Pros: 5-point harness with 80 pound limit! Very plush and comfy.
Cons: BIG, Heavy, Expensive, Harness system can be a bit quirky.
The Britax Husky is the replacement for the popular Super Elite model. The Husky is very similar to the Super Elite, except that it adds LATCH compatibility and an improved harness system with "Floating" HUGS. There also appear to be some other minor differences such as the comfort padding and minor changes to the shell. It is the only current carseat that has a harness that can be used for very tall kids or those above 65 pounds. In the case of the Husky, the ratings are from 22 to 80 pounds and from 19 to 53 inches tall.
Features and Advantages
5-point Harness to 80 pounds- Perhaps the biggest advantage to the Husky is the 5-point harness that goes to 80 pounds. Most carseats have a 40 pound limit on their harness system. Carseat advocates recognize the 5-point harness as the preferred type for safety. While most kids above 40 pounds can use a booster, some may not be mature enough to remain seated properly in a lap and shoulder belt. In other cases, parents may prefer to keep their child in a 5-point harness beyond 40 pounds because it may offer somewhat more protection in side impacts and rollovers than a 3-point lap and shoulder belt. Many kids may not even need a booster seat once they have outgrown the Husky.
Four Harness Slots- Four sets of slots are included to fit children of varying height. The slot at the level of the child's shoulder or above is the correct one to use. The top slot is a tall 21" above the seating level, and Britax says it may be used all the way until the child is 80 pounds, unless the top of the child's ears are above the top of the shell of the Husky or the child's shoulders are above the level of the 21" top slots.
"Floating" HUGS- Britax has included an updated version of its HUGS harness system. This includes rubber pads on the harness straps to decrease the forces on the child's neck in a crash. It also helps position the chest clip properly at armpit level. The chest clip is a two-piece type. Harness strap cover pads are also included.
Easy Harness Adjustments- The Husky has a one-pull front adjustment to tighten the harness. It is similar to the type found on many carseats and is relatively easy to use. A fabric flap covers the adjuster and one-pull strap. The harness straps are easy to rethread through the shoulder slots by removing the end of the strap from a splitter plate under the seat. This is a bit different than some earlier Super Elite models. Finally, the crotch strap has two positions and is also relatively easy to rethread. The second, outer position for the crotch strap is only for use on kids 50 pounds or higher. The seat must be removed to rethread the main harness or crotch strap. One final note, the harness does NOT have the puzzle buckle found on some earlier Britax models; each buckle tongue clicks separately into the latchplate and both are released with a front push button.
LATCH- The Husky includes a flexible strap to attach to the lower anchors found in newer vehicles. Britax includes adjusters on both sides to cinch the strap tightly. The attachments themselves are among the nicer ones on the market, and much easier to remove than some other types. Britax indicates that the lower LATCH attachments may only be used for up to a 48 pound child, unless your vehicle owner's manual states that the lower anchors are rated higher than 48 pounds. Otherwise, the seatbelt must be used for installation above 48 pounds. Britax includes a version of their Versa-Tether. Britax specifies that the top-tether is optional (but highly recommended) under 50 pounds, but MUST be used above 50 pounds. Two top-tether hooks are included on the tether strap, but only one is used.
Padding and Comfort- The Husky is generously padded all around and seems very comfortable. The blue Marina pattern on mine is very plush. At 43" and 40 pounds, my son fits into the seat very well. He says it is a lot softer than his previous combination booster seat:-) There are small fabric loops on the cover that can be used to hold the harness straps out of the way while the child is being seated.
Flip Out Storage Pockets- The Husky has two flip-out fabric storage pockets that can be left on the sides or folded out of sight behind the seat. One is a natural spot for the owner's manual.
Recline Bar- Though not necessarily an advantage, the Husky has a U-shaped metal recline bar that is inserted in the bottom of the seat before installation into a vehicle. It is not adjustable, and is simply a part of the carseat that helps give a bit more recline than the previous Super Elite version. Consumers may install the Husky without the recline bar, but ONLY if they use the top-tether.
The Husky is a great carseat for older kids. The Husky can be installed with LATCH, a lap belt or a lap shoulder belt. It installed relatively easily in our 2001 Honda Odyssey using LATCH or the seatbelts, except the center position of the 3rd row where the lap belt was too short. It also fit in our 2000 Subaru Outback wagon with seatbelts. It fit solidly in all cases. The owner's manual is small, clear and has good diagrams. Britax included two copies of the manual, one on the front of the seat and the other in one of the flip-out pockets.
A couple other installation notes:
First, the original version of the manual shows the LATCH lower attachment straps being pulled tight outward from the side of the carseat. In some vehicles, you may be able to get a tighter installation by pulling the LATCH adjustment straps through the slots in the seat and cover, and pulling them tightly inward toward the center of the carseat through those slots. The second revision of the manual is improved and available at the Britax website.
Second, the recommended seatbelt routing path is somewhat unconventional. The seatbelt routs around the outside of the Husky before it passes through slots in the cover to pass around the back. This reverse routing was also found on the Fisher Price Futura, and eliminates the need for the built-in lockoff found on other Britax models when using seatbelts for installation. Britax also permits a more typical seatbelt routing path for vehicles with short lap+shoulder seatbelts, but it can ONLY be used if the top tether is also used. Please see Revision 2 of the Husky owner's manual on the Britax website.
Not Certified for Airplanes The large size prevents its use on airplanes. You will probably want to check it as luggage given its weight.
Large and Heavy- This is not an understatement. This seat is tall (30.25"), wide (22") and relatively heavy. It may not fit well or at all in smaller vehicles. Please verify that the size and weight will not be a problem in your vehicle. In positions with only a lapbelt, the reverse routing path MUST be used and some lapbelts may be too short. In these cases, you should contact both Britax and the manufacturer of your vehicle to see if a seatbelt extender is available and compatible with both carseat and vehicle.
Harness Quirks- While much better than many harness systems, don't expect it to be as nice as the one on the Britax Roundabout. The HUGS pads can be a bit cumbersome at times, the straps can twist at the bottom through the latchplates and some report the adjuster can be a bit sticky. Also, the buckle has a tactile/audible "Positive Click" only after the second tongue locks, which is a bit different from other models. Some parents have reported that the harness can be difficult to tighten. I have not had a problem with this at all, though it may vary with your vehicle seats and with how you have routed the seatbelt.
Fabric Care- The cover is not too difficult to remove, but must be hand washed and air dried. So, you might want to be careful what you give your child to eat or drink.
Price- At well over $200, this carseat is not cheap. Unfortunately, it is the only one that fills this niche right now, so there really isn't a competitive option for kids above 50 pounds unless they are mature enough to use a booster seat and have a lap AND shoulder seatbelt available.
These disadvantages are all relatively minor, unless the Husky happens to be too big for your car.
The Husky is a great choice for parents who want to keep their kids in a 5-point harness beyond 40 pounds. It is also a great choice for vehicles or seating positions that only have a lap belt, since boosters are not safe unless they have both lap AND shoulder belt. Other models in this niche have been discontinued, including the Britax Super Elite, Britax Laptop and the Fisher Price Futura 20/60. The new Carseat Specialty/Safety Baby Airway model does have a 50 pound harness limit before it converts to a belt positioning booster, and Britax Marathon goes to 65 pounds, though both are somewhat shorter with lower harness slots.
For many kids, the Husky may be the last carseat they need once they outgrow their infant or convertible carseat. Some children may still need a booster once they outgrow their Husky, depending on how well they fit into their lap and shoulder belts.
Details on the Britax Husky can be found here:
A photo installation guide is here:
For more information on child restraints and LATCH in general, please visit: