam on this seat is Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). This is the most commonly used foam in car seats and is similar to what is found in bike helmets. Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) is also used in some seats (the Britax seats in this review). It is less brittle and stiff than EPS and is more environmentally friendly and doesn't off-gas; we prefer the EPP foam over the EPS for these reasons.

The bottom of the Clek is smooth with no sharp edges that might cause damage to the seat
The bottom of the Clek is smooth with no sharp edges that might cause damage to the seat

The Clek has a very nice overall fit and finish that looks good compared to the majority of seats. It has the look of a tailored piece of furniture as opposed to a slipcover look shared by much of the competition. The fabric is somewhat fuzzy by design, and we wonder how well this will wear over time, but it looks nice when new. The seat bottom has no protruding edges or sharp corners that could potentially damage the vehicle seat.

The Clek weighs over 38 pounds in the rear facing configuration and closer to 33 for forward facing. The weight difference is the angle adjustment pad and the anti-rebound bar
The Clek weighs over 38 pounds in the rear facing configuration and closer to 33 for forward facing. The weight difference is the angle adjustment pad and the anti-rebound bar

Weight


The Clek is the heaviest monster in the group. As much as we love this seat, we can't help but remark honestly on how stupidly heavy this seat is. With the angled bottom and anti-rebound bar attached for rear-facing installation, this seat is over 38 pounds.


For forward-facing, it is a bit lighter at just under 34 pounds. None of the other seats in the review come close to being this heavy with the next closest option being the Britax Advocate ClickTight at over 30 pounds for rear-facing. The Foonf is one of the narrowest in the group at 17 inches wide. This width somewhat makes up for the heft of this seat, but on the bright side you shouldn't have to move it often. You probably don't want to travel with this seat or carry it very far.

Best Applications


The best application for this seat is for parents looking for an innovative seat with additional nods to safety. If you have any concerns or fears at all over installing a seat properly it is a good bet you can't mess it up with the Foonf. If money's no object and you simply want one of the coolest seats around that performed well in our tests, it is hard to find another option like the Foonf. We also think this seat is a good choice for keeping baby rear facing for longer given its wider range for rear-facing weight and height limits.

Value


With a list price of $450, it is sort of hard to call this product a good value. However, sometimes you do get what you pay for, and we can see the design features that have likely led to this higher than average price. This seat has a quality frame and materials that are like none other in this review. The components are put together in a way that indicates they can withstand the test of time and some minor every day expected abuse without batting an eye. The rigid LATCH anchor system for forward facing installation is almost worth its weight in gold and the anti-rebound bar might just become the standard in the future if it does decrease injuries the way manufacturers claim. So while it is hard to say that anyone needs a $450 car seat, we can certainly see why this one fetches a higher price.

Rear facing installation of the Clek using the vehicle belt is almost as easy as the LACTH  with both requiring use of the same belt path
Rear facing installation of the Clek using the vehicle belt is almost as easy as the LACTH, with both requiring use of the same belt path

Conclusion


The Clek Foonf is the 3rd highest scoring seat in our review flanked by several Britax products that also won awards. The Foonf earned a Top Pick for Innovations award thanks to its use of quality materials, rigid LATCH system, and anti-rebound bar to name a few. Unlike the majority of products we looked at, this one offers something different in a product category that is almost yawn-worthy in its design similarities. The Clek is an expensive yet impressive product that is sure to make parents and children happy.

Other Versions and Accessories


Clek makes other kinds of car seats like boosters both full back and backless, but it only makes one other convertible style seat, the Clek fllo. Clek calls the fllo a compact convertible seat which is sort of interesting given that the Foonf is the narrowest seat in our review. Clek describes the seat as having a "…compact design sits lower in the vehicle for improved visibility and ingress/egress". We did not review this seat, but can't help but wonder if a smaller version of the Foonf would be better given its considerable heft. The fllo has a list price of $380 (significantly cheaper than the Foonf) and seems to work for the same range for height and weight. Given that one of our cons with the Foonf is price, we are very curious indeed about this cheaper, smaller seat that seems to bring the best of the Foonf to the table without some of the baggage.

Clek offers the "infant thingy" and "weelee bag" as accessories for both seats. Interestingly enough it also offers a fabric cleaning and stain removal kit even though the fabric is supposed to be stain resistant. Because we all know kids are messy, and we suspect you will need it, we suggest the Clek cleaning kit for those just in case moments.

The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
Cozy Greens makes a Back Seat Mirror that is a great accessory for parents to keep an eye on baby. The mirror is attached to a flat base that straps onto the backseat headrest. It has a convex shape that offers a wider field of view. Once it's in just the right spot, the pivot point can be secured so that the mirror can't be bumped out of position. This mirror requires an adjustable headrest to attach properly, so it may not work in all cars, particularly older ones. According to Amazon users, this mirror provides a much clearer reflection than many other back seat mirrors.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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Most recent review: April 8, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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