The UPPAbaby Mesa has had a few updates since it was first introduced in 2013 – most notably the removal of the European belt path in 2015. This is not a seat we typically recommend – as since 2015 it lacks a European belt path on the carrier, the base is frequently looser than we would like, and the harness straps are difficult to tighten on the child.
In 2015, UPPAbaby removed the European belt path on the carrier, leaving it with an American belt path. UPPAbaby’s stated rationale for this puzzling change was that it was done to make the carrier lighter, but their carrier is still heavy at 9.9 pounds! We’re saddened that they chose to remove a safety feature that weighed all of a few ounces in order to be able to say their carrier weighs under 10 pounds. Who takes off a safety feature for heaven’s sake that in their own words “allows for a more secure carrier-only installation”???
Slide from UPPAbaby webinar when Mesa first launched, showing the European belt path and touting it’s safety advantage
2015 & newer Mesa without a European belt path – there’s no blue guide on back of carrier
Further complicating the carrier installation, the belt guides for the vehicle lap belt are so tiny that sometimes due to where the vehicle’s lap belt is anchored it doesn’t stay in the belt guides… which is dangerous and means the seat can’t be installed in that position (see image below).
Vehicle lap belt completely outside of Mesa’s blue lap belt guide (on side closest to buckle)
Shoulder Strap Covers: These are never required, and we recommend removing them from day one – as not only do they add extra pressure into the side of the baby’s neck, but they also make the straps twist.
Infant Insert: This is the insert that comes in the seat and goes under the baby’s bottom and behind their lower back. UPPAbaby recommends its use for kids 4-8 pounds. In our experience, it may not be necessary for some of even the smallest babies – but will almost certainly not be needed for the 7-8 pound babies. The 5lb baby in the picture above is not using the infant insert.
The following handle positions are allowed for this car seat when it is in a car.
For older versions of the Mesa that have the European belt path, we recommend using the carry position when installing the carrier without the base – as the travel and stand positions interfere with the proper routing of the shoulder belt in the European belt path.
The taller the adults sitting in front, and/or the smaller the back seat is, the more attention you’ll want to pay to this image below. Many parents are shocked by how much room a rear-facing car seat can take up into the front seat’s territory.
The blue seat belt lock-off on the original Mesa was lousy – the seat belt usually slipped through it, which means it didn’t lock the belt. If you have an original Mesa, you can call UPPAbaby and they’ll send you a silicone insert to put in the lock-off that helps it work better… but it still isn’t great. If you have one of these older bases we’d suggest installing with LATCH.
About a year later they redesigned the lock-off and now it holds the belt securely and doesn’t let it slip.
Unfortunately, due to the contour of the Mesa base, in some vehicles it doesn’t yield the secure installation we’d like to see and the front end of the base fishtails side to side a lot (see the end of the LATCH installation video below to see what we mean by fishtailing). The Mesa base is unpredictable – in some positions it will get tighter when installed with the seat belt, while in others it will get tighter with LATCH.
We’ve found the green/red tension indicator on the top of the base to be unreliable. If it shows red, you are definitely too loose. However, we’ve seen it show green and the base is still way too loose. Therefore, once it shows green, make sure you check the base and see if it feels tight – and if doesn’t, push harder & get it tighter.