9 Best Travel Car Seats – Safe and comfortable

Keeping your child safe while traveling requires purchase and proper use of the best travel car seat available. This top ten review of car seats examines the best products in the category with respect to ease of use, safety, how long it will last and comfort your child. It is important that the car seat continue to accommodate your children as they grow.

Overview table

While we certainly want you to read the entire buyer’s guide, we provide this quick overview table so you can contrast each of the top ten travel car seats easily. We care about our readers and communicate to you the best products available, which help you make an informed choice.

Editor choice 1 Cosco Scenera Next with Cup Holder
9.9
Cosco Scenera Next with Cup Holder
(Best portable car seat)

The Cosco Scenera Next with Cup Holder is an extremely lightweight seat with a latch system that makes it simple to install in any car.

9.9
2 Chicco KeyFit
9.8
Chicco KeyFit
(Top rated car seat in USA)

The Chicco KeyFit is the number one infant car seat in the US which is easyly installed due to its leveling foot.

9.8
3 Maxi-Cosi Mico AP
9.7
Maxi-Cosi Mico AP
(Best car seat for toddlers)

The Maxi-Cosi Mico AP is an easy-to-use seat with fun colors engaging your child during the travel.

9.7
4 Graco SnugRide 35
9.7
Graco SnugRide 35
(Best lightweight car seat)

The Graco SnugRide 35 is an ultra-lightweight car seat that you can easily switch from the car to stroller.

9.7
5 Evenflo Tribute LX
9.5
Evenflo Tribute LX
(Best for growing children)

The Evenflo Tribute LX exceeds federal safety standards providing a side impact system designed for structural integrity up to two times the federal crash test standard.

9.5
6 Cosco Apt 50
9.5
Cosco Apt 50
(Best budget car seat)

The Cosco Apt 50 uses a built-in side-impact protection and is certified for use in cars, airplanes and hand carrying.

9.5
7 Safety 1st Guide
9.4
Safety 1st Guide
(Best compact travel car seat)

The Safety 1st Guide uses a latch system to attach the car seat to the back seat and a five point harness.

9.4
8 Evenflo Sonus
9.2
Evenflo Sonus
(Best for long trips in inclement weather conditions)

The Evenflo Sonus provides an air flow ventilation system that regulates temperature and is the best for long trips in inclement weather conditions.

9.2
9 Combi Compact for Baby and Toddler
9.0

The Combi Compact for Baby and Toddler is an easily-to-clean travel car seat since its cover, harness pads and pillow are removable and washable.

9.0

 

1 Editor choice

Cosco Scenera Next with Cup Holder – Best portable car seat

Features

  • Product Weight: 10.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 29.8 x 17.5 x 16 inches
  • Min weight recommendation: 5 Pounds
  • Max weight recommendation: 40 Pounds

The extremely lightweight Cosco Scenera Next with Cup Holder provides a streamlined way to transport your baby. It’s made for travel. You can obtain an adaptor that attaches the car seat to your carry-on suitcase. Its latch system makes it simple to install in any car. You can use the latch or the traditional seat belt method to quickly install this in your car or a Lyft or Uber. It works in airplane seats, too. The cup holder detaches to provide you with additional room. A push button system releases the harness. You can machine wash the seat cover. It’s air-dried quickly.

Positives
  • easy to remove cover,
  • easy to install,
  • easy to clean,
  • attaches to suitcases.
Negatives
  • hard for some users to release the harness,
  • cover is thin with little padding.
2

Chicco KeyFit – Top rated car seat in USA

Features

  • Product Weight: 17 pounds
  • Dimensions: 27.5 x 17 x 24 inches
  • Min weight recommendation: 4 Pounds
  • Max weight recommendation: 30 Pounds

Owners have rated the Chicco KeyFit the number one infant car seat in the US. Parents have commented on how easy it is installed due to its leveling foot. Other aspects that make it simple to proper position include its Ride Right bubble levels and tightening latch on its five point harness. You can attach it to a compatible Chicco stroller to use it on the go.

Use this travel car seat for infants weighing from 4 to 30 pounds whose height is up to 30 inches. That means it will serve them up to the age of 14 months depending on the height or the age of three depending on the weight. The seat provides removable head and body supports for newborns. You can carry it with the handle in two different positions. Its harness cannot be machine washed but the other removable cloth parts can be. Simply wipe clean the plastic housing with a dampened cloth and a bit of mild soap.

Positives
  • top rated,
  • easy to install,
  • attaches to compatible Chicco strollers.
Negatives
  • hard to clean harness,
  • kids quickly outgrow it.
3

Maxi-Cosi Mico AP – Best car seat for toddlers

Features

  • Product Weight: 18.8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 16.5 x 18 x 31 inches
  • Min weight recommendation: 5 Pounds
  • Max weight recommendation: 22 Pounds

The Maxi-Cosi Mico AP, a part of the manufacturer’s Bohemian collection, provides tactile fabrics with fun colors and patterns to engage your child while traveling. This infant car seat weighs the least for infant car seats in its class. Its ergonomic handle makes it more comfortable for you to carry.

Use it easily in the car and with the Maxi-Cosi or Quinny strollers. The Mico AP has a stay-in-car base the seat attaches to, then detaches to connect to the stroller. The car seat offers air protect side impact technology, a cushion system that protects your child’s head. Its designed for newborns and children up to 22 pounds.

The five-point harness covered in the same fun cozy material keeps your child snug in safety. The removable head insert adds extra protection for newborns which you can remove as the baby ages. One extra that the Mico AP offers  that other car seats do not is a multi-position sun canopy and built-in flip out visor to keep the sun off of your child.

Positives
  • lightweight,
  • easy to install,
  • built-in sun visor,
  • attaches to compatible Maxi-Cosi and Quinny strollers.
Negatives
  • only designed for early infant life,
  • kids quickly outgrow it.
4

Graco SnugRide 35 – Best lightweight car seat

Features

  • Product Weight: 18.0 pounds
  • Dimensions: 28 x 18.7 x 15.6 inches
  • Min weight recommendation: 5 Pounds
  • Max weight recommendation: 35 pounds

The Graco SnugRide 35 offers an ultra-lightweight car seat that you can easily switch from the car to stroller. This rear facing car seat connects with a one-step secure attachment. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), children should ride in rear facing car seat until they reach the age of two. Click it into a Graco Click Connect stroller or the car seat base. It works for 4 to 35 pound infants who are up to 32 inches high. The manufacturer meets or exceeds the US safety standard FMVSS 213. The seat cushion is machine-washable, while the plastic and metal base can be wiped clean with mild soap and water.

Positives
  • ultra-lightweight,
  • switches to stroller,
  • meets or exceeds US safety standards,
  • machine washable seat cushion.
Negatives
  • kids quickly outgrow it.
5

Evenflo Tribute LX – Best for growing children

Features

  • Product Weight 9.29 pounds
  • Dimensions 18.5 x 22 x 25.5 inches
  • Min weight recommendation: 5 Pounds
  • Max weight recommendation 40 Pounds

You won’t need to replace the Evenflo Tribute LX as soon as you would most other infant car seats. It exceeds federal safety standards providing a side impact system designed for structural integrity up to two times the federal crash test standard. Use rear facing or front facing. As a rear facing seat it accommodates infants from 5 to 40 pounds and 19 to 37 inches high; as a front facing seat it accommodates toddlers from 22 to 40 pounds and 28 to 40 inches high. The shoulder harness offers multiple positions letting you use it as longer as your child grows. The harness adjustment attachment release buckle in front makes adjustments easy.

100% polyester cover and cushion are easily cleaned. An integrated body cushion adds comfort. The removable pillow lets you customize the car seat for children of multiple ages. You can machine wash the seat cushion in cold water using the delicate cycle. Tumble dry it for 10 to 15 minutes.

Positives
  • exceeds federal safety standards,
  • easy to buckle and unbuckle harness,
  • accommodates children for many years.
Negatives
  • not as light as most car seats in this buyer’s guide.
6

Cosco Apt 50 – Best budget car seat

Features

  • Product Weight: 11 pounds
  • Dimensions: 26 x 20 x 24 inches
  • Min weight recommendation: 5 Pounds
  • Max weight recommendation: 50 Pounds

The Cosco Apt 50 works as a front-facing as well as a rear-facing seat. It uses a latch system to attach and detach. In rear facing mode, it accommodates kids weighing from 5 pounds to 40 pounds; in front facing mode, it accommodates kids up to 50 pounds. Its five-point harness provides six-heights and three buckle options. It uses built-in side-impact protection and is certified for use in cars, airplanes and hand carrying. You can remove the seat cushion and machine wash it. Tumble dry it.

Positives
  • accommodates children up to 50 pounds,
  • easy to install,
  • multiple height and buckle options.
Negatives
  • heavier than many other options.
7

Safety 1st Guide – Best compact travel car seat

Features

  • Product Weight 15 pounds
  • Dimensions 30 x 18 x 14 inches
  • Min weight recommendation: 5 Pounds
  • Max weight recommendation 65 Pounds

Use the compact Safety 1st Guide 65 in smaller cars. It uses a latch system to attach the car seat to the back seat and a five point harness. This seat design also uses side-impact protection. You can fit three of these seats side-by-side in the back seat – handy for a growing family or if you give birth to triplets.

As a rear facing seat, it accommodates kids weighing from 5 to 40 pounds and as a front facing seat, it fits kids weighing from 22 to 65 pounds. As kids grow, you can remove the body pillows to accommodate them more comfortably. It also features a removable cup holder. The travel seat meets or exceeds ATSM, JPMA and federal safety standards.

Positives
  • exceeds safety standards,
  • adjusts to accommodate kids as they grow,
  • handy cup holder.
Negatives
  • hard to clean some parts.
8

Evenflo Sonus – Best for long trips in inclement weather conditions

Features

  • Product Weight: 13 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20 x 19.2 x 28 inches
  • Min weight recommendation: 5 Pounds
  • Max weight recommendation: 50 Pounds

The Evenflo Sonus works as a front facing and rear facing car seat. In rear facing mode it accommodates infants from 5 to 40 pounds and in forward facing mode it accommodates toddlers from 22 to 50 pounds. It also exceeds federal safety standards. Evenflo conducts its own tests, as well, including comprehensive side impact and rollover tests.

It works well for long trips because it provides an air flow ventilation system that regulates temperature. It can be used in a car, plane or hand carried. The shoulder straps work in five different positions. The seat has removable pads that can be machine washed. It also has two cup holders plus a removable head pillow. This is another entry in the dual mode car seats. You can use it in rear-facing mode with kids up to a weight of 40 pounds. In front-facing mode it accommodates kids weighing up to 50 pounds.

Positives
  • adjusts for use with children of multiple ages and weights,
  • easy to install,
  • exceeds safety ratings.
Negatives
  • weighs more than most other infant carriers.
9

Combi Compact for Baby and Toddler – Easiest to clean

Features

  • Product Weight: 15.65 pounds
  • Dimensions: 28.5 x 16 x 16 inches
  • Min weight recommendation: 3 Pounds
  • Max weight recommendation: 40 Pounds

The Combi Compact for Baby and Toddler uses the Tru-Safe side impact protection system. Its deep side walls and thick foam padding keep the baby safe and comfortable. Removable pillow padding lets you customize it to your child’s size as does its four harness heights and front harness adjuster. Built-in lock offs and push-button latch connectors increase your child’s safety. The harness uses a color indicator to show that it is properly buckled.

This lightweight and compact car seat also can easily fit across the backseat. It measures 15.5 inches wide making it the ideal choice for smaller cars. It is easy to install and very portable. An indicator on the buckle lets you know when it has been secured properly. It also provides a tether connector strap so you can use the car seat in rear-facing mode. You can use this car seat for infants weighing 3 to 33 pounds in rear-facing mode and 20 to 40 pounds in forward-facing mode. You can easily clean this travel car seat since its cover, harness pads and pillow are removable and washable.

Positives
  • extremely lightweight,
  • compact,
  • harness safety indicator.
Negatives
  • does not connect to stroller system.

Buyer’s Guide

How to select the best travel car seat?

We summerized the key features, that you should bare in mind when choosing an ideal travel car seat for your child.

From the day your newborn comes home from the hospital to the day they hit seven years old, they will need a car seat. The best choice among these necessary safety devices is one that accommodates the growth stages of your child. These have removable pillows and multiple harness settings.

Car seats can cost quite a lot. The more extensible the device is, the more expensive it will be. If you haven’t got a car seat as a baby shower gift, you need to shop.

Look at your vehicle owner’s manual to learn whether it can accommodate a car seat using a belt or a Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. A few car seats can be attached both ways, but normally you need to choose between these two options. Also, measure your backseat. This tells you how many car seats it can accommodate.

Look for a convertible car seat so that it will last longer and you can install in rear-facing or front-facing modes. However, only few of these snap into a base that can remain in the car.

Some of those same car seats also snap into a base on a stroller. This doubles their utility and provides you with an invaluable advantage that many parents have appreciated – you can easily move a sleeping infant from the car to the stroller and vice versa.You can snap some travel car seat into a base on a strollerEvery car seat for sale now has to meet federal safety standards. That means any car seat at least meets minimum safety measures. Some manufacturers go above and beyond that though. Read review to determine which seats provide the highest safety rankings.

A five-point harness provides the best security. It consists of a strap between the legs, two shoulder straps and two waist straps. Your choice should also include a side-impact protection system like air pads or additional foam around the baby’s head. Look for car seats that can use seatbelts and the latch system.

The easier to clean the car seat is, the better. Many seats have removable covers, pillows and harness covers that you can machine wash. The metal and plastic portions should be wipe cleaned with water and mild cleaner.

A few travel car seats function not only in dual mode – front and rear, but also they work in airplanes, cars, on strollers and as hand-held carriers. You can occasionally find one that also attaches to suitcases. These make moving through an airport easier.

Safety rating and comfort level of your child should be the two top considerations. You could end up spending a bit more for these two items, but the important thing is that your child remains safe.

Look for a seat with removable pillow or multiple pillows. These let you accommodate your baby comfortably throughout their growth. You’ll change lightweight frames for accommodating through many stages of growth. If you travel a lot, it works better to choose a car seat that does not weigh much. If you need it to the moment your child enters kindergarten, choose one that’s heavier but extensible.

Conclusion

Choosing the best travel car seat for you and your family means much more than simply purchasing a suitable seat for the baby’s current age. You need to consider their growth and how long the seat needs to last. Moreover, your child’s safety depends on the car seat you choose.

Overall, the best choice out of the ten travel car seats featured in this buyer’s guide is the Cosco Scenera Next with Cup Holder. We choose it as the best portable car seat, but its many extras also make it the best choice altogether.

It uses the latch system so it can be quickly installed in many cars as well as in airplane seats, which makes your travel with your child easy. It also works with the traditional seat belt connection method, plus its optional adaptor lets you attach the car seat to your carry-on suitcase. The seat cover is removed, clened and dried easily.

All in all, its a combination of comfort and safety features plus its multiple travel methods vault this to the top of the best travel car seat list. You’ll save money by investing in this one, too, because you will be able to use it for years. Most importantly, your child will remain comfortable in it and may sleep through the trip. Parents who reviewed it online remarked that their children seemed as comfortable in it as they were in full-sized car seats.

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