Clek Foonf. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony
I make no effort to hide the fact that I am a family man, currently blessed by a daughter and a son, both of whom are in various stages of car seats, and with different cars every week, I have plenty of experience installing the various car seats we currently own. My son is still in a rear-facing infant seat. My daughter is three and half and was essentially the guinea pig in this product review of the Clek Foonf car seat.
The first thing that caught my attention in the press release that triggered my request for review of the Clek Foonf was the claim that this car seat was “ground-breaking” and provided “revolutionary all-around safety”. Okay, so the colours are pretty eye-catching too (green and magenta were the first that I saw, but it seems more colours and patterns are available now), but what do they mean by revolutionary?
Well, the Foonf (yes, I have as hard a time saying that as you do) is designed around REACT (Rapid Energy-Absorbing Crumple Technology), harnessing the ‘crumple zone’ technology used in modern vehicles. Clek claims that the REACT safety system can reduce the force transmitted to a child in a forward-facing seat by 40 percent. This is a bold claim, but the representative that dropped off the seat had a base that had been crash tested, and he showed me the lightweight honeycomb metal crumple zones compressed into their final state after a crash. It’s one of those features you are happy to spend money on with the goal of never using it, but Clek’s promotional video has some footage and diagrams of it in testing.
Although the Foonf is convertible and can work as a reverse facing child seat, my son has not yet reached the minimum requirements for this seat as a rear-facing child seat: 64 cm (25 in.) or 6.4 kg (14 lb) and able to sit upright alone. However, when taking delivery, we did attempt to install the Foonf in the RVR we had that week, but fumble fingers here dropped the locking pins for a removable ‘anti-rebound bar’ and they fell into the car seat base, and which we were then unable to extract. Yes, I’m a klutz, but trusting me with teensy little pins that I need to align while my hands are wedged in a crevice the size of, well, my fingers’ width isn’t a recipe for success.
For side-impact collisions, Clek has designed a metal substructure with strategically positioned energy-absorbing foam layers. Clek President Chris Lumley states: “This seat is a tank. It was designed to perform in a crash.” Unfortunately, its tank-like construction inevitably leads to tank-like weight. If you switch seats between vehicles regularly, this 14.5 kg (32 lb) mini-tank will be a constant reminder of its capability, but also a hindrance to its otherwise easy installation process in forward-facing position. With the additional base for rear-facing installation, it weighs in at 16.3 kg (36 lb).
For easy installation, the Foonf features rigid arms that extend out of the base with LATCH (Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children) clips at the end that snap into place. They are released by small pull tabs at the corresponding front corners for each side. It can also be secured with a seatbelt if necessary.