Britax is a very familiar name in the world of childrens’ car seats. In fact, in 2018, Britax is celebrating 80 years in the car safety business, with more than 40 years making car seats for kids. It’s one of the brand names you are bound to stumble across when researching car seats for your family.
Interestingly, in the 4 years I’ve been reviewing car seats for Best Buy, I’ve never reviewed a Britax seat. That changes today, where I’m looking at the Britax “Essentials” Allegiance seat (also available in other colours linked at the bottom of this review.)
What makes Allegiance one of the “Essentials?”
The Britax Essentials Allegiance seat is a multi-stage convertible car seat that is capable of supporting children as small as 5lb. With this in mind, the seat is capable of either rear facing or front facing.
Safety-wise, the seat also has a 10-position headrest as well as a 2 layer side impact system. Since the seat is made for both rear and front facing infants and toddlers, there is also a 3 tier sliding base on the bottom of the unit which allows for you to adjust as the child gets older. To help you through the various stages of this seat and your child’s growth, there are a lot of removable padding pieces that come off as time goes on. There’s a body pillow-style insert for the infant stage that can be removed as your child outgrows it. There are also some removable shoulder strap pads. I’ve never personally been a fan of these as I felt it was another layer between the child and the belt itself directly but I’d call this one more a matter of your preference more than anything. Any parent that has put their young child into a car seat can also tell you how annoying it can be to have all of the harness pieces constantly in the way while you’re trying to sit them in. To help with that, Britax has cleverly placed some velcro pieces so that you can keep things out of the way while you sit your child in before strapping them in.
One add-on that I really like about this seat is the anti-rebound bar. You don’t see these bars very often with these convertible car seats, but when they’re included, they’re a big addition. An anti-rebound bar generally takes the place of the top tether’s job when you’re rear facing your carseat. In the moment of impact, the bar helps absorb some of the impact to keep the seat and your child from pushing upward. This anti-rebound simply clips into bars underneath the seat front and comes off just as easily when your child begins forward facing and no longer needs it. It’s much easier to install than some others I’ve come across but will take a bit of effort to remove it. The instructions are clear, but the room for you to move around underneath the seat to do it is limited.
A very “Essential” helping hand for installation
One of the toughest parts of installing a car seat is making sense of the Universal Anchor Tethers (UATs.) The technology to make installation life easier for parents has increased dramatically the past few years. No longer are parents having to struggle and pinch fingers on those UAT connections as more brands are moving toward some form of easy clipping latch system. This seat is thankfully no exception. The Britax Essentials Allegiance seat has a simple UAT Latch system where you just push the latch into place and then unhook with a button on the back of the connector itself. When not in use, there are little storage clips you can hook back up to.
One of the nice things about this seat is how easy Britax makes everything for you. Installation benefits are easy, the headrest adjustment is easy and customizing the seat for your child’s growth is easy. I found the seat easier than most to install and it fit in both a midsize SUV with UATs and a passenger sedan with belt pathing.
Extra Protection through Britax’s patented SafeCell technology
There is a set of minimum safety requirements that exist for a seat to be certified for use in Canada. While I couldn’t tell you what they all are off the top of my head, I know that every car seat manufacturer strives to come up with ways to deliver over and above those requirements.
Britax’s contribution is their SafeCell technology. What is SafeCell you ask? It’s a certain amount of different shock absorbing and cushioning effects to help protect your child when they will need it most. SafeCell consists of 4 impact absorption zones:
- The base features extra contoured honeycomb pattern pads to absorb impact
- The frame itself has a reinforced steel bar which minimizes seat flex during front impacts
- The tether (front-facing only) helps minimize seat movement/sway during impact. As mentioned above, the use of the top tether is mandatory in Canada for forward facing seats like this one.
- The 5 point harness minimizes child movement in the event of an impact.
While the tether and harness are staples of any car seat, not every seat out there comes with that steel reinforcement and this is the first time I’ve seen a base set up like this. As a result (especially with the steel beams,) I’d say the weight of the seat is somewhere in the middle of the range of other car seats. It’s not a 25-30lb beast like some seats of this type are, but if I had to wager a guess, I’d say it’s probably about 20 pounds or so.
Final Thoughts on the Britax Essentials Allegiance Car Seat
The only cases against the Britax Essentials Allegiance seat are a couple of small knocks. First, the seat covers are removable but not machine washable. While the removable aspect is helpful (considering I’ve owned car seats where only the seat comes off and you have to clean the rest of it as-is,) the lack of it being machine washable can be unhelpful, especially if your child is a champion puker or blowout machine.
The seat also ends support at about 60 pounds, after which you’ll have to get a booster. Considering the extra safety benefits this seat comes with though, it’s not the worst thing in the world.
As with purchasing and installing any child car seat, the safety manuals will only tell you so much. If you need help properly installing your seat, reach out to your local child passenger safety specialists. In smaller towns, the police or fire departments may have somebody on staff trained as a child passenger safety specialist that can help you install a car seat properly. Please be sure to consult your vehicle safety manual as well to understand whether your own car has any nuances or restrictions that may help you understand the proper way to install the seat in your car. Lastly, be sure that you register your seat with the manufacturer once you purchase it. This will ensure that they contact you if any recall notices occur, and can ship you any replacement parts should that be necessary.
The Britax Essentials Allegiance car seat is now available online at BestBuy.ca. Do you own this seat or are you a Britax seat owner? What are your thoughts on the SafeCell technology and their easy latch system? Please comment below.
Britax Essentials Allegiance Convertible Car Seat – Static
Britax Essentials Allegiance Convertible Car Seat – Azul
Britax Essentials Allegiance Convertible Car Seat – Confetti
Britax Essentials Allegiance Convertible Car Seat – Prizm