Best foldable travel car seat of 2018 & Buying guide
Getting a car seat for your baby is one thing. Getting a convertible car seat is another thing entirely. It can be a bit difficult to make a solid decision about buying a car seat without actually having your child sit in it first, and unfortunately, if you’re buying online then you won’t really have that opportunity.
That leaves the research up to you, and we’re hoping to compile enough information on this article to answer all your questions. So, without ado, here we go!
Diono Radian RXT All-In-One
Diono Rainier All-In-One
Diono Rainier All-In-One
What makes foldable car seats special?
Ha – kidding. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s the basis and the only real thing that separates them from regular baby seats. Most foldable baby car seats are a part of a specific product line known as lightweight, convertible baby seats, so on top of being foldable, there’s a ton of unique benefits of getting a seat like this!
- The average convertible car seats tend to be quite heavy. Models built to be easily folded, on the other hand, tend to be extremely light (think a third of the weight of a regular baby seat, and much less compared to a non-foldable convertible.) Typical convertible car seats typically require that you install them, to some degree, into the car itself, when compared to foldable infant seats that can just be easily removed.
- Your foldable seat isn’t restricted to just being used in an automobile. They can work on planes, trains, buses, you name it – and it’s going to be a heck of a lot easier to get them from a to b (depending on the size and weight of your model – some lightweight models make transportation a cinch!)
- Their foldable nature makes them a lot easier to store than the clunky baby seats that take up half your back seat.
- Convertible baby seats are ideal for folk who want to buy one seat to last their child throughout its development. Many adjust from rear-facing seats for when your baby’s at its youngest, to front facing seats when they’re ready to make that transition, and then even into booster seats once your child is physically and mentally developed enough to ride in one.
- Some foldable car seats are small enough that many of them can be used in strollers and some are even comfortable enough to use to transport your baby from a to b.
- If you live with a family or roommates and you have a shared vehicle, having a non-foldable baby seat sitting in the back of the vehicle means problems. If you want to load up the vehicle with passengers, you’re going to have to wrestle the thing out of the back, find somewhere to store it, and then you can accommodate your friends. Foldable seats are typically light enough to be easily removed.
- On top of that, people driving compact cars will find lightweight convertible seats to be a lifesaver. They can be easily folded, they’re not heavy and won’t significantly impact the weight level of your car, and they don’t take up a lot of space.
Any parent considering taking their baby on a plane or on a long drive should consider getting a foldable seat instead of just a regular one. For long distance driving they’re simply more convenient, for plane travel, (though you might have to do some convincing at the airline) they’re a lot more comfortable.
Foldable car seats can be great for low-energy folk
Or maybe not just lazy, but people who are down on their energy levels for other reasons. A lot of convertible car seats seek to provide lightweight alternatives to the traditionally heavy weight of the product. The lightweight, compact design of these alternatives makes them a lot easier to carry from car to car, and provides an ease with which you can store them that might otherwise require a whole bunch of shuffling furniture to find a nook suitable for a full-sized baby seat.
Keep in mind that not all convertible car seats are lightweight. In fact some that are loaded with features and bonuses can turn out to be a lot heavier than a regular baby seat. Look for lightweight models – they’re just better to deal with, especially for long-distance journeys.
Ensuring your foldable seat is safe
No matter how many bells and whistles come with your baby seat, the most important thing is ensuring that those bells and whistles are safe. This isn’t always easy, especially if you’re running on a budget because shoddy car seat makers tend to cut corners to lower prices. Cutting corners on a baby seat is a recipe for a life-changing disaster, so make sure you pay attention to safety.
- Any seat purchased in the USA should be ASTC certified or federally certified for passing safety regulations, as well as having been tested for collisions
- If you’re reading a review on your product, it’s best not to do so on the company’s product page unless they list third-party sources who have confirmed the safety and reliability
- Consider getting your installation job checked out by a professional after you’ve installed the seat. A whopping 73% of estimated baby seats are installed incorrectly, but a correctly installed seat can lower the risk of death by over seventy percent.
- Side-impact protection is important. This comes in the form of extra padding, or thicker & softer padding, on either side of your baby’s head. Some companies have specific side impact protection mechanisms, such as the ability to release air when your child’s head comes into contact.
- Buying a new car seat is the best option because safety is constantly being improved, but this is simply not feasible for many parents on a budget. When buying budget, ensure your seat has a 5-strap harness and good side-impact protection as well as certification seals.
So which one’s the best?
The foldable car seat market isn’t the most bumpin’ thing in the world, so selection isn’t very diverse. These are the best options available for people looking for a foldable car seat.
1. MiFold Grab & Go Car Booster Seat
This is a truly impressive car seat that folds up ten times more than the average folding seat – so small that, when you’re not using it, you can throw it in your glove compartment and pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s often considered the most innovative car seats on the market because MiFold has thrown so many new features into it.
MiFold is made more for toddlers than babies but it’s got a great age range from 4 to 12 years. The size range is impressive as well, it suits both really small and really big kids by being highly adjustable.
You can fit three of these bad boys in the back of your car seat, so you won’t have to worry about leaving any of your kids or their friends out! It can be used for everyday commuting to and from school, on buses and taxis, it can be used on planes, and is great for long-distance travel.
- Extremely innovative and unique design
- Compact enough to fit three in your back seat
- Supports kids of all sizes
- Long lifespan means you can keep it as your child grows
- Can be used in all sorts of travel – planes, trains, boats, you name it
- Quite expensive
2. Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
This is one of the best car seats on the market for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its extreme safety features and its adjustability. It converts into a toddler seat, a preschool seat and booster seat for all the different stages of your kid’s life as it grows up. This makes it a great investment – while the price not be cheap, it’ll last you long enough that you won’t regret making the purchase.
The chair uses memory foam inserts for maximizing comfort as well as providing incredible side-impact protection. You can also fit three of these in the back seat of an average car without cramping it so your kids or their friends will be comfortable. It folds up for easy storage, easy transport, and convenience.
The seat comes with a number of great safety features, not just the memory foam inserts – there’s adjustable straps that can be tightened to accommodate any size of toddler. These seats are actually recommended for tall babies because the height limit for front and rear-facing is higher than average.
- Extremely adjustable for comfort and safety to fit any size of kid
- Fits kids of all sizes
- Can adjust into different types of seat as your kid grows up
- Optimized for long-term usage with a good expiry date
- Definitely not a budget option
- Only one colour
3. Baby Trend Yumi Folding Booster Car Seat
This seat’s made for comfort, safety, and convenience.
- There’s eight settings of adjustability for the headrest which can suit any height or size of baby.
- They have their own patented side-impact system that assures a maximum amount of safety in the case of an impact
- The seat, of course, folds up for convenience into a very compact, lightweight and easy to carry unit. This is ideal for storing it in small spaces without having to rearrange all your furniture.
You can stash it in an airplane compartment, or use it on the seat. The headrest is contoured and will eventually adjust to the shape of your baby’s head. There’s a three position, easily adjustable shoulder strap with a measurement guide included to ensure that you make safe adjustments.
As if to prove a point about convenience and comfort, there are flip-up armrests and two cup holders – one on each side. You can keep your child hydrated, comfortable, and all for a really good price. The model meets all sorts of international certification standards, so you know you’re in good hands.
- A very affordable folding model
- Compacts into a very small size that can be easily stored in your car or on planes
- Built with comfort in mind – has arm rests and drink holders
- Easily adjustable safety features to ease your mind
- Not great for large or tall babies
- Pretty heavy
4. Diono Rainier All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
Another entry from Diono that seems to be topping all the lists of best car seats for all sorts of reasons. This alone is a good indication that Diono makes their seats compatible with a wide range of weight and sizes, as well as for parents who are cautious and require different amounts of safety adjustment.
Diono seats are the best example of how innovation can affect a car seat and this model is no different. It uses patented safety systems for side-impact resistance as well as strapping your child into the seat, ensuring maximum reliability even in the unfortunate event of a terrible accident.
It cracked the record for the highest weight capacities so if your kid is a bit on the bigger side, or just very tall, Diono is the ideal brand for you to choose. It’s built with a full steel frame that manages to be compact enough to fit three of these seats side-by-side in the back of your car.
- Uses patented safety systems
- Certified and crash tested
- Steel frame
- Quite heavy
So which is the best?
The Diono Radian RXT looks to be the best contender on this list. While it might be a bit heavy, the amount of safety features and comfort adjustability jam-packed into this seat make it the clear winner. It’s cheaper than Diono’s later contribution while maintaining most of the same safety features.
It can be used for quite a long time, as these models both broke the height and weight maximums at the time of their creation. This means, despite the price, you’re basically saving money because you won’t have to buy a new seat or booster chair when your kid grows up.
On top of that – and the reason you’re reading this article – it folds up simply and can be stored easily.