LAST UPDATED: April 13, 2019
Best Backless Booster Car Seats: Keep Kids Safe and Comfortable in the Car
A backless booster seat keeps your car safe for your child
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON April 13, 2019
Booster seats are a must-have item for your young kids. Not only will they make a car ride a lot safer for your child, but they’ll also increase the comfort factor, which can come in handy on longer trips. Choosing the right one for your needs isn’t easy. Luckily, we’ve prepared everything you need to know to make a great decision. Read on to learn about the best backless booster car seats out there.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy a Backless Booster Car Seat?
- Safety first. A booster car seat is a legal requirement in most states, as they’ve been proven to dramatically improve the safety of a child riding in a car and ensures proper belt-positioning. A good-quality booster seat will keep your kids safe for years to come.
- Comfortable rides. If you’re a fan of long road trips, booster car seats have an added advantage of making a car ride not only safe, but also very comfortable. A well-cushioned seat that provides the right support can make all the difference.
- Convenience. A lot of modern backless booster seats feature cup holders, trays, and pockets, giving your child ample access to everything they need for a comfortable trip in your car.
- Peace of mind. A properly installed booster car seat redirects the forces accompanying a car crash, helping to protect your child from injury. Knowing that your child is protected in the event of a side impact or other type of crash can ease your car- and driving-related worries.
Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Graco has been innovating practical solutions to parenting problems for over 60 years. Manufacturing high-quality car child seats, Graco is a name you can trust. Some of its most popular products include the Graco Affix Booster Seat and the Galaxy TurboBooster Seat.
Founded in 1958 by Pietro Catelli, Chicco has grown into a global brand, offering everything your child might need. From its Como, Italy headquarters, Chicco continues to innovate new products to add to its stellar lineup. Its best-sellers include the GoFit Backless Booster and the Iron GoFit Plus Booster Seat.
Cosco got its start 70 years ago in Columbus, Indiana, and is still headquartered there today. Its products are designed to be smart and simple, with a no-fuss attitude that parents and kids love. Some of its top products include the Topside Backless Booster and the Highrise Booster Seat.
- Under $20: Budget and value products are sold at this price range. Most of them are decent quality and will work as expected, they just won’t be as durable and comfortable. Safety is an issue as well, as many booster seats offered at this price point may have fewer safety features than the more expensive ones.
- $20 - $40: At this price point, you’ll find comfortable, well-designed, and safe booster seats for your children. They’re typically made from durable materials that are easy to clean and most are also very easy to install in your car.
- Over $50: In this range, you’ll find the best of the best. Much like the mid-range, you’re guaranteed comfort, safety, and durability. You are more likely to pay more just for a brand name though, so do your research before you buy.
Make sure the booster seat you’re considering meets current safety guidelines and hasn’t been previously used. Buying a second-hand car seat is never a good idea, as it’s often impossible to determine the integrity of the safety features by visual inspection. Another important factor to consider is the LATCH system. This is a standard feature in most vehicles built after 2002, and is the most common attachment system for car seats (and one of the safest).
The manufacturing quality of booster seats can vary greatly. Some are made from higher-quality materials than others, leading to better durability, greater safety, and improved comfort. When deciding which booster seat to buy for your child, check that the seat has been made well. You can do so by looking at any seams, the quality of fabric used, and if plastic or metal components look sturdy.
Ease of Use
Booster seats should be easy to use and easy to clean. The ease-of-use factor mostly applies to how easily you can carry the seat (the lighter the better) and how easy it is to install in your car. When it comes to cleaning, some materials are better suited to an easy wipe down than others. Felt fabrics are especially hard to clean, so opt for smooth materials like vinyl or even a dense fabric.
- Overall Comfort: Not all booster seats are created equal when it comes to comfort. The foam padding and other materials used vary greatly, as does the comfort provided. Plus, keep in mind that booster seats come in slightly different shapes, some of which might conform to your child’s needs more than others.
- Arms: The majority of booster seats come with armrests. These can be padded or unpadded, large or small, in the way or well-designed; it really depends on the model you buy. Although they can provide an extra element of comfort, seats with armrests are not always liked by some kids and parents.
- Extras: Booster seats can come with lots of extra features, such as pockets, cup holders, and extra straps. Depending on what you’re looking for, these might be convenient or just an added expense.
Best Backless Booster Car Seat Reviews & Recommendations 2020
One of the best backless boosters out there, the Graco TurboBooster is padded and features height-adjustable armrests for extra comfort. It’s made to be used by kids between 40 and 100 pounds and up to 57 inches tall. Make sure that your kid is tall enough for this seat before you buy.
Hideaway cup holders are also included to stow juice or water and keep your child happy on long rides. A deluxe seat cushion offers extra comfort and can be removed for machine washing, making this very easy to use and easy to clean. Even though this model doesn’t offer a LATCH-supported strap, they don’t slide around while in use or when kids get in and out of them.
Overall, this is a great choice for your child, offering supreme comfort and optimal safety. The only potential drawback we’ve noticed is that part of the seat cover is made of mesh, which may mean snagging and potential tearing, so you’ll want to be extra careful.
A lightweight backless booster seat with a sleek design, the Topside by Cosco is a great value pick. The padding is extra plush and comfortable, giving your child the needed boost to safely use the regular car seat belt. Its lightweight design makes it very portable and great for traveling. Featuring a seat-safe design, this model won’t leave scuff marks or other damage on your vehicle seats.
This booster seat is designed for children between 40 and 100 pounds and 43 to 57 inches tall. It comes in a variety of colors to match your (or your child’s) preference. It’s also one of the safest seats on the market, having been tested to meet and exceed Federal Safety Standards and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety vehicle safety ratings. Its compact design makes it ideal for even the smallest cars.
All in all, this super lightweight booster is a great pick if you’re looking to save money, but don’t want to skimp on quality. We did notice that this seat is a bit narrower than other models on the market, so it might not offer the same kind of comfort to every child.
The GoFit Plus Backless Booster is a great travel companion for parents who love to travel or carpool. It’s easy to attach and will only take seconds to detach, even without adult assistance, owing to its quick-release latch system. Lower anchors help to stabilize the booster and prevent it from becoming a projectile risk in case you hit the emergency brakes.
As far as comfort goes, the seat is contoured to the form of a growing child, and equipped with double foam padding for durability. Lap and shoulder belt guilds help to direct the vehicle’s seat belt for proper positioning. In addition, it has a soft, machine-washable cover and dishwasher-safe cup holders on either side.
However, there are a few drawbacks with this booster seat. For starters, you won’t get a variety of colors to choose from. It’s also a bit more expensive than most booster seats on the market. Lastly, the removable armrest provided is a little bit flimsy and can easily come off when you lean into it.
Peg Perego offers a comfortable booster seat that’s ideal for long drives. The seat is designed with a soft urethane foam cushion that has a medium firmness to it, and allows air to circulate. This helps to keep your child comfortable during long rides. In addition, it comes with a cup holder so that your child can enjoy a quick drink as you drive.
Installing it on the car seat is relatively easy, and an integrated rigid latch helps keep it secure, even when your child isn’t sitting on it. The rigid latch features Peg Perego’s exclusive Blind Lock System, which prevents accidental release. If your rear seat doesn’t have a latch system, you can slide the Rigid latch back into the booster.
It’s important to ensure that it can fit on your rear seat before buying it, as some users have noted that it's too wide for their vehicles. Another drawback is that detaching the latch can be a hassle since the Blind Lock System ensures that it maintains a firm hold.
The KidsEmbrace Backless Booster Seat has DC Comics cartoon graphics on the cover, and it’s removable and machine-washable. This seat is designed to accommodate children between 40 and 57 inches in height and weighing around 40 to 100 pounds.
As for the design, it's contoured and heavily cushioned with a polyurethane foam padding for enhanced comfort. It also features a shoulder belt positioning clip that allows you to easily adjust the seat belt as your child grows. It’s also equipped with armrests, and a cup holder that can hold a drink or a snack.
Unfortunately, this booster seat has a somewhat sleek underside and may slide around on the car seat. Also, it's not made of a heavy-duty material.
The Graco Affix Backless Booster Car Seat is an ideal option for safely transporting children between 40 and 57 inches tall. Just as with other Graco booster car seats, this option also features a one-handed front-adjust latch system, which helps you to secure the booster in seconds. It weighs only 5.6 pounds, so it is easy to set up and maneuver.
The seat is heavily padded for optimal comfort and comes with a soft, removable, and machine-washable cover. Extra features on this booster seat include a cup holder, and a hide-away storage compartment that your child can use to keep toys, books, or snacks. In addition, it’s crash-tested to meet federal safety standards, and will protect your child from side impact.
Unfortunately, this booster seat also has a few drawbacks. For one, it might ship with the cup holder missing. Apart from that, the latch straps may be somewhat short for some Toyota models, such as the Toyota Tundra.
Designed to give an extra boost to growing children, the Evenflo Big Kid Sport No Back Booster is a heavily padded booster seat that has a contoured design for optimal support during long journeys. The seat pad is soft-to-the-touch and is removable, so you can wipe it or throw it in the washing machine whenever it gets dirty.
There are armrests on each side, which are integrated with plastic cup holders for storing drinks or snacks. Also included is a belt clip, which will help you to safely position the seat belt around your child’s shoulder.
However, it has a strong smell when it comes out of the box. A little airing or simply washing the seat pad will make that go away. Another issue worth noting is it’s not approved for use in airplanes.
If you are looking for a car seat that tucks away easily, we recommend the Hiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Booster Car Seat, which is an inflatable car seat that takes only 20 seconds to inflate. You don’t even need a pump, as it only takes a few breaths to inflate it. It’s designed with a leak-proof valve to make the inflation process easy. Once deflated, you can roll it up to a compact size, and store it in the provided carrying case.
The booster seat is made of a thick, dual layer of vinyl that’s puncture-resistant and can accommodate children weighing about 40 to 110 pounds. It feels lightweight and is reinforced with a skidproof silicone bottom so that it doesn’t slide around the car seat. It has a removable cover that’s made from durable fabric and is reinforced with a heavy-duty zipper. Integrated at the side is a metal belt loop that’s compatible with almost all three-point seat belt harnesses.
The main downside of this booster seat is that it’s rather basic and doesn’t come with the frills that are typical on high-end booster seats. This includes armrests, a padded cushion, and a cup holder.
Transfering booster seats from one vehicle to the other is made easier with the Mifold Grab-and-Go. It’s a compact booster seat that folds up to fit in a glove box or a purse. You can fit about three of these seats in the back seat, and it doesn't compromise on safety since it’s tested to meet federal safety standards. Aside from that, it features durable construction made up of aircraft-grade aluminum, impact-resistant plastic polymer, and unique fabric that prevents sliding and overheating.
The unit is designed to accommodate children aged four years and above. It can be easily set up with just one hand and features adjustable lap belt guides so that it can safely secure children of various sizes.
While it may be compact and easy to clean, the low sitting position may not be comfortable for some kids. Also, you may struggle to set it up the first time, but it will get easier the more you use it.
- It may be a good idea to have more than one booster seat per child, as this will ensure your child always has this important safety tool at his or her disposal. This is especially critical if you tend to carpool.
- Cleaning a booster seat tends to be fairly easy. Most mid-range seats are made from high-quality materials that allow an easy wipe-down to take care of most dirt and stains. Some booster car seats even feature a removable and washable seat cover.
- If you’re worried about spills and stains, try using a crib sheet to cover up your car seat. You can also use a blanket or similar item to add a layer of protection on the booster seat itself. Just make sure that it’s not bulky and doesn’t interfere with the fit of the seat belt.
- The more lightweight your booster seat, the easier it is to take it along for traveling.
Q: How do I use a booster car seat?
A: Most backless booster seats are easy to install, simply requiring threading of the vehicle’s regular seat belt through the booster seat belt guides so that it is properly positioned. Make sure that the lap belt fits snugly across your child’s upper thighs and not their stomach. The shoulder belt should cross the middle of your child’s chest and should not be on their neck at any time. If your booster has a LATCH tether, you can install this as well.
Q: When should my child use a booster seat?
A: This depends on several factors, but most important are your child’s height and weight. In general, a child will outgrow a forward-facing safety seat when they reach a weight of between 40 and 65 pounds and are at least 35 inches tall. At that point, you can safely use a booster seat until they are old enough to use the regular car safety belts. Keep in mind that weight limits can and do vary by manufacturer.
Our top pick is the Graco Galaxy TurboBooster Car Seat. Its great design, comfort, and safety features make it one of the best booster seats on the market.
If you’re looking to save a little money, the Cosco Topside Booster Seat is your best bet. It offers the same safety features as more expensive models without breaking the bank.
What did you think of our picks? Do you have a favorite booster seat? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!