One of the most challenging and also satisfying parts of doing CarSeatOn is figuring out which car seats will work best to meet your needs.
If you’re looking for foldable car seats that are friendly for travel around, move on to read this guide, in which we narrow down the options and find the top 5 car seats with a folding design.
Some foldable car seats are also lightweight, like the WayB Pico and Ride Safer Travel Vest. Some foldable car seats are not, like the Diono Radian 3R. But it is still good enough for easy carrying or storage if needed.
Most portable car seats are designed for big toddlers at least 2 years old. But the Doona infant car seat is good for newborns and infants under 1 year old.
To make the list, a portable car seat must also meet the other criteria:
- Size and shape: folding design
- Easy to carry
- User-friendly installation with the seat belt
- High enough height and weight limits for a few years of use
- Roomy enough for comfort for growing kiddie
Birth- 10 yr
Ride Safer Travel Vest
We also make several lists of the best portable car seats according to their performance (rear-/forward-facing/booster weight/height limits), budget, and by bonus features (like lightweight, portable for travel)
Doona - Best Foldable Infant Car Seat
Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller
Are you finding a foldable car seat for small infants? Looking no further but just try the Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of baby travel gear.
The Doona is one of the coolest baby products I’ve ever seen. It is also the only one infant car seat that has a folding design, making it one of the best foldable car seats. This capable infant car seat can deploy its own wheels and convert into a perfectly serviceable baby-friendly stroller in seconds.
With the wheels folded up, it comes back as an infant car seat and works normally to provide optimal protection to your baby. Yes, the Doona is the only car seat with four wheels for rolling.
That’s really a brilliant design, at least helps to solve the portability problem for a car seat for families who live in or travel to big cities and need to hop in and out of taxis. This is the perfect foldable baby car seat that can be installed directly into a seating without the base, with the wheels folded up under the carrier. That means, you don’t need to take the base for installation.
You don’t have to worry about your baby being safe in the car, but you also won’t have to be bothered about what to do with your car seat while you go shopping or meet friends. This Doona foldable car seat can turn into a stroller in a matter of seconds. No more questions on how to place an infant car seat on a shopping cart!
We love Doona for another reason. A foldable car seat stroller is more convenient than a two-piece travel system. In old times, you had to separate them and store the stroller in the car trunk when riding your baby with the infant car seat part. Not the case for this foldable car seat stroller any more! It is actually a travel system, including an infant car seat and a stroller.
The Doona is even FAA-approved for aircraft use, making it one of the best foldable car seats for air travel. You can just wheel it straight down the airplane aisle and navigate through between the airports.
However, this foldable car seat is not a good option for all families. There are three downsides to consider with the Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller, and it’s up to you how important these factors are.
First, it’s pricey. It’s the most expensive infant car seat, even more expensive than all-in-one car seats on the market. But if you compare its price with a travel system, it’s not hard to accept this high price tag, especially if the portability means more than the price for you.
Second, it’s a bit heavy, compared to other infant car seats. The official Doona weight is 14 pounds (my friend Lily says it’s closer to 16 pounds or so). The average weight of most common infant carriers is around 10 pounds. You can imagine this because this foldable baby car seat has four wheels, while others don’t. If you prefer a lightweight infant car seat, you’ll find great options here.
Third, it ain’t long-lasting. The Doona foldable car seat has a 35lbs/32″ size limit. That is good among the infant car seats, but absolutely won’t go as long as those convertible car seats. Your baby will easily outgrow the Doona as a car seat around 1 year old. So does in stroller mode. Then you’ll be on the hook to buy a new car seat and a new stroller. Obviously this will increase your budget on baby gear.
All these cons aside, the Doona absolutely is an incredible foldable car seat for families who travel a lot and want to take the young baby on the go.
It’s also a stylish collapsible car seat. Multiple color options are available. Pink is good for baby girls, but it’s the most expensive one. If you want cheaper pink car seats for baby and toddler girls, check other great options here.
Diono Radian 3R - Best Foldable All-in-one Car Seats
Diono Radian 3R - 17"
The best all-in-one car seat for travel is one with which we’re extremely familiar: the Diono Radian 3R foldable car seat. You won’t believe that a regular car seat with all safety features for road trips can be folded up into a smaller piece and carried like a backpack. The Diono Radian 3R is very different from other folding travel car seats.
First, it’s an all-in-one car seat. That means it can be normally used to protect your little one in the vehicle from newborns to preteen, beating other foldable car seats at the serviceable years.
There are three modes to use this foldable car seat: rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster. If you’re a family that prioritizes the extended rear-facing for a foldable car seat, the Diono Radian 3R is the best choice. It has a 50lbs/44″ size limit, making the Diono Radian 3R one of the best car seats for extendable rear-facing. This rear-facing size limit is as good as the WayB Pico for forward-facing harness rides.
The 120-pounds booster weight limit is unbeatable among these foldable car seats. Even the Safe Traffic System Ride Safer Travel Vest is just 110 pounds at most. So no matter which mode you’d like to use it, the Diono Radian 3R is a good car seat for extended use.
The Diono Radian 3R should be the safest foldable car seat. It has a metal frame with plenty of padding. Also, it provides side impact protection. Only Doona can be competitive with it in this aspect because both are typical car seats for road trips but feature a folding up design.
Most families use the Diono Radian 3R at home for daily commutes with the child, even though it’s a folding car seat with great portability, and slim fit design. This folding car seat is 17 inches wide and good to fit three across in most cars, including small car seats.
It’s just that you should pay attention to the installation if you’re planning to place it rear-facing. The high body will take a bit more space than expected while there are not many reclines to adjust for a perfect fit to change this situation about taking too much space from the front driver or passenger.
Good news is that all car seats in the Diono Radian series are narrow enough to fit three across in the same row at the back seat. And they’re all foldable for convenient carrying.
The Diono Radian 3R is an entry-level model and it’s low-priced with a listing price under $199 normally. It is one of the best cheap car seats under $200.
But it’s heavy, just like any other convertible car seats. Weighing 25.9 pounds. That’s almost triple of the WayB Pico Travel Car Seat. The price is less than one third of the WayB Pico Travel Car Seat anyway. If you want a foldable car seat but don’t have much budget for it, try the Diono Radian 3R.
Diono Radian Foldable Car Seats
|Car Seats Comparison||Radian 3R||Radian 3RX||Raidan 3RXT||Raidan 3QX||Radian 3QXT|
|Weight limits (lb)||RF:5-50 / FF: 22-120||RF: 5-50 FF: 22-120||RF: 5-50 FF: 22-120||RF: 4-50 FF: 22-120||RF: 4-50 FF: 22-120|
|Rear Facing Weights||Up to 50lb||Up to 50lb||Up to 50lb||Up to 50lb||Up to 50lb|
|Newborn Protection||-||-||2-in-1||Advanced 3-in-1||Advanced 4-in-1|
|Head Support||-||12 Positions||12 Positions||Safe+ 12 Positions||Safe+ 12 Positions|
WayB Pico - Best Lightweight Foldable Car Seat for Toddlers
The WayB Pico collapsible car seat is one of the coolest child travel things we’ve seen in these years. It’s the best foldable car seat that has an expensive price as the Doona.
Different from the Doona, the Pico a is forward-facing car seat designed for toddlers at least 2 years old. It can be used forward-facing only, just like the Doona is for rear-facing only. If you want to travel with your little one in this collapsible car seat, make sure he or she is at least 22 pounds or 30 inches tall. It seems the WayB Pico is a next-step car seat when your little one outgrows the Doona (35lbs/32″).
The upper size limit is 50lbs/45″, which should be the major down point of the WayB Pico foldable toddler car seat even though it would last a good few years. You start using the WayB Pico travel car seat for a 2-year old toddler, while most kids will outgrow it around 5-6 years old. There is only 3-4 year gap for usage.
The good point is that you can pass it down to a younger sibling, but if not, most parents probably think twice before spending almost $500 on this foldable car seat.
The WayB Pico fold up travel car seat is preferable for families who are planning to travel with a 2 or 3 year old toddler. It’s the best recommendation to keep your child safe without lugging a full-size bulky car seat.
If you’re a family that prioritizes extended rear-facing and still wants an extended forward-facing harness, the WayB Pico isn’t the car seat for you! Just double check its size limit (50lbs/45″).
The Pico is FAA approved for toddlers at least 1 year old – but that’s not recommended, and in some states (like California and New York), it’s not even legal (both states require a child to stay rear-facing until 2 years old).
However, you don’t have to worry about your child being safe on the road. The WayB Pico comes with a 5-point harness, letting parents be able to travel around the world with this foldable car seat without compromising safety.
The WayB Pico is an ultra-portable, ultra-lightweight foldable car seat. It’s small and easy to use. You can fold it up and store it in the included bag when not in use. Want to use it in the car or on the plane? Just unfold it and install using the LATCH connectors.
The more appealing part about the WayB Pico car seat is that you don’t need a tether to install it for use. Typical toddler car seats require a top tether for tight installation. That would be a big deal if you’re traveling in some countries where the taxis don’t have a tether on the top back. Luckily, that’s not a problem for the WayB Pico fold up travel car seat.
The WayB Pico is by far the best foldable travel car seat for 2-5 years toddlers. But why not all families on the go have it on the travel gear list?
We think the price should be the main reason. It’s highly priced, around $500 on Amazon. So if your family is going to travel around a lot or relying on lots of taxis in your daily life and a folding travel car seat is on your must-have list, and most importantly, if you have a lot of budget on it, give the WayB Pico a try.
Ride Safer Travel Vest - Best Foldable Car Seat in Compact
Ride Safer Travel Vest
The Ride Safer Travel Vest is kind of in between a booster and a traditional forward-facing car seat. From the design, it’s similar to the 5-point harness in a car seat without the backrest and bottom pad. But it’s more like a booster because of its installation method.
It relies on the car’s seat belt to handle most of the restraint. You should install it using the lap-shoulder belt system, which is exactly required to install a booster seat in most states’ child safety seat laws. The Ride Safer Travel Vest provides a second method – you can also use the top tether to work with the lap belt if the seating has only lap belt.
The easy-to-install design makes the Safe Rider Travel Vest super handy for families who have extended trips in the large cities and usually travel by rented cars, Uber, or taxis with your little one without needing to take a full-size car seat. It’s a real life saver!
You don’t have to worry about being safe on the road, the Safe Rider Travel Vest is tested and certified under the federal safety standards. But it’s not allowed to be used for air travel because there is no lap-shoulder belt system or the top tether on the plane. From this point, we believe this fold up travel vest is a booster-seat-alike thing, very similar to the backless booster if you want a more clear answer.
The Safe Rider Travel Vest is a must-have for families traveling with kids a lot. It’s an ultra-light, small, and foldable travel safety system. If your family has multiple kids in the car seats, the Safe Rider Travel Vest is good to fit 3 across.
However, you should not use it to replace the everyday car seat. It lacks some additional features that a typical car seat has. There is no comfy padding and headrest. Your kid couldn’t even take a nap in it. There is no solid metal frame either, making it less protective in case of any crashes.
If you use the Ride Safer Travel Vest as a no back booster, it’s much more expensive than any backless boosters on the market, costing around $160. The more appealing point is that this foldable travel car seat is better for car sleepers than the backless booster.
There are multiple size and color options for choice. The Ride Safer Travel Vest is more suitable for big toddlers. The manufacturer suggests using it for a toddler at least 3 years old and 30 pounds until they reach the 110-pound weight limit. This travel car seat will last good years. The small size should last most kids until 6 or even 7 thanks to the adjustable shoulder strap length. It’s best to put your kids in the Rider Safer Travel Vest in the center seat because there’s no side impact protection. Make sure the rear middle spot has a top tether or the lap-shoulder belt system.
For families going on extended journeys but just can’t take a traditional car seat or those heading to large cities like NYC or Paris, where you’ll mostly rely on public transportation but need an occasional taxi ride, the Ride Safer travel vest is a fantastic option.
Bubblebum - Best Lightweight Foldable Car Seat
The Bubblebum inflatable booster seat is the best foldable backless booster seat for travel, especially if you’re a family that has extended trips around the world.
Even though it’s as compact as other backless boosters, the BubbleBum can be folded and rolled to the size of a water bottle after deflating, saving space to store it in your luggage. Or you can just put it in your kid’s backpack. It’s ultra-light, only one pounds.
It’s a pretty amazing collapsible backless booster seat. Folding it up and setting it up can be effortless and takes just a few seconds. There is even a shoulder belt guide to give a great fit to growing kids of different sizes in different cars.
The BubbleBum is an ideal folding booster seat for kids at least 4 years old, weighing between 40-100 pounds. If you’re a family with a mature kid who can sit upright and does not sleep in the car, it gives you a good example of portability and long usable time.
This folding travel booster is the perfect option for taking around when you’re traveling in a city and might hop in a taxi or take public transportation.
But this does not mean it’s 100% perfect. The BubbleBum is so light (only one pound) that it may shift if your kid is very hyperactive and wiggle a lot in the car seat. If this is your case, I’d recommend you to go with the Ride Safer Travel Vest or the hiccapop folding booster seat (heavier at 1.2 pounds).
There are four colors for choice if you want to purchase the BubbleBum folding booster seat for travel. The pink chevron is a good option for toddler girls. If you want more pink car seats, check our review here.
Hiccapop UberBoost - Best Lightweight Foldable
The hiccapop Uberboost is another folding booster seat for travel with an inflatable and foldable design. It follows the same concept as the BubbleBum but with a few advantages and disadvantages.
The hiccapop Uberboost is a bit smaller after folding down but it is able to offer a larger seating area after inflating. That matches its objective to fit big kids. As I mentioned above, the hiccappo is slightly heavier than BubbleBum (1.3 lbs vs 1 lbs). Don’t misunderstand me! This is a pro for the hiccapop Uberboost. The seat will sit in the position without wiggling thanks to the grippy layer on the bottom (and the car seat itself’s weight).
Folding it up in seconds and getting it in easy storage in a travel backpack, the hiccapop allows you to carry it wherever you go. It’s a pity that you need to manually blow it up, but you can easily complete it with 5-6 deep breaths into the integrated blow up port (it’s big) and then run the seat belt through for safe riding.
The hiccapop Uberbooster should be the last travel booster seat you’ll have. Like the BubbleBum, it’s designed for big toddlers at least 4 years old and 30 pounds. The upper weight limit is higher: 110lbs vs 100lbs. This makes it a great folding booster seat for kids to stay up to 7 or 8 years old.
Best Foldable Car Seats by Size Limit
|Weight / Height Limits||Foldable Car Seat||Price||Weight|
|35 lbs/ 32"||Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller||$550||16.5 pounds|
|50 lbs/ 45"||WayB Pico Travel Car Seat||$490||8 pounds|
|100 lbs/ -||BubbleBum||$32.99||one pounds|
|100 lbs/ -||hiccapop||$36.99||1.3 pounds|
|110 lbs/ -||Safe Rider Travel Vest||$165||2.4 pounds|
|120 lbs/ 57"||Diono Radian 3R||$199||25.9 pounds|
*Price may change on the e-commerce platform due to promotional sales.
Not all foldable car seats are lightweight. Check the car seat weight above, you’ll find that only booster seats and WayB Pico are under 10 pounds. If you want some lightweight convertible car seats, check this post here.
Foldable Car Seats by Price
|Rank||Price||Car Seat||Weight /Height Limits||Recommended Age||Stage|
|1||$32.99||BubbleBum||100 lbs/ -||4+ years old||Booster|
|2||$36.99||hiccapop UberBoost||100 lbs/ -||4+ years old||Booster||3||$165||Ride Safer Travel Vest||110 lbs/ -||3+ years old||Booster|
|4||$199.99||Diono Radian 3R||120 lbs/ 57"||Birth - 10 years old||3 stages|
|5||$490||WayB Pico||50 lbs/ 45"||2-5 years old||Forward facing|
|6||$550||Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller||35 lbs/ 32"||Birth - 1 year old||Rear facing|
Foldable Car Seats by Bonus Features
All these foldable car seats are able to fit 3 across in most vehicles, only the Diono Radian 3R and Doon are a bit bulky with a normal car seat size.
- Booster – BubbleBum ($32.99)
- Infant: Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller
- Forward-Facing: WayB Pico Travel Car Seat
- All-in-one: Diono Radian 3R
Longest Extendable Rear-facing:
- 50-lbs rear-facing weight limit: Diono Radian 3R
Foldable Car Seats Buying Guide
What are the factors you should consider before making the final decision to buy a foldable car seat? What’s more important to you and your child?
Here we list some tips in this short buying guide. You can keep them in mind when choosing a folding car seat or any other car seats to meet your own needs.
That’s the #1 factor to consider when we are finding a foldable car seat. Also, this is the primary reason to get a car seat, right?
The good news is that all car seats sold in the US, including these foldable car seats, have proved themselves to meet or exceed the federal safety standards FMVSS 213.
Some foldable car seats have extra safety features, for example, the Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller and Diono Radian 3R. They are also conventional car seats and can be used as everyday car seats for riding your child around the community or going for long road trips.
Both have metal frame, side impact protection, headrest, and most importantly plenty of padding to provide the max comfort.
You should NEVER ignore this factor because proper installation is the fundamental to make most of the car seat to provide protection. No matter how safe a car seat is, if you don’t install it properly, it does not work normally to deliver safety at all. On the contrary, it may result in bad effects that may cause your child’s death.
You may have gotten used to installing the Doona and Diono Radian 3R because you have done this many times to get them installed in the car, with LATCH connectors or seat belt system.
The WayB Pico, RideSafer Travel Vest, and Bubblebum are not daily used but they have included the user manual in the package and you may know how to install them via YouTube videos. A lot of travel moms shared their experience using these ultra-foldable car seats.
This decides what folding car seat you can use. Most foldable car seats are designed for big toddlers and older kids.
For example, the WayB Pico is suitable for toddlers at least 2 years old until they are 50 pounds or reach 45 inches tall.
The RideSafer Travel Vest is much like a booster seat for kids who are 30 pounds or heavier.
Luckily, these foldable car seats can be used for good years.
Among these foldable car seats, the Doona has the lowest size limit: 35lbs/ 32″. It was designed for newborns and small infants and can be used around your kid’s 12 months or 18 months of age.
If you prefer a foldable car seat with the longest usable life, the Diono Radian 3R is a good option. It has a great size limit and wide range: 5-120 pounds and 57″.
All these car seats have a folding design. Some are lightweight, some are heavy. Some are compact, some are bulky (that’s relatively).
If you need a foldable car seat that is lightweight and compact, the booster seats like the BubbleBum, hiccapop, mifold, and Graco Turbo Go are good options. BubbleBum is only one pound and can be rolled up into a soda bottle size.
The WayB Pico Travel Car Seat is also lightweight, only 8 pounds.
The Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller and Diono Radian 3R all-in-one car seat are heavy and bulky (actually they are narrow enough to do 3 across). The former is 16.5 pounds while the latter weighs up to 25.9 pounds.
Are there any foldable car seats that are safe and lightweight and cheap? Yes.
These foldable car seats have various price tags from cheap to expensive. Check the table list of all foldable car seats ranked by price.
What foldable car seats to choose for an on-the-go family?
If you’re a family that loves adventures and exploring outside around the world and who may take a lot of air travels or rent car seats in the local tourist cities, you may need some foldable car seats that are lightweight and compact for carry and storage.
However, there is no foldable car seat that can satisfy all the needs if you’re planning to travel with babies through toddlers time to older children.
Here is a suggestion for a combination of several folding car seats.
2 year old – 4~5 years old: WayB Pico Travel Car Seat (Lightweight but expensive) and Diono Radian 3R (Low size requirement but not lightweight)
3 year or older: Safe Rider Travel Vest, Diono Radian 3R (Low size requirement but not lightweight)
However, if you don’t insist on using a folding car seat for travel with your child, there are some lightweight and cheap car seats for choice.
Some convertible car seats are lightweight and have a great size limit to last for several years. They can be used in cars as well as on the plane.
But they’re not foldable and need a travel car seat bag for carrying. This will definitely add luggage, not that convenient for international trips.
Foldable Car Seat for Travel FAQs
Are foldable car seats safe?
Of course. These foldable car seats are manufactured and crash tested under the federal safety standards. They provide best portability without compromising the safety
Some foldable car seats may have additional safety features, like the side impact protection, for example, the Doona infant car seat stroller and Diono Radian 3R.
The most important factor to keep your child safe in the car is choosing an age-and-size-appropriate car seat for and installing it correctly.
What is the best car seat for traveling?
That depends variously on your needs. The best car seat for traveling is the one that fits your child properly and is legal for use in and outside the US or following local car seat laws.
Can a 3 year old use a Mifold?
Probably not. Mifold is a Group 2/3 seat and can be used by children who are at least 40 pounds. It works as a booster seat for big toddlers approximately the age of 4 years old.
Are Mifold foldable car seats legal in Australia?
No. Mifold car seats are globally legalised under the local car seats, except Australia. The MIfold Original that is sold in the US is slightly different from the version sold in the rest of the world and is only regulated for use in the US.
Is a Mifold car seat legal in California?
Yes. Mifold is legal to use in the US and in every country on earth that regulates backless booster seats, apart from Australia.
Is the Mifold crash tested?
Yes. All car seats sold in the US are crash tested before going for sale on the market. However, the Mifold car seat earned the lowest score overall for crash test results.
This booster earned the lowest chest sensor score (g) and one of the lowest head sensor score (HIC) on BabyGearLab.
So we don’t list it on this roundup review for good foldable car seats. It’s not even available on most e-commerce platforms for sale.
Are Mifold car seats legal in UK?
Yes, the Mifold car seats are permitted under the ECE R44/04 safety standard. They are booster seats, suitable for children 4 years+, weighing between 40 pounds and 100 pounds.
Can a 7 year old travel without a car seat?
In the most states of the US, the law requires all children traveling in the rear (best recommended) or front seat of any car, van or goods vehicle must use an appropriate child passenger restraint system (car seat or any safety things) until they are either 57″ in height or 8 years old (whichever they reach first).
After this they must use an adult seat belt.
Does a 2 year old need a carseat on a plane?
Yes. According to the rules of FAA and AAP, kids under two years old should have their own car seat on a plane, while kids over 2 aren’t required to use one.
However, it’s strongly recommended to use a car seat to keep your child safe on the plane as long as possible (you can use the travel vest), especially through runway incidents or extreme turbulence.
Please DO NOT use a booster seat on the plane, including these foldable car seats like the BubbleBum or hiccapop.
Booster seats are not allowed to be used on a plane because there is no lap-shoulder belt for a tight and correct installation.
Do you need a car seat in Germany?
German law requires children up to 12 years of age who are less than 1.5 meters (59 inches) to ride in an approved car seat or booster. If all other restraints are being used by other children, the oldest child may ride in the back seat with a seat belt.