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Hands-on Gear Review
Doona ReviewPrice: $500.00 List | $499.00 at Amazon
Pros: Innovative, stroller capability
Cons: Price, hard to carry
Bottom line: Fills a niche for safe vehicle transportation of baby for parents who frequent taxis and Uber
The Doona infant car seat in a unique product that can transform into a stroller. While this product experienced difficulty in some of our tests, we feel it fills a niche for some parents that have been struggling with city life and surviving babyhood. The Doona is a simple way for parents to transport baby from apartment to car to on the town strolling. Where previously some parents might have forgone the car seat to avoid carrying a heavy inconvenient carrier, they can now safely install this product in a cab and then push baby when they reach their destination with no unnecessary lugging. This car seat's special abilities make it an award winner in our minds, and while it arguably isn't the best choice for every family, it is tough to beat it for the urban family on the go.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Infant Car Seats of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The comparison chart shown here presents the overall scores for each seat tested in this review, including the Doona (in blue). While the Doona didn't rank in the top four we were impressed with its innovative design and ease of use this niche product offers for busy parents on the go that frequent public transportation.
The sections below provide additional details on the Doona's performance in our tests compared to the competition.
The Doona earned the lowest score for crash tests in this review with a 3 of 10. In our evaluation of the crash test results, the Doona had the worst combined test results. The Doona meets the Federal minimum requirements for safety, and is therefore considered safe. There is nothing discovered in our crash tests to indicate that the Doona is not safe or meeting the requirements set forth in the federal guidelines.
In our tests (identical to those performed by NHTSA), the Doona result for the chest sensor in the dummy was 60g. This is the maximum allowed by law, with the competition surpassing this maximum with lower (better) results anywhere between 4% and 25% below this maximum.
The charts below show the Doona test results (in black) compared to the competition that have the best crash test results for each sensor (in green), both for chest and head. The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 has the best result for the chest sensor during testing with 42.2 g recorded (compared to the Doona's 60 g, where lower is better).
The head sensor (HIC) score for the Doona was 603 where 1000 is the maximum (lower is better). Only 2 seats had higher scores for this sensor.
Ease of Install - LATCH
The Doona earned a 7 of 10 for ease of installation using the LATCH anchors. Studies indicate that some injuries children sustain in car crashes could potentially be avoided if the car seat is installed correctly. This makes ease of installation so important. If a seat is easy to install we believe there is a greater chance that parents will attach it correctly, potentially leading to fewer injuries. The Chicco Keyfit 30 and the UPPAbaby Mesa earned 9s
The Doona has push button anchors that work well and are easy to attach. Where the Doona lost some points is the ease of tightening and loosing of these straps to get a secure installation or to remove the base from the car. The easiest products to install using LATCH all feature some kind of unique LATCH feature that makes tightening and loosening easier. The Doona does not offer any such special component, but once installed it feels secure.
Ease of Install - Belt
The Doona earned a 6 of 10 for ease of install using the vehicle belt. This installation score is the lowest for the Doona. The UPPAbaby Mesa and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 both scored higher for this kind of install.
The Doona has a color-coded belt path and a belt lock-off that should make installation easier. However, threading this belt and using the lock off aren't as simple as they should be.
Some testers felt the lock-off was very difficult to use, while others only found it marginally harder than the competition. Either way, it isn't as simple as some of the others we looked at.
Ease of Install - Without the Base
The Doona earned an 8 of 10 for ease of installation without the base, this is its highest installation score and the one that helped it win an award.
The Doona uses the European belt path that utilizes the shoulder strap of the vehicle belt around the back and the lap belt across the foot of the carrier. The belt path is color coded and easy to thread.
The carrier feels secure when installed. Because this method is so quick to accomplish, we think parents that primarily use public transportation will be more inclined to install the seat properly, even when it isn't required that they do so. The fact that the seat has wheels and can be turned into a stroller instantly, makes it a great option we think city dwellers will be drawn to.
Ease of Use
The Doona earned a 6 of 10 for ease of use where the high is only 8. Ease of use includes the daily functions of a product and this particular car seat has a stroller function that makes it unlike any other car seat we tested.
The stroller functionality of this product makes it easier to use than the standard infant carrier because it can be pushed instead of carried. This is a huge advantage over regular seats that must be attached to a stroller if you plan to push them. For big city parents, that do not ordinarily use a car of their own, this product is a game changer in navigating the city with ease and we think it might increase the chances of a baby being strapped into a taxi or Uber when they might have otherwise chosen not to.
The Doona harness has a similar buckle to the Chicco options and along with the chest clip is easy to use without requiring extra thumbs or force. The harness height adjustment is a rethread style with a T splitter in the back. This means you will need to remove the shoulder straps from the splitter and unthread them from the seat back and rethread them in the new position before connecting them to the splitter again. This isn't difficult, but it is time-consuming and it requires baby be removed from the seat. We worry parents will forgo making the adjustment when it is necessary because they are in a hurry. The harness has only three height options and one crotch strap position. This means it will be more difficult to fit for all babies. Tightening and loosening the harness is one of the easiest in the group.
The handle on the Doona is not like any other seat because it is adjustable for use as a stroller. This handle rotates in three positions so it can be used as an anti-rebound bar during car seat installation, a carry handle for the carrier, and a push handle for the stroller. When strolling, the handle can be moved from an angle to upright depending on your needs. In certain positions, the handle can rub on the canopy and you'll need to tuck the canopy under the handle. Moving and adjusting the handle is a two-handed operation and it moves smoothly.
Carrier and Base Connection
The Doona carrier attachment to the base is somewhat different than most of the infant products we tested. You need to have the foot of the seat close to the foot of the base because it is deceiving where the seat connects to the base. The attachment is smooth, but it can take some practice to do it smoothly every time without false starts. The product has a visual indicator that turns green when it is connected properly. The Doona comes with a seat cover for the vehicle presumably to protect the seat from potentially dirty wheels.
LATCH Anchors and Manual Storage
The LATCH anchors on the Doona store on the underside of the seat base. The user manual can be stored on the back of the carrier/stroller or on the bottom of the base. The back of the carrier is preferred because it means you keep the manual with you even when traveling without the base, but it does feel like it could potentially slip out of the tabs and get lost.
The Doona earned a 7 of 10 for comfort and quality. This is only one point below the high score for the metric. The Cybex Cloud Q, Peg Pergo Primo Viaggio 4-35, and the Chicco Fit2 earned an 8.
The Doona has durable feeling fabric that is soft, but not as soft as others. It has thick padding and a nice shell. The fabric fits the shell and padding nicely and the canopy is a good size and fits the carrier well
The Doona earned a 5 of 10 for weight and size. This product weighs 16.8 lbs, making it the heaviest in the group by far. However, because it isn't a standard infant car seat the added weight is likely the stroller components that allow it to be pushed.
We gave the Doona a slight bump in score for the weight that we wouldn't ordinarily give a car seat this heavy. Why? The rest of the carriers must be carried and therefore the weight is of significant importance as parents may be lugging the carrier and baby. The Doona has the distinct advantage of being pushable and we are assuming parents won't carry the seat when they can push it. This means you will really only be lugging the 16+ lbs when you put it into and out of the car as opposed to all of the time.
Simple Parenting offers a variety of accessories that focus primarily on adding storage to the stroller, comfort additions, and different bases. Of these we think the following are interesting options worth considering:
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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