Monday, September 23, 2013

Britax Advocate vs. Diono Radian RXT

I've mentioned BEFORE that I started off pretty concerned about car seat safety, and then slowly became more knowledgeable and knew more about my options.

Our infant seat for Pickle (our nickname for A) was a Chicco Keyfit.  This was a wonderful infant seat - got a really good close fit with the straps, we purchased an extra base that we could put in the other car, and so on.  We were able to use it until she was a year, at which time she became a little annoyed with reclining in an infant seat, and it was too hard to carry her in it all of the time.

I did a lot of research, and heard nothing but great things about Britax.  The top of the line seat at the time was the Britax Advocate 70 CS (LINK):

At the time, it was about $340.  Since we had to get one for each car due to our work schedule, this was a pretty hefty purchase.  (We had purchased one ahead of time when she was about six months as her first Christmas gift, because, hey, she was 6 months, what did she care?)  

We really did like this seat - it was pretty great.  The sides are incredibly thick, and great for side impact.  The LATCH system makes it fairly easy to install, but we did have to do the pool noodle trick.  The straps get a close fit (not quite as close as the Chicco, but still close) and are easy to tighten in a smooth motion with their "Click & Safe" technology.  

The problem was once Pickle turned about 32 months or so.  Britaxes are not made for children with tall torsos.  Which is, unfortunately, how Pickle has been shaped since she was in the womb - they were worried that her legs were measuring a few weeks behind the rest of her... until they looked at J and I.  We also have long torsos, short legs.  Anyway.  In theory, the Britax should be able to accommodate a toddler rear-facing until four years old.  Unless your child is shaped like this:

(I didn't screw up her hair - it's both brown and blond right now.)

Here's a photo of her from when she was about 34 months - you'll notice that her head is almost exactly an inch below the top of the shell, which is all the taller you can be rearfacing in a Britax:

So, our options were either to forward-face her, which neither supporting statistics nor I were ready to do, or find a new seat in which she could continue to rear-face.

I did a ton more research, and found the Diono Radian RXT (LINK):

Not only is the rear-facing weight limit higher (45 lbs), but the shell moves up significantly, so it's great for tall-torsod children.  Additionally, it works better with the new LATCH regulations (I'd recommend googling these, but HERE'S a brief description) - the LATCH will work for up to a 45 lb child rear-facing, rather than being the weight of the child plus the weight of the seat.  This wasn't relevant to us, because we only have one child, but it's also super skinny, so you can fit three of them across in a mid-sized car, which we never could have done in the Britax.  

Plus to Pickle:  we could get it in purple.  Also, she's super-comfortable in it.  And, I don't know if I mentioned, we could get it in purple.  

Clearly, it is also appropriate for pirate children.  

It was also incredibly easy to install.  J had always put the Britaxes in, but I put the Radian in all by myself and got a tight, correct fit.  Unless you have a small infant unable to sit up unassisted, you will want an angle adjuster.

Anyway.  Just because we're bound to breed tall-torsod children, any of our future children will likely just start in a Radian, or will maybe start in the Britax and switch to the Radian once Pickle outgrows it.  (From what I understand, you usually can only use it up to the limits of the five-point harness forward-facing, which is 80 lbs. - most children grow too tall to use it up to the 120 lb. booster seat limit.)

I think both seats are awesome, but for children with a tall torso, I'd go with the Radian.  


  1. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. My little one just turned 14 months and has loved his Britax B Safe (actually doesn't care much for sitting completely upright, he likes his little car naps and the reclined posture he has while taking them) but he's getting too tall for it though still way under the weight limit. I'm the type of person that Google's my options to DEATH before a purchase like this that could very well be responsible for keeping my child alive in the event of an accident and a big purchase that we won't be making again and again (I might test out different brands of diapers, car seats? Not so much) I've been on Amazon the last 3 days torturing myself with review after review trying to decide if I want the Advocate or the Radian. I know we love Britax products overall but am tired of having to untwist the straps of his B Safe and the Radian had some mixed reviews about installation especially without the use of the LATCH system. I have a Jeep Grand Cherokee and the LATCH system is so stinking tight (the room between the seat cushions) I can barely get a hand in there and typically have his seat attached with a seat belt. Either way, I'm just glad to know I made a good choice with the Diono which will be here around Christmas - like you said, he doesn't know it's Christmas yet so we can do the 'not fun' purchase for one more year haha.

    1. I am so glad that it was helpful! They are both great seats, I just thin

  2. We have a new nanny/mom’s helper. Since they do not have a car I pick up the mom and her 2 year old every day. I liked the Britax for it’s unique safety features, like the safecell technology designed to compress in a crash and Hugs chest pads, but was not crazy about the fabrics.

  3. Hello and thank you for your review - I'm having the same debate and doing the same research now, between the Britax Advocate and the Diono. My concern with the Diono is that it's soooo slim on the sides, I'm worried that it wouldn't provide the same protection during a potential side impact. I'm not finding a lot about this online, between info and reviews. Would love to hear your thoughts on this if you have a moment to share with me please.... thanks sooo much! I have twin girls, so we have to purchase at least 2 seats, if not 4 (for both cars), so it's such a big investment. Thanks again for taking the time to post your review about these seats, so helpful!!

    1. I sure can! I had the same questions at first. The Diono has a steel frame, so it will stand up to a side impact really well. It IS lower than the Britax for sure, but the frame (in my opinion) made up for the bigger side footprint of the Britax.

    2. From what I have researched, the Britax has side impact technology AND steel bars along the frame and i don't feel like the Diono has the side impact to go with the steel.

  4. Hi! Thanks for the review! I'm struggling between the Britax Advocate and the Diono Rainier now. my 4yo and 2.5yo both have the Britax and they fall asleep in in so often that I'm convinced it's extremely comfortable. Do you think the Radian is as comfortable as the Britax?? I plan on doing quite a few long road trips, so I want the seat to be soft. Thank you in advance for your input!

    1. Hi, Jacquie! That's a fantastic question.

      My girl has been very comfortable in her Diono. She loved her Britax, too, but she still falls asleep in the Diono. If you're going to be rear-facing, you'd want to get an Angle Adjuster to make sure that the little one isn't leaning waaaaay back.

      What we did was take our daughter to Buy Buy Baby, who has the Diono in-stock. They put it on the ground for us, and Pickle could sit in it and see if she liked it. I could also see how the cover came off to adjust the straps, etc. I might recommend doing that, if you have a store local that has both seats in-stock. The sides aren't as high up on the Dionos, but that's actually made it easier for Pickle to get herself in and out of it.

  5. I am in the same boat! We have a tall kid and I'm trying to figure out whether to go with Britax or Diono. I was leaning toward Diono after reading your blog, but I saw a review someplace that said the head wings on the Rainier can cause problems for kids with long torsos (their shoulders bump up against the head wings) and that they cannot expect to get full use of the seat. Has that been your experience?

    1. I haven't experienced that!

      My daughter turns 5 this coming summer, and she's just now getting to the point where she's outgrowing the Diono in torso-size. The straps aren't as high above her shoulders as they need to be, so we won't be able to use the Diono in booster mode. I bought a Britax Frontier, which is a high-back booster with a 5-pt harness that will also then work with a seat belt. It's got the highest torso length on the market.

      With our 7-month-old, this is the route we will take, because he also has a really, really long torso:

      Infant Seat - Chicco Keyfit 30

      Convertible (RFing to 4 years) - Diono (we'll skip the Britax convertible)

      High-Back Booster w/5-pt - Britax Frontier (or whatever is on the market that has the highest shoulder points at that time)

  6. I've been using this for the past year and I do think my kid is confortable as he sits. It's on the large and heavy side and so is not as portable as I would have liked. It's nice and sturdy and seems to be very safe. MarathonClicktight

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