The two car seats are similar, so I didn’t expect to pinpoint a clear winner.
But I did get one!
And it was a landslide victory.
One of the two seats is clearly better – both in absolute terms and in value for money. Still, there are scenarios where the “loser” would still be the superior choice.
Bear with me as I put it all together and reach conclusions about which of the two is the better seat for you.
UPPAbaby Mesa infant car seat – specs, features, and key benefits
Specifications of the UPPAbaby Mesa seat
|seat dimensions||26.5 x 17.5 x 23|
|base dimensions||21.3 x 14.5 x 10.3|
|weight||Car Seat + Base – 20 lbs.|
|weight capacity||4 – 35 lbs.|
|maximum height||35 inches|
|expiration after manufacturing||7 years|
Defining features of the Mesa
- Retractable LATCH connectors – make the installation much easier.
- Color-coded tightness indicator – leaves little room for mistake when installing the seat.
- The five-point harness is no retread – this simplifies adjusting the seat size.
- Protective canopy – protects the baby from the sun (UPF 25) and light.
- It comes with an infant insert, which makes it comfy for newborns, even preemies.
Versions of the UPPAbaby Mesa
There are no significant differences in dimensions, weight, or features between the four. The two key differences are the materials used in the padding and the color schemes.
Jordan and Henry are premium seats that cost a peg more than Jake and Bryce. The padding here is Merino wool, which is a natural fire retardant, an excellent insulator, and hypoallergenic.
The color schemes of the Henry and Jordan seats are Blue Marl and Charcoal Melange, respectively.
Benefits and standout features
(what makes Mesa better than other infant car seats)
In this section, I’ll go over some of the standout features of the UPPAbaby Mesa, and I’ll place a special focus on how they compare to the competition.
Safety – a chemical-free approach
UPPAbaby Mesa not only meets but exceeds the federal safety guidelines, especially in terms of side impact and head protection.
UPPAbaby’s transparent about how they got there – by adding extra layers of specialized EPP foam in the head area.
Why EPP makes a massive difference
EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) is superior to other foam types in more ways than one:
- It absorbs more energy on impact (G-force tolerance)
- Maintains shape better
- Its strength to weight ratio is higher
- It’s more water and chemical-resistant
Why Merino wool makes a difference
Most of the advertising surrounding Merino wool will talk about the premium feel and the temperature isolation. We all know the adage that wool keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
To be honest, I’m not impressed by that part. I’m even less interested in the premium feel that it emanates.
It’s the natural fire-resistant properties that made the difference back when I decided to buy the UPPAbaby Mesa. It means that the seat can be made fire-retardant without chemical treatment.
And that’s a biggie for a safety-conscious parent.
UPPAbaby Mesa installation
If I had to rate the ease of installation, I’d probably go with a 9 out of 10.
The design is parent-oriented, everything clicks securely into place, and you have visual indicators that foolproof the process.
These are a few key points to keep in mind:
- To level the base, you just need to ensure that no red is visible on the site indicators.
- The LATCH installation is straightforward. You position the seat, press the orange area at the top to release the LATCH buckles, and push them into the vehicle seat until you hear a click. When you need to remove the LATCH, you just unbuckle it, and it self-retracts into the base.
- To install the UPPAbaby Mesa using the vehicle’s seatbelt, follow the light blue path and thread the belt through the side handles.
- To confirm that the base is installed correctly, give it a wiggle until you hear a click. The level indicator on the top will turn green.
You see what I mean when I say parent-oriented – it’s all color-coded and intuitive.
Note: Don’t be confused if you see the term Smart Secure System thrown around. It’s just a name that UPPAbaby gave to the level indicator-LATCH combo. I use language like this sparingly, and it’s intentional. An average parent reading my stuff prefers plain language.
Five stars for ease of use by the NHTSA
You probably already know this, but the NHTSA awards every piece of baby gear like this a star rating for ease of use.
They rated the UPPAbaby Mesa with a maximum of five stars.
We already covered the main reasons, so I’ll just briefly touch on the other contributing factors:
- No retread harness (5-point) – to adjust the seat size, press the tab on the top of the seat and adjust the headrest. The harness will auto-adjust.
- One-hand carrier removal – this one’s simply smart. Instead of unlocking buttons on the side (which you see in most car seats), the UPPAbaby Mesa carrier has a single blue button that disconnects the carrier from the base. If you’re driving around town with chores to do, this will make all the difference.
- Get the buckles out of the way – UPPAbaby made storage pockets for the buckles so that you can move them out of the way when getting the baby in and out of the infant car seat. It’s not only convenient, but it shows attention to detail, too.
About Maxi Cosi Mico 30 – the basics, features, and benefits
Specs of the Maxi Cosi Mico
|Maxi Cosi Mico 30||Specs|
|Dimensions (seat and base)||31.5 x 18 x 15.5|
|Dimensions of the base||23 x 16.5 x 8|
|expiration after manufacturing||8 years|
Key features of the Maxi Cosi Mico 30
- “Pure-Cosi” fabric – proprietary blend with no wool or fire-retardants
- Moisture-wicking textile – keeps your baby dry even when the seat is damp
- All the fabrics are removable, machine washable and dryer-safe
- Adjustable recline angles of the base
- Curved, ergonomic handle – when you need your hands, you can carry the car seat by bending arms at the elbow and hooking the seat on.
- Thick, oversized canopy with a flip-out visor – light and sun protection
- Infant pillow – extra cushion for smaller babies
Maxi Cosi Mico Max and Mico 30 – what’s different
The differences are nuanced:
- Maxi Cosi Mico Max features air protects technology for site impact (not there in the Mico 30)
- The Mico Max has a slightly wider weight range (5-30 vs. 4-30 pounds)
- Canopy all the Max version is slightly longer wine
- The Head area on the Max is more generously padded
- Mico 30 has no anti-rebound bar
Bottom line – the Maxi Cosi Mico Max is the slightly better option of the two car seats.
Main benefits of the Maxi Cosi Mico
Proprietary fabric blend
I’m not sure what’s in the Pure-Cosi fabric blend, but it’s a great alternative to wool because no fire-retardants are used to make it.
It’s also fully removable, machine washable, and dryer-friendly.
Finally, it wicks moisture away from your baby’s skin keeping them dry (ish) during those sweat rushes.
Installation of the Maxi Cosi Mico 30
To level the base, pull the recline handle and adjust the angle. There’s no level indicator on the base, so you’ll have to use the leveling line on the carrier.
To install the base using the seat belt, you thread it through the openings on the side and buckle it in. To tighten the seat belt, pull it all the way out and allow it to self retract until there’s no slack.
The LATCH connectors are stored in the base. To release them, press the red button on each connector.
Here’s a brief outline of the LATCH install:
- The adjustor (buckle) on the belt should be on the right-hand side of the base
- Lock the LATCH connectors into the back seat
- After making sure the strap is not twisted, tighten it until there’s no slack
When installed correctly, the base won’t budge more than one inch in any direction.
Using the Mico 30 without the base
Today, most car seat bases, including the UPPAbaby Mesa, don’t bother with the European seat belt path.
It’s the safer belt path and I’m glad that some infant car seats still use it; the Maxi Cosi Mico is a case in point.
Comparison of the UPPAbaby Mesa and Maxi-Cosi Mico 30 (head-to-head)
As we move through the quality categories, we’ll award one point to the winner of each and 0.5 if it’s a tie.
Car seat safety – UPPAbaby Mesa vs. Maxi-Cosi Mico 30
UPPAbaby boasts extra layers of EPP, while Maxi Cosi brags about their superior Air Protect feature. Both have above-average safety ratings.
Score: UPPAbaby Mesa | Maxi Cosi Mico 30 – 0.5 : 0.5
Weight, height, and age limits of the Mesa and Mico 30 infant seat
The UPPAbaby Mesa has a higher weight limit (35 versus 30 pounds). The lower weight limit is four pounds for both the Mico Max 30 and Mesa (and 5 pounds for the Mico 30).
The maximum height for the UPPAbaby Mesa is listed at 35 inches, which is three more than that of the Mico 30.
UPPAbaby Mesa wins the weight and height capacity category.
Score: UPPAbaby Mesa | Maxi Cosi Mico 30 – 1.5 : 0.5
Portability – weight, and bulk of the seats
Mico 30 comes with one of the lightest carriers in its class, and it’s two pounds lighter than the UPPAbaby Mesa (11 vs. 9), which makes it more portable.
Yet, I feel that the difference in weight doesn’t merit a full point – for two reasons:
- Mico 30 is two inches longer (overall), and its base is two inches wider
- You need two hands to separate Mico from the base
I call a draw.
Score: UPPAbaby Mesa | Maxi Cosi Mico 30 – 2 : 1
Installation of UPPAbaby Mesa vs. that of Maxi Cosi infant seats
Installing the car seat base – LATCH and seatbelt installation
The UPPAbaby Mesa base is the superior option, whether you use the LATCH or the seat belt.
To be honest, this category is not even close.
The car seat base of the Mesa is easier to install, and you get visual confirmation every step of the way, from the level indicators on the side of the car seat base to the tightness indicator on the top.
There’s too much guesswork when installing the Mico 30 base, starting from the fact that you get no direct feedback on level or tightness.
Score: UPPAbaby Mesa vs. Maxi Cosi Mico 30 – 3 : 1
Using the seat without the base
The Maxi Cosi Mico 30 is more convenient to use without the base because it features a European seatbelt path, which is more stable.
Point Maxi Cosi.
Score: UPPAbaby Mesa vs. Maxi Cosi Mico 30 – 3 : 2
Maxi Cosi vs. UPPAbaby Mesa – the final whistle
In my opinion, the UPPAbaby Mesa is the better infant car seat of the two.
The key advantages are the higher weight and height limit and the parent-friendly installation features.
Maxi Cosi Mico 30 is not a bad car seat by any stretch of the imagination, and there’s no shame in losing to one of the best infant car seats out there.