Quick Summary: Altogether, the Connexion packs are amazing, contemporary and great value for money. They don't lack kudos just because they are inexpensive, they are a reasonable price for a brilliantly functional product. The Connexion packs could leave you with pennies in the pot to enjoy your new family time.
- Amazing value for money
- All you will ever need
- Well built, simple functionality
Whats not so good?
- Poor choice of fabric in places
- No footmuff included
- No gatefold hinge on bumper bar
It's a little perplexing when you first find out that you're pregnant because you receive conflicting advice from all quarters telling you what you need, how you should feel, what you will experience in labour etc. etc.
My solution was to stick to the most up-to-date advice from my midwife and disregard the rest. But when it came to the equipment I was going to have to buy I remained confused. The Safety 1st Connexion takes all of the difficulty away and solves this problem with two easy-to-understand packs that between them include all the apparatus that you will need to support a child from 0-3 years old.
When I first saw the display at Kind+Jugend I didn't quite get it, but after a small explanation my appreciation grew and grew and I realised that they have hit gold with this gem of a concept. Originating from a budget brand such as Safety 1st, I was expecting simple, practical, value-for-money (in other words cheap) but instead I was blown away by how progressive the Connexion idea truly is.
The concept behind the Connexion packs starts with the three seating /sleeping elements, i.e. car seat, carrycot and toddler seat. From there, those elements need a chassis or stand, so the high frame, low rocker and stroller chassis are included. Working with these six pieces of equipment, eight combinations are possible allowing your child to sit, eat, sleep and relax whilst transporting them from baby to toddler with the minimum fuss.
The Outdoor pack contains a Group 0+ car seat, pushchair chassis and seat, all for an incredible £250. For this price you would expect a plastic bundle of flimsy, squeaky stuff, but in actual fact I was surprised at the well finished products I pulled out of the box.
The moulded seat is squishy, breathable and wipe clean. Using Ergosoft® technology, Safety 1st have created a foam resin that is comfortable, supportive and lightweight. It reminds me of the material that Crocs are made of and you can see what an overwhelming success they have been.
Formed into a really ergonomic seat shape, it slides effortlessly into the sockets on the chassis to make a pushchair. By pressing the white buttons near the sockets and lifting the seat away from the chassis you can turn it to face it in the opposite direction. The recline is fantastically accessible at the top rear of the seat. Simply lift the lever and you can choose from three angles of recline.
The five-point-harness can be adjusted from the rear by unplugging the circular stopper from the rear of the seat, then sliding the centre out the side. The strap is left with a small lug on the end that is small enough to be threaded in the current hole in the seat and rethreaded back through one of the other two positions. Sliding the lug back into the centre of the larger circle locks the strap into the new location.
The seat is compatible with the high stand, the rocker and the pushchair chassis and is able recline on all three bases.
The bumper bar plugs into sockets on the seat and is covered in a rubbery material that, although lacks finesses, will endure anything a toddler can throw at it. Sadly it doesn't have a gate opening hinge and needs removing to load your child, but there has to be some compromises when it so inexpensive!
Another, not so elegant feature is the canopy. It has all the function of a canopy on a pushchair that's twice the price but it's made from a flimsy nylon with a fuzzy texture. However, the canopy is not in contact with you or your child, so as long as it provides enough shade for your passenger the fabric is largely irrelevant. It has two reasonable segments with an extra section concealed within a zip allowing it to expand it to give ample shade.
The Safety 1st Mimas is included in the Outdoor pack. Using the car seat adaptors, it slides neatly onto the chassis. The adaptors that are provided also make the chassis and high frame compatible with the City PS, the CabrioFix and the Pebble.
The Mimas, is not overly plush and lacking in as much padding as I would like, but it passes all the necessary safety tests so it's an adequate option if you're on a budget. The sides are unfortunately covered in the same fabric that forms the canopy on the pushchair, as is the built in hood that uses the handle to form the supporting arch. Fortunately, the central seat panel and head hugger are made from a super-soft microfibre. The three point harness is adaptable in two shoulder heights.
The grey buttons denote a function. They control the tension in the straps, the angle of the handle and the release from the chassis. None of them resist their purpose or prove difficult to use. Blue, circular stickers give a clue as to where to thread the seatbelt when fixing it into the car.
The car seat is compatible with the high frame and the pushchair chassis but not the rocking stand.
The elegant aluminium frame has black and white functioning parts to add contrast. The black, foam covered handle has two buttons in the centre; these are used in the fold – more later.
The simple basket is 50cm long and 36cm wide but gives an illusion that it's square. Beneath this are the 18cm rear and the 17cm front wheels. The front have a white button on the stem to lock of the swivel when necessary. Each wheel is black with white inner rim to emulate white-walled tyres.
Again, the Connexion pushchair has a very sophisticated fold for the price. The white buttons on the middle of the handle need to be pressed in conjunction with a button near the left seat socket. This will release the handle to slide towards the front wheels. The rear wheels come forwards towards the front at the same time and before you realise, the auto-lock has caught the folded frame together and it is able to stand upright independently. Considering the seat is not collapsable, the finished footprint is incredibly narrow.
To unfold, simply undo the frame lock, pull on the handle and push down on a fixed pedal at the back of the basket, when you have stretched it out enough it will click and you are ready to go.
The indoor pack
The Indoor pack consists of a high frame, a rocker frame, a seat unit and a carrycot. At first I thought it odd that there was another seat unit included within this pack but realistically you could buy one pack independently of the other so it makes sense to include a seat unit in both.
If you buy both packs, the seats are interchangeable, so if you get bored with the colour of your pushchair (black) you can swap it for the seat that comes in the indoor kit (red).
Alternatively you could mount the carrycot on the chassis, use the canopy from the pushchair and transform it into a pram.
The decent sized carrycot has carry straps concealed in zip pockets on the exterior and two really sturdy built-in carry handles. It is relatively deep at 20cms and stretches to 76cm on the inside length and 33cms wide. Unfortunately the canopy fabric has been used once again on the outside, but the inside is a soft, durable, light grey material. A mattress is included so it is ideal to use it as a crib for sleeping overnight.
The carrycot is compatible with the high seat and the pushchair chassis but not the rocking stand. I think this is a shame but it's understandable because the child cannot be strapped into the carrycot whereas they can be secure in the seat, plus when reclined they can have a nap in the seat unit if necessary.
To open the stand, there are white buttons in the centre of the hinge that, when pressed, release the legs to open into an upturned ‘V' shape. It stands at 71cms high and 57cms wide. I was initially confused as to which was the front and which was the back, but figured it out when I tried to mount the seat unit because it will only fit in the sockets in one direction. A good guide is that there are two cross bars on the front legs and only one on the back.
The high stand is compatible with the carrycot, the car seat and the seat unit. With the addition of the highchair feeding table that slots into sockets on the hinges of the stand, you have the ideal independent high chair that, using an identical seat as that on the pushchair, has a five point harness to stop your toddler climbing out.
The rocker stand is 44.5cms wide and 68.5cms long. It has two fold out arms that support the seat unit. It doesn't have a huge rocking angle but this can be completely stopped if necessary by folding out the support legs at the front, leaving you with a low level seat – ideal for reaching a baby gym.
The rocker stand is not compatible with the carrycot or the car seat.
The inter-changeability of the Connexion packs is a wonderful idea and for a family on a budget; £450 covers the cost of all of the basic support your baby is going to need. The seats are large and comfortable, well ventilated in the summer and cosy in the winter as long as you use the liners. The recline mechanism is very sophisticated and the five point harness is uber easy to adjust.
I love the fact that if you get bored with one colour seat you can change it for the other. I also love the fact that if your child nods off in the car you can bring them in, in their seat, and place them on the high stand instead of the floor. My daughters often needed a nap in the middle of the day but were reluctant to go to bed, the seat unit on the rocker is the perfect solution to assist stubborn snoozers.
I don't like the fabric in some places, it is a little cheap looking, but it's only been used in the areas that don't come into direct contact with your child. On the areas where your baby touches the apparatus it's all been designed to be soft to the touch and baby friendly.
The pushchair doesn't feel compromised by price, it could stand alone as a pushchair and still receive a decent star rating because it has all the right attributes; a large basket, good manoeuvrability, an easy recline and a compact fold (with the seat on if necessary). If I have any criticism, it's that a footmuff is not included, the one part of the pushchair that given our climate is an absolute necessity. The pushchair comes in basic colours and has a very neutral feel so it would be very easy to locate a matching, third party footmuff.
Altogether, the Connexion packs are amazing, contemporary and great value for money. They don't lack kudos just because they are inexpensive, they are a reasonable price for a brilliantly functional product. The Connexion packs could leave you with pennies in the pot to enjoy your new family time.