Britax Affinity Review by Best Buggy
The Affinity caught our eye when Britax released the first photos. The Affinity is very different in looks and function to the rest of the Britax range. At Harrogate, we were impressed by the style, fabrics, chassis, push and overall quality feel of the Affinity. The Britax design team had clearly put a lot of thought into the Affinity, and they have packed a huge amount of features, into a very reasonably priced, eye catching pushchair.
The Affinity is a mix and match pushchair – there is a choice of chassis colour (black, silver or white), with a range of colour packs (Chilli Pepper, Cactus Green, Blue Sky, Black Thunder, Cool Berry, Fossil Brown) to accessorise the grey seat. We were amazed to find more than just a hood in the colour pack! There were also a liner, shoulder and crotch pads, apron and even a basket liner! The fabrics feel really luxurious and good quality. The liner is very well padded with horizontal seams which make it fit the seat well. We love the contrasting fabric ‘grain’ which is inside the hood, boot cover and on the footmuff (optional extra). This contrast fabric is a small detail, but it makes the Affinity look seamlessly very smart and stylish.
Once again, we were impressed by the quality of the chassis and the fabrics especially considering the price of the Affinity is just £360, and the colour pack is a very impressively reasonable £48. We love the shape of the metal chassis as it gently curves from the handlebar down to the front wheels. We have the black chassis and we love the silver with black button detail on the joints. The Affinity is so stylish and eye catching. The Affinity is also sturdy and chunky feeling without being too big. It is not a flimsy pushchair.
Also included are a raincover, and a padded baby insert with a wedged bottom, so that the Affinity seat unit can be used from birth.
The Affinity seat has a really tall back – 53cms – which makes it one of the tallest pushchair seats we have seen here at BBHQ. The colour pack provides a padded liner which fits on easily. There are also thickly padded shoulder and crotch pads. Britax have paid extra attention to detail here, as the shoulder pads popper usefully on at the top of the harness, and so stay exactly where they should do i.e. on the shoulders. Thus the harness is very comfortable for the child. We dont have to constantly be pushing the pads back up onto the shoulders with each use. To date, the harness pad poppers have stayed fastened despite a lot of use, which is great.
We very much like that the Affinity seat unit can forward or parent face. The seat is very easy to remove – simply squeeze the buttons on either side and lift the seat off. The seat unit drops back on very easily with a little click. There is no fiddling around to find the sockets – very intuiative. The seating position of the child in the Affinity is good. Our youngest has always seemed happy and he looks comfortable in the seat. The seat is a good size for him to nap in too. We like a pushchair to have an adjustable leg rest, especially for a sleeping child, so the Affinity is great for this.
Whilst there is plenty of leg support for a sleeping child, there is not much of a footrest ledge on the actual seat frame for longer legs. However there has been enough of a ledge for our youngest to perch his heels on the edge, and any foot support to be honest, is better than nothing. Although our eldest child (aged 4 years 7 months) doesn’t ride in a pushchair any more, the photos of her in our photosets, show that when the seat is forward facing, the lower footrest is well placed to support her longer legs and feet. We like the detail of the lower footrest area with its ridges on wipe clean plastic. The lower footrest makes a good step for an older child to use to climb into the seat. Our eldest easily fits under the Affinity canopy.
We did have one issue, and that was that when parent facing, our son could actually rest his feet on the back wheel – however we are not going to regard this as a negative because most children his age (nearly 3), will prefer to forward face.
The Britax Affinity is a stroller which will adapt as children grow, and our photos show how it should easily see any child through to the end of their pushchair days.
The included baby insert is a fabulous addition to the Affinity package. Money these days is tight, and we are seeing people being reluctant to buy a carrycot for just 6 months of use. The baby insert is a soft padded cushioned wedge which fits into the ‘bucket’ of the Affinity seat, thus flattening the seat out. This then makes a ‘lie flat’ environment suitable for a newborn baby. Britax have thoughtfully even provided super soft fleece matching harness and crotch pads. The Affinity baby insert seems to give the baby plenty of harness length to go both around the baby insert and also the baby. This may seem a minor point but another leading pushchair has a tight harness when using their baby insert.
Please be aware that we made a mistake in our photos and left the bumper bar in situ, in some of our photos of the baby insert.
NOTE: The bumper bar should not be used when the baby insert is in use.
The pushchair seat apron is an unusual dome shape. We have wondered about the logic for this, but it does allow plenty of room for knees and feet to move without pulling the apron off. The apron cleverly envelopes around the adjustable leg rest area, and then fastens onto both sides of the bumper bar. Our youngest really is not a fan of blankets or raincovers and will do everything to kick them off. He tried and he tried, but he was unable to kick this apron off!! Thumbs up from us!! Although the apron does not sit very high up on an older child, it would cover most of a young baby. There is ample space to tuck blankets underneath the apron, and we think it would be possible to keep a baby warm without needing a footmuff. However, the footmuffs are absolutely gorgeous, and benefit from a middle zip opening and toggles, to pull the footmuff snuggly around the child. The one flaw with not being able to use the bumper bar with the baby insert is that the domed apron does not attach to the bumper bar. It needs attaching to the harness instead. Without the apron on, a baby feels very exposed in the seat unit. We suggest that the carrycot at a reasonable £110, is probably worth buying, in order to keep your newborn well protected from the elements of the winter cold or summer sun.
There are 4 recline positions on the Britax Affinity – from lie flat to very upright with two semi reclined positions in between. Therefore the Affinity can accommodate a newborn child in the baby insert, or an older child who wants to see the world. However the recline levers are not best placed: the recline levers are underneath the front of the seat unit – just above the knee joint. The levers need pulling down to release the seat. At first we liked this innovative positioning and method of reclining the seat. However, reaching these can be tricky especially when trying to reach past the handlebar when parent facing. Also, we have found that you need to stoop down to release the levers which has been no issue in this lovely fine weather, but in rain and snow, this would become an issue with skirts and long coats potentially getting wet on the ground. A button recline lever on the rear of the seat would have been much simpler, however we did like the idea in theory!
The Britax Affinity harness is made from a lovely silky webbing. Sometimes we find silky straps do slide, but the Affinity ones appear to stay put. We have found the shoulder straps to be a little on the short side. Considering we are reviewing the Affinity in late Spring / early Summer when we aren’t wearing thick winter coats, this would be a concern moving forwards into winter again. However the side harness straps are very large. Even with them tightened up on our 4 and a half year old, there is too much space in the straps – the harness could do with tweaking to correct this imbalance. However, the Affinity has a great seating position. So please do not move the crotch strap! Its in the perfect place!!
The harness buckle is a round sturdy affair. Each side needs fitting independently and it takes quite a push to get the buckle to engage. Equally the buckle needs a good push to release. It is easiest to unpop one side at a time, by pressing on that side of the buckle, however it is possible to push hard centrally and then pull each side strap out.
The harness will break into 5 points to facilitate easy liner or footmuff fitting. However the shoulder and side clip back together to make one piece – so that only two points (one from each side of the child) need to go into the buckle and they stay together when released. This is excellent.
Bumper Bar and Hood
As mentioned above, the bumper bar should only be used for child aged 6 months or older who no longer needs the baby insert.
The bumper bar is gate opening, and it will swing completely out of the way to allow great access for a child to climb in and out. However the release button can be quite hard to find – it can be quicker to lift a child over the top than feel for the button. The bumper bar is covered in leather and is stamped with “affinity”. This attention to detail does give the pushchair a quality feel. The bumper bar does finish the pushchair off nicely.
The hood is a generous size. There is a stiff visor on the front edge which sits very nicely proud of the rim of the hood. It does give the feel that your child is being sheltered. There is a very clear plastic peekaboo window on the top of the hood. It is well placed to see the child, although the window is quite small. The window cover has a magnetic catch, which is a touch of luxury.
There are two main panels to the hood, which gives good cover. However there is also a zip out mesh panel hidden under a neat fabric flap, at the rear of the hood for hot days. Unlike the other Britax pushchairs, the mesh panel being at the rear of the hood is well placed. This is because the sun is less likely to get in the eyes of the child, or shine directly onto their head. The through draught will keep the child cool around the head area which is most likely to get hot and sweaty. Zipping the hood back up slightly will make the mesh panel smaller. When the mesh panel is unzipped, the front edge of the main hood then comes much further forwards, to cover the child more.
The leather stitched finish of the handlebar exudes a quality finish. We love the detailing of the handle joints at either side – the silver metal, with the black central button, really stands out as a feature on ours with the black frame. The handlebar has two raised ‘stoppers’ in the centre to prevent damage to the handlebar when folding. However, on our Affinity, the quality is let down because the leather came away from the central Britax logo piece, leaving a gap, within just a few outings. The leather now slides and turns. This has happened on both sides. It is a shame because we notice it every time we push the Affinity.
There are 7 handle height positions on the Affinity. These range from very low – low enough for our 4 year old to push – through to a tall straight up in the air position! There seems to be a handlebar position to suit everyone, however the steps between each notch are quite large. The only downside of the highest position is that it brings the user closer to the pushchair. Thus the highest handle point shortens the stride area. The handlebar is furthest away from the child when it is horizontal. We liked the lowest handlebar position for good access to the child when parent facing – for example when sitting down talking to them, or to easily give them a drink.
The handlebar feels lovely to hold and to use. It feels great, and to be honest the combination of the handlebar, suspension and air tyres, all make the Affinity lovely to push.
Wheels, Handling, Brake and Suspension
The Britax Affinity has two large 12″ rubber air tyres at the rear, and two smaller 6″ EVA soft feel lockable, swivel wheels at the front. There aren’t many four wheeled pushchairs which have air tyres, so it was good to see them on the Affinity. These tyres coupled with the excellent front and rear suspension gives a very smooth and bouncy ride especially on smooth surfaces. However we have noted that at other times, the Affinity can feel quite heavy to push and manoeuvre especially in smaller spaces – but weighing in at 11kgs, the Affinity is quite a heavy pushchair. We do find the Affinity heavy to lift into the car boot and to carry.
We liked the 2 spoke wheels which reflect the ‘wave’ of the Britax logo. Very smart!
The Britax Affinity has adjustable suspension, so that the right level of suspension can be given for the correct age of child. There is a Hard (H) setting and a Soft setting. The two levers are easy to turn, and both should be placed on the same setting. The front suspension springs are very visble at the front.
We love the very visual brake – re press the red side down and the brake is applied; press on the green end and the brake is released. I like that you can simply look down and see clearly whether the brake is on or not.
Storage, Raincover and Accessories
There is a reasonably sized storage basket on the Affinity. We did get 3 lunchbags plus a medium sized handbag or rucksack, and drinks into the basket. However the basket does need packing well because the rear opening is quite shallow but also a little ‘flappy’. It is not a basket to simply throw things into if you dont want them to fall out. We would prefer a higher back to the basket with more ‘upright stiffness’ to feel confident that we won’t lose anything en route.
The basket liner poppers on well to the mesh basket. It has not fallen out yet which is great. The liner adds a splash of colour and makes it easier to see the basket when delving underneath the parent facing seat or carrycot.
The raincover is included with the pushchair. It is fairly simple to put on as long as you put it over the hood first, and then pull downwards over the feet. It is a snug fit, but it is not tight – easier than some of the all plastic raincovers that we have used. There is room for an older child’s feet which is good. The raincover is a very compact size. This is partly because it is largely made from a grey waterproof fabric with just a plastic viewing panel across the upper torso area of the child. We do feel that the grey fabric does inhibit the side and downwards view of a child – they are restricted to seeing from their waist upwards, and personally we would prefer all the lower area to be see through plastic. However the compensation is the small fold, and ease of putting on.
We were so impressed by the Affinity changing bag that we asked to try one in real life. We loved that there was a huge changing mat area – our nearly 3 year old can lie on it, with his bottom on the mat. If the mat is too long, then the end can be simply tucked underneath. We liked that the mat stayed attached to the bag. Best of all we loved how the bag opened sideways i.e. flat, so that you had great access to everything whilst changing your child. There are useful partions inside the bag to keep everything neat and tidy. There is no need to be delving deep into a bag looking for something. Should you need to use a changing table where there isn’t room to open the changing bag flat, then there is zipped access from the top too. We liked that with the weight of the child on the mat, the narrow bag was fairly easy to balance upright on a drop down changing table. The changing bag fits very neatly into the Affinity basket. We did hang our changing bag from the handlebar (probably not advised!) but it slid down. We used some okiedog clipix hooks to hold the bag in place.
Carrycot and Travel System
The Affinity carrycot is a robust hard framed carrycot. The carrycot is grey and comes with the coloured hood and apron of your choice ie there is no requirement to swap the hood from the colour pack across. This does mean that you could have a different coloured carrycot to seat unit, however there is no matching basket liner (not an issue really).
The carrycot arrives ‘flat’. This is not the most flat folding carrycot which we have seen, but the Affinity carrycot is one of the most robust that we have seen. There are two bars in the base of the carrycot which need tugging and clipping in to make the carrycot come up to full height. These were too stiff for me to do at the first attempt, so Mr BB did these. However, on subsequent times when we have used the carrycot, I have been able to put it up and down easily.
The carrycot is very nicely lined in the hood colour fabric. There is also a well padded mattress with a coloured cover.
The carrycot easily lifts on and off the chassis using two squeeze buttons. The hard part is transferring one hand from releasing the side button, to the top to then carry the carrycot using the handle which is situated in the centre of the hood. This also means that you need to remember to put the hood up so that the handle is ready to go, before releasing the side buttons! The hood itself requires both hands to put up, and the hood release buttons are fairly stiff, so you could end up in a pickle. It is not the easiest manoeuvre to lift the carrycot up and off the chassis, past the handlebar, using just the side squeeze buttons.
We love that Britax have produced their fab Baby Safe Plus SHR II seat in colours to match the Affinity colour packs! What a lovely colourful idea. The car seat just clicks onto the chassis.
Theft Protection System
There is an increasing number of pushchairs being stolen each year, plus people scamming innoncent buyers out of money for non existant pushchairs. Thus Britax have decided to try to combat theft by giving each Affinity its own individual chassis code which can be registered at code-no.com. When buying an Affinity, you can input the code (given by the buyer) into the no-code website and it will tell you if the pushchair is registered as stolen or not – assuming the pushchair was registered in the first place! I think this could be a great system. If pushchair manufacturers, could issue these codes with pushchairs AND the retailer registered the details at the point of sale, then I suspect that the black market in pushchairs could reduce.
However, it is also problematic. There is nothing to stop a rogue seller for example taking a photo of a code in a shop, or editing an online photo of an Affinity code, and giving that out to unsuspecting buyers. Our Affinity for example, would come up as being safely with its original owner, thus no warning flags would be raised.
The only way it would really work is with a face to face sale of a second hand pushchair. But that situation requires you to be able to check the number before you leave the house either on the seller’s PC or your mobile?
Fold / Unfold
The Britax Affinity folds with the seat forward facing. When the seat is rear facing, the fold is either a two piece one, or the seat can be turned round to forward facing to fold.
The fold itself is easy to start off. There are two slider buttons on either side of the handle – just below the handle rotation joint. The right hand slider has a small button which needs pushing in, before sliding both sliders upwards at the same time. The Affinity ‘breaks’ in the middle with the handle then going towards the ground. I have to confess, we haven’t got the fold knack particularly well. The handle is longer than the distance between the mid point and front wheels. Thus we find it easier to fold the chassis to the floor. What the Affinity really lacks is a bar above the basket, or a strap like on the iCandy Peach, which you could grasp as the pushchair ‘breaks’: then the fold could be completed in mid air. The fold is probably more intuative with the seat unit on, because there is something else to hold onto to facilitate the fold. It is actually easier to fold the Affinity with the seat on, so that the pushchair ends up freestanding. Just remember to lower the handlebar down before folding, so that the Affinity can stand on it once folded! The handle helps form a stable base – the Affinity freestands very well. The footrest can be tucked under too, to make the folded package shorter – without doing this the Affinity only just fitted into our large car boot widthways. However, if you do tuck the footrest under, remember to straightenit again before unfolding, or else you get stuck unfolding (as Mr BB keeps doing!) There is a fold lock which automatically applies once the chassis is fully closed.
Unfolding is simple – simply release the fold lock and flick the pushchair open and upright until it all clicks. Simple!
There is no doubt that Britax have produced a superb pushchair with the Affinity. The Britax Affinity can easily sit alongside pushchairs priced at several hundred pounds more, for a quality feel and stylish appearance. The attention to detail on even the smallest things has really paid off. The value for money is outstanding – we all would have put the price at well over £600 for what you get.
The Affinity is easy to use. The seat and other options are simple to interchange. The Affinity has the baby seat insert included in the box to get new parents started, but there are also carrycot and car seat options from birth. The Affinity seat unit is a generous size and the children look comfortable. Details such as a hood visor, zip out mesh panel, harness pads and basket liner are all fantastic to see, especially on a pushchair in this price range. We love that relatively cheaply, the coloured pack can be changed for a new arrival, or simply for a fresh look. The air tyres and adjustable suspension give a cushioned ride.
The only negatives for us are the seat recline, and harness (the shoulder straps are too short and the waist straps are too long) along with the movement in the leather on our handle. The basket could do with being a bit deeper at the rear to prevent items falling out. However we suspect all these things could be easily altered, which would leave Britax with the perfect pushchair! Well done Britax for breaking the style mould, and producing a fabulous pushchair!
With many thanks to Britax for helping us with this review.
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