12 September 2014

REVIEW: Britax Dualfix Rear-facing Car seat

Facing backwards to move forwards.

As part of our ongoing look at parenting gadgets that help keep children safe during car journeys, we were keen to test a rear-facing child seat. Legislation regarding the direction in which children travel in the car is one area that the UK is tragically lagging behind the rest of Europe, with the majority of British parents still using forward-facing seats, even for children under one.

With that in mind we contacted car seat maker Britax to test one of their latest rear-facing seats, the Dualfix.

The Britax Dualfix is a rear-facing car seat with a difference. Capable of 360 degree rotation, the seat gives you the option of which way to face the child depending on their age and size. It also makes it far easier to get your child into and out of the seat by swivelling it to face the open door. Added to this the Dualfix tilts forwards and backwards and attaches to your car via an ISOFIX base.

The whole thing seems very solid and once your child is comfortably sat in the seat they appear to be completely surrounded by the egg-like case. There is a five-point safety harness with a one-button release and thankfully just one pull cord to tighten. The snap-in buckle is reassuringly firm and requires a good solid press to open - peace of mind if your child has strong fingers and a curious streak.

As an item to install in your car, the Dualfix is a breeze. Obviously check that your car as the ISOFIX clips in the seats (most European and Asian cars tend to, but check here), and then simply pull on a cord to extend the Dualfix's connecting arms. Once securely locked in (there are green indicators to show when a solid lock is established) use the front leg to abut the child seat against the foot well, slightly lifting the seat to create tension. We managed it with only a quick glance at the instructions (and car seats usually defeat us!).

One thing we did notice was the sheer size of it. It is quite a bulky item, which although added to our confidence that our children would be safer in it, if you opt to place it in the front passenger seat (with the front airbag deactivated, of course) while rear-facing you might find it hard to view the nearside mirror. After using smaller car seats in the front previously it was something we had to get used to, so it is worth noting that the Dualfix is a big (and pretty heavy) car seat.

Britax recommend the use of the Dualfix from birth to 18kg, which roughly equates to about four years of age. This is very good news for parents who take the advice of our European counterparts and keep their children in a rear-facing seat until the age of four. This means that although Britax have provided us with the option to spin the Dualfix around to face forwards, it seems far safer to use the swivel mechanism only as a means to get your child out of the car, before returning it to the rear-facing position. Included also is a new-born insert to add extra cushioning for the wee ones.

Fortunately we can't report on how the Dualfix responds in an accident (nor would we ever wish to) but we can certainly attest to Britax's skill in designing it. As an everyday-use car seat it is amazing, both in the ease of getting a child in and out of it, and to the added boost your confidence receives as a parent knowing that your precious cargo is safely and comfortably stowed.

Here at The Test Pit we are massive advocates for rear-facing child seats, and if British parents' opinions are going to swayed in that direction (not to mention actual government legislation) then we need more seats like the Britax Dualfix. The easier it is to get a child into the rear-facing position, and keep them happy and comfortable while there, is surely the way forward to changing the hearts and minds of the UK.


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