Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seats – Top 7 Lightest from 9.3 to 15 lb

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Quick List: Lightweight Convertible Car seats

Don’t have much time to research a lightweight convertible car seat? Have a quick look at these selections:

1. Lightest convertible car seat: Evenflo Tribute 5 ($79.99 on Amazon) – 9.29 pounds weight.

2. Best lightweight convertible car seat for small cars: Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX ($89.99 on Amazon) & Safety 1st Guide ($89.99 on Amazon)– 17″W x 21.5″L x 26.5″ H.

3. Best lightweight convertible car seat for 3 across: Safety 1st Jvie  ($99.99 on Amazon) – 17.5″ width.

4. Best lightweight convertible car seat for big toddlers – Baby Trend Trooper ($99.99 on Amazon) & Evenflo Sonus 65 ($119.99 on Amazon)  – 50″ height limit.

5. Cheapest lightweight convertible car seat: Cosco Onllok ($74.99 on Amazon) – 16.5″, budget-friendly for most families with big kids.

Bonus: WAYB Pico car seat ($495 on Amazon) – 8 pounds, lightest toddler car seat for travel

Lightweight convertible car seats
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Find the best lightweight car seat from 9.3 lbs

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See the best light weight car seat by bonus (e.g. narrow, cheap, etc).


Review best lightweight car seat by performance and specs.

Choosing a good lightweight convertible car seat is a deeply subjective task. Some may prefer the ease of care and maintenance over aesthetics, while others may value the opposite. In the end, we pick the lightweight convertible car seats based on quality, comfort, machine washability (so important!), and safety pro tips.

But, yes, we also consider whether they’ll be easy to install in the cars. Easy installation not only saves parents’ time and energy but also means how easy and tight installation a car seat can provide.

Convertible car seats are very bulky and heavy when you talk about this type of car seat. That’s true in most situations because very few convertible car seats are lightweight.

So, here in this article, we’re trying to compile a list of the lightweight car seats. All light convertible car seats should meet these criteria:

  • Size and shape: a seat can be used in rear-facing and forward-facing
  • Light weight under 15 pounds. The lighter, the better.
  • 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
  • FAA approved for airplane use (optional)

Even though they are the best lightweight convertible car seats on the market, the weight gap between the lightest and heaviest can be as much as 5 pounds (9.29 lbs vs 14.25 lbs).

To make it simple, we categorized the 7 top lightweight convertible car seats into three groups based on the car seat’s weight: under 10 pounds, between 10-12 pounds, and between 12-15 pounds. Just click on it below to find the one best fit your needs.

Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seat

9.29 lbs

Evenflo Tribute 5


10.38 lbs

Baby Trend Trooper - Pink
Baby Trend Trooper


11 lbs

Cosco Onlook Convertible Car Seat
Cosco Onlook


11 lbs

Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX convertible car seat
Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX


11.5 lbs

Evenflo Sonus 65 Convertible Car Seat
Evenflo Sonus 65


11.55 lbs

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat
Safety 1st Guide


14.25 lbs

Safety 1st Jive Convertible Car Seat
Safety 1st Jive


Bonus - Best Travel Car Seat

Lightweight, Foldable and Portable, Easy to Carry

8 lbs

WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat


Reviews for Best Lightweight Car Seat

In this buying guide to find the best lightweight car seat for your needs, we categorize them into three groups based on the car seat’s weight: 

  • Lightest (<10 pounds)
  • #2 Lightweight (10-12 pounds)
  • #3 Lightweight (12-15 pounds)
Under 10 pounds

Lightest Convertible Car Seats [<10 lbs]

10-12 pounds

Lightest Convertible Car Seats [10-12 lbs]

12-15 pounds

Lightest Convertible Car Seats [12-15 lbs]

Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seats (<10 pounds)

Lightweight Car Seat

Evenflo Tribute convertible car seat

Evenflo Tribute 5 - 9.29 lbs

Key Features
The Good
The Bad


Have you ever imagined a convertible car seat weighing under 10 pounds? Here it is. Evenflo Tribute 5 is the lightest convertible car seat on this list, at only 9.29 pounds

This breaks the stereotype that convertible car seats are heavy. The Tribute 5 is even lighter than some infant car seats and booster seats.

However, its diminutive size doesn’t mean compromised safety and quality: it has side impact protection, hit 4-position shoulder strap adjustment, comes with infant inserts and a machine-washable cover, and a medium-sized, yet lightweight body for easy carry to travel. Plus, its frame isn’t the only light thing about it — its $79.99 price tag makes it ideal if you want quality on a budget.

Weighing just 9.29 lbs, the Tribute 5 is lighter than its successor, the Sonus 65, making it an ideal option for families who want an easy-to-carry car seat for travel. Parents can effortlessly carry this lightweight convertible car seat, and travel bag, and their little one. The 9.29-lb weight makes carrying the Evenflo Tribute 5 through the airport a breeze. 

Even better, its lightweight structure doesn’t mean you have to compromise on protection and comfort. Like its younger sibling, the Tribute 5 has passed the crash tests under the federal safety standards that are mandatory for all car seats sold in the US. Also, it’s a car seat with a 5-point harness, meaning there is side impact protection built into this lightest convertible car seat.

The included head support delivers not only a little additional protection but also extra support to keep your kid’s head stable no matter in a crash or when he or she is asleep in the car seat. The head support is adjustable along with the shoulder strap harness. Having this choice is excellent if you’re finding a lightweight travel car seat. This allows a quick-no-fuss adjustment, making it easy to find a best-fit position for growing kids. 

If you’re trying to keep your little one in the Tribute 5 with max comfort, its easy-to-clean fabrics and cup holders offer what you need.

This lightweight convertible car seat is made of machine-washable fabrics and you can easily take the seat cover off. This is perfect if you have to wash it when the kids occasionally soil their Tribute 5 lightweight convertible car seat, particularly when they have juices or snacks during long trips.

The Tribute 5 might not have the most cup holders (there is only one cup holder on the right side), but given its price tag, it has enough to satisfy most short trips on the plane. 

The Evenflo Tribute 5 is the second cheapest on the best lightweight convertible car seats list, priced under $80.

Why is this such a big deal? The size limit may answer this question. This lightest convertible car seat allows a child to stay until he or she is 40 pounds or reaches 40 inches tall. That’s really low! Even lower than the rear-facing weight and height limits of some convertible car seats with extended rear-facing (50 lbs/ 49″ of Graco Extend2Fit).

The good point is that this size limit applies to both rear-facing and forward-facing modes. So you can always choose which mode is better for you to install the car seat and suit your current situation.

We strongly recommend the Tribute 5 lightweight convertible car seat for travel. It’s lightweight and comparably compact. Carrying it with a car seat travel bag won’t be a biggie. 

Most moms and dads choose the Evenflo Tribute 5 as a travel car seat for toddlers between 1-3 years old. Due to the low 40lbs/ 40″ size limit, it’s not a good car seat for accommodating 4 years old kids. If you want a lightweight convertible car seat for 4 years old, check out its younger sibling – Sonus 65 (65 lbs/ 49″), or Baby Trend Trooper (65 lbs/ 50″).

You’d better use the Tribute 5 as a travel car seat, not a good everyday car seat because of its limited padding and fewer features. For example, Evenflo Tribute 5 has the common LATCH. That may take a bit longer and a bit more exertion to achieve a tight and proper installation than the premium models from the same manufacturer, like the EveryFit

There’s no doubt that the Tribute 5 lives up to Evenflo’s stellar reputation for building excellent budget travel car seats. It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles you’ll find on more expensive models, but it does the basics extremely well. Plus, it’s incredibly lightweight and convertible for both rear-facing and forward-facing rides. For just $79.99, it delivers awesome performance at a budget price.

Another point we think you would like about this lightest convertible car seat is the country of origin. It’s made in the US. The Evenflo Tribute 5 is one of the US-made car seats.

Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seats (10-12 pounds)

#2 Best Lightweight Car Seat

Baby Trend Trooper - Pink

Baby Trend Trooper - 10.38 lbs

Key Features
The Good
The Bad


If you’re after something that screams premium, the Baby Trend Trooper is the crème de la crème when it comes to light car seats. Considered the iPhone or Tesla toddler travel car seats, the Trooper weighs just 10.38 pounds and is the second-lightest convertible car seat for newborns and toddlers under 65 pounds.

Its good-enough safety features and slim fit design are its biggest selling points but better performance when it comes to size limit, usable life, and ride comfort can be found for cheaper.

If you hold style and aesthetics alongside portability at the top of your checklist, then you can’t get any better than the Baby Trend Trooper. It also ticks all the boxes for excellent quality and longevity, whilst being easy to use. If you thought ‘straightforward’ was synonymous with basic and boring, think again. The Baby Trend Trooper will prove you wrong at every turn.

Firstly, I’ve got to talk about how easy this car seat is on the eyes. Channeling a streamlined, simple vibe, I’d expect nothing less from a travel gear that’s been dubbed the iPhone of the toddler travel car seat world.

Slim, sleek, and available in three colors, the Baby Trend Trooper’s flawless appearance isn’t only about look, but functionality too. The Cassis is very suitable for girls, making this lightweight convertible car seat one of the best pink-colored car seats.

On the topic of weight, you can’t fault the Baby Trend Trooper for its lightweight and portability. A mere 10.4 pounds, this is the second lightest convertible car seat (just a bit heavier than the 9.29 lbs of Evenflo Tribute 5) on this list thanks to several clever design choices that knock off those extra lbs.

In addition to the plastic frame, the Baby Trend Trooper has only one cup holder. The limited padding reduces the overall weight but results in less comfort. 

If its lightweight design wasn’t enough, the Trooper is super portable with a relatively narrow profile. The widest point is only 18.75 inches at the shoulder section, meaning it’s doable for 3 across in large vehicles. If you want the narrowest convertible car seats, check out another post on this topic.

So, you know that the Baby Trend Trooper delivers on style and portability, but what about size limit and safety?

Featuring a combination of a 65-pound top weight and 50-inch top height, the Trooper has the biggest size limit among these lightweight convertible car seats. The 65 lbs / 50″ size limit makes it a good car seat that fits big toddlers between 4 and 5 years old.

Unfortunately, the Trooper isn’t built to be the safest car seat. This does not mean this convertible car seat is designed lightweight compromising safety. It’s just that the Baby Trend Trooper comes with the very basic safety features a car seat should have. 

It meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. Also, it has side impact protection. Furthermore, it includes an infant insert to provide protection and comfort for newborns. That’s all this lightweight convertible car seat has for safety. 

Moving to the comfort section, the Baby Trend Trooper does have a cup holder. It’s built-in on the right edge of the car seat, good for holding drinks or snacks, but not parent-friendly for cleaning. You can’t put it in a dishwasher for automatic cleaning.

Luckily, the fabrics are machine washable and you can take the cushion off for easy cleaning.

This light convertible car seat has two methods for installation. You can use LATCH connectors or seat belts to install it. It’s a pity that the LATCH is not rigid but flexible. That’s the common problem for all these lightweight convertible car seats. They were designed for travel and sold at a low price. Parents would choose another premium model if they can afford that more expensive price (generally $200-$300).

If you’re looking for a travel convertible car seat that is lightweight yet durable for good years, good-enough safety and comfort features, and most importantly a very budget price, the Baby Trend Trooper is for you. Lightweight and slim design, it’s perfectly suited to families on the go or who would like a travel car seat for newborns.

#3 Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seat

Cosco Onlook Convertible Car Seat

Cosco Onlook - 11 lbs

Key Features
The Good
The Bad


The Cosco Onlook combines style and practicality to produce a car seat that is not only safe and comfortable to ride but also affordable. It is the best travel car seat and comes out on top for ride quality, supported modes, and size limit against all car seats under $80.

If you’re looking for a compact option that combines multiple modes (rear-facing and forward-facing), lightweight (11 pounds), and is a respectable size (40 lbs/ 43″), the Cosco Onlook is a winner.

The Cosco Onlook is one of the lightest weight convertible car seats, good low-priced, and gets the job done with minimal frills. 

It’s very similar to the Evenflo Tribute 5 with the rear-facing and forward-facing size limits being the same: 40 lbs/ 43″.

But the shell height is lower so it won’t buy you any extra time rear-facing. Thanks to the much higher harness height, kids can comfortably forward their faces in the Cosco Onlook until at least 4 years old.

It’s a solid choice if you want a lightweight convertible car seat for travel that allows for extended rear-facing but you don’t have a big budget.

The Cosco Onlook ups the scales slightly when compared to the lightest convertible car seats listed above but, weighing in at 11 lbs, it is on par with the majority of car seats that sport general safety features and limited comfort. If the weight of the Cosco Onlook is an issue for you, you would get compensation for its compact design. The Cosco Onlook is the most compact option among these lightweight convertible car seats,  measuring at a dimension of ‎21.75″W x 22″H x 23.24″D. 

However, this does not mean that the Cosco Onlook is slimily designed. It is not the best choice if you’re trying to fit three across in most vehicles, especially in a tiny European rental car. If you’re trying to keep a baby under 22 pounds on a plane in the Cosco Onlook, it needs to be very reclined to achieve a tight squeeze.

If you’re flying overseas, be sure to bring a locking clip just in case. Cosco car seats now require the use of the top tether for installation. This is great for safety, but you may not find one when you’re traveling outside of the US, Canada, EU, Australia, and New Zealand. If you’re in that situation, you’ll have to make a judgment call on whether or not to install your car seat against the manufacturer’s directions.

The Cosco Onlook is also a great choice for toddlers who want to enjoy a happy travel time because it has two cup holders on both sides, storing their juices and snacks, or even toys.

The cup holders are built-in on the car seat and you can’t remove them for dishersafe-machine washing. The cup holders on both sides seem to increase the width of Cosco Onlook. That’s probably another reason that the Cosco Onlook does not get a position on the narrowest convertible car seat.

#3 Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seat

Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX convertible car seat

Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX -11 lbs

Key Features
The Good
The Bad


The Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX is an exceptionally well-designed convertible car seat. It maintains Cosco’s stellar reputation and has some of the slim fit design alongside a lightweight body (11 lbs)

The great size limit means it’s good to accommodate a kid from birth to big toddlers, making it one of the best travel toddler car seats.

While it may not be the cheapest lightweight convertible car seat, its quality and longevity are well worth the price tag.

The Cosco Mighty 65 DX is a great choice for a lightweight car seat for travel thanks to its more generous size limits combined with light weight.

Most kids will make it to at least their second birthday rear-facing in this traveling car seat, thanks to its 40-lb rear-facing weight limit. This is one of the best travel convertible car seat options for kids to ride until they are 65 pounds, no matter in the car or on the plane.

It offers reasonable padding for kid comfort (unlike the above bargain models with very limited ) and gives kids built-in cup holders to boot.

The Cosco Mighty 65 DX not only has a higher forward-facing weight limit (65 pounds vs 40 pounds) than its older sibling Cosco Onlook, but it also adds a recline position to get a correct and comfortable angle without needing a pool noodle or rolled towel.

The Cosco Mighty 65 DX boasts of its capability to fit three across the back seat. It’s doable! It’s only 17-inch wide. That’s as slim as the Diono Radian series, making it one of the best narrowest convertible car seats. So, the matter of whether you mostly fly on airlines with limited seat pitches or have a small car, the Mighty 65 DX can be installed side-by-side with other narrow car seats.

Even better, it’s low-profile enough that your child who is old enough and big enough will be able to climb in and out by themselves and use the tray table on many airlines.

Unlike the other lightweight convertible car seats, the Cosco Mighty has one removable cup holder. This is a very practical design. If your kid needs the cup holder for drinks and snack storage, it comes in handy. If you want to reduce the width and fit three across, it can be detached. It’s also made of dish-washer safe materials and you can throw it into the machine for cleaning.

If you believe in US-made-quality, the Cosco Mighty 65 DX won’t disappoint you. It’s manufactured in America, even though the manufacturer does not intend to add extra safety features to its Cosco and Safety 1st car seats. Both brands come from the same company -Dorel Juvenile.

#3 Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo Sonus 65 Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo Sonus 65 - 11.5 lbs

Key Features
The Good
The Bad


An excellent and affordable option if you’re planning to travel with bigger toddlers, the Evenflo Sonus 65 offers parents an impressive weight limit of 65 pounds and a zippy top height limit of 49 inches.

At 11.5 lbs and with a slim fit design it’s easy to carry through the airports, although it is over 29-inch car seat height makes it a bit tricky to transport if you’re not a tall mom.

The successor to the Tribute LX/5, the Evenflo Sonus 65 is a firm favorite if you’re looking for either a lightweight convertible car seat to travel with your kids or a backup everyday car seat in the grandparents’ or babysitter’s cars. Why? Well, there’s a whole list of reasons. Let me show you exactly why it should be high on your shortlist. 

Firstly, it scores top marks for portability. At 11.5 pounds, it’s slightly heavier than the Tribute 5, but it’s still lightweight in the world of convertible car seats. You’ll be able to lift and carry it with minimal effort, making it ideal if you’re a family that likes to travel across the country or even around the world. 

Measuring 19.13 x 19.13 x 29.63 inches for its dimensions, the Evenflo Sonus 65 is not as slim and compact as its predecessor. This is because the Sonos 65 needs to provide more room for growing kids. The Sonus 65 has a bigger size limit than the Tribute LX (65 lbs/ 49″ vs 40 lbs/ 40″).

That means, if the Tribute 5 is a good travel car seat to fit toddlers at most four years old, the Sonus 65 would perform better to accommodate older children between five and six years old

Plus, the Evenflo Sonus 65 seems to have thicker padding than the Tribute 5. This well-padded lightweight convertible car seat performs better than its predecessor in protection and comfort. The cushioned foam helps reduce the crash energy and delivers a soft space when your kids sit in the Sonus 65.

Another obvious improvement is the cup holder. The Sonus 65 has two cup holders, with the integrated design kept. This might be another reason the width of Sonus 65 increases.

However, if you have a mid-size car, this lightweight convertible car seat may achieve 3 across. Just compare the car’s inner seating width with Sonus’s width; if the average width of every seat in the back row is more than 19.13 inches, it should be okay.

At $119, the Evenflo Sonus 65 is an excellent entry-level convertible car seat. It has a more premium edge than some cheaper models thanks to its above-average safety features, punchy top size limit, and the convenience its lightweight design offers.

Its easy-to-use also sets it apart, making it an attractive option if you’re looking for something lightweight and portable to travel with your kids around your city and back again.

Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seats (12-15 pounds)

#4 Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seat

Safety 1st Jive Convertible Car Seat

Safety 1st Jive - 14.25 lbs

Key Features
The Good
The Bad


What’s a 14-pound monster doing in the middle of a list of featherweight convertible car seats? If you want to keep a child rear-facing for a longer time or want to travel with a child in a forward-facing car seat on a plane now or in the near future, the Safety 1st Jive deserves your good consideration.

Just the same as other lightweight convertible car seats, the Safety 1st Jive can serve well until your child is 40 pounds in rear-facing. That means you can keep your big toddlers rear-facing longer in the car seat at at least 2 years old. This makes the Jive one of the best car seats with extended rear-facing

However, when you are trying to install it rear-facing in a car, it’s better to get the car seat flat and keep it parallel to the ground and adjust it several times to connect the LATCH. It’s not easy for most parents to achieve a tight installation rear-facing.

But using it forward-facing never meets this problem. The Safety 1st Jive is easy to install forward-facing in a car or on a plane. It’s comparatively compact when placed in the forward-facing upright, measuring at a dimension: of 25″ H x 17.5″ x 22″ D.

The 17.5-inch width is on condition of removing the cup holders, making the Safety 1st Jive one of the narrowest convertible car seats. That’s good if you’re trying to fit three across in the same row.

The other nice feature of using Safety 1st Jive forward facing on planes is that there are two natural reclines to the seat while many others are extremely upright. Double-win for in-flight comfort! Unfortunately that reclined position means your child wouldn’t be able to use the tray table so you’ll need to evaluate how important that is for you.

The Safety 1st Jive also has all the other great features of a full-sized convertible car seat: ample padding, two removable cup holders, and head and body support. You could certainly use this as your everyday seat for good years.

Its size might be the major downside compared to other lightweight convertible car seats on this list. Having it in a travel bag and getting it through the airport won’t be as easy as with a more compact or lighter travel car seat.

#5 Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seat

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat

Safety 1st Guide - 15 lbs

Key Features
The Good
The Bad


The Safety First Guide is the last recommendation on this lightest weight convertible car seats list. It’s the heaviest, weighing at 15 pounds, but still lighter than other bulky convertibles around 20 pounds anyway. 

This car seat has been around for a long time but has gained in popularity thanks to branding improvement. Dorel has now added its well-respected Safety 1st Guide 65 to the popular Safety 1st toddler car seat lineup as a longer-lasting convertible car seat, remaining it with another travel car seat – the Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DLX, to be the budget convertible car seat with a light weight. As with other Cosco and Safety 1st car seats, you may find the best price at Amazon. 

The Guide 65 has proven its worth as a travel car seat for many years and continues to work well for many families on the go. It’ll last rear-facing kids until a safe age of at least 2 years old thanks to its 40-lb rear-facing weight limit.

The most appealing point is the forward-facing height. Unlike other lightweight convertible car seats, the Safety 1st Guide has a higher height limit: 65 lbs/ 50″. That’s as good as some convertible seats’ booster height limitation (like the Maxi Cosi Pria). 

If you want to keep forward facing a tall child or have a child who will be forward-facing on a plane now or in the near future, the Safety 1st Guide is absolutely the best choice. This size limit will last a few years until they’re ready for our favorite travel booster seats.

One of the biggest downsides of the Safety 1st Guide is that this light convertible car seat requires you to install it forward-facing using the top tether.

What will the top tether do? Its job is to decrease head movement – and that’s a good thing to keep your child in the car seat stably, safely, and comfortably. But in some countries in Asia, Africa, Central, and South America, and even Eastern Europe you won’t find a top tether with many cars. 

You can install the Safety 1st Guide in two methods: LATCH or seat belt. Both ways are just as safe. But NEVER use both at the same time. It’s also worth knowing that you can only use LATCH to install the Safety 1st Guide until 40 pounds.

If you need to install it using the seat belt, we recommend bringing a locking clip and knowing how to use it in case you encounter a car with seatbelts that don’t lock for travel overseas.

Bonus: Best Lightweight Car Seat for Travel

WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat

WayB Pico

Key Features
The Good
The Bad


WayB Pico is the best travel car seat on the American Academy of Pediatrics 2020 list. It can be used front-facing only and is suitable for accommodating kids between 22 and 50 pounds, who are 30 to 45 inches tall.

If you want to know how old a kid can fit in the WayB Pico, the minimum age should be one year old, but the best recommendation is at least 2 years old. Which, in the case of my little child is 15 months old to uses the WayB Pico for our travel to Florida. My cousins also used it for about 18 months as they fly standby where it’s impossible to get regular car seats checked and drag 2 full-size car seats through the airport on top of the 2 toddlers.

However, we encourage you to check the local car seat laws of your destination before taking it on the plane. Some states, such as California and New York, require children to stay rear-facing until the kids’ age of 2. If you’re planning to travel in these states, using a WayB Pico would break the rule.

WayB Pico is also FAA approved for aircraft use, so if you wish to keep protecting your child on the plane you can bring this travel car seat with you.

Important reminder here (as many aren’t aware) – child car seats on board can only be placed on a window seat, so make sure you book a window seat if you wish to install it for your flight.

It’s on the six best folding car seats that can be folded into a ultra compact size for easy carry.

How to choose the best lightweight convertible car seat for travel?

This is a challenging task to narrow down the choices when you’re looking for the best light convertible car seat for traveling with your kids. After all, every family might have different needs and tastes. Here are some key features to look for when you consider buying a light convertible car seat for travel:

The Weight

One of the most important features of a traveling car seat is light weight. I’m sure you won’t like to move a heavy car seat around through the airports. Lightweight car seats make it easy to carry and switch between cars. Out of the car when you arrive at the airport, through the airport, into the scanner at security, to the gate, onto the plane, off the plane, through the airport (again?), on the rental car shuttle, and finally into a car – That’s a typical routine if you’re taking a travel car seat. 

All of that will be much easier with a lightweight convertible car seat. You may wonder about the ‘light’ meaning. Most convertible car seats used for everyday rides weigh between 20 and 30 lbs. They’re too heavy to be good enough for travel. The best light convertible car seats for travel weigh 8 to 15 lbs, delivering the most practicality and convenience. Evenflo Tribute 5 is the lightest convertible available, only 9.29 lbs.

The car seat’s weight does not seem to matter as much if you’ll use a car seat travel cart but makes a huge difference if you have to get it through the airport in your arms or in a car seat travel bag.

The right size (limits)

Usually, we think that ‘smaller is better’ when choosing travel gear because it will take less storage space. But in the case of a travel car seat (especially for growing kids), it’s more about the right size. What’s the right size for a travel convertible car seat?

Let’s start with the “shell height” (that is related to the height limit). It refers to how much space there is along your child’s back and head. When a light convertible car seat is used rear-facing, there should be at least 1″ of shell space above their heads along within the car seat’s height limit. This works for infant car seats as well.

After you switch it to forward-facing, you’ll need to make sure that the tops of your child’s ears should be still within the shell and that the top positioning harness slots should be above your child’s shoulders.

Following this rule, it’s not ‘the taller, the better because taller often means heavier (more material!), the Safety 1st Jive (14.25 pounds) for example. Also, once your child is around 4 years old, you might want to switch to an ultra-light solution like the Ride Safer Travel Vest (It’s more like a booster in the weight requirement but FAA-approved for air travel). But if your kid is ultra taller than their peer, the tallest convertible car seats with light weight are the best choice.

There’s truly no ideal size for every kid and family, but what suits your needs is the best. A short-shelled car seat will be lighter (less material!) and fit better in cramped spaces like economy airplane seats and subcompact rental cars. A car seat with a tall shell and more harness slots will accommodate tall kids for a longer time.

An easy-to-install travel car seat

When you’re traveling with a car seat, one thing is for sure: you have to install and uninstall it multiple times during trips on the road or on the plane. Worse, you’re likely to have to install it in an unfamiliar car (the rented cars or taxis)! 

What are the most important things for a travel car seat’s ease of installation? There are a few things to consider.

If you’re traveling with an infant or very young toddler in a lightweight convertible car seat, some of them may need a very reclined installation. Some may need a tightly rolled towel or a pool noddle.

All American car seats can be installed with either the LATCH system (generally have a certain weight limit lower than the car seat’s upper weight limit)) or a seat belt, giving you total flexibility. But the actual installation method may vary a bit as well, due to LATCH connectors and the techniques for seat belt installation being quite different between different car seat brands.

The most commonly seen LATCH clips are very basic and flexible and they need more maneuvering to install tightly, while others are enhanced by the manufacturers to be rigid and easier push-on style. But all will work in the end.

If you’re traveling overseas or need to put a car seat in a center back seat that might not have LATCH, prepare to install your travel convertible car seat with the seatbelt. 

Seat belt installation is considered more difficult to maneuver. That’s the very common case for lightweight convertible car seats. Some car seats have a lock-sure seat belt system for easier installation; some may have a Clicktight (only for Britax car seats because this is the company’s patented technology). Without any luck, all the lightest convertible car seats don’t equip with these features.

To fix this problem, you can purchase an inexpensive locking clip and learn how to use it for seat belt installation before your trip. It’s not a biggie if you don’t have one. You can still put the travel car seat on the window seat with a tight and proper installation.

It’s especially important to practice if you’ll be taking taxis or Uber’s at your destination. If you meet some people who will easily get impatient and pressure you during the car seat installation because it takes too long. Ignore them. Just keep the door open while you install and that car won’t go anywhere. They might start the meter while you’re installing to compensate for their time, and that’s ok.

A comfortable convertible car seat for travel

This last factor to consider is perhaps the most subjective depending on the parents and kids. But you never want a car seat that is not comfortable for your kid to stay in. Some bargain travel car seats have virtually no padding over the plastic shell. This won’t matter too much if you’re just using that car seat for a short time, like on the plane and for a quick taxi ride. 

These lightweight convertible car seats are somehow limited and padded around a plastic frame (less material for lighter weight), but at least provide very basic comfort. If you want to choose the most comfortable option among these light travel car seats, the Safety 1st Jive might be a good choice.

Light Convertible Car Seats FAQs

What is the lightest convertible car seat for travel

The Evenflo Tribute 5 is the lightest convertible car seat in the US, weighing just 9.29 pounds. But if you live in Canada, another travel car seat – Cosco Scenera Next DLX should be the lightest convertible car seat. It weighs 7.65 pounds.

Are lightweight car seats safe?

Yes, of course. You can be assured that. 

All car seats sold in the United States have to pass the same safety standards. That’s the countryside mandatory for all child safety seats– if they can’t pass, they can’t be sold.

The most critical piece of a car seat’s safety is that the right size to fits your child properly and is used properly every time.

While heavier car seats are often thought to more solid for featuring a metal frame and adding more features in the interest of safety or comfort, there’s no official available data comparing crash test results that lighter convertible car seats lack safety performance than heavier car seats. So it’s hard to accurately compare the safety of lightweight car seats versus heavier seats with extra safety features.

Can you take a car seat on a flight?

In most cases, yes you can take a car seat on a flight. As a matter of fact, the FAA requires parents to use a car seat in the situation if they’re going to travel with an infant or toddler between 0 and 36 months old. So if you’re traveling within the US, you’d better take a car seat on a flight if your kid is under 3 years old

International carriers set their own rules but usually permit car seats on board. And you’d better call the airlines before onboarding with your kid and his/her car seat.

Do I need a travel car seat?

Not necessarily, but you may prefer a lightweight car seat to travel across the country or around the world. You don’t need to worry about the safety of a light travel car seat. 

Nearly all car seats sold in the US are FAA-approved, but some of the bulkier ones can be cumbersome to take through the airport and on to the plane because they definitely need more space and muscle to carry.

It’s not recommended to take your everyday car seat on the plane, but if you really want to do this, taking a portable car seat is a wise move. Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller and Diono Radian 3R are the best recommendations. Both can be foldable and easy to carry from your home to the airport and navigate through different airports. The Doona is also the only car seat with wheels and you can just push it from the gate to the security check.

What convertible car seat is best for small cars?

If you want to put a car seat in small cars, you should consider a compact model. 

Some lightweight convertible car seats are compact, some have tall bodies. If you use a convertible car seat for newborns and small infants, the car seat should be very reclined to protect their vulnerable airways. In this case, the car seat takes up a little more space. 

If you use the convertible car seat forward-facing, the older toddlers and preschoolers can usually be more upright and the car seat does not need much space. 

The Cosco Onlook seems to be the best convertible car seat for small cars for its compact design. However, it’s not that slim. If you’re looking for a narrow-profile compact car seat for small cars, consider the Graco SlimFit3 LX or Britax One4Life.

Which travel car seat is the lightest?

The WayB Pico car seat is the lightest. It weighs 8 pounds. However, it’s not a conventional car seat with a normal weight range or stage. It’s forward-facing only, with a 5-point harness, fitting kids between 22-50 lbs and 30-45 inches. 

But it’s heavier than those booster seats with no-back, typically weighing between 1-5 pounds.

What is the lightest toddler car seat for travel?

The lightest toddler car seat for travel is the Evenflo Tribute 5 which only weighs 9.29 pounds.

What is the best car seat for travel?

The best car seat for travel is the WayB Pico. It’s ultra-lightweight (8 lbs), foldable, and easy to carry. It has a 5-point harness for optimal protection. The only down point is the price. It’s one of the most expensive car seats for over $500. But it’s the best option if you’re a family who often travels with a toddler.

Which lightweight convertible car seat is for air travel?

The lightest convertible car seat for air travel is the Evenflo Tribute 5. It weighs only 9.29 pounds but can be used rear-facing for newborns and forward-facing for older toddlers. Best in best, it’s cheap.

What is the weight limit for light weight convertible car seats?

The weight limit for these lightweight convertible seats vary depending on models.

Usually, convertible car seats have a 65-pound upper weight limit, but not all light convertible car seats reach this standard. For example, the Cosco Onlook accommodates a kid only up to 40 pounds, no matter rear-facing or forward-facing. If you want to know the weight limit of all lightweight convertible car seats in this post, check the table list above.