Convertible seats are a must once your child outgrows their infant seat. A convertible seat will take them from when they are too big to be in an infant seat, to when they are big enough to switch to a harness/booster seat. The Chicco NextFit and the Britax Marathon are both high quality seats that are in the mid-price range. They both provide above-standard safety features, as well as features to make using the car seat easier on you, the parent.
I recommend the Chicco NextFit over the Britax Marathon. They both serve the same purpose as a convertible seat, and neither provides a wider range of weight or height limits. However, The NextFit comes out on top of the Marathon because the base model NextFit includes more than the base model Marathon. Both car seats come in several models, but the NextFit beats out the Marathon in additional features and ease of use.
How are they different?
The Chicco NextFit features 9 recline positions, while the Marathon only has 3 recline positions. Recline positions are important because they help allow for an accurate fit in any vehicle. Because different vehicles have different angled and sized seats, it can be difficult to attain the correct recline in certain cars. The bubble level feature on both of these car seats helps you to reach that safe recline position, but the Chicco NextFit definitely wins this category by having such a wide range of positions.
2-position chest clip
The Chicco NextFit features a 2-position chest clip. This chest clip allows for a more comfortable harness position on both babies and bigger kids. It helps keep the harness strap from digging into your child’s neck as they get bigger.
- Chicco NextFit & NextFit Zip – 6 positions
- Marathon – 10 positions
- Marathon Clicktight – 12 positions
More harness positions means you can get a more accurate fit. The harness is supposed to be as close to shoulder level as possible, so when you have less of a gap in between harness slots, you can get a closer fit. The Marathon definitely beats out the NextFit in this category, with the Marathon Clicktight having twice as many harness slot positions as the NextFit.
None of the Marathon models include a cup holder, although you can buy a Britax-approved cup holder separately. The NextFit does not have a cup holder either, but the NextFit Zip model does. And just like with Britax, you can purchase a cup holder separately for the NextFit.
This isn’t a direct feature on the Chicco NextFit, but I do really like Chicco’s website page of installation videos. They give you step by step instructions, helping to ensure you get the installation correct. When installing a car seat, the owner’s manual can become overwhelming because of all of the steps and unclear diagrams. On Chicco’s website, you can clearly see how to do different steps that may be a little confusing in the manual.
How are these car seats similar?
The Chicco NextFit and Britax Marathon are in the same price range. Both seats have several different models which you can end up spending more on depending on the features. But in general, they are around the same price.
The Chicco NextFit and Britax Marathon have almost identical seat limitations. The Marathon offers a slightly lower weight requirement for forward-facing, and allows the infant insert to be used up to 22 pounds versus the NextFit’s 11 pound limit.
- 5-40 lbs rear-facing
- 22-65 lbs forward-facing
- Newborn insert, babies 5-11 lbs
- Child standing height: 49″ or less
- 5-40 lbs rear-facing
- 20-65 lbs forward-facing
- Infant insert, babies 5-22 lbs
- Child Standing Height: 49″ or less
Padding and materials
Both of these seats have sufficient padding and super soft materials. They are a lot more comfortable than some of the lower end models available.
The Chicco NextFit and Britax Marathon are both FAA approved, meaning you can use them on airplanes. I always like to note with these car seats that they are heavy seats, so they are not ideal to travel with. I would honestly recommend buying a separate travel seat if you travel often.
The Chicco NextFit and Britax Marathon are both heavy car seats. Most of the added weight is because of the steel frame that both seats feature. Personally, I’ll take a heavy seat for the added impact protection. While both of these seats boast that they are easy to install, it truly is a pain in the butt to transfer such a heavy seat from one car to another. I’ve done it a handful of times, but if you see yourself transferring your seat often, the weight of either seat is important to keep in mind. You will definitely break a sweat!
The Chicco NextFit and Britax Marathon both have an easy to read bubble level to help ensure a proper recline for both rear-facing and forward-facing.
Easy install technology
Chicco – SuperCinch
SuperCinch is similar to Britax’s Clicktight in that it makes it easier to install the car seat correctly, by making it really easy to tighten the LATCH straps. It is easy to install a car seat incorrectly, but one of the most frustrating parts is getting the straps tight enough. When I first installed my son’s car seat, we pulled and pulled at the LATCH straps until we thought they couldn’t be tightened any further. But still, the car seat moved from side to side if you pushed on it, which it clearly states it should not in the owner’s manual.
Britax – Clicktight
Britax features a Clicktight option on most of its convertible seats. Clicktight is a mechanism that tightens the LATCH belt for you, safely securing the car seat at an acceptable tightness. You simply open the front of the car seat, feed the LATCH belt through, close the car seat, and it leaves it tight. This way you aren’t left fighting with the belt to try and get it tight enough.
Chicco includes SuperCinch on their “base” model NextFit, unlike Britax, whose Clicktight feature comes at a much higher cost.
The Chicco NextFit and Britax Marathon both feature non-rethread harnesses. The harness adjustment on both seats is very similar – with a squeeze of a button on the headrest, you can easily adjust where the harness straps are positioned. This makes adjusting the harness so much easier than on seats where you have to fully take the harness straps out of the back of the seat and feed them back through.
The NextFit Zip has everything the NextFit has, plus:
- A “kid-ready” harness – The ComfortFlex harness system keeps the harness out of the way so that you don’t have to fight with straps. This way you don’t have to go digging for straps underneath your child once they’re in the car seat. I will note that all Marathon models have this same type of harness system.
- Easy to remove, machine washable cover
- Cup holder
- Pull ring harness adjuster
The Marathon Clicktight has everything the Marathon has, plus:
- Clicktight installation technology
- 2 additional harness positions
The Marathon Clicktight ARB has everything the Marathon Clicktight has plus:
- An anti-rebound bar, which helps to keep the car seat in place in the event of an accident while rear-facing.
What I appreciate about Chicco over Britax is that you get the same safety features on any model of the NextFit. On Britax’s convertible seats, you have to pay more for additional side impact protection, Clicktight, and other safety features. With the Chicco NextFit, they do have different models with additional features, but all of the features save you hassle, rather than providing additional safety. It makes more sense to me to pay extra for an easy to remove cover, or a cup holder. I find it almost unethical to have to pay extra for extra safety features (although I will do it).
Color options for the Chico NextFit
Color options for the Britax Marathon
- 4.4 out of 5 stars, 202 reviews – Target.com
- 4.4 out of 5 stars, 186 reviews – Babies “R” Us
- 4.4 out of 5 stars, 245 reviews – Bed Bath & Beyond
- 4.4 out of 5 stars, 177 reviews – Target.com
- 4.5 out of 5 stars, 292 reviews – Walmart.com
- 4.6 out of 5 stars, 294 reviews – Kohls.com
Ease of Use Ratings
Car seats sold in the United States are safe. They meet or exceed federal safety standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates each car seat on Ease of Use because injury is more likely to be caused by improper installation and usage than by the seats themselves.
The Chico NextFit Forward-facing car seat received an overall rating of 4 stars.
And the Britax Marathon Forward-facing car seat received 5 stars.
Overall, I would recommend the Chicco NextFit over the Britax Marathon. Both are high-quality seats at around the same price point. However, the Chicco NextFit has additional features such as the 2-position chest clip and additional recline positions. I also appreciate the fact that they include the same level of protection on all of their models – you don’t have to pay for more added safety.
As far as models, I can see paying extra for the NextFit Zip, but I would personally just get the base model since it includes everything you need. If you do choose the Marathon over the NextFit, I strongly recommend the Clicktight model because the Clicktight feature makes it so much easier to install.