Britax has several convertible car seat choices, two of which are the Marathon and the Advocate. The Advocate is significantly more expensive than the Marathon because of added features. These features include additional side impact protection, a harness indicator, and a wider range of child height limits. Despite the additional features, the Britax Advocate is not worth the additional cost over the Britax Marathon in my honest opinion. Both are great car seats, but the Marathon is sufficient enough and has everything you need and more.
How are they different?
- Advocate only has Clicktight option
- Marathon has both Clicktight and Non-Clicktight options
(See similarities below for more information on Clicktight!)
Side impact protection
The Britax Advocate has more side impact protection than the Britax Marathon. The Advocate includes a head protection cushion and extra side cushion to absorb energy in the event of a car accident. While obviously, you want the safest car seat for your child, the Advocate is significantly more expensive than the Marathon. If you are on a budget and need to weigh the benefits versus the price, rest assured that the Marathon is already above and beyond what it needs to be when it comes to safety.
Click and Safe Snug Harness Indicator
The Advocate has what Britax calls their “Click and Safe Snug Harness Indicator.” The harness indicator lets you know, with an audible click, when your child’s harness is tightened enough. This is a neat feature, but I don’t find it absolutely necessary to spend the extra money for the Advocate because of it.
Britax warns that you still must check the harness, even when using the click and safe snug harness indicator, to make sure it is truly snugly fit on your child. The harness indicator is simply a way to double check.
Number of harness positions
The Advocate has two extra harness positions that the Marathon lacks. The harness positions are an important part when it comes to ensuring the harness is properly snug on your child. The harness straps are supposed to lead into the back of the car seat right at your child’s shoulder level. This is the safest way to have them in the event of an accident. The Marathon has 12 harness positions and the Advocate has 14. Both of these numbers are unusual in the world of car seats. They often don’t have this many available positions.
Both the Advocate and the Marathon have the same spacing between harness positions, the Advocate just allows for more room to grow than the Marathon. The Marathon has a maximum seated child height limit of 16.95 inches, whereas the Advocate has a seat child height limit of 18.65 inches. While both car seats have the same standing child height limit of 49 inches, the Advocate gives just a little more wiggle room when it comes to seated height.
Car seat weight
- Marathon 28.5 pounds
- Advocate 30.6 pounds
Both of these are heavy car seats – definitely not seats that are easy to travel with by any means. I currently have the Marathon for my son, and it is possible, but definitely, a pain, to switch it between cars! While I don’t think the weight difference between the two car seats makes one any better or worse than the other, it definitely is something to consider if you’re comparing these seats with other car seats as well.
- Marathon: 18.5 inches wide
- Advocate: 20.5 inches wide
Because of the added side impact protection, the Advocate is slightly wider than the Marathon.
Summary of differences
- Although the Advocate has extra layers of side impact protection, the Marathon’s impact protection is more than sufficient.
- The Advocate does have the Click and Safe snug harness indicator, which is an audible sound that allows you to know that your child’s harness is tight enough. I don’t find this an absolute necessity because as long as you follow guidelines for tightening and positioning the harness, you should have a proper fit.
- The Advocate just isn’t worth the extra cost in my opinion–the additional features don’t outweigh the additional cost. The Britax Marathon with Clicktight is a great car seat, and a cut above most car seats on the market in my opinion, it is more than sufficient to provide safety and security for your little one.
How are they the same?
The Marathon and Advocate share the following limitations:
- Rear-Facing Child Weight Limit : 5 – 40 lbs
- Forward-Facing Child Weight Limit : 20 – 65 lbs
- Child Standing Height : 49″ or less
What is Clicktight?
Clicktight is a feature to help ensure your car seat is installed correctly each and every time. The way it works is, you lift open the front of the car seat, feed the seat belt through, and shut the front of the car seat. It tightens the seat belt for you, making sure it is tight enough and the car seat won’t shift or budge. It is incredibly easy to do, and takes a lot of the hassle out of installing your child’s car seat.
You can get the Britax Marathon without the Clicktight option at a lower cost. I do recommend getting the Clicktight option, because I find it to be a great feature that can greatly reduce the chances of installing your car seat incorrectly. But if you don’t find it necessary, you can get the Marathon which is a great seat, at an even lower cost.
Safe Cell Impact Protection
Both of these convertible seats include Britax’s Safe Cell impact protection. The side impact protection includes a steel frame, a foam-lined shell, and an impact-absorbing base. All of these features help reduce impact forces in the event of a collision.
Easy buckle system
Both the Marathon and the Advocate feature Britax’s easy buckle system. The easy buckle system keeps the buckles out of the way after you take your child out of the seat so that it is easier to put them back in the seat. This way you don’t have to go searching for the buckles under your child each time! It’s actually a really nice feature – something I didn’t realize was such a plus until I used it!
One of my favorite features that these Britax seats have is a level indicator. This may seem silly – it doesn’t directly affect your child’s comfort or anything. But it is an easy way to make sure the seat is positioned at the correct level. Other car seats rely on a simple line that you must make parallel with the ground, but I find this hard to do. The level indicator is much more reliable.
Easy remove cover
It’s of utmost importance to me to have a cover that is easy to remove and clean. Toddlers are destined to make messes so I like to be prepared for the worst! The cover on the Marathon and on the Advocate are easy to remove. This is something that you’d think would be standard on all car seats but amazingly is not!
Unfortunately, the cover is NOT machine washable. Although some parents out there have stated that they have machine washed the cover without issue, it is very expensive to replace so I wouldn’t risk it.
Premium padding and fabrics
The Britax Marathon and Advocate feature comfortable padding and premium fabrics. I can say from experience in using the Marathon with my son that these are comfortable seats. We had a Graco before that had much less padding, and it was becoming apparent that my son was uncomfortable. He loves his seat now, and doesn’t mind sitting in it, even for long trips. The fabric is very soft, and easy to wipe clean of crumbs and spills.
Britax Marathon with Clicktight
- 4.4 out of 5 stars, 175 reviews – Target.com
- 4.5 out of 5 stars, 339 reviews – Babies “R” Us
- 4.6 out of 5 stars, 159 reviews – Target.com
- 4.6 out of 5 stars, 166 reviews – Babies “R” Us
See our best car seat lineup for other reviews and comparisons.
NHTSA Ease of Use Rating Comparison
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issues ease of use ratings (see below) for each car seat. The easier to use and the clearer the instructions, the more likely your child is to be buckled up properly every time.
The Britax Advocate in rear-facing mode received 4 stars and got 5 stars in the forward-facing category.
The Marathon, not surprisingly got the same scores.
The Marathon and the Advocate are both great car seats. If you don’t mind spending extra money, there is no reason to not get the Advocate, since it is basically an upgraded version of the Marathon. However, I don’t think the additional features on the Advocate are necessarily worth the added cost. Therefore, I recommend the Marathon over the Advocate because it really is everything you need and then some. I do also recommend getting the Marathon with the Clicktight feature because it is a great way to ensure proper installation.