Convertible seat choice help - especially with easy harness tightening RF!


New member
Hi all- I've been reading this board for months and hopefully have been able to narrow down my wants and needs for a convertible seat.
I want a new seat to replace our Chicco Keyfit. She has not outgrown it yet, but it's just become to much of a hassle, lifting her up and over into the seat (in the rear middle) that is very tall due to being on the infant base.

Here are the relevant issues (hopefully!):
-My daughter is almost 10 months, 50th percentile for height and weight.
-We have a 2003 Jeep Liberty which means not a huge amount of room in the back.
-I want to keep her rear facing as long as possible.
-I thought I had settled on a Marathon, but after reading that it was difficult to tighten the harness when RF I had second thoughts. Ease of tightening the harness is very important to me.
-Budget is not as important as the above.

Thank you all so much for this's given me a real education - which of course has given me way more choices to mull (obsess) over. I decided not to list the seats I was considering as I would rather leave your suggestions wide open, as I might have gotten hyperfocused on certain seats for the wrong reasons...

An Aurora

Senior Community Member
I wouldn't say that the MA is hard to tighten RF. It's not super easy, but it's one of the easiest seats I've seen. I have heard wonderful things about the RA adjustment, yet that seems exactly like my MA so maybe I just have an easy seat. The Radian is very hard to tighten RF IME. Have you tried the EFTA? We have one of those as well, and it's certainly a different type of adjustment. Some people hate it, some people love it. I personally love it because DH actually gets the kids tight enough in that seat, whereas I always have to re-tighten the MA, RA, and Radian after he gets them in.


Ambassador - CPS Technician
EFTA was the first thing that came to my mind. It's definitely a love/hate thing...and I love it too. I think all adjusters are more difficult RF but the Advance has the knobs on the side which is easier for me...even if they do dig into the seat somewhat. If you're able...go to BRU and take a few seats out to the car, install as best you can and try out the harness adjustors to see if one seems easier for you and in your car.


New member
Not to sound like a newbie, but they let you take them out to your car?

I also should have added to the list that the seat can't be too too tall....don't want to hit her head on the ceiling, which seems to be happening a bit with the Keyfit in the base.

Thanks for the quick responses! You guys rock.


Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
Staff member
Yup, most Babies 'R Us stores will allow you take out the display model seat to your car. It's not a test drive where you drive off and leave the premises entirely, mind you, :) but a trial installation of the display model in your car in the BRU parking lot. You'll need to inquire at the BRU service counter, and probably will need to leave your license as collateral.

The Bjorns

New member
I have a MA RFing for my 7 mo old and don't think it's difficult to tighten. I did have to fiddle with the install because I think the spliter plate with rubbing, but once that was addressed, it's fine. I can get it about 90% tight with a seamless easy pull, but for the final bit I do tug-release-tug-release to "ratchet" it tightly. This is really only done on the lower slot positions. I was having a hard time believing this because we have another MA FF for my 4 yr old and it's cinch to tighten with one seamless pull. When I was playing with the car seat I pulled the harness as tight as it would go with just one pull and then I watched it incrementally tighten with tug-release-tug-release. I just couldn't really see it happening when my DD was in the seat, but with no baby in the seat it was easy to see that it really get it nice and tight.

I am debating right now about the EFTA as a 2nd seat for my mother's car, but she's not thrilled with how the knob tightens with a clickety-click sound. I don't know if I should tell her to just get over the sound thing or find something else. She has a Radian in her car FF for DD#1 and I would like to be able use another one RFing, but size is an issue in her small car (Mazda3) and the Radians take up a lot of room RFing. If you're saying your backseat is limited, this probably takes the Radian off the table. I have more room in the front passenger seat now with the MA RFing than I did with our older Graco SnugRide.


New member
I am debating right now about the EFTA as a 2nd seat for my mother's car, but she's not thrilled with how the knob tightens with a clickety-click sound.
Thanks for everyones feedback about the MA adjuster. The above quote cracked me up...families are a funny bunch aren't they? I'm sure I am not the only one who has had their mother say things like "when you guys were kids, we didn't even have car seats" or my favorite "when I was a baby I slept in a drawer"!!!!


New member
I have a MA and a Wizard (predecessor of the Boulevard), as well as a Radian -- all 3 RF -- and in my experience they ARE all a PITA to tighten adequately. No problem pulling the initial slack out of the harness, especially if I'm holding the splitter plate behind the seat with one hand to help it along. However, the final tightening is a lot of tug-and-release. Not only that, at the very end of tightening I have to rock the harness adjuster lever/latch mechanism back down onto the strap manually after each pull; otherwise it releases the slack I just pulled in as soon as I release tension on the adjuster strap. It's an inconvenience I've gotten used to, and I like all the seats mentioned for other reasons, so I put up with it. Lately I've taken to not loosening the straps when taking a child out of the seat, so I don't have to deal with re-tightening nearly as often.

The Recaro Signo and Como are reputed to have very easy-to-pull adjustments on their harnesses. I haven't seen or tried either of these seats, but I remember that a number of owners posted here about the ease of harness adjustment.

If you have limited front-to-back space avalable in your vehicle's rear seat, that does make the Marathon a nice candidate, as you definitely can install it at a variety of angles (by putting it somewhat forward of the seat bight for a more upright install). The Radian is much more of a challenge in that respect (it generally takes up a LOT of space front-to-back when installed RF). I don't know how the Recaro seats are in that regard; I do remember Southpawboston (who owns Recaros) saying that he could fit the Como and Signo just fine RF in his relatively small car, and that they did not take up more space than the Boulevard, IIRC.



Admin - CPS Technician
Thanks for everyones feedback about the MA adjuster. The above quote cracked me up...families are a funny bunch aren't they? I'm sure I am not the only one who has had their mother say things like "when you guys were kids, we didn't even have car seats" or my favorite "when I was a baby I slept in a drawer"!!!!

Hahaha, my parents thought it was hilarious I slept in a drawer (fortunately a very large sturdy built-in....) :whistle:

Anyway, the RA is the easiest, but won't last too long rearfacing...the MA isn't like totally easy, but it's easier than most, I think (at least you can *reach* it!... that's a bugger with some others, they are down low and not only hard to pull, but impossible to reach!).

In terms of easiest to adjust? You own it (Key Fit, hands down), then Roundabout, then Graco Nautilus. I'd honestly go with a Marathon if it were me...unless you want to buy a Roundabout now and just buy another seat for longer rearfacing when she's too tall for the Roundabout (that's what I did..I LOVE the Roundabout... ). The RA should last till about 2 rearfacing, and there might be another better RF choice out then.


Murphy's Law

New member
I own many car seats (Britax DC, Cosco AO, Graco Comfortsport, SKR, and the EFTA) and IMO, the EFTA is the absolute easiest to adjust rear facing. I'm totally in love with this seat and wish I knew more about it before we bought our DC because I'd have just gotten 2 EFTAs instead.

I definitely think you should take them out to your car and install them at BRU so you can see which one is easiest for you because different seats will fit different cars better.

Good luck with your decision!


New member
The EFTA, definitely. We got it specifically for that feature, and swore our love again and again every single time we tightened the harness, RF and FF. :thumbsup:

Another major plus about the knobs for us was that we had many different people who be putting DS in his car seat, and responsible for tightening the knobs. The knobs made it so easy for everyone to follow "my rules!"


Active member
For us, the EFTA is a breeze. We've had ours installed RF in a Jeep Liberty (loaner from the dealer) and adjusting was no problem. The seats in the Liberty are nice and flat which means the adjuster knob doesn't get pushed into the seat when it's rear-facing. Enjoy whatever seat you choose!

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