Britax is known for their high-quality car seats full of convenient features that enhance your child’s safety. Almost every company now sells convertible car seats that can be used for both rear-facing and front-facing children. The Roundabout was Britax’s first convertible car seat and was launched in 1997. Since then, the Roundabout was upgraded several times until it was recently discontinued.
image source: amazon.com
If your child currently uses the Roundabout, then you probably already know that this car seat was a very popular choice when it was still on the market. Since the Roundabout has been retired but not recalled, you can still safely use this car seat until it reaches the end of its recommended lifespan listed in its user guide.
If you liked the Roundabout and are looking for a similar car seat, Britax has a wide variety of other convertible car seats for sale. One of these car seats is the Marathon. This guide will compare the Britax Roundabout vs. the Marathon, so you can decide if the Marathon is a decent alternative.
The Roundabout and Marathon Specifications and Special Features
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Although there have been several different models of the Roundabout and the Marathon in the past, this article focuses on the Britax Roundabout G4.1 and the Marathon ClickTight. This section will focus on the main specifications of these car seats.
Height and Weight Capacities
Both the Roundabout and the Marathon are convertible car seats, which means they can be used in both the rear-facing and front-facing positions. However, the weight and height limits are often different for each of these positions.
In the rear-facing position, the Britax Roundabout G4.1 has a weight limit of five to 40 pounds and a height limit of 46 inches. It can be used for children from 20 pounds to 55 pounds and up to 49 inches in the forward-facing position.
The Britax Marathon has the same rear-facing weight limit of five to 40 pounds. However, it has a higher weight capacity of 20 to 65 pounds for children riding in the front-facing position.
The rear-facing position is the safest for your child, and they should be rear-facing until two years old. In fact, some states require this by law. It used to be recommended that children are rear-facing until only one year old, but new research has shown that rear-facing is much safer for your child and should be implemented as long as possible.
Both the Roundabout and the Marathon have average weight and height limits in the rear-facing position. This means that most average-sized toddlers will be able to use these car seats in the rear-facing position until they are about two years old. Children older than two or children that are heavier or taller than what’s typical might not fit in the rear-facing position. If you are interested in extended rear-facing, there are some car seats that have a higher rear-facing weight limit of 50 pounds or more.
Children should remain front-facing until they are least four years according to their height and weight. However, many people feel that the time to move your child to a booster seat should be based on their personal maturity level. Since a booster uses a regular seatbelt rather than a harness, younger children or less mature children might take off their seat belt and wander around. Obviously, this is extremely unsafe, so you shouldn’t make the change to a booster until you feel certain your child won’t try to unbuckle themselves.
Most people say five is a good age to make the switch. Since the average five-year-old is around 44 pounds and 44 inches tall, the Marathon is more likely to be able to fit your child until five years old then the Roundabout.
The Britax Marathon is 23.5 inches tall, 18.5 inches wide, and 23 inches deep, and the Roundabout has a height of 26 inches, a width of 18.5 inches, and a depth of 21 inches. Both car seats are the same thin width, so they will take up the same amount of space on the seat. The Marathon is a couple inches shorter than the Roundabout but deeper.
The Marathon is significantly heavier than the Roundabout with a weight of 28.4 pounds. Alternatively, the Roundabout weighs 17.6 pounds. If you were planning on taking your car seats out of your car frequently, then the Marathon’s heavy weight would definitely be an issue. However, both of these car seats are too heavy to be portable.
If you were to put the Britax Roundabout and Marathon side-by-side, there is no doubt you would prefer the more modern appearance of the Marathon ClickTight. While the Roundabout has a plain, black and gray base, the Marathon features a sleek white base that matches an equally smooth-appearing outer shell. While the Roundabout often comes in dull colors and unimpressive designs, the Marathon comes with five eye-catching designs that use a wide variety of colors and prints that are sure to catch your child’s eye.
Being able to install your child’s car seat correctly is extremely important since an incorrectly installed car seat can be the difference between life and death for your child. Unfortunately, only 75 percent of car seats are installed correctly. If you are unsure how to install your car seat or even if you just want to check and make sure it’s installed correctly, it’s a very good idea to get your car seat checked by a professional. Many hospitals and some other companies will do car seat checks, sometimes for a low price, to make sure your car seat is secure.
The Marathon car seat uses a ClickTight Installation System to make the installation process as easy as possible. Rather than using LATCH, the ClickTight System uses your car’s regular seatbelt.
You begin by opening the ClickTight section in the front of the seat by using an easily identifiable red ClickTight button and key. Once open, you can see the belt paths for either the rear-facing or front-facing positions. Place the car seat through the path for whichever position you are installing and buckle it in. Then close the compartment. If you hear a click, then you know the car seat is installed correctly. After this process, you can use the tether for extra security.
The Britax Roundabout does not use your car’s regular seatbelt during the installation process. Rather it uses the LATCH system which connects to lower anchors. Although the LATCH system is very easy to install, there are a few concerns about this installation system. As of 2014, there have been laws set that say the LATCH system can only be used within a specific weight limit. Although car seats older than this date do not have to follow these rules, it is better to be safe than sorry. In several tests, the LATCH system failed with heavier children which would likely result in a fatality in a real-life scenario.
The new LATCH laws assert that in the rear-facing position the total weight of the car seat and child combined cannot exceed 65 pounds, and in the front-facing position, the weight of the car seat and child cannot exceed 69 pounds. Since the Roundabout car seat weighs about 18 pounds, your child can only use this car seat installed with LATCH until they are 51 pounds in the front-facing position.
Once these weight limits are met, you will need to use the car’s seatbelt. However, it can be hard to install your child’s car seat using a seatbelt correctly, and many parents will install the car seat incorrectly. For this reason, Britax’ patented ClickTight system used in the Marathon is the best installation system since it allows parents to install the car seat using the car’s seatbelt with ease.
The Marathon appears significantly more comfortable than the Roundabout. The Roundabout has very minimal padding with some slight padding on the seat belt. The Marathon, on the other hand, has plenty of padding throughout the car seat including a padded headrest. There are also very plush looking shoulder straps on the Marathon.
When it comes to convenience, it doesn’t get better than the Marathon.
Apart from its easy ClickTight installation system, the Marathon’s best convenience feature is its easy-adjust 14-position harness. Rather than having to rethread the harness to adjust the height, you only need to press a button and change the height by pulling it up or pushing it down. Plus, there are 14 different positions, so you know that it will fit your child perfectly.
The Roundabout requires you to rethread the harness to adjust it and only has four slot positions. Rethreading you child’s car seat can be very annoying since you will have to remove the car seat and adjust the harness by hand. If you mess up and find out you adjusted the harness to a position that is too high above your child’s shoulders or too low, you will have to do the process again.
The Marathon has seven recline positions and an automatic level indicator so you can tell if your car seat is at the perfect angle. The Roundabout only has three recline positions. Some of these positions will be angled too high for newborns, so they will need a pool noodle or towel to achieve the correct recline.
The Marathon uses Britax’s EZ-Buckle System which keeps the buckles and straps out of the way when taking your child in and out of the car seat. The Roundabout does not come with this feature.
Neither the Britax Roundabout nor the Marathon allows for machine washing of the cover which can be a bit inconvenient. In fact, none of Britax’s car seats can be washed this way. Instead, you will need to remove the cover from each car seat and wash them using cold water and mild soap. Also, make sure you don’t put the cover in the dryer since it can shrink. Just lay the cover flat until it dries.
While the washing process is the same for both car seats, the Marathon makes it somewhat easier to take its cover off. You should use your user guide for complete instructions on removing the cover since you will need to unbuckle everything and remove a few components first. However, the cover slips off in one smooth motion once you go through all the necessary steps. The Roundabout will take a lot more effort, especially around the buckle, to get it fully off the car seat.
Although this feature might not seem as big of a deal, children frequently make big messes. Whether your child spilled a milkshake all over themselves, had an accident, or got car sick, chances are you will need to remove your car seat’s cover at some point. The last thing you want to have to deal with when cleaning a car seat full of food, vomit, or worse is to be struggling to shimmy the cover off.
Britax makes some of the safest car seats on the market. When compared to other car seats in crash test ratings, the Marathon often leads the group in being the absolute safest, and the Roundabout doesn’t follow too far behind. Both the Marathon and the Roundabout have some great safety features you should know about.
- SafeCell Impact Protection
- Marathon’s Missing Features
Britax’s SafeCell Impact Protection really keeps your child safe using multiple safety features that work together.
Both these car seats have an impact-absorbing base that compresses during a crash and prevents your child from being propelled forward into the seat in front of them. There is also an impact-stabilizing steel frame that runs through the spine of the car seat. This frame helps reduce forward movement and creates a sturdy barrier between your child and other objects in a crash. SafeCell technology also uses an impact-absorbing tether that uses a two-strap designed and staged-release stitches to prevent the seat from rotating during a crash.
Both of these car seats come with some level of side impact protection. These car seats both have SafeCell deep protective shells to absorb energy and shield your child from objects that might hit them in a crash. While the Roundabout’s safety features end here, the Marathon adds an extra layer of protection by adding an energy-absorbing headrest to the picture. This gives your child’s head and neck some extra protection during a crash. The Marathon also comes with SafeCell impact-absorbing harness pads which provide comfort to your child and keep them from being propelled forward in an accident.
Although the Marathon has plenty of safety features, there are two important features that set this car seat a bar below the Britax’s more expensive Advocate ClickTight model.
First, the Marathon lacks a third layer of protection that can be found on only the Advocate ClickTight. In addition to the side impact shell and the energy-absorbing headrest, the Advocate has extra external cushions on both sides of the car seat to block your child and passengers next to them from the force of the crash.
Next, the Marathon doesn’t have Britax’s useful Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator. Both the Boulevard ClickTight and the Advocate ClickTight use this technology. This indicator is located in the front of the car seat connected to the harness adjuster strap. It is easy to identify and locate since it is bright red and labeled “Click & Safe.” The Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator lets you know when the harness is tight enough for your child by making an audible clicking noise.
Many parents struggle to know how tight to make the harness, and a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 60 percent of children’s car seat harnesses were too loose. This is very dangerous to your child in the case of a crash. By clicking when the harness is tight enough, this car seat prevents you from driving away with your child loose and insecure in their car seat.
Since the Britax Roundabout G4.1 is no longer for sale, it’s not possible to do a comparison on the current price between the Roundabout and the Marathon. However, when the Roundabout was still on the market, it typically sold for about $100 less than the Marathon ClickTight.
The Marathon ClickTight is currently listed at a price of $329 by Britax. However, Amazon sells some designs of the Marathon ClickTight for $279.99.
It is obvious that in comparison to the Roundabout G4.1, the Marathon ClickTight by Britax is superior in basically every way. While there are a few similarities between these two car seats, the only benefit of the Roundabout when it was out was its lower price.
The Marathon is an extremely easy-to-use, comfortable, and safe car seat. What sets this car seat apart from other high-end models on the market is its ClickTight technology. While other companies use the LATCH system, the SuperLatch system, or the hard-to-install seat belt method, Britax was innovative and designed a system of its own which makes keeping your child safe super easy.
When looking at the Britax Roundabout vs. the Marathon, it is obvious that the Marathon is a great alternative to the Roundabout.