Traveling and taking vacations can be fun, but parents with infants and young kids in tow usually have some extra baggage in the form of car seats. They can be rented, but bringing your own removes the guesswork from wondering what shape the seat will be in when you get it. Dragging along a heavy car seat is too much effort. Some are better than others in terms of being lightweight and ergonomically easy to carry when you detach them from the base.
- The lightest is the Safety 1st Onboard 35, weighing in at just eight pounds. This seat is designed to carry a baby between four and 35 pounds. Factoring in baby plus car seat and doing the math would mean carrying around anywhere from 12 to 43 pounds. Go for any considerable distance carrying this, and after awhile the car seat seems to get heavier and heavier with each step. Some car seats have a zigzag handle for easier, more natural carrying without straining the arm, but this isn’t one of them.
- After that is the Combi Shuttle 33, at just under 9 ½ pounds. Yes it’s light, but the tradeoff to the weight is the handle. Like many other car seats the simple straight-across bar means the fingers are either facing the rear or facing forward when carrying the car seat, instead of the natural position of fingers facing inward.
- The Baby Trend Flex Loc 30 weighs 9.65 pounds and is designed to carry an infant up to 30 pounds. That means you could end up lugging almost 40 pounds with one arm. Walking any extended distance would mean taking frequent breaks to put down the car seat and rest your arm. The triangle handle, advertised as being smooth so as not to scratch the arm, is a little more user-friendly because it allows whoever’s carrying it to change their grip as needed to spare the arm muscles.
- Almost as light is the 9.8-pound Britax B-SAFE, certified for air travel and capable of carrying infants between four and 30 pounds. It’s compatible with Britax “B” series strollers, and cushioned to provide protection from every angle in case of a crash. The B-SAFE is advertised as having an ergonomic handle, but the handle is the standard straight-across bar that forces the arm in an unnatural position to carry it.
- The Orbit Baby G2 is an even 10 pounds and has the same straight-across carry handle as many other car seats, but it seems the manufacturer tries to make up for that in other ways. It has what Orbit calls a 60-second car seat installation feature using its own brand of “StrongArm” mechanism which automatically tightens the seat belts simply by turning a knob. To minimize strain on the back from leaning over while installing the car seat, its “SmartHub” interface lets you place it in the car at any angle.
- Next up is the Italian-made Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30/30, weighing 11 pounds. The Peg Perego line of car seats is more expensive, but many parents swear by them. This one exceeds the standards set by side impact protection safety tests and is FAA-approved for flying. The handle on this car seat is designed like the one on the Combi Shuttle 33 and the Britax B-SAFE.
The seats get progressively heavier, and on the other end of the scale is the Evenflo Discovery 5 at 12 ½ pounds, The 1st Years Via l470 at 17 pounds, the Chicco KeyFit 30 at 21.1 pounds and the Graco Alano SnugRide 22 at 37.3 pounds. Ironically, the Evenflo brand of car seats are the only ones we saw with the z-shaped handle for easy grip. The handle on the Evenflo Embrace LX has the same type of handle as the Discovery 5 and consumers seem to like it. The tradeoff is the weight – the Embrace is a hefty 14.4 pounds.
|Valerie Baldowski is passionate about writing about everything from childrens safety and juvenile products to gardening tools. She is the mother of a high energy 8 year old child so she is accustomed to researching childrens products and services… See more about Valerie|
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