For starters, I love the cushiness of the Marathon. It’s nice and wide and Alex seems to fit in it really well. I also like the neck pads that come with the carseat – they’re minimal but keep the straps from cutting into Alex’s neck. It’s pretty easy to strap him in, especially because the velcro on the lower part of the straps keep them out of the way so he doesn’t sit on them when he first gets in the chair. And then there are the two primary reasons I bought the Marathon: the 65-pound weight limit and its high safety rating. The negatives about the Marathon are the price, the size (it seems comfortable but it is quite big), and most importantly, the fact that Alex has undone the belt once while the car was in motion.
We’ve installed a Britax Roundabout in my in laws’ car, so I’ve had a good chance to compare it to the Marathon. The Roundabout is a little smaller and although it’s nicely padded, seems less cushy – and by that, I think what I’m really trying to say is that it seems less deep. The Roundabout doesn’t come with neck pads, which adds to the impression that it’s less cushy. And although I think it’s a little harder to tighten the straps on the Roundabout, it’s still pretty easy to use. The major plus compared to the Marathon is that the release is a button, not a buckle, and I don’t think Alex could loosen the straps on the Roundabout. Also, the Roundabout, while not cheap, costs $40 to $50 less.
High on the list of positive attributes of both Britax carseats is the ease of installation. I bring that up because we got a Graco ComfortSport for traveling that we absolutely hated. I was concerned that the Marathon wouldn’t fit in an airplane seat (we didn’t have the Roundabout at the time) so I picked the ComfortSport based on the recommendation in Baby Bargains. The book recommended the ComfortSport pretty highly so maybe we just got a lemon. But the bottom line is that it was extremely difficult to install with a seatbelt (we couldn’t use LATCH in some of the cars we rode in) and almost impossible to tighten. I never felt that Alex was strapped in tightly enough and so we ended up getting rid of the ComfortSport and buying the Roundabout, a choice we’ve never regretted one bit. The one positive of the ComfortSport is its portability compared to the Marathon, but that was meaningless in light of its near uselessness.
What I will likely do with Tyler is buy a Britax Regent, which is a non-convertible carseat with a weight limit of 80 pounds, and move Alex into it. Then Tyler can go into the Marathon, which we’ll turn rear-facing again. This won’t save us any money (the Regent and Marathon both cost $269.99 at Babies R Us), but it should keep the boys in a carseat for the longest time possible, maximizing their safety. And that, of course, is the most important thing.