As we wrote in our guide to infant car seats, the stringent rules surrounding car seat use are merited. Among them were certified Child Passenger Safety technicians such as Lani Harrison, a seasoned tech in Los Angeles who installs more than 300 car seats each year; car seat safety advocates such as Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, who spearheaded Oregon’s “rear-facing until 2” rule, which became law in May 2017 (Hoffman is also an unpaid consultant for car seat maker Chicco); and leaders of organizations that have argued both for and against a proposed federal side-impact standard. This booster seat performed well in crash testing and is lighter and easier to use than our main pick in some ways, but its back has a tendency to come apart when it’s being moved … But with all that testing, Wirecutter didn’t come out with only one pick. We hoped that our crash-testing might provide some insight into how the same seat performs in a side-impact collision when installed rear-facing versus forward-facing. Britax’s One4Life convertible car seat – like several other of the best convertible car seats – can be used from birth until your child can use a regular seatbelt. "Weighing under eight pounds, this travel car seat won't add extra weight to your suitcase." Getting the right install with many seats requires a great deal of muscle and maneuvering. The Britax has a no-rethread harness, meaning that the placement of the shoulder straps can be easily adjusted in seconds, even with a kid in the seat. And no matter what convertible car seat you choose, we have some tips on how best to install and use it. Clek was the first company to offer a seat that rear-faces until a child hits 50 pounds, and the company’s higher seat back and L-shaped angle make it easier for kids to sit rear-facing as they get older. Britax’s innovative ClickTight installation system relies on a car’s seat belt instead of a car’s built-in LATCH system, meaning there’s no fishing between seat cushions to locate sometimes hard-to-find hardware, and little muscle—or sweat—required to get a quick and secure install. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. In researching travel car seats in particular, I also interviewed representatives from leading travel-seat manufacturers, including Doona and WAYB. Unlike our pick and many of the other seats we tested, the Extend2Fit has built-in cupholders, which many families use to hold snacks as well as drink bottles. The recall specifically applies to Pico car seats manufactured between March 1 (when the seat first became available) and May 12, 2019. This inflatable backless booster is popular in carpools and for travel because it weighs just 1 pound, stows away easily, and is simple to set up. Be prepared to replace the seat if it’s broken or bent. Since car seats are not required to be certified before sale, several of the seats included in our at-home testing did not yet have government crash-test data, which limited our ability to compare results systematically. What is the best convertible car seat for travel? 11 min read. Also, age 5 is the beginning of when they might have the maturity to be able to sit still,” said Child Passenger Safety technician Lani Harrison. Weight of seat: 6.8 poundsOrientation: rear- or forward-facingWeight limit: 5 to 40 poundsHeight limit: 43 inches. Whenever possible, keep kids in a high-back booster until they outgrow it. Other Graco models A car seat that has been involved in a moderate or serious accident should also be thrown away, though a seat can continue to be used after a minor crash if all of the following criteria are met: You are able to drive away from the crash site; airbags did not deploy; there are no injuries to passengers; there is no visible damage to the car seat; and the vehicle door nearest the car seat is left undamaged. Alone among their peers, the company self-publishes its internal crash-testing results. You can gate- or baggage-check any car seat for free with most airlines, but lugging your regular seat in and out of the car and through the airport can be a major hassle. As someone who has gone through the training to become a CPS technician, I’ve learned that understanding proper installation is a very different skill from actually accomplishing it. Shoulder straps should be positioned in the harness slot right below the shoulders when rear-facing, and at or above the shoulders when forward-facing. In September 2019, WAYB announced it was recalling 4,558 Pico car seats manufactured between March 1 and May 12, 2019, due to reports of breakage in the aluminum tube connecting the headrest to the seat, similar to the break we discovered on our test unit. The Extend2Fit comes with two cupholders that click in and are easy to remove for cleaning. Few people strictly need a separate car seat for travel as you can gate- or baggage-check any car seat for free with most airlines. It reclines to seven positions. Several key notes: The tests we commissioned through Calspan are not part of the current federal compliance standard. (Once the child has outgrown rear-facing, they may still likely fit in the seat forward-facing.) All cars and car seats manufactured after Sept 1, 2002, include the LATCH option.) 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