Lightweight Convertible Car Seats For Infants and Toddlers
Getting your kids safely into the car before driving can be tough—especially if you have more than one! And when your kids need a car seat for the ride, things can get even more difficult. There are straps to tighten and adjustments to make, and sometimes, you even have to carry and install the seat itself into the vehicle. This is true for many parents who share a convertible car seat between cars.
So it makes sense that you want the lightest convertible car seat you can find, and that’s where this extremely comprehensive review comes in. I hope you are able to learn a thing or two and find a lightweight convertible car seat that fits you and your family’s needs.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Britax USA Marathon ClickTight
- Protection from Side Impacts
- 2014 Maxi Cosi Pria 70
- Features new side impact technology
- Chicco NextFit Convertible, Matrix
- Leveling system with 9-position options
Benefits to a Convertible Car Seat
A lightweight car seat has more benefits than just for carrying around. You also need to ensure that you have a car seat for other forms of travel. For example, these kinds of seats are very much needed on plane rides and on long distance car rides. There are many unique benefits to buying a lightweight car seat!
- They are essential for fitting easily into compact cars and not added a lot of extra weight and bulk to your car load
- Great for families who share a car seat for multiple cars
- Easier to transport on an off planes
- Great when using the car seat to also transport small babies by hand or in a stroller
- Helpful when taking inside for cleaning or repairs
Again, let us mention how important finding the best convertible car seat for travel is as well. We’re talking long distance travel either in the car or a plane. For example, many parents do not understand that car seats are not provided for air travel, so it’s important that you bring your own.
This can come as a shock to some people who have bulky, heavy car seats. You certainly don’t want to have to lug a heavy seat on and off a plane. And additionally, if your baby is seated next to someone else, a large car seat could cause problems. This is yet another reason to opt for a lightweight car seat that is also compact.
10 Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seats
1. Britax Marathon ClickTight
In addition, the Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible car seat features special safeguards that will protect them from severe side impacts in the case of an accident or collision. The expertly made steel frame and impact absorbing base will do the best job at keeping your baby safe. Finally, there are premium fabrics and padding used in the making of this product, and you will get the added bonus of having a removable pillow that is especially nice for newborns and very small infants. These tiny little ones may be slightly small for the cradling of the base, so adding the pillow can help keep them snug inside while you drive. As usual, this car seat can fit rearward or forward in your vehicle.
The Britax Marathon ClickTight can be purchased in several fun color designs, including cowmooflage, twilight, verve, rio, vibe and prescott.
Protection from side impact thanks to foam shell
Very sturdy and durable
Easy to install Clicktight system
The dial on the Clicktight is too difficult to turn
2. Maxi-Cosi Pria 70
There is also an excellent harness height adjustment system in the front that can be changed with just one hand. This adjustment also allows for minute changes to make the fit of your child perfect. The rear facing adjustments are easy to make as well. One thing that parents were slightly annoyed by with this car seat was the fact that it weighs 18 pounds, which is slightly more than some of the other lightweight models but less than most regular car seats. Some parents also voiced concern about the price.
The 2014 Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 car seat can be purchased in a number of classic color schemes to match your vehicle. These colors include the total black model as well as the walnut brown, steel grey, mineral grey and dress blue models.
Air protect safety system
Excellent harness height adjustment system
Very versatile, can be used both rear and front facing
Hard to thread installation belt
3. Chicco NextFit
Safety features are prevalent on this model as well. There is a SuperCinch LATCH Tightener included in the model, which gives the the tightest and most secure connection of any seat without having to put forth a lot of elbow grease. It is also extremely easy to convert the seat from a rear facing model to a forward facing model. This can be done simply and in only a few steps with the integrated slide path for repositioning and altering the LATCH straps. When installing this car seat, there are 2 RideRight bubble levels to watch so that you can make sure you have the seat at the correct and optimal level and height.
The Chicco NextFit convertible car seat can be purchased in 3 colors, including mystique, purple and studio.
Deep headwings with EPS foam
Designed for all growth stages, can be used both rear and front facing
Simple installation with LATCH system utilizing SuperCinch technology
6 position no-rethread harness
Doesn’t take up a lot of room in rear-facing mode
A bit bulky
4. Evenflo Tribute 5
The Evenflo Tribute 5 is a great little seat that comes at an excellent price for new parents. The seat features the trademark 5 point harness system to keep children securely and safely in place. It also has an upfront harness adjustment that makes it easy to change the tightness of the harness with just one hand.
Parents tend to especially love this seat for the price, and they also like that it grows with children. Even newborns can fit in this seat at 5 pounds, and the seat accommodates children up to 40 pounds. As children grow and you get more use out of this product, you may need to wash the car seat pad. This is easily done with a simple to remove seat pad that is 100 percent washable in the washing machine. The seat is lightweight, coming in at only 10 pounds.
This seat is a wonderful choice for new parents who may be looking to save some money, but there were a few concerns that parents had. First, sometimes, the release button to get the child out of the seat jammed for a few reviewers, and second, a few children had trouble reaching the side cup holder. This latter feature may be something that is just meant for older kids.
EPE registered foam headrest
5 point harness
One of the most affordable lightweight seats on the market
Lacks comfort features
5. Combi Coccoro
Other features on this seat include a strap equipped with a tether connector that can help with installation of the seat when facing to the rear of the vehicle. There is also a great little buckle cue that lets you know visually when you have securely buckled your child in. This is a great cue for new parents who aren’t sure what they’re doing yet or family members or babysitters who may not be familiar with your particular car seat model. This feature ensures the safety of your child every time they go in the car.
The Combi Coccoro Harness can be purchased in a number of fine colors, including grape, cherry pie, chesnut, licorice and keylime.
Compact and lightweight design
Tested to meet all federal requirements
Not compatible with any strollers
6. Baby Trend Flex-Loc
There were many positive customer reviews for the Baby Trend Flex-Loc seat. One woman was in a ‘horrific’ car accident and panicked when she did not hear her child afterwards, only to find him playing with his toes, completely unharmed. Others loved the materials, and the ease of installation. Some said that the seat fit well into their compact car. It also fit will in cars with multiple car seats. Many customers loved the feature that allowed them to hook it easily onto their stroller without having to disturb or wake the baby. The main complaint from negative reviewers was that the handle was difficult to move up and down when taking the seat in and out of the car due to the buttons being stiff. Some of the other negative reviews were about difficulty installing the seat in the car. One woman felt the seat made her baby sit in too much of an upright position.
Overall, if you are looking for a rear facing infant seat that will keep your baby safe and comfortable, that is easily portable outside of the vehicle, will attach to many Baby Trend brand strollers and is affordable then you will be happy with the Baby Trend Flex-Loc.
4-position height adjustment
Fits into several Baby Trend strollers
5-point no thread safety harness
Handle difficult to move down or up when taking the seat out
7. Evenflo Stratos 65
When it comes to comfort for your child the Evenflo Stratos is a winner. The Stratos has an air-flow ventilation system that helps with temperature regulation no matter what the weather is like. It is padded and the padding is removable for easy washing; it also has a plush pillow to support babies head, and two cup holders within the child’s reach. If you choose to purchase this option, you can be assured of both your child’s safety as well as comfort.
Some of the top positive customer reviews spoke about how the seat had saved their child’s life when in and accident and they were so pleased that they replaced the seat with this same model. Other reviewers also talked about buying additional seats of this model.
There were very few negative reviews and they were the headrest not fitting well for a particular child, and having trouble with operating the buckle.
6 harness positions
5 positions to adjust the headrest
Padding is removable for easy washing
2 cup holders
Trouble while operating with buckles
8. Graco Contender 65
It features the Simple Safe Adjust Harness System. This allows you to use just one hand to unharness the no re-thread automatically adjustable harness. The Simply Safe Harness system has been side-impact tested for occupant retention.
This seat also has a headrest that adjusts to eight different positions to grow along with your child. The two-tone grey ‘Glacier’ design is classic and pleasing to the eye. It also features hook latch connectors and the harness adjusts externally.
One positive customer review of the Graco Contender 65 was from a Pediatric ICU doctor who gave it five stars. They also liked how it was easy to adjust for different size kids, and the easy installation with the hook latch was a plus. Negative reviews included difficulty installing using the seatbelt instead of the hook latch, and one thought it was too large for their backseat with multiple seats.
Overall, the Graco Contender is a highly rated, safe and a comfortable seat that will adjust and grow along with your child from birth until they weigh 65 pounds.
Easy installation with a hook latch
Adjusts well to kids of different sizes
A bit large
9. Graco MySize 65
Some other nice features include the cover, which snaps on and off which allows easy washing without having to uninstall the seat from the car. It has one cup holder within easy reach of the child, and the headrest and harness adjust together to grow with your child. The seat also reclines to three different positions.
Some of the positive customer reviews for the Graco MySize 65 state that is fits well in the back seat side by side with other car seats, it has “better than average” legroom in the rear facing position, it is easy to install, and the height limit is “amazing”. Negative reviews included customer difficulty with buckles and straps, it lacks a “lock-off” for seatbelt installation as opposed to latch installation, and that the latch installation is only good up to 45 pounds.
It is still a great value option when compared to other seats of similar quality that cost much more.
1 Second latch attachment
More legroom in the rear facing position
Better than average height limit
Buckles and straps difficult to use
10. Safety 1st Happenstance
It features four harness heights and three buckle locations to adjust with your child as he or she grows. It also meets or exceeds all Federal Safety Standards. It has a hook latch connector for both security and ease of installation. The classic design of the Happenstance should look good with most vehicle upholstery.
The positive customer reviews for this product included praises for the seat saving their baby’s life. Others said it is easy to install, and fits well in compact cars. Reviewers liked that it is lightweight and it has sturdy construction. Some reviewers also said the child found it comfortable, and that the forward latch and belt are excellent. The negative customer reviews for this product included that it can be difficult to install, and some found it difficult to adjust the straps in the rear facing position. One customer felt it was flimsy. Another complained that it does not have multiple recline positions.
Overall, this option very safe for your child. It has a classic design, and it will fit well into most compact cars or cars with multiple car seats.
Technology that allows better head protection
Easy to install
Sturdy but leightweight
No multiple recline positions
If you still have questions about the best travel car seat or lightest convertible car seat, we’ve got the answers for you! Below, you will find the most frequently asked questions that concern lightweight car seats, shopping for them and using them in your vehicles.
Q: Isn’t a lighter weight car seat going to be flimsy and easily breakable?
A: This is actually a myth. A lightweight car seat is actually a great seat to use in any car for any level of safety. There’s no need to worry about it being too flimsy or unusable because as long as you buckle it into the LATCH system properly, it will be fine. Lightweight car seats have the false reputation of being too light so that they are easily breakable.
What the term lightweight is actually referring to is the fact that the unit does not weigh as much as many of the other, more bulky units. The products used to create the lightweight seats are quality made. They are just lighter and easier to maneuver, which makes them great seats.
Q: How do you know if a car seat will fit into your car?
A: It can be difficult to know the exact size and shape of a given car seat before you even buy it and get it home. This is often especially true when we are dealing with car seats on the internet. Fortunately, you already know that all of the car seats mentioned here are especially lightweight, so you already know that they aren’t too bulky either.
In addition, when you are shopping online for a lightweight car seat, you can always look at the dimensions listed under specs. You can ask other people who have purchased the item as well. Many people on Amazon answer questions readily, and they are happy to offer their advice and input about how the seat might fit in a variety of different cars.
Q: What’s the deal with forward and rear facing car seats? Which way do I face my child?
A: Safety experts say that it is safest to have your child facing the rear of the car. This is because babies have heavy heads, but their necks are very fragile, and the bones in their necks are soft with stretchy ligaments as well. This means that if there is a crash at the front of the car, then their bodies will be kept in the comfort of the safety seat, but their heads will fly forward. It is important to keep in mind that crashes in the front of the car are the most common.
On the other hand, when a small infant or toddler with a heavy head is facing the rear of the car in a crash, their bodies will be protected with the safety harnesses, and their heads will also not be allowed to fly forward.
You need to wait a significant amount of time until you will be able to face your child to the front of the car. This will vary based on how old, big and tall your child is. This change will also vary based on the different car seats that you choose. Each car seat will have a unique stipulation on it that tells you when you can move your child to a seat facing the front. Most of this will matter on the weight of your child, but you should also aim to wait until your child is at least 2 years old before turning them toward the front.
Q: Will a lightweight car seat be sturdy and safe enough if we were to get into a crash?
A: Yes, a lightweight car seat will definitely be able to hold up perfectly fine if you get into an accident or collision. Many parents decide to purchase bulky, heavy car seats because they feel they’re more durable and will help keep their children safer. In some cases, this may be true. For example, if you use a lightweight car seat but do not latch it in properly to the seat bed or you don’t belt your child in the right way, the lightweight car seat may end up flying up in the event of a crash whereas a heavy seat might stay put longer because of its weight. But this is not the fault of the car seat.
Q: Do lightweight car seats work on airplanes? Do I have to have a car seat on an airplane?
A: Yes, lightweight car seats do function great on airplanes, and yes, if you are planning a flight with your child, you should plan on bringing a car seat. Remember, lightweight car seats are just like regular car seats. They just weigh less. In fact, lightweight car seats are much easier to use on an airplane because they weigh less. They will be easier to transport from your car to the plane and from the plane to your destination.
As for the necessity of car seats on planes, according to some safety regulations, the Federal Aviation Administration does not necessarily require 100 percent that car seats be used for babies and children who are flying, but most safety and plane travel experts agree that using a safety seat for small children on airplanes is the best idea. If you don’t use a seat, you will need to hold your baby, and this could be risky for both you and your child. Aside from that, the airline may not let you fly if you insist on holding your child. This depends on the airline and their regulations. It also depends on how old and how big your baby is.
Q: How do you keep a child warm in their convertible car seat? Can you keep their coat on when they’re strapped in?
A: This gets quite tricky because having your child in a coat while they are strapped into their car seat can present numerous problems. First, their coat may get snagged and cause latching problems. Sometimes, you can’t even see the snag until it’s too late. Furthermore, having extra clothing and padding on by way of sweaters, scarves and coats creates extra compression on your child’s chest.
To solve this problem, the best solution is to make sure the car itself has warmed up before putting your child inside. Do not put a bulky coat on along with them. If you have to use a coat, make sure it is a thin one. In addition, you might think about using a fleece blanket over top of your child for added warmth and comfort.
Q: Can infants and toddlers sit in the front seat as long as they are in a car seat?
A: No, infants and toddlers cannot sit in the front seat at all. Each state has their own laws about how old, heavy and tall kids need to be to sit in the front, but basically, kids need to be at least 4 feet 9 inches before they can sit in the front seat. They should also be at least 80 pounds in weight and at least 12 years old. Again, check with your unique state’s guidelines.
Why can’t kids sit in the front seat when they are small? It has to do with the airbags. Small children do not have strong enough necks to withstand the impact of an airbag in the event of a crash. As a result, they might have a spinal injury if they sit in the front and the airbag deploys on them.
Q: Where do I seat my child if I drive a pickup truck?
A: If you drive a pickup truck but still want to ride along with your child, you’ll need to look at the unique model of your pickup to decide where exactly to seat your child. Some pickup trucks have backseats in them, but generally speaking, these areas are way too small to seat a child. This is a risky situation to put your child in as many safety tests have confirmed. Some back seats do face front and are big enough for a car seat. If this is the case, just check with the truck’s manual to make sure that a car seat will be okay in the front. If you absolutely have to strap your child into a seat in the front of your pickup truck, make sure that you turn the airbag off for the passenger’s side of the car.
The best solution to this dilemma is of course to find a better vehicle for transporting your child around. Pickup trucks are not generally safe for children who are not yet old enough to sit in the front seat.
A Summary and How to Make Your Final Decision on a Lightweight Car Seat
When you’re trying to concentrate on the road and you have a child in the back seat, you absolutely need them to be comfortable and happy. To make sure that this happens, you need a quality car seat for your infants and toddlers. But what if you need to move the seat back and forth between you and your spouse’s car? Or what if you need to take the seat out for air travel or for a good cleaning?
No one wants to have a bulky, heavy weight convertible car seat in their car. In fact, most car seat companies aim to make their seats particularly lighter weight because they know they’ll sell better. But finding one can be hard, and that’s why we’ve created this review so that you can find the best lightweight car seat. There are a lot of options out there, and we want you to be aware of all the best ones so that you can make an educated choice when it comes to your car seat.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this listing and that you’ve been able to learn a little about the top lightweight car seats on the market. Here’s one final note. When it comes to making your final purchase, make sure you head to the internet for buying. I’ve done a lot of research on lightweight car seats, and the absolute best deals are going to be online. Sites like Amazon will be your best bet. So have fun shopping, and good luck on your purchase. Thanks for stopping by!