Monday, July 15, 2013

Combi Catalyst Travel System Review

When you're shopping for baby gear, there are a lot of attributes that you look for to determine if it is the right item for you and your child. Choosing a travel system is no exception. You need a car seat that is going to protect your infant whether they're in the car, in the stroller, or on your arm! You also need a stroller that is going to grow with your child and suit your needs no matter where you take it. So which do you choose?! Have you considered the Combi Catalyst Travel System? Let me show you just how amazing it is!

*I received a complimentary travel system to review in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions*

Combi USA is a quality baby gear company that was established in the United States in 1989. Combi originated in Tokyo, Japan in 1957 and cultivated from a firm and growing foundation of customer trust. For over 40 years Combi has been providing safe and original products for every setting of your child's life. 

Combi was generous enough to offer me the Catalyst Travel System for review and there was no way I could pass up such an amazing opportunity! I have had the Combi Catalyst Travel System in my possession for a couple of weeks now, so I've really had a great opportunity to get to know it, and I am pleased to say that it is a travel system that I would recommend! Now, brace yourself...since this is a travel system there was a lot to cover and the review is a little lengthy, but I really wanted to make sure that I gave you all of the details! So read on my friends, I'm about to introduce you to a travel system that you're going to love!

When I took the Combi Shuttle Infant Car Seat out of the box I was extremely impressed with it's quality. When Baby A was an infant we went with an Evenflo travel system, so I never had the opportunity to test out a high quality car seat. I absolutely loved how sleek the car seat looked and especially loved that it was very light weight. The Combi Shuttle is equipped with 360 degrees of Tru-Safe Side Impact Protection and can accommodate rear facing infants from birth-35 pounds and up to 33 inches tall.

The Shuttle Infant Car Seat, of course, has a 5 point harness to keep your little one safe. The harness has a strap adjustment button that you press and pull outward on the straps to make them looser, and extra strap length that you pull to tighten the harness to accommodate your child. Adjusting the harness is extremely simple and can be used regularly to make it easier for mom to get their little one out of the car seat! The belly pad of the car seat is sewn into the seat which I personally love, you never have to worry about loosing the belly pad or having it out of place.

What I truly love about the Combi Shuttle is the Anti Rebound Bar. The Anti Rebound Bar is a fantastic feature that I am seeing more and more in cars seats and I particularly love that with the Shuttle, the Anti Rebound Bar is directly on the car seat and not on the base. The Anti Rebound Bar helps to protect your child in the event of an accident by stabilizing the car seat and minimizing rotational forces in front, side, and rear collisions. Thankfully we have never been in a car accident (knock on wood), but in the event of an accident I would feel a million times better knowing that my child's car seat had an Anti Rebound Bar!

The Shuttle Carseat has your typical harness strap adjustment, which in simple terms means that mom needs to rethread the harness straps when it's time to move them up a notch. Rethreading my car seats has never been an issue for me and only takes a few seconds to do so I don't mind, but I know that a lot of parents look for the no-rethread harnesses. Please let me say, if that is an attribute you are looking for in a car seat, do not let that small feature detour you from this car seat! The Shuttle also has an easy adjustable headrest for your convenience! Simply turn the red lever and slide it up or down! 

Per Combi, the Shuttle Car Seat can be used without a base for infants that are under 22 pounds. If you choose to forgo the base, I recommend having a trained car seat professional teach you how to properly install it using your vehicles lap belt! The Combi Shuttle Manual offers clear step by step instructions on how to install it with the Seat Belt Lock Off Bars located on the car seat. 

One feature of the car seat base that I really love is that there is a compartment where the LATCH can be stored when it is not in use! There is nothing I hate more than the LATCH straps hanging out, it literally drives me crazy! The car seat base also features a level indicator that shows whether or not your base is in the proper position for your child's weight class. 

The car seat's base offers adjustable recline to accommodate the variations in vehicle seat's slope. The adjustable base recline is extremely simple to use, just pull back on the recline adjustment lever and gently pull out on the recline adjustment foot. 

As you already know, there are two ways to install a car seat base into your vehicle, with the vehicle seat belt or with the LATCH system. If you choose to use the seat belt for installation, it is important to locate the seat belt locking clip on the back of the car seat and remove it for use. This will help your seat belt stay locked in place and keep it properly installed. 

Combi conveniently added a vehicle shoulder belt lock off to keep the shoulder belt in place on the base. This is such a helpful feature when you are using the middle seat or outboard seats with shoulder belts in your vehicle!

If you choose to install the base with the LATCH system, you are in for a real treat! The LATCH on this carseat base is SO easy to install, I was amazed when I had the base installed within five minutes, usually it takes me forever!

I absolutely love the Combi Shuttle Infant Car Seat and I can't wait to have another little baby to put in it! 

Please note if you zoom into this photo, the level indicator is not level due to my car being parked in my driveway that is on a slope.

When I took the Combi Catalyst out of the box I was so excited to get it set up. It came in a few parts but putting it together was very easy and only took about 10 minutes or so before I was ready to get to know the stroller. The first thing that I noticed about the stroller was the unbelievably huge storage basket! To say I was excited about this stroller would be an understatement.

If your stroller is folded up (in your trunk, in storage, etc), and you're ready to use it agan, simply pull out on the release lever and pull up on the handle of the stroller until it clicks into place! Once you hear the click your stroller is ready for action!

The Catalyst features a 5 point harness that can also be turned into a 3 point harness if you would like it to. I personally leave my strollers as 5 point harnesses because the last thing I want is for Baby A to figure out that it's not very hard to wiggle out of the stroller! To adjust the harness height you have to unsnap the shoulder strap from the 5 point harness connector, remove the shoulder pads, and pull it from the current loop. The harness also has a belly pad to keep your little one comfortable while they are in the stroller. The belly pad is loose and can be removed from the stroller if you choose to. I wish that Combi had chosen to sew the belly pad onto the stroller as they did with the Shuttle, on multiple occasions I have had the belly pad drop onto the ground, but in the light of things it's really not that big of a deal! 

The Combi Catalyst is a very versatile stroller that can convert from a travel system, to a bassinet, to a toddler stroller. The strollers seat can accommodate a child up to 50 pounds. It has a very deep recline so if you are spending the day out your child can take a nap and be nice and comfy!  

To recline your child there is a recline release lever located behind the seat! Pinch the red levers (on the top and bottom) and gently pull out toward you. If you are ready to put your child back into a seated position, I find it easiest to gently push on the seat back with one hand, and pull on one strap at a time until it is as upright as you desire. If your little one is big enough to understand you when you ask them to sit forward, they can do that while you pull both straps at the same time and quickly put the seat into its upright position!

As much as I really love the Combi Catalyst, there is one 'flaw' that sticks out to me and is something I would consider a drawback. Although the seat is very roomy width wise, it just isn't very tall height wise! Baby A is about 34 1/2 inches tall and when he is completely reclined in the seat his head touches the top. From my measurements, from seat to the top of the seat back measures approximately 17" and from seat to the top [inside] of the canopy measures 24". Everything is nice and cushioned so Baby A didn't seem bothered by his head touching the top of the seat but I wish that Combi had made the height just a bit taller! 

If your child has gone to sleep in the stroller and you want to peek in at them, the Catalyst features a mesh peek-a-boo window with magnetic closure! That's right, no noisy velcro waking your little ones up!

Alright my bumper bar lovers, it's your lucky day! The Catalyst includes a bumper bar that you can attach to the stroller! Are you doing your happy dance? I know I was when I saw it in there! If you've been a Mommys Craft Obsession reader for a while you already know that if I have a stroller it has to have a bumper bar or a child tray, otherwise it's a deal breaker for me! The Catalyst got brownie points for including the bumper bar! Woohoo!

Lets talk about one of my favorite features of the Catalyst; the bassinet. Strollers often have a separate bassinet and what I love about the the Catalyst is that the toddler seat turns into the bassinet, no extra pieces required!! To transform the toddler seat into a bassinet you only need to do a few easy steps! 

Step 1. Use the Seat Adjustment Lever to recline to seat into a horizontal position

Step 2. Unbuckle the secure buckle strap located under the foot rest. Step 3. Gently push down on the leg rest to complete the transition into a bassinet.

If you'd prefer to switch the bassinet so that it is facing you, push the seat release on each side of the bassinet/seat and pull up (while holding the lever pushed inward), and change the seat so that it is facing you. Do not do this with your baby in it!

So now that you've learned how to get your stroller all set up, it's time to get it ready to go out and about! The first thing you'll want to do is decide on a good handle bar length based off what is the most comfortable for you. Making the adjustment is easy, just push in on the gray button and pull out or in on the handle bar! 

Once you have adjusted your handlebar, you then must decide if you want your front wheels to swivel or be locked into place! I personally always leave my front wheels unlocked and able to swivel but I know some people who would rather have them locked into place. To lock the front wheels you need to position the wheels so that they're directly beneath the stroller then push down on the swivel lock.

As standard on all strollers, the Combi Catalyst has a rear brake to lock the stroller in place when it's not in use or when you do not want it to move around. Using one foot you step down on the brake to lock it or pull up on it unlock. 

Now, my favorite part of the stroller...the storage basket! This is the BIGGEST storage basket that I have ever seen on a stroller. As you know, I am a Petunia Pickle Bottom fan, so below is a photo of my Touring Tote in the storage basket. As you can see, the basket is as wide as the length of my Touring Tote and I could fit two Touring Totes side by side length wise of the basket. To give you a little more personal image, when I took this stroller to the mall I was able to fit the diaper bag shown below, my mother in law's purse, three shopping bags (including one with a shoe box in it), a water bottle, and I still had space for a few more bags. This basket is roomy! Perfect for a day of shopping!

This is truly a wonderful stroller and even Mr. Hunky liked it! We took Baby A out to the Desert Museum and Baby A was comfortable and had fun the whole time! The stroller held everything we needed in the basket and it pushed like a dream!

When we were ready to leave the Desert Museum, folding up the stroller was as easy as could be! On both sides of the stroller you pull up on the stroller release and gently push the stroller down into a folded position! You may choose to remove the toddler seat or leave it on, but I recommend removing the bumper bar unless you have an SUV! 

The stroller is large in the trunk of my Honda Accord and almost doesn't fit, but once I get it in there I am able to close it with no hassle. I do wish that the wheels folded up or that there may be another solution for the tallness of the stroller, but for those of you who drive SUV's you will have no problem with space! My trunk had about a foot of space (between the stroller and the end of the trunk) left in the trunk so I could put shopping bags, grocery bags, etc., inside of the trunk along with the stroller. 

If you would prefer to use your Shuttle Car Seat with the Catalyst rather than using the bassinet, transforming your stroller into a travel system is as simple as can be. Remove the toddler seat (or bassinet if you have it set as a bassinet) from the stroller and attach the car seat adapter in its place. You will need to make sure that the adapter is fully clicked in so that it is safe for baby! Click the Shuttle Car Seat into the adapter and you're ready to go! The Catalyst's car seat adapter can also be used with the Combi Navette 22, Chicco Key Fit 30, Graco SnugRide 25, and the Graco SnugRide 30. 

Overall the Combi Catalyst Travel System is a fantastic travel system that any mom and baby would be lucky to own! I was more than impressed with the car seat I can't wait to use it with a future baby. The Catalyst is a great quality stroller, I absolutely love that the toddler seat easily converts to a bassinet and that the toddler seat can face forward or backward. I do hope that in the near future Combi will increase the height of the seat back on the Toddler Seat and create a solution for how large the stroller is when folded, but other than that little adjustment I can't think of anything else that I would change about this stroller! I highly recommend it to anyone who is in need of a new travel system, or for you readers with a cute baby bump looking for a car seat and stroller for their future little one!

To Purchase: Visit Combi's Website to find a store near you!

*This review is 100% original and in my own words. Everything written is from my own personal view point and opinions, what works for me, may not work for you. All photos have been taken by me unless stated otherwise. I have been provided with product to review by Combi however I have not been compensated monetarily for this review.

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  1. Great review - thanks and I'll pass this on to my expecting friend!!

  2. AWESOME review! You sure didn't leave anything untouched! Wish there were more bloggers who thoroughly reviewed their products for their readers. Good job!

  3. Great review, this needs to be seen especially by first time parents looking for a nice, safe car seat and stroller! We love our Combi Stroller :)

  4. WOW thank you for such a detailed review. My husband and I had our travel system narrowed down to two choices and after seeing this we may have to reconsider! I really like the looks of the Shuttle. Thanks MCO. -S

  5. Now I know what to give to my neighbors who in September will have a child, thank you for the great review!

  6. I love how easy it looks to use, and that anit-rebound bar is a definite plus!

  7. Love this review and want this product for baby 3!

  8. Great review as always Alex. I now a lot of "moms to be" and will be recommending that they check this out! Thanks.

  9. Great review love the adjustable recline feature! Love this system!

  10. What an excellent review!! My son and his wife just had a little one, and I appreciate the importance of having a top quality product, especially when it comes to the travel system that baby will be in quite often. Thank you for the information share.

  11. Looks like a great stroller, thanks for a great review!

  12. Great and thorough review. Thanks for sharing, wish I would've known about it when my kids are still little.

  13. WOW this looks like an amazing stroller! I love Combi's products! Wish I would have done some more research years ago when I was expecting!

  14. Thanks for your review on these products,I'm amazed not only by the extra safety features added but the fact that they are adjustable for growth.I give the product and review a big thumbs up

  15. This is an amazing review of an extremely well made traveler. You can see that it's nicely constructed with a superior system of comfort and ease. Very nice ride!!!

  16. Great showing of what all the features are. I love travel systems and have one that has been a lifesaver. I like that you can rear face towards you so you can keep an eye on the baby while walking.

  17. This travel system definitely looks amazing. I love how many safety features the car seat has, and the stroller looks comfy and durable! Thanks for the great review, love the step by step pictures and descriptions!

  18. That stroller is so nifty!

  19. great review! very detailed!

  20. My son and daughter-in-law have one of these for my grandson, have to keep that special cargo good and safe while driving in the car. Really like all the features this car seat has too.

  21. The bumper bar feature on this stroller is a really good idea and I love that you can turn the seat to face mom or dad.

  22. I'm liking that large storage basket!


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