When my second child began to outgrow his infant car seat, I knew that I would soon need another convertible car seat. Because I already owned a Britax Roundabout and liked it so much, I decided to go with the bigger Britax Marathon because of its higher weight limit.
The cost of a Britax Marathon was a little high, but we budgeted for it after having such a great experience with our first Britax seat. I waited to find a sale online and combined that with an offer for free shipping and purchased the Britax Marathon. I purchased this seat in 2004 and it has been used so far by my two older sons and has held up very well. (On a safety note, the Britax Marathon car seat expires six years after the date of manufacturing and should not be used after that time.)
From a total vanity standpoint, the Britax Roundabout car seat has wonderful covers in bright, fun colors and designs that match car interiors and/or are just plain fun for a child to ride in. I chose the unisex design “New Blues” for its denim-like cover.
As far as safety is concern, Britax car seats are top of the line. They are tested and retested and go above and beyond basic safety regulations. The Britax Marathon car seat has a five point harness, with a secure chest clip that even my five year old cannot unbuckle. The Britax Marathon buckles buckle separately and are easy to use. Around the buckle is a belly pad that matches the seat cover and is put in place for comfort and easily removed. In my experience the harness straps do not tangle or twist easily.
My favorite convenience feature of the Britax Marathon is the adjustable harness. The adjustable harness allows for the loosening and tightening of the harness straps with a “push button, one-pull” feature. This makes the seat safer and easier to use as the child grows or wears heavier or lighter clothing. (See this article to check if your child’s clothing is too thick to be safe for wearing in a car seat: http://babyproducts.about.com/od/carseats/a/carseatcoat.htm)
Other comfort features of the Britax Marathon include comfort foam under the seat and a two position recline. This allows for a comfy ride on long car trips. We frequently take a three and a half hour road trip to visit my in-laws and my children have never complained about being uncomfortable in their Britax seats.
The Britax Marathon also comes with Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS foam) for the safety of the child. This foam is the type used in bike helmets and helps to cushion and protect the head in the event of an accident. Britax is always on the cutting edge of car seat safety.
My favorite safety feature of the Britax Marathon is the seat’s rear facing weight limit. From five to thirty-three pounds a child can ride rear-facing in the Britax Marathon. Because the heads of babies and children are disproportionate in weight to the rest of their body, a head on collision could cause severe damage to the neck or worse. This means that riding in a rear-facing position as long as possible is the safest bet for a child. Forward facing, the Britax Marathon is safe for children up to 65 pounds. This means that the child can stay in a five-point harness for much longer than they could in a regular convertible car seat that is only safe for children up to 40 pounds.
Of course, even the safest car seat is not safe unless it is installed properly and the child is buckled in correctly. Many car seats on the market are difficult to properly install. I found the Britax Marathon to be easy to install both rear-facing and forward facing. There are handy lock-offs that keep the seat belt secure in both the forward and rear facing positions. Of course, the seat has the required LATCH system. The cover has handy side compartments to store the LATCH system if it is not used.
Also, to help the fit of the rear-facing seat, the Britax Marathon has a patented Versa-Tether that fits into a neat pocket on the back of the cover when not in use. The Versa-Tether provides added security and a great fit for the Britax Marathon.
Though the Britax Marathon is a little pricier than other convertible car seats on the market, keep in mind that it will last for years because of its 65 pound weight limit. I would recommend this seat to parents who want a seat that goes above and beyond the basic safety regulations and protects their child as much as possible for the longest amount of time.