Saturday, April 07, 2007

Can you hate a car seat?

Yesterday afternoon we unhooked our Evenflo Triumph convertible car seat for the last time. Read on to learn why I hated it so, and find out which car seat has replaced the bane of our existence--a car seat which, I may add, retails for $30 less.

First, I'll tell you why I bought it. It was one of Consumer Reports' top-rated convertible car seats at the time I was on the market--about two years ago. I knew Z wouldn't fit in her wonderful Graco SnugRide forever, and I wanted to shop around for a good price on a new car seat before she hit the SnugRide's height limit. I didn't want to blow $200+ on a Britax, but I felt my precious cargo was worth more than a bare-bones economy model. A few of my new mom friends (not experienced moms, I should point out) were also reading Consumer Reports, and one gal noticed that BabyAge was offering the Triumph on sale for $99 (it's regularly $119) and free shipping, we all pounced.

On paper, the Triumph seemed like a great choice. Good crash test ratings, plush fabric, lots of cushioning and various recline levels. What they didn't tell us was that every time the fabric got soiled, we'd have to get out the screwdriver and disassemble the car seat to clean it! That means sticky messes got babywiped clean and puke and poop explosions got Daddy pissed off. And since car sickness and road trips go together like gas stations and cherry deodorizers, we spent many a trip begging screw drivers off of hotel clerks.

With all of the mess that accompanies early childhood, that defect alone should be enough to condemn the Evenflo Triumph, but there's more: the straps are damn near impossible to adjust. And in shoulder seasons, when coats are on one day and off the next, I need to be able to make adjustments. I initially blamed my weak wrists, but Josh had the same problem.

And the straw that broke the camel's back? This car seat is a monster, weighing in at 19lbs. No biggie when it's strapped into the back seat, but huge pain to haul through airports, even when strapped to this.

But all that's history. Because we are now the very pleased owners of a brand-new $79 Graco ComfortSport. It's at least five pounds lighter, the straps are a breeze to adjust, and the cover slips right off for washing. It also seems like it took Josh a lot less time to configure. It's a tad narrower, so it takes up a little less room. And the cherry on top? It has a cup holder and snack tray, which Z thinks is tops.