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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 car seats I will be reviewing:
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 Picks
After taking a hard look at the world of convertible car seats, I have reviewed my top 5 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.