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If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best lightweight convertible car seat is, I’d recommend the Evenflo Sonus.
Anyone that’s had the pleasure of carrying a car seat through the airport knows that they can get quite heavy. Luckily, for people that do this sort of thing often, there are some lightweight options.
In this article, I am breaking down the best lightweight convertible car seats, and in the end, I’ll choose the winner.
Here are the lightweight convertible car seats that I will be reviewing:
- Evenflo Tribute LX
- Cosco Apt 50
- Britax Allegiance
- Safety 1st Guide 65
- Evenflo Sonus
- Combi Coccoro Travel Car Seat
- Cosco Scenera Next DLX
- Baby Trend Trooper
- Evenflo EveryFit 4-in-1 Olympus
Who Needs A Lightweight Convertible Car Seat?
Some people install a car seat once, and then leave it in place until their child outgrows it. With a convertible, you will at least need to remove and reinstall it once to go from rear facing to forward facing mode. But, if you aren’t going to take it out more than that, its weight probably won’t come in to play. On the other hand, if you plan to move the car seat between cars frequently, it can be a good idea to get something lightweight.
If you plan to travel and bring your car seat on trips, it’s even more important to get something lightweight. It’s a lot easier to carry a 10 – 15 pound car seat through the airport than it is to carry one weighing 25 – 30 pounds. Keep in mind that in a addition to the car seat, you are probably going to be carrying lots of baby gear and other items as well. Every pound adds up.
Things To Consider When Shopping For A Lightweight Car Seat
There are plenty of things to look for when buying a car seat. If you’re looking for something lightweight, here are some things to consider carefully.
Ease Of Installation
Most people that are looking for lightweight car seats are planning to take them out of the car from time to time. When the car seat is just sitting in the car, the weight doesn’t matter much. But, when you have to take them out and carry them around, it makes a big difference.
Since you’re going to be removing and installing the car seat with some level of frequency, you really want to avoid getting one that is hard to install.
By the way, all of the car seats below are easy or average in terms of installation difficulty.
Naturally, if you are looking for something lightweight, you will want to pay attention to the weight. I would consider anything below 20 pounds to be relatively lightweight. If weight is really important to you though, there are plenty of good options below 15 pounds. Some are even under 10 pounds.
FAA Approved For Air Travel
This may or may not be important to you. If you’re planning to take your car seat on a plane though, it’s a good idea to double check to make sure it’s certified for air travel.
My Top Lightweight Convertible Car Seat Reviews
After taking a hard look at the world of convertible car seats, I have reviewed my top lightweight models. I have also picked my favorite.
At just 9 pounds, the Evenflo Tribute LX is the lightest car seat in this post.
In rear facing mode, it can be used by children that weigh 5 – 40 pounds. In forward facing mode, it is suitable for children weighing 22 – 40 pounds. The rear facing weight limits are fine, but a 40 pound upper limit in forward facing mode is a bit light. That said, you should be able to find a good booster than can be used before your child crosses 40 pounds. So, it’s manageable.
Newborns are comfortable riding in this one thanks to a plush head pillow that helps keep them secure. As your child grows, this car seat continues to accommodate them. The shoulder straps are adjustable to 4 different positions and the crotch buckle is adjustable to 2 positions.
It comes with a cup holder, so your little one will always have a beverage within reach.
On the downside, some parents needed to use a towel to get the angle right when installing in rear facing mode. This isn’t exactly uncommon in the world of car seats, but it’s not ideal either. There is no adjustable recline either.
It should also be noted that this one is priced on the affordable end of the range.
Here is our full length review if you’re interested.
- Weighs just over 9 pounds
- Affordably priced
- Removable plush head pillow keeps newborns secure
- 4 shoulder strap positions and 2 crotch buckle positions
- Has a cup holder
- FAA approved for air travel
- Some parents needed to use a towel for rear facing installation
- The 40 pound weight limit in forward facing mode is low
- No adjustable recline
At 11 pounds, the Cosco Apt 50 is quite light.
In rear facing mode, it can be used by children that weigh 5 – 40 pounds. In forward facing mode, it is suitable for children weighing 22 – 50 pounds. Some parents note that the straps are a bit short. So, it can be difficult to get older children into the seat at they approach 50 pounds.
This one comes with 2 cup holders. So, you have a place to put drinks, snacks, and toys.
6 harness heights and 3 buckle positions help ensure that your little one will be comfortable from infancy into toddlerhood.
Traveling with this car seat is easy, since it’s so light. It’s also FAA certified for use on aircraft. So, your little one will be able to sit in a familiar seat when you fly.
The seat pad is removable and machine washable. So, cleaning it up after the inevitable spill is no problem.
It’s also priced quite affordably. When you consider the fact that you will get years of use out of this one, it’s a great value.
On the downside, it’s a little wide and bulky. So, if you have a small car, you might consider other options. There is also no adjustable recline. This isn’t the worst thing, but would make it easier for infants to nap.
- Priced affordably
- Weighs just 11 pounds
- Comes with 2 cup holders
- 6 harness heights and 3 buckle positions
- FAA certified for use on aircraft
- Machine washable seat pad
- No adjustable recline
- A little wide/bulky
- Straps are a little short
The Britax Allegiance weighs in at just over 19 pounds. It’s reasonably light, but not as light as some of the others on this list.
In rear facing mode, it can be used by children that weigh 5 – 40 pounds. In forward facing mode, it is suitable for children weighing 20 – 65 pounds. This forward facing weight limit is at least as high as any other car seat on this list. So, you’ll get lots of use out of this one.
One thing that sets this car seat apart is that it’s really easy to install. If you’re planning to bring the car seat with you when you travel, easy installation can save you a lot of headaches. It’s also FAA approved for use on aircraft.
A removable body pillow ensures that newborns are snug and secure. In addition, the no re-thread harness adjusts to 10 different positions and the headrest is adjustable as well. So, this car seat should continue to fit well as your little one grows.
One issue with this one is that the button that is used to loosen the straps can be a little hard to push. This is fairly minor, but worth mentioning nonetheless.
Another issue is that this one doesn’t have a cup holder. This is one of those seemingly minor features that actually makes a pretty big difference. It doesn’t matter so much for infants. But, for toddlers, it’s a big plus if they can simply keep a beverage in the cup holder so that you don’t have to keep handing one back and forth.
- Easy to install
- No re-thread harness adjusts to 10 different positions
- Adjustable headrest
- FAA approved of use on aircraft
- Removable body pillow ensures newborns are snug and secure
- High forward facing weight limit
- Weighs over 19 pounds
- Button to loosen the straps is hard to push
- No cup holder
The Safety 1st Guide 65 weighs 15 pounds. While not as light as some of the other options, it’s still fairly light in the grand scheme of things.
In rear facing mode, it can be used by children that weigh 5 – 40 pounds. In forward facing mode, it is suitable for children weighing 22 – 65 pounds. This forward facing weight limit is at least as high as any other car seat on this list. So, you’ll get several years of use out of this one.
This car seat is fairly compact. So, if you drive a small car, it would make a great option. It’s also great if you want to try and fit 3 across in the back.
It’s FAA approved for air travel. So, in addition to being small and easy to carry, you also get to use it on the plane.
A removable cup holder ensure that your little one will always have something to drink. It’s machine washable as well. So, when something spills, it’s no big deal.
Some parents noted that it was fairly difficult to get this one installed tightly enough. If you’re just going to install it once, and leave it in place, this isn’t too big of a deal. But, it can be rather frustrating if you’re traveling with it and installing it several times over the course of a couple weeks.
There is no adjustable recline. So, you won’t be able to customize your little one’s position based on whether they want to nap or stay awake.
- Priced affordably
- Compact design works well for small cars
- FAA approved for use on aircraft
- Removable cup holder
- Machine washable
- High forward facing weight limit
- Some parents had a difficult time getting this one installed tight enough
- No adjustable recline
The Evenflo Sonus weighs in at 13 pounds. In my opinion, this is the best lightweight convertible car seat.
In rear facing mode, it can be used by children that weigh 5 – 40 pounds. In forward facing mode, it is suitable for children weighing 22 – 50 pounds.
There are a couple of features that really set this one apart. It has an air flow ventilation system to help regulate temperature. In some car seats, babies can get hot and sweaty in the summer. But this one helps them stay nice and cool. It has a head pillow to keep your little on comfortable as well.
It also has buckle pockets. So, you have a place to tuck the metal part of the buckle when you’re putting your little one in. That prevents the metal from touching your child’s skin, which in turn prevents burns when the metal buckle is hot.
It’s FAA certified for air travel. So, you’re child will be able to sit comfortably in the car seat when you take a flight. This makes napping a lot easier, which also makes for a smoother trip.
Two removable cup holders ensure that beverages and snacks are always within reach.
This car seat does have an adjustable recline. However, it doesn’t go back as far as some parents would like. That’s a rather minor issue, but still worth pointing out.
- Weighs only 13 pounds
- Air flow ventilation system to regulate temperature
- Priced affordably
- 2 removable cup holders
- FAA certified for air travel
- Buckle pockets to protect from metal buckle burns
- Head pillow for support
- Adjustable recline does not go very far back
The Combi Coccoro is a really nice little car seat, and not just for traveling. It’s pretty great for anyone who’s tired of fiddling with car seats that are super heavy and hard to install. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t act like you haven’t yelled at that thing about a dozen times.
It weighs 11 pounds, so it’s one of the lightest options out there, and it’s small enough to put in the stroller so you can wheel it around the airport with ease. You can also use it as a stroller if you get a universal caddy like this one.
It comes with built-in lock-offs that you can use for forward facing and there’s a separate piece you can use for rear facing. With a curved base, you can adjust the angle for sleeping or tight spaces, and this is definitely a great seat for flying or rental cars abroad because of its small stature.
On that note, if you’re attempting to fit three car seats across a slim backseat, I give the nod to this one. Get three of these, and you’ll have no problem squeezing them in. In fact, you probably won’t even have to squeeze.
The only downsides to the Combi Coccoro are the size and the price. For some kids, it’s just a tad too small. It’s not great for people who have large kids, but if you have an average child or smaller, it’s a great car seat until your child until they reach the rear facing limit of 33 pounds or the forward facing limit of 40 pounds.
Most families don’t choose this car seat because it’s so expensive. It’s comparable to most other high-end car seats, which is pretty far beyond other travel car seats that are relatively inexpensive.
However, many people find that they love the Corroco so much that it’s worth the investment to be a full-time car seat until their child outgrows it. It has a fair amount of padding and it’s easy to install. It’s a good value and you’ll get some heavy use out of it.
- Easy to install using the LATCH system or a seatbelt
- Compact and lightweight
- Comfortable padding
- Can use rear facing or forward facing
- Great for airplanes and compact cars
- Can be used as a stroller with universal caddy
- Does not accommodate large children
- Not approved for use in Canada
This car seat is one of the most popular convertible travel car seats because it’s so affordable. It’s light in your arms and on your wallet. It’s light enough to carry in a car seat backpack as you travel, or you can use hooks to hang it from the back of your stroller.
This is a great option for occasional travelers because it costs much less than other options and tends to fit small babies better. It will even last longer for toddlers because the harness straps adjust higher.
While the bottom strap that comes between the legs is often too short for larger kids, the seat will still fit larger kids if you ask Cosco to send you a longer strap for free, which they will do if you provide the serial number for your car seat.
This seat does a really great job of keeping kids rear facing until at least 2 years old and it’s a good seat for small cars and tight budgets. However, it’s tough to get a really tight install, especially if you have leather seats. It tends to slide more than other seats.
There’s also very little padding on the seat. Babies may not care, but toddlers and preschoolers won’t be as comfortable as in their regular car seat, and you may hear about it for the entirety of your vacation.
The DLX solid colors have a bit more padding than the patterned versions, but they also cost a tad more. You may also opt for the Cosco Scenera Deluxe. It’s the Scenera DLX with a head pillow, strap covers, and lower back pad. Plus a few extra precious bucks and ounces.
- Only weighs 7 pounds
- Compact and affordable
- Fits small babies well
- Keeps children rear facing until 2 years old
- Very little padding
- Hard to get a tight install in some cars
- Requires a top tether for forward facing install
This car seat is brand new and has a lot to offer. It weighs only 10 pounds and it’s extremely narrow. The Cosco Scenera Next is narrow as well, but this is slightly narrower, and as a bonus, it will fit kids until they’re about 6 years old, which the Scenera Next won’t do.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit more expensive, but you’ll get almost double the use out of it. It also comes in a variety of different padding configurations that include harness pads, a head pillow, and a body pillow.
It’s not the best solution for a newborn or an infant, but it’s perfect for older babies, toddlers, and older kids. There are tons of adjustments, and you can use it for babies under 23 pounds, but it will require a steep incline that takes up a lot of room. Once your baby gets bigger, it will take up a lot less space.
Baby Trend did a really great job of labeling and including instructions on the seat itself. Many car seats today are misused, but it’s nearly impossible to do so with clear labeling on the seat itself.
The weight limit is clearly identified, there are special harness routing instructions for newborns, and the harness has stripes so you know when it’s laying flat rather than twisted. There’s also a large picture of an airplane on the side of the seat for flight attendant reference.
If you need extra help, the owner’s manual includes a page for detailed cleaning instructions for every part of the seat and rules for every piece of padding. There’s a safety checklist for new parents and good information on how to use the seat correctly.
Scan the QR code included in the manual for additional installation instructions and videos.
- Can be used from preemie to elementary school ages
- Very narrow
- Includes a built-in cup holder
- Clear labeling and instructions on car seat
- Lots of padding available
- Steep recline for babies under 22 pounds
- Requires top tether for forward facing use
- More expensive
This one tips the scales at 19 pounds, but it’s worth considering, because if you’re doing a lot of traveling and you want a truly convertible car seat that covers all your bases, this is a fantastic option.
It’s a rear facing and forward facing car seat that will convert to a high back booster and then a no-back booster when you’re ready. It has a ton of padding, so it’s comfortable, and it will fit your newborn baby and your older child up to 120 pounds.
This is the tallest seat on the list, so it will fit a very tall and heavy child. If you plan to travel with your kids for the foreseeable future and you don’t want to continue to invest in car seat after car seat, this is a durable option that will last you no matter where you go.
It will take up a bit more space on planes and in cars, and it’s a bit heavier to tote, but it’s still much more lightweight than a lot of the high-end car seats that are meant to be installed and stay there.
It’s pricey, but not as bad as some others, and it will definitely be a seat you’ll want to use full-time anyway, so it’s worth the investment. It has two cup holders, so you can toss a bottle or some juice in there for the ride.
It’s rated for 10 years of use, which is 4 years longer than the average car seat expiration of 6 years. It reclines, has a 12 position headrest with a no-rethread harness strap, and is side impact tested.
The most wonderful thing about this car seat is the ease of installation. No more fiddling with finding the LATCH components. It’s a one click snap and release. There’s no frustration involved, which makes it perfect for traveling, because it takes no time at all to move it in and out of different vehicles.
- Accommodates newborn up to 120 pounds
- Great padding
- Easy to install and uninstall
- Rated for 10 years of use
- Two cup holders with removable snack cup
- Takes up more space
- More heavy and pricey
Bringing Home The Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seat
In my opinion, the Evenflo Sonus is the best lightweight convertible car seat. I say this because it has a some unique features, and very few drawbacks. That said there are a couple car seats that are a bit lighter or have other benefits. I feel good recommending any car seat in this post.