Key features of the Mountain Buggy Haven car seat with safeguard:
Age suitability: From 9-36kg (approximately 1-12 years)
Installation: ISOFIX fittings
Seat position: Forward-facing
Additional features: Impact shield, multi-height positions; cup holder
Mountain Buggy is a brand from New Zealand, primarily known for its buggies – as you might have guessed from the name. Their pushchairs have won a bunch of awards including Prima Baby & Pregnancy Silver and over the last few years they’ve started producing car seats.
The forward facing Haven Carseat V2 is the latest version of the Haven launched a few years ago and states it’s suitable ‘From 9 – 36kgs / 1 – 12 year’.
It comes with a ‘safeguard’ impact shield that is an alternative to the traditional 5 point harness, ISOFIX fittings, recline mode, multi height positions and cup holder.
Overall it looks like an attractive, good value, quality option, either with or without the impact shield.
This is basically a kind of buffer block which slots in front of smaller children’s abdomens, the idea being that it ‘offers maximum safety by evenly absorbing the impact force over a larger area of the body. This significantly reduces the stress to the head, neck and shoulders.’
One of the major advantages of this seat is that it works across several age categories ie you can use it from when your child is about one year’s old / 9kg and then from around 5 upwards to 12 years / 36kg as a normal booster seat without the safeguard.
How will I be testing it?
I’ll be testing the car seat with my five year old daughter Georgie in the Group 2/3 stages ie as a standard booster seat using the adult seat belt rather than with the safeguard as she’s already past the age/size for the safeguard. Car journeys are mainly the hour long drive to visit family and the occasional short local hop.
See more car seats from 9 months
Taking it out of the box, the seat looks attractive and substantial with a quality, durable look to the fabric. It’s quite heavy and bulky to lift out of the box, but not that much more than most car seats
Installing the car seat
This turned out to be the trickiest aspect of the car seat. A quick skim read of the manual that came in the box left me none the wiser (the print is tiny and massively un-user friendly) and the diagrams on the side of the seat were hardly any more use. So it was technology to the rescue. Having carried the car seat into the car, I dragged my trusty laptop onto the backseat next to it and watched Mountain Buggy’s own installation video with heavy use of the pause and replay button.
(I later realised that there’s a much better Instruction Manual which you can download on the website but the video was still definitely the best solution.)
The Mountain Buggy comes with two small yellow brackets which, if your car has ISOFIX, fit onto the ISOFIX fittings in your car.
I wasn’t sure whether my car had ISOFIX as it’s not a particularly new car, but eventually I found brackets which seem to be them and so then it was just a question of working out which way the car seat’s yellow fittings fitted onto them.
This was a bit fiddly and took some trial and error but once I’d done it, the seat slotted into them quite securely and there’s a small slide on the side of the car seat which automatically slides to green once it’s secured. This was great as I felt reassured that the seat was properly in place and wasn’t likely to be jiggling around.
If your car doesn’t have any ISOFIX fittings, you can use it without them, securing your child simply by using the adult seat belt and the car seat is so substantial, it doesn’t feel like it would move around much and your child should in theory still be secure.
The impact shield
This is a great idea for younger/smaller children as they claim it’s highly safety tested and basically anything that can minimise the amount of time you have to spend faffing with five point harnesses every time you get in the car has got to be a good thing.
I’ve used one in the past but my daughter is now five years old so too big to use this now.
Kiddy Comfort Pro (with impact shield)
Using the seat without the impact shields
Without the impact shield, the seat is secured with your car’s three point seat belt. Do note however, it does have to be a three point belt, rather than a two point ie one where you’ve got two separate straps which then combine to lock into the fastening.
There’s a shoulder belt guide slot on one upper side of the seat and then two lap belt guides in the arm rests so the seat belt is secured in two parts – one strapping across the shoulder, and the other across your child’s lap before both parts are locked in together. These are all very simple to use.
The side wings provide good, sturdy protection.
My little girl Georgie was delighted to be free of the fiddly five point harness scenario and feels very grown up to be using an adult seat belt. She also likes the fact that now she’s seen which seat belt socket to use, she can also slot the belt in to secure herself.
This of course also means however that she can undo it too. Some parents might be concerned by this as it obviously means you have to impress upon your children that this is not a good a good idea. That said this is going to apply to any booster seat.
See our review for the Mountain Buggy Protect
Design and Appearance
The seat comes in a mix of grey and black in a quilted fabric that feels durable and better quality than some of the flimsier looking upholstery in other seats. There’s no other choice of colour.
Obviously it’s not me sitting in it but when I asked Georgie how it felt, she said ‘good’ and she can be quite a critical five year old. Since then she’s been very happy sitting in it and the padding makes it seem very comfortable so definitely a good result on that front.
The headrest is sturdy, comfortable and well-supported and can be easily adjusted up and down to suit your child’s height.
Does it recline?
Yes. There’s one recline position which works from a switch at the front but to be honest we haven’t tried that as she tends to fall asleep mid journey and if you’re in the driving seat you obviously can’t reach the car seat to switch it to the recline setting.
How portable is the car seat?
At 7kg without the impact shield and 8kg with, it’s not the lightest seat around but you probably wouldn’t want it to be too light and flimsy and the weight makes it feel sturdy and secure.
Will it last up to 12 years (36kg)?
It feels and looks like it should.
Easy to clean?
Yes. The seat cover is removable and can apparently be washed on a handwash setting at 30 degrees.
Value for Money?
At £129 the Haven sits in the middle of the price range for a Group 2/3 car seat. However, because it’s supposed to run across Group 1 too, it would be very good value if you were buying it for a one or two year old and looking for it to see you through till they were about 12.
What’s the best age child for this car seat and why?
This is a very good seat for children of five years upwards and looks like it’d also work well with toddlers and children from about 2 or 3 upwards. I wouldn’t personally be wanting to put the safeguard buffer on children any younger than that as it’s quite hefty to be putting in front of a very small child.
There’s a cup holder which slots very easily into one of the arm rests. This seemed like a brilliant idea and perfect for putting my little girl’s bottle of water in so she can reach it herself. The only design flaw is that in order to undo the seat belt and get your child out of the seat, you need to remove the cup holder. Basically you then need to re-attach it each time you’ve put your child in the seat.
The Haven is a good value, comfortable car seat for Group 2/3. It may not have some of the bells and whistles of other more expensive seats but if you just want something comfortable, secure, easy to use and functional, this seems like a very good bet. As per the Value for Money section, if you were to buy it early on when you child’s at the Group 1 stage, it could end up being especially good value.
Read some more reviews and car seat info here…
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