UPDATE: Please note that the Go Hybrid was recently discontinued. As an alternative, we recommend you consider the Diono Radian RXT folding car seat.
Overview of the Safety 1st Go Hybrid Booster / Car Seat:
I'm just going to say up front that I suspect the sales of this car seat would double if it was no longer marketed as a "booster" and was simply called a "portable car seat" instead. Why would I say that?
In my opinion, it's parents with children too young for boosters -- as young as 18 months possibly -- that could probably benefit most from this unique car seat, and they are not yet shopping for a "booster."
Plus, there is only one other car seat this travel-friendly that provides 5-point harness safety and EPS energy-absorbing foam in a head rest for children as young as 1 year old, with a minimum 22 lbs. weight and 34" tall (see others below).
Better yet, when they purchase this car seat earlier on, they will get the maximum value out of it--using it with the harness up to 65 lbs., and even longer as a regular backless booster.
The Go Hybrid at a glance:
Forward-facing from 34" and 22 lbs. (approximately 18 months old)
5-point safety harness
Head rest with wings for side-impact protection
Use up to 57" and 65 lbs. with the 5-point harness
Weighs 15 lbs.
Folds and fits in its own travel bag
Converts to a backless belt-positioning booster, if desired
Please note: While writing this review I discovered some materials (the box, product info on many websites) state that this car seat is for use from 31" minimum height, while the car seat manual and label on the seat itself state 34" minimum height. I confirmed with the manufacturer that this is in fact for use from 34" minimum height and 22 lbs. I've been told the error is being corrected. However, for what it's worth, this photo of my son shows a good fit at 31" in height.
Travel-friendly features of the Safety 1st Go Hybrid:
It folds up and slips into its own travel case, complete with shoulder strap.
In some cases, you will be allowed to bring this onboard as a carry-on (size limits vary by airline), and it will fit in the overhead bin of most airplanes. Otherwise, the carrying case makes it easy to gate-check when flying--a safer bet that it won't be damaged in the luggage system and will meet you on the other end.
Because of it's soft back (rather than a hard plastic shell) and compact package when stored in the travel case, it's much less likely than other car seats to incur damage when checked through airport baggage systems--perfect if you want to check this car seat and use the CARES harness during your flight, which can also be used from 22 lbs. for children 1 year and older.
Push-button LATCH connectors make for quick and easy installation and removal in different vehicles.
Secondary seatbelt path also allows for installation with shoulder safety belts or lap-only belts, although a top tether must also be used in every application.
Other features I like:
No one likes to think about all of the car seats heading into our land fills each year, but once your first car seat expires on you and you face this grim reality, you'll no doubt appreciate how this car seat uses much less plastic than many others.
Of course, there are a lot of parents who would also simply like to keep their kids in a 5-point harness up to 65 lbs.--and the Go Hybrid can accomplish that too. (Check your vehicle owner's manual for max weight limits for the LATCH connectors in case you need to switch to the seat belt.)
Since the Go Hybrid can only be used with a top tether, travelers to more remote / improving destinations, like those with many older cars and uncertain safety features, may not be able to use this car seat in some vehicles.
Since the Go Hybrid cannot be used in airplanes, for some journeys you might prefer a car seat you can take onboard to help your child snooze comfortably. Or, as mentioned above, you might like to use in conjunction with the CARES aviation restraint when flying.
Since the back of the car seat, beneath the headrest, is only fabric, the headrest actually pushes the child's head forward a bit more than the back and shoulders. This would not be very comfortable for long drives or helpful for napping on the road.
Bottom line and my suggestions for the "Travels with Baby" edition (or future enhancements):
The Safety 1st Go Hybrid is a great concept for a full-featured car seat. Because of the head rest issue, I would love to see an inflatable back rest feature added...something like a Therm-a-Rest (backpackers mattress) that would be self-inflating, durable, and add just enough of a cushion where it's needed to avoid the uncomfortable C-position.
Others to consider:
Sit N Stroll Convertible Car Seat: If you want a portable car seat that can also be used rear-facing for infants from 5 lbs. and is also FAA-approved for use in airplanes, you might prefer the Sit N Stroll, which also provides wheels when needed for ease of transport through the airport and on other smooth terrain. Read the full review of the Sit N Stroll.
RideSafer Travel Vest: Kids who are already big enough to use high back boosters can use the FMVSS213-certified RideSafer travel vest in vehicles if they really need to pare down for travel. Read the full review of the RideSafer travel vest.
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