Car Seats

Load Legs Car Seats 2024:

Kate Nash

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Load-leg car seats offer superior safety protection in frontal and side-impact collisions.

You would be rushing and not as cautious with your baby’s mobility safety if you are considering picking an infant car seat without a load leg. This innovative safety feature is an add-on in some infant car seats and is quite beneficial. While this feature undeniably enhances the safety of your baby in the event of a crash, it is important to note that not all car seats with a load leg are equally effective.

Child restraint systems with load legs have been in use for quite some time. In Europe, they have been around for at least a decade, but their popularity has significantly grown in the US over the past five years, according to Dr. Aditya Belwadi of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Load legs are common in seats in Europe and have just recently gotten popular with a few brands here in the US.

Let’s first define what a load leg is.

What is load leg?

A load leg is a unique feature in some infant car seats that acts as an additional support to the base of the car seat. It is a metal or plastic bar that extends from the bottom of the car seat and rests on the floor of your vehicle when installed properly.

Load legs, also known as front props or leg supports, play a crucial role in enhancing baby safety in car seats. They effectively limit rebound and reduce downward rotation, providing an added layer of protection for your little one.

Some brands such as Nuna Pipa calls it stability leg.

Some of the common components of a load leg include;

  1. Load leg indicator
  2. Load leg extension
  3. Load leg release or extension button and rigid LATCH release
  4. Load leg foot

Image of load leg

Image showing load leg in a car seat with base
bottom view of load leg in car seat
Bottom view of load leg in car seat

When purchased independently, the load leg with its base goes for over $100. Below is an image of SnugRide® SnugLock® Infant Car Seat Base ft. Load Leg Technology going for about $150 on its website.

In the video below, Emily Thomas of Consumer Reports explains how parents should consider load leg as it shows great promise in enhancing baby safety;

KSAT 12, a TV station interviewed an expert on infant car safety in the short clip below;

Some history of load leg:

In a 1992 report by the National Transportation Safety Board, as part of their investigation into occupant crash protection (Docket No. 87-08; Notice 8), the board introduced or implied the concept of a load leg in their initial proposal for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Below is a quote from the 1992 Report:

“….investigation identified four possible neck load sources of the child’s fatal neck injury: head contact with the rear of the front seatback, with the right interior side of the vehicle, with the ironing board also being carried in the car, or with the shield of the safety seat.”

National Transportation Safety Board – Safety Report, 1992

Similar studies conducted abroad, particularly in Europe, laid the groundwork for the introduction of the load leg requirement in 1997. This safety standard was officially implemented across Europe in 2004, mandating that all car seats meet this requirement by June 2006. Furthermore, as of February 2011, it became a legal obligation for the load leg system to be integrated into all new cars.

So, is load leg mandatory for car seats in the US?

Unfortunately not.

The United States has significantly fallen behind in adopting safety regulations, with conservatives vehemently opposing these measures by labeling them as detrimental to businesses.

While it is not mandated, some manufacturers such as Clek Liing, Cybex, Nuna, Maxi Cosi, Graco, and Evenflo, have gone ahead to develop lod legs in some of their car seat brands. Other popular US brands such as Britax have opted to install other safety features such as an anti-rebound bar or ClickTight instead.

How Load/Prop Leg Works:

When a car seat is installed with the load leg, it reduces the forward rotation of the car seat and also decreases the amount of force exerted on your baby’s body during a crash. This is because the load leg transfers the energy from a crash to the vehicle’s floor instead of allowing it to pass through your child’s body.

Unlike the anti-rebound bar which also reduces rotation, load legs are designed to absorb energy in a crash by compressing or “crumpling” to redirect the force away from your baby.

It works well with the base of a car seat in that it attaches to the base and adds another point of contact with the vehicle’s floor. This additional support also helps in keeping the car seat steady during normal driving conditions.

Image of Nuna Pipa Stability Leg
Image of Nuna Pipa Stability Leg

From a technical standpoint, load legs in car seats serve to keep the child in an upright position while redirecting the energy towards the vehicle floor instead of the child’s head, neck, and spine. This mechanism ensures enhanced safety and effectiveness in protecting the child during potential impacts.

How load leg enhances your baby’s safety in crashes

Limits downward rotation:

The load leg and the car seat’s foot collaborate to establish a solid and steady foundation for the seat. The load leg offers robust vertical support, while the car seat’s foot firmly anchors to the vehicle floor, effectively preventing any swaying or lateral movement.

During a crash, as the car seat moves forward, the load leg pushes against the floor, absorbing energy and preventing the seat from rotating downwards. This allows for a more controlled and gradual movement of the car seat, reducing the risk of injury to the child.

During a crash, as the car seat reclines, the baby tends to slide up in the rear-facing (RF) car seat. This can result in forces being applied to the baby’s neck and shoulders. However, the presence of a load leg effectively reduces the recline position, thereby minimizing the forces exerted on the baby’s neck and shoulders.

In technical terms, the load leg increases the effective length of the car seat’s base, which helps to minimize downward rotation and limit the amount of force applied to the child in a crash.

Limits rebound movement:

The load leg serves a similar purpose to anti-rebound bars, but it operates in a slightly different manner. Its primary function is to minimize the risk of your baby’s head hitting the back of the vehicle seat in the event of a frontal collision. By applying a reverse force, the load leg restricts the movement of the seat, preventing it from sliding towards the back of the vehicle. This not only safeguards against potential injuries, but also ensures that the car seat remains securely anchored in place without any unwanted shifting or rotation.

Ensures stability of the seat:

Load leg also stabilizes the car seat by ensuring that it remains in a fixed position and does not move laterally or sway during normal driving. This will help reduce the movement of the baby and also enhance the overall stability of the car seat.

Some load legs come with an indicator that shows whether it is properly installed and in contact with the floor of the vehicle. This feature can be especially beneficial for parents who are new to using a car seat or those who may not have experience installing one.

Effectiveness of Load Leg

Dr. Aditya discovered that incorporating the load leg into CRS during their experiments for a study resulted in a remarkable 60 percent reduction in head injury criterion (HIC36) in frontal crashes, compared to not using it. This finding highlights the significant impact of the load leg and its potential to enhance safety.

Check out the Study here.

In a study conducted by Emily A. Thomas, PhD, and Jeff S. Bartlett, researchers and testers at Consumer Reports, load legs were found to be highly effective. Their comprehensive tests, which utilized infant-sized dummies, revealed that car seat models equipped with load legs exhibited an average head injury risk that was approximately 43 percent lower than those without load legs. These findings highlight the significant safety benefits offered by load legs in car seats.

Snapshot of Consumer Reports study finds Load legs to be effective by reducing injury by 43%

Here is the article by Consumer Reports.

The benefits of using a car seat with a load leg:

  • Improved Protection: As mentioned earlier, load legs in car seats significantly reduce the risk of head injury for children during a crash. This added layer of protection is especially important for infants and young children whose bodies are still developing and more vulnerable to impact.
  • Enhanced Stability: The load leg provides additional support to the base of the car seat, keeping it steady even on bumpy roads or during sudden stops. This stability ensures that the child remains in a secure and comfortable position throughout the journey.
  • Easier Installation: Installing a car seat with a load leg is relatively straightforward, and most models come with clear instructions for proper installation. The load leg also eliminates the need for using towels or pool noodles to achieve a proper recline angle, making it a more convenient option for parents.
  • Improved Comfort: The load leg also adds to the overall comfort of the car seat. It reduces the amount of movement and vibration felt by the child during a journey, making it more comfortable for them to rest or sleep in their car seat.
  • Durability: Load legs are designed to withstand high impact forces, making them extremely durable and long-lasting. This means that they can be used for multiple children and even passed down to younger siblings.
  • Peace of Mind: As a parent, knowing that your child is protected in their car seat can bring immense peace of mind. By using a car seat with a load leg, you can rest assured that your child is safe and secure while travelling.

6 Key differences between the Load leg and Anti-rebound bar:

  1. Purpose: The main purpose of a load leg is to provide additional support and stability to the car seat, while an anti-rebound bar is designed to prevent the car seat from rotating in a rear-facing position during a crash.
  2. Installation: Load legs are typically easier to install compared to anti-rebound bars. They usually require minimal effort and can be adjusted to fit different vehicles. On the other hand, anti-rebound bars may require more effort and may not be compatible with all car seats and vehicles.
  3. Positioning: A load leg is installed perpendicular to the base of the car seat, while an anti-rebound bar is positioned parallel to the base.
  4. Effectiveness: Both load legs and anti-rebound bars are effective in their own ways. However, load legs have been found to reduce crash forces by up to 60%, while anti-rebound bars may only reduce them by up to 30-50%.
  5. Compatibility: Load legs are more widely compatible with different car seats and vehicles, while anti-rebound bars may only be compatible with select models. It’s important to check the compatibility of both options before making a purchase.
  6. Price: While the cost of both load legs and anti-rebound bars may vary depending on the brand and model, load legs are generally more affordable compared to anti-rebound bars.

You can also explore our guide on Anti-rebound bar in car seats.

Choosing the best load leg: Factors to consider:

When it comes to choosing the best load leg for your child’s car seat, there are a few factors to consider. These include:

  1. Vehicle compatibility: As mentioned earlier, it’s important to check if the load leg is compatible with your vehicle before purchasing. Some vehicles may not have a designated attachment point for load legs, making them incompatible.
  2. Height adjustable: Some load legs may come with the option to adjust their height, allowing them to fit different vehicles. This can be a useful feature if you have multiple vehicles or plan on using the car seat in different cars. The newest Graco brand, the Graco Premier™ SnugRide® SnugFit™ 35 XT features a height-adjustable load leg, making it a versatile option.
  3. LED light indicator for load leg position lock: Some load legs in some seats such as Cybex Sirona S come with an LED indicator that turns green when the leg is properly locked in place, providing extra reassurance for parents. When not securely locked, you’ll see a red light to let you know the load leg needs adjustment. Go for brands with this feature.
  4. Foldable: For easy storage, some load legs may come with the option to fold down when not in use. This feature can also be helpful if you have multiple car seats or need to fit other items in your vehicle’s trunk.
  5. Sturdiness: It’s important to choose a load leg that is sturdy and able to withstand impact during a crash. Look for ones made with strong materials such as steel or aluminum.
  6. Ease of use: Load legs should be easy to install and remove from the car seat. Some may come with quick-release buttons, making it easier for parents to transfer the car seat to different vehicles.
  7. Car seat compatibility: Not all car seats are compatible with load legs, so it’s important to check before purchasing. Some car seats may come with integrated load legs, while others may have the option to attach a separate load leg.
  8. Safety standards: It’s important to ensure that the load leg meets safety standards set by organizations such as NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
  9. Crash Test Ratings: Some load legs may perform better than others in crash tests. It’s important to research different brands and models to determine which ones have the best safety ratings. According to Consumer Reports, safety tests for certain car seat load leg designs have revealed that there may still be instances where the baby’s head can make contact with the back of a front seat, potentially increasing the risk of injury.
  10. Other safety features: For added safety pick car seats with load leg and added safety features such as anti-rebound bar and ClickTight installation system. These additional features can help reduce the risk of car seat rotation and provide a secure fit for your child.
  11. Proper usage: It’s important to properly install the load leg according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The angle at which the load leg rests on the vehicle floor is crucial for its effectiveness in a crash. Make sure to adjust it accordingly, as specified by the car seat manufacturer.

How to install Stability Leg in car Seat:

Step 1: Place the infant car seat base in the car:

First, place the infant car seat base on the backseat of your vehicle. Make sure it is securely attached to the car’s seat using either the LATCH system or a seatbelt.

Step 2: Unfold the load leg:

Starting from the base’s bottom, gently pull on the load leg to unlock and rotate it downwards. Ensure to keep your hands clear of the load leg’s pivot point while folding.

Step 3: Extend the load leg:

Once the load leg is unfolded, extend it towards the floor of the car until it touches firmly. Make sure the angle between the load leg and the vehicle floor is within the recommended range specified by your car seat manufacturer.

Image showing extension button in a load leg which you press when installing it in order to extend it
Extension button in a load leg

In most car seat brands, there is an extension button as shown in the Graco seat image below. When you press the extension button, it allows you to extend the load leg in a locked position until it is touching the firm vehicle floor – remove any vehicle mats on the floor where the leg comes in contact with the floor. If you have a Graco seat, check more details here.

Please ensure that the base of the vehicle seat is not lifted by the Load Leg’s foot. It should just be sitting on top of the floor.

Step 4: Lock in place:

Once the load leg is fully extended and touching the vehicle floor, lock it in place by pushing the extension button back to its original position. This will ensure that the load leg stays securely attached and does not move during travel.

Step 5: Check for stability:

After installation, check for stability by applying light pressure on the car seat base. It should remain stable without any movement or rocking. If it does, double-check the load leg’s installation and make sure it is securely attached to both the car seat and vehicle floor.

8 Safety precautions when installing Load Leg:

Ensure load leg does not lift the car seat base when installed
Ensure the load leg does not lift the car seat base when installed
  1. Ensure the vehicle floor is clean and free of any materials such as car mats or magazines before extending the load leg.
  2. Do not use a load leg if your car seat manufacturer does not provide one as part of their safety system.
  3. Make sure the load leg is installed upright and not angled or tilted in any way.
  4. Ensure that the load leg is touching a firm surface in the car seat base when installed
  5. Ensure that the load leg does not raise the car seat base when installed as shown in the image alongside
  6. Check to make sure that the load leg is in a locked position
  7. Always read the car seat and vehicle owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to install a load leg.
  8. If you are unsure about the installation process, seek help from a certified technician or contact the car seat manufacturer for assistance, or reach out to us here at SaferForBaby as we provide on-call support on car seat installations.

To store the load leg, simply press the extension button and retract the foot to its shortest length. After that, fold the Load Leg back into the base. You’ll know it’s securely stored when it audibly “clicks” into place.

Infant Car Seats with Load Leg:

  • Clek Liing
  • Graco Premier SnugRide SnugFit 35 XT featuring Load Leg Technology
  • Cybex Cloud G Lux
  • Nuna Pipa Lite RX
  • Evenflo Gold SecureMax
  • Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido
  • Evenflo LiteMax DLX

In 2023, AAP put together a list of all infant car seats with load leg as shown in the snapshot below. See the entire AAP list here.

Comparison Table of Infant Car Seats with Load Legs;

NameRear-Facing
WeightLimits*
Height Limits*Load Leg or
Anti-Rebound
Bar
Clek Liing4–35 lbUp to 32″Load Leg (when
used with base)
CYBEX Aton M with
SensorSafe Technology
4–35 lb17″–30″
Top of head at
least 1″ below top
of infant seat
Load Leg and AntiRebound Bar
CYBEX Aton 2 with
SensorSafe Technology
4-35lb17″–30″
Top of head at
least 1″ below top
of infant seat
Load Leg only
CYBEX Cloud G Lux
with SensorSafe
Technology
same as above17-30″Load Leg and AntiRebound Bar
CYBEX Cloud Q with
SensorSafe Technology
same as above17-30″same as above
Evenflo Gold SensorSafe
SecureMax
same as above17″ to 32″Load leg only
Evenflo LiteMax DLXsame as above17″ to 32″load leg only
GracoPremierSnugRide
SnugFit 35 XT Infant Car
Seat featuring Load Leg
4-35 lbup to 32″load leg only
Maxi-Cosi Coral XP4-22lbup to 29″load leg only
Maxi-Cosi Mico XP Max4-30 lbup to 30″load leg only
Peg Pérego Primo
Viaggio 4-35 Lounge
4-35 lbup to 32″Load leg and ARB
PegPéregoPrimo
Viaggio 4-35 Nido
4-35 lbup to 32″Load leg and ARB
UPPAbaby MESA MAX
(JAKE, ANTHONY, NOA,
GREGORY, GREYSON)
4-35 lbUp to 32″ or when
top of head is less
than 1″ from top
of car safety seat
headrest
Load leg and ARB

Below is a snapshot from AAP’s list;

snapshot showing a list of car seats with load leg such as Cybex Cloud G, Nuna,
Snapshot from AAP with a list of car seats with load leg

Best Convertible Car Seat with Load Leg:

CYBEX Sirona S

If you’re looking for a convertible car seat with a load leg for maximum safety, my top recommendation is the CYBEX Sirona S. I was not only impressed by the added safety feature of the load leg, but also by how incredibly user-friendly it is.

CYBEX Sirona S with SensorSafe
$399.9920
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/23/2024 05:35 pm GMT

The seat comes with a load leg pin that allows you to easily adjust its height. When the load leg is locked, a red LED indicator is displayed, and when it’s unlocked, a red LED indicator is shown, providing clear and convenient visual cues.

Unlike infant car seats with load legs above with weight limit recommendations not exceeding 35 pounds, this convertible seat’s max weight recommendation is 65 pounds. We also like Cybex Sirona S over infant car seats with support leg for its long expiry period of 10 years which is much longer than expiry periods for most infant seats. Read about car seat expiry periods here.

When it comes to front impact collisions, the Cybex Sirona S impresses.

Image of Cybex Sirona S - the best convertible car seat with load leg
Image of Cybex Sirona S – You can check the price on Amazon

Thanks to this load leg feature, this convertible seat is designed to absorb crash force and can reduce the impact force by a whopping 30%! What makes it even more special is that it’s the only convertible car seat we recommend, as most load leg features are only available in infant car seats. Safety first, right?

image showing load leg in Cybex Sirona S convertible car seat with load leg
An mage showing load leg in Cybex Sirona S convertible car seat with load leg

In addition to its safety features, this car seat offers EasyLock Bar technology that reduces installation force by up to 4x, ensuring secure and effortless installation. Dual-level indicators guarantee the correct recline angle, while the load leg minimizes rotation by up to 30% in certain crash scenarios.

The car seat is equipped with SensorSafe technology that is seamlessly integrated into the chest clip. SensorSafe sends alerts through the app for situations such as child unbuckling, excessive temperature in the back seat, prolonged seated time, or accidental child left behind by the driver.

While side-impact protection is not typically included in standard car seats, this seat offers exceptional safety measures. With its Linear Side-Impact Protection (L.S.P.), it absorbs 25% more impact during collisions compared to car seats without L.S.P. Additionally, its anti-rebound design minimizes car seat rebound movement in the event of a crash.

For a lower price point than Cybex Sirona S which goes for over $500, you can opt for Clek Fllo Convertible Car Seat. Clek Foonf, another Clek brand is close to Sirona S in pricing

Final Word:

The load leg feature in car seats is an innovative safety technology that provides additional protection during front-impact collisions. It can significantly reduce the front collision impact force by at least 30% by reducing the rotation of the car seat during a crash and improving the seat stability.

Compared to an anti-rebound bar (ARB), load leg technology offers superior effectiveness and a wider range of safety benefits. While ARBs reduce impact force, load legs go beyond by mitigating rotation and providing stability. They also offer support to the car seat itself during a crash. Additionally, load legs are more effective, with estimates suggesting a potential reduction in crash force by 30 to 60%, whereas ARBs can only reduce collision impact force by a maximum of 40%.

While anti-rebound bars alone are cheaper, we strongly recommend car seats with load leg over car seats with ARBs. You can also check out our infant car seats safety ratings here.

Load leg is one of the key safety features we ask parents here at SaferForBaby to consider when choosing a safe car seat. Check out all the safety features you should factor in not forgetting the ASTM F3492-21 standards.

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