I recently flew back from the US to New Zealand by myself and I was amazed at how light and unincumbered I felt with just my one carry-on bag. You see, without the wife and baby in tow, I wasn’t laden down with the addition of a bulging baby bag, as well as the stroller +/- the car seat to check at the gate. I actually kept wondering if I’d left something behind! Which got me thinking once again how important it is for us to pack smartly and travel as lightly as possible, without compromising on comfort, functionality and safety when it comes to our travel accessories.
While we are not yet in the market for a booster seat ourselves (our daughter is 17 months old) I know it will only seem like a flash before she is 4 year old and will need one. Researching future purchases is never a waste of time. Booster seats make it safe for children 4 to 11 years (40-100lb and 40-57″ tall) to use adult seat belts. I am only reviewing backless ones because the emphasis of this article is on short to medium term travel and traveling light. Booster seats with built in backs do generally improve shoulder belt fit and provide a little side impact protection.
- 1 BubbleBum Travel Booster Car Seat, Pink Chevron
- 2 mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat, Slate Grey
- 3 Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat, Galaxy
- 4 Cosco Juvenile Top Side Booster Car Seat, Turquoise
- 5 Graco Affix Backless Youth Booster Car Seat with Latch System, Pierce
- 6 Evenflo AMP Select Car Booster Seat, Blue Flames
- 7 WB KidsEmbrace Belt Positioning Backless Booster Car Seat, Batman
- 8 Clek Ozzi Backless Booster Seat, Licorice
This truly is made for the traveling family in mind because it is inflatable which allows it to fold to a smaller size (6.8″x 11.9″x 4.4″)and makes it a lot lighter (1.3lb). In fact it is nearly 4 times lighter than a typical solid booster seat. When inflated it measures 13″W x 13″L X 4″H, which allows you to fit 3 of them across the back seat if you wish. This is a great temporary option for shorter distance travel away from home (e.g taxi/Uber rides). It has a tendency to slide forward under the child if not fitted correctly, and your child will feel more stable and comfortable on a traditional booster seat for day to day travel at home. It comes in this pink Chevron version or black.
This is not actually a booster seat. It works by holding the waist and shoulder belts down to the child’s level. The seats folds in half to a small size and weighs only 1.7lb. It is made for children over 4 years of age who are 40-100lb in weight and 40-57″ tall. Again this not meant to replace your regular booster seat that stays in your car. This is designed for travel and for convenience as an extra “booster” e.g when your child needs a ride home in a friend’s car. Despite it’s unauthorized design it seems to meet the safety standards of the US and most other countries.
This has a traditional backless booster seat design with adjustable armrest heights and integrated, retractable cup holders. It weighs 5.1 lb and has the usual weight and height restrictions mentioned above. It meets or exceeds all US safety standards which is reassuring. It is attached to the seat by the car’s seatbelt system i.e it is not tethered to the seat underneath. It does come with a positioning belt clip to ensure the shoulder belt doesn’t impinge on the child’s neck.
Another good option for travel, this simple booster seat (With no bells and whistles like cup holders) only weighs 2lb and has a cover that can be removed for hand washing. It has a narrower design, approximately 6.5″ High x 16″ Width (across the back from the outer edge of the arm rests) x 14″ Depth (from back to front). This means that in a mid-size vehicle you can fit three of these acros the back seat or combine one booster with 2 baby car seats across the back seat if you needed to. It is small enough to be packed in an average sized checked suitcase. It is approved for children weighing 40-100 pounds and between 43-57 inches in height. It does not come with a shoulder belt positioning clip which some see as a negative. I’m guessing they can be purchased elsewhere.
This highly rated booster seat comes with the bonus of the latch system. This attaches the booster to your back seat, thereby stopping it from moving around when your child gets on and off it. You then easily tighten the tension by pulling on the front adjustment cord. Boosters without the latch system are only held in position when the lap belt is buckled in. Another advantage with the seat being held correctly in place is that older children can just jump onto it and buckle themselves in without any assistance. Any non-latch booster seat requires an adult to ensure it is correctly positioned against the back of the car seat and that the child is buckled in correctly. Unlike the Graco Turbobooster above the arm rest height is not adjustable. The Affix has a cup holder on one side (non retractable) and a small storage drawer on the other side. This seat is a little wider across the back at 17.5 inches and is a little heavier at 5.46 lb. it comes with a shoulder belt positioning clip. I like that the padding material can be removed and machine washed. You can buy the Affix with a high back if you wish (the Graco Affix Youth High Back Booster Car Seat with Latch System )but this makes it much less convenient to travel with and pushes the weight up to 9.11 lb. Just to cause confusion there is also an identical product to the Graco Affix Backless Youth Booster Car Seat called the Graco TurboBooster LX backless booster with Affix Latch System.
For those living in the US, buying an Evenflo product means that you are supporting the American economy because it is made locally in Piqua, Ohio. There are a great range of colors to choose from and the fabric is removable and machine washable. The armrests are nonadjustable and the 2 cup holders have elastic incorporated to allow for some variability in drinking container shape. The elastic was an issue for some people as it makes it easier to knock drinks over. This booster seat weighs 3.8 lb and comes with a belt clip to provide better positioning of the shoulder belt. At it’s widest point it measures just over 16 inches. Unfortunately it does not come with the Latch system so it is only held in place when buckled in by the car seat.
If you normally have trouble getting your child to sit in a seat booster AND they happen to love superheroes, then this one is for them. This brand comes in a range of superhero themes, weighs 3.9 lb and measures 16.5″ across the back. It has no Latch system but does come with a belt positioning clip. It’s fabric cover is removable and machine washable on a gentle cycle. Like some boosters it has essentially no padding and some children find it uncomfortable on longer journeys.
If comfort is what you’re after then this is the best booster seat as it has padding built into it’s design. It costs a bit more but your child will be a lot more comfortable, especially if you are traveling on the road for hours at a time. It has a quick release rigid-Latch system for added safety and stability of the seat. This prevents the seat from becoming a loose missile when not in use, and alsp allows older children to be independent with their buckling in. The Clek Ozzi measures 18.25″ across at it’s widest point, and 13.25″ between the armrests (which are not adjustable). It weighs 5 lb. There is a more expensive model called an Olli which has a cup holder, a carrying strap and is made of fabric that is resistant to stains, odors and moisture.