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Hands-on Gear Review
Britax B-Safe 35 Review
Price: $210.00 List | $209.99 at Amazon
Pros: Nice fabric, easy to use LATCH, works with Britax strollers
Cons: Heavy and difficult to use
Bottom line: Easy to use LATCH, but disappointing overall performance
The Britax B-Safe 35 ranked second from the bottom in our tests of 15 products. While it earned a higher than average score for installation using LATCH, it did not score above average for any other metric. This seat didn't do well compared to the competition and struggle in ease of use and even quality and comfort where Britax products normally shine. Even if you are looking for a Britax seat to combine with a Britax stroller, we would recommend looking at the Chicco Keyfit 30 which scored higher, earned an award and works with the Britax B-Agile 3 when you buy adapters.
RELATED REVIEW: The Quest to Find the Best Infant Car Seats of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
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. Britax is offering a repair kit 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.
Britax believes parents and children should enjoy every moment and live life to its fullest potential. Britax strives to design gear with intuitive designs that are also safe. They have been manufacturing children's products for over 70 years. The Britax company launched in the United States in 1996 after a successful run in Europe as the best-selling car seat option. Britax has a specific interest in side impact collisions, installation, and quality strollers.
The chart provided below is a comparison of the overall scores for each car seat tested in this review. The Britax B-Safe 35 below in blue.
The sections below detail test result information for each metric. Metric results were used to determine the B-Safe 35's overall score and rank.
The B-Safe 35 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 appear to offer an additional margin of protection compared to the B-Safe 35 based on the crash test analysis.
The charts show the Britax 35 (in black) compared to the top performing products in each sensor region. The best performing seat for the head sensor (HIC) is the Chicco Keyfit 30, with results furthest from the Federal maximum allowable score. The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 has the best results for the force exerted on the chest (in black).
Ease of Install - LATCH
This Britax earned a 7 of 10 for LATCH installation. This score is its highest score for installation. The high score for this test is 10 for the Chicco Fit2.
This seat has the push button anchors that simply click-in to the LATCH connector. The anchors are easy to attach by pushing them into the U-shaped vehicle anchor points. The strap is easier to tighten than much of the competition, and significantly easier when it comes to loosening, which is rare.
This seat has a built-in recline foot on the base. This feature helps parents find the right angle for installation. The included level indicator gives a visual cue to guide them.
Ease of Install - Belt
Phil and Teds Alpha and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35.
This seat has a belt lock-off, but it is one of the harder ones to use, and we didn't like it. Also, the belt path is not color coded, and it is hard to thread the belt through. It took us two tries to get the seat installed tight enough, and even then it didn't feel stable.
Ease of Install - Without the Base
The B-Safe 35 earned a 5 of 10 for ease of install without the base. The high score for this metric is a 10 earned by the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35.
This seat has the American belt path and is not color coded. We prefer the European belt path, as it feels more stable in our opinion because it utilizes the shoulder portion of the belt around the back of the seat. The American method threads the belt across the lower part of the seat.
This seat 's hard 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. We think it might feel more secure if we had used a pool noodle or a towel, but we also believe that it isn't very convenient to take a towel or pool noodle everywhere you go.
Ease of Use
The B-Safe 35 earned a 5 of 10 for ease of use, a score slightly lower than average for the group. The high score for this group is an 8 earned by the Doona and a couple of others.
The buckle isn't stiff to push, and the two sides relatively easy to position. The chest clip has an easy to depress button and slides apart smoothly. It is also pretty easy to mate the two up when buckling.
The harness on this seat is stiffer to tighten than some of the competition, and we worry this will get worse over time as the strap gets grimy. The release button is located at the foot of the carrier on top of the padding near the tightening strap.
The harness shoulder height adjustment is a rethread style adjustment with four positions. This means parents will need to adjust the height with baby out of the seat and from behind. The shoulder straps detach from the splitter plate and thread through the slots on the back of the seat. They then rethread through higher slots and reattach to the splitter. It isn't hard to do, but it is a hassle considering the number of steps involved and the fact that some seats can adjust with the baby in the seat and without rethreading. The corresponding crotch strap has two positions, and together they offer enough variability to achieve a proper fit for most babies.
This carrier sits nicely on the base and clicks into place with an audible click. There are no visual indicators to ensure installation, and parents should give it a good tug to make sure. Releasing the carrier from the base is done by squeezing the handle on the back of the seat to disconnect the clips on the carrier from the base.
The handle on this seat is easy to use and adjust. It has dual release levers located on the back side of the handle where the sides attach to the carrier. Squeezing both levers allows the handle to rotate. It has four positions, and all are allowable while driving. We did not experience any rubbing with this handle in regards to the canopy, which is a plus and somewhat rare.
The LATCH anchors store by tucking under the base on each side. Storage prevents the straps and anchors themselves from getting in the way of the carrier connecting firmly to the base.
The B-Safe 35 earned a 6 of 10 for comfort and quality. The high is 8 earned by the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 and the Chicco Fit 2.
The padding on this Britax is relatively thin and flexible compared to the competition. The fabric on the seat isn't very plush, and we would have liked to see a little nicer fabric.
The shell quality is better than the cheaper products in the review, but not as nice as the options in the same price range as the B-Safe 35. However, the overall fit and finish look good compared to a lot of the competition.
This Britax weighs 10.57 lbs and is on the heavy side for seats in this review. Given that parents will be lifting the carrier on and off the base and potentially carrying it from place to place with their baby on board, the overall weight of the carrier can be important. While we don't think making a buying decision based solely on weight is a good idea, we do believe that it can be a helpful factor when choosing between two otherwise similar options.
The heaviest seat in this review is the Doona with a weight over 16 lbs, but this seat has a stroller components attached, which means you won't be carrying far or ever.
Parents who like the Britax name or who plan to purchase a Britax stroller might consider the B-Safe 35. If you opt for one of the Britax strollers, such as the impressively light and compact Britax B-Agile 3, you do have the option of pairing that stroller with a different brand of car infant seat. We suggest parents consider the higher ranking Chicco Keyfit 30 as a good companion for the B-Agile 3 over the native brand seat given the overall disappointing performance of the B-Safe 35.
This product is not the best value for your dollar. It scored so low overall that several products earned higher scores and cost less. This makes the B-Safe 35 not the best value in the group. Sure the price isn't high, but it isn't great for what you get. The Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air earned eight points more and cost about $50 less, making it a better value. Also, the Chicco Keyfit 30 and Phil and Teds Alpha also scored higher and are cheaper than the B-Safe 35.
Too many seats in our review earned higher scores than the B-Safe 35 to make it a real contender. No matter which metric is the most important to you, there is a product in this review that does it better than the B-Safe 35. Even if your plan is to purchase the Britax B-Agile 3 stroller, you are still better off with a different brand seat. It isn't that we dislike the B-Safe 35, but there are so many products in our review that offer more or performed better with lower prices.
Other Versions and Accessories
Britax makes several car seats including the Britax B-Safe 35 Elite (not 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 we recommend for keeping 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 pivots to adjust. It also has a convex shatterproof safety surface. Both of these features help provide a much wider field of view without distorting the reflection. Once adjusted, there is a device to tighten the pivot point so that the mirror won't move. This mirror requires an adjustable headrest for attachment.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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