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Going with the FLLO - First Impressions

Look what arrived!! **insert happy dance**

Flamingo Pink - Little L *loves* this colour
I am proud to say that when UPS brought up the package, I was able to lift the box without killing myself; I even moved the FLLO fairly easily from the living room to Little L's bedroom, which goes to show that the FLLO is indeed significantly lighter than the FOONF (28 pounds with bar, 25 without vs. 38 pounds). Hubbs, being a mastadon of a man and much stronger than "soft arms" moi, would definitely have no issue carting this seat down to the car.

I have spent the last 30 minutes doing some set up of the chair and getting acquainted with it.

I'm glad to report that the seat part doesn't seem to be all that different from the FOONF seat, which has been lauded for being a solid, hefty "Cadillac" of carseats. The metal substructure of the FLLO is reminiscent of the FOONF's, complete with the metal bars that run up and down the back of the seat. This is great news, because part of the reason why these seats are so safe for extended rear-facing is that the metal frame of the seat absorbs the force of impact in the event of a collision. I was also initially worried that the side wings might be less deep than the FOONF's, since I was thinking that maybe Clek was trying to target the demographic that might normally purchase Diono Radian RXTs. To my relief, the sides are still deep.
  
Same stylish silhouette; looks almost exactly like FOONF
The fabric feels just like the FOONF's Crypton Super Fabric - low-pile, slightly textured, and thick (think a fuzzier version of canvas). Generally, I can't really tell the difference between the FLLO seat and the FOONF's; though padded, both are not very plush nor soft, which I think is better for posture than those seats that you sort of sink into. Little L is a furnace, which is one reason why she loves the FOONF seat and hated some of the other convertible car seats with the pillowed padding; she would feel way too warm in the cushions!

Since I've done setup before with the FOONF, and it's nearly identical in the FLLO, the process was relatively painless. The crotch strap comes with both the short and long settings, which is an improvement on the very first FOONF (sold only with the short strap); it admittedly did take me a little bit of jiggling to get the longer extension into place properly, and that's one part of the seat that I would love to see some improvement on. The headrest also took a bit of wiggling to fit into the holes, but I found it quite easy to adjust or install the shoulder straps, the crotch strap, the universal latches, and even the anti-rebound bar, which was a "first" (since Hubbs did it for our other seats).

Base in FF mode
The base, which is totally different from the FOONF's, makes the FLLO much more portable if you plan to travel with it. Compared to the bulky extra "attachment" that the FOONF uses for rear-facing installs, the FLLO base is all-in-one. In RF, you just have to pull out the "legs," which snap right back into place when you want to switch to FF. The reduced weight of the seat is due in part to the soft latches that are used for FF in the FLLO, rather than a rigid latch system (distinct to the FOONF). Not having those metal latches on the base likely shaved off a few pounds from the seat, and also makes it easier to transport (since now you don't have metal pieces jutting out the back). There *is* an aluminum honeycomb safety system built inside the FLLO base that uses the concept of "crumple zones" to offer Energy Absorbing Crumple Technology; basically, upon impact in FF mode, the force of the collision is transferred from the kid inside the seat, to the deformable cores inside the base of the seat. FLLO also comes with an optional anti-rebound bar for RF, which acts to limit the seat's rotation in case of impact; I would recommend installing it, since my FOONF doesn't budge at all when I have the bar installed. Like, not even that "inch" of wiggle room that is so commonly-accepted in car seat installations.

Base in RF mode


(In the above video, you see me pulling out the RF base and then snapping it into place. It's a silent video because, well, I didn't narrate it).

So far, I'm pretty pleased with the FLLO. It doesn't look like Clek made any compromises to quality or safety, although the removal of the rigid latch will probably make FF installs a bit less user-friendly. The price is right, however, and I am looking forward to getting the FLLO into the car and seeing how Little L likes its lower profile.

UPDATE: Good news, folks! Hubbs and Little L both *love* the FLLO! Hubbs tells me that it does provide a slightly improved visibility over the FOONF, and is easier to get Little L in and out of. Being much shorter than Hubbs, I have also noticed this when I am driving with the FLLO in the back. As for installation, the FLLO is identical to the FOONF. My only beef with CLEK on these seats is with respect to storing the LATCH belts when they're not being used (e.g. In middle seat installs in RF mode). It was hard to find a way to store the belts beneath the seat after clicking the LATCH ends into the provided spaces. There didn't seem to be an easy way to do this without some excess belt fabric poking up, which worries us because we don't want the seat cover to pop off.



As for the toddler, she has fallen asleep in the seat several times already, and we have only had it installed for a few days! When it comes to climbing into the seat on her own, the FLLO is superior to the FOONF because the lower height makes it easier to climb in without Little L bumping her head on the ceiling. So far, no complaints about visibility either, although I do have to add the caveat that my daughter is fairly tall (37") for being 2.5. A younger, smaller child might prefer the height boost offered by the detachable FOONF base.

And the colour? Little L loves it, even though I'm not so hot on pink since it's so stereotypically girly. She has been asking about taking the FLLO to Hawaii, which we promised her we would do in October. :) Stay tuned to find out how well the FLLO travels!


Full Disclosure: I love Clek and I already own two FOONFs (Paul Frank Red and Dragonfly green), so when I heard about their newest convertible car seat, FLLO, I got in touch with Clek to do a series on it.  As part of our arrangement, I was provided with a modest discount on its purchase. These are my very first honest impressions. Any bias in this review is due only to my crazy love for Clek, and not due to having scored a discount on the FLLO.

Comments

Sarah said…
I'm thrilled to finally read a Fllo review. Clek isn't releasing them on the U.S. side. yet. I've been debating colors before I order one for my son. Since summer heat and is a big deal in our neck of the woods, I've been debating colors based on whether I think my little guy would end up in the "hot seat." What do you think? how badly does the fabric hold eat? Thank you!
Mrs. Loquacious said…
Great question, Sarah! In my experience, the Crypton fabric doesn't tend to retain heat. It is a fairly thin and firm upholstery, and stays pretty cool throughout the summer. Mind you, we live on the West Coast, which gets milder temperatures than, say, Florida ;)

When it was super hot (over 30'C) and we parked our car outside at the zoo, I found the tan leather in our sedan to be excruciatingly hot. Of course Little L complained about getting into the scorching vehicle, but the moment we turned on the A/C (full blast) and started moving, she was already comfortable enough to stop complaining. We're talking less than a minute, which wasn't even enough time for us to get used to the hot leather yet!

We've only ever owned lighter colours (red and green, now pink) so I can't speak to if the black seat is warmer, but I have found that the solid one-colour seats are slightly better than the printed ones for staying cool (e.g. I think the green Foonf is a bit cooler than the red Paul Frank one).

Since the Fllo seats have the same upholstery as the Foonf does, it might be useful for you to check out some reviews from bloggers who live in hotter climates than we do.

From a portability (and cost) perspective, though, I would definitely recommend the Fllo (especially if your child is a bit taller/older). The Foonf is preferable (because of seat height) for the younger/shorter kid to be able to see out the window, but the Fllo is far easier to use because of its fixed base.

mommydo.ca said…
We have a fllo for my RF 21lb baby and a foonf for my son, but that one was never rear facing. Need to get baby a seat for the second car. Now that you have both, would you get a second RF fllo or a RF foonf?
Mrs. Loquacious said…
Hi Mommydo.ca! To be completely honest, we are liking the FLLO so much that we are considering using it in the car permanently! The FLLO is much lighter and $100 cheaper, which I think are big selling points. As you know, the FLLO doesn't feel cheap or flimsy; it's a solid steel-framed seat! I like that it is more portable, so if you're looking for a car seat for a second vehicle, and it is likely going to get shuffled around between grandma's car and the second car, I would recommend the FLLO.

Mrs. Loquacious said…
Also, Mommydo.ca, would you consider switching the FLLO and FOONF for your bubs? The FOONF in RF is so good for littles to be able to see out the window, and the FLLO in FF for an older child would work just as well because bigger kids can already see out the window, and being FF would in itself improve visibility. Just a thought.
Sunni H. said…
In your experience does the FLLO take up less room from the back seat to front seat (I guess what would be considered "leg room") than the FOONF? We're both fairly tall (6'2" and 5'9") and we have a dragonfly FOONF in our 05 Nissan Pathfinder which it leaves the front passenger seat with zero leg room. We have to switch it over to my husband's F-150 if we go somewhere as a family. Just wondering because we have another on the way and we'll definitely be needing a new family car when the new one gets to be big enough for a Clek, 2 FOONFs will never fit!
Mrs. Loquacious said…
In my experience, Sunni, there is no difference in the "depth" of the seats when reclined and installed. Per Clek's website, the difference between the two in RF mode is 0.5", which is basically nothing. I've never driven a Pathfinder, but is there an option to put the FOONF in the middle of your back seat, or do you have bucket seats in the back? Our Accord doesn't seem to be affected by either seat in RF when the FOONF/FLLO is secured in the middle seat position, because the seats have a fairly narrow profile (17"). When our FOONF was installed behind the passenger seat, I didn't find it to affect leg room either. Hubbs is 5'10" and I'm 5'2" so we don't have the same blessed height that you do! If the FOONF is installed in FF mode, it will definitely free up leg room because the upright "depth" is 17.5" (24" on the FLLO due to their different base). Hope that helps!
Liliana Santos said…
Did you miss the recline option on the foonf? I am wondering if we will. We are in infant car seats still so will be RF for a while now. We are short people - 5'2" and 5'6" so I think the Fllo is a better option in our SUV to reach and be able to see out the rearview window. But keep on wondering if I will miss the dual recline option on the Foonf. Thanks!
Mrs. Loquacious said…
We did not miss the recline option, but that is because our girl is tall for her age and we didn't get the seat until she was already 2.5. If your little one is short, I actually think the Foonf is better because it gives more height in RF so that seeing out the window is possible and easy. Plus, when you transition to FF, you would get the added benefit of being able to install the seat with the rigid LATCH. We are soon approaching our RF limit and when we turn Little L around to FF, we will actually be switching back to using the Foonf (we currently have the Fllo installed). In terms of leg room, I don't find a difference between the seats. The Foonf is heavier, however, so if strength is an issue then I would go with the Fllo 😜
Liliana Santos said…
Thanks for the quick reply. Now I am really confused and driving my husband crazy!
My boys were 30 inches and 20lbs at their 12 months check up. I do like the idea of them being able to look out the window. But maybe I am not understanding the Rigid Latch option, I am worried that by the time we go FF we may be over the 35 lbs limit for Rigid Latch. Was getting your daughter in and out of the Foonf difficult at 5'2"? Did you have problems seeing over the Foonf? I can't remember what kind of car you drive. We only have one car, and don't expect to be moving car seats around, except maybe if we need to carry people in the back seat on the rare occasion.
Mrs. Loquacious said…
My girl was 23 lbs and 31 inches at a year. She is now almost 40 pounds and 3 years old. In Canada we have to turn her to FF by 40 lbs, whereas in the US the seat can be RF until 50 lbs. The FF rigid latch can only be used on its own until 35 lbs, but in conjunction with the belt it can be dual latched (belt and LATCH) until 65 pounds. I prefer the RIGID latch because it's easy to install.

My Hubbs did most of the lifting when it came to getting my kid into her car seat, until recently when she was strong enough to climb in on her own. We are in an Accord sedan so there isn't much space between the seat and the ceiling; for that reason we preferred the lower Fllo. But if you are in an SUV with a higher clearance between the seat and roof, then it shouldn't be that hard to just give your kiddos a boost and have them climb in themselves.
allison camacho said…
Question, you said once it's time to switch to ff you were going back to the foof, is that because the foonf is safer then the flo when facing forward. I'm really torn on which one to go with. My child is facing forward and I drive a Nissan Altima. Just not sure which one to go with.
allison camacho said…
Question, you said once your little one faces forward your switching back to the foonf. Is that because you feel it's safer? I'm torn between the two seats . My daughter faces forward and I drive a Nissan Altima.
Mrs. Loquacious said…
Hi Allison;
The reason I switched back was because the Foonf has a RIGID Latch system that is ridiculously easy to use, and my Fllo is my travel car seat. The Fllo has a belt latch system for both front and rear-facing installs, and is the lighter seat. I prefer the RIGID latch and a heavier seat for our everyday use. That said, I'd say both seats are equally safe.
Mrs. Loquacious said…
Also, we have installed the Foonf in an Altima before. It fits perfectly. 😊

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