The Best Booster Car Seats of 2017

While little ones can buckle themselves into the Clek  the shoulder strap retainer isn't as easy to use and most little testers needed help.
Wondering which booster seat is the best for your growing child? We did too! We considered over 20 contenders and purchased 10 top choices for side-by-side testing in both the real world and our in-house lab. We spent three months using and testing each booster for crash testing, ease of use, weight, size, and more to determine which options are the best for different needs and every budget. Read on to learn about all the details we discovered during the review process and get the help you need to find your best booster seat.

Read the full review below >

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10 ≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
Rank #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product
Clek Oobr
Clek Oobr
Evenflo Spectrum
Chicco KidFit
Diono Monterey XT
Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Editors' Choice Award  Best Value Award  Best Value Award   
Price $275.00 List
$233.74 at Amazon - 15% off
$60.00 List
$54.99 at Amazon - 8% off
$100.00 List
$99.99 at Amazon
$100.00 List
$89.99 at Amazon - 10% off
$300.00 List
$279.99 at Amazon - 7% off
Overall Score 
100
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72
100
0
69
100
0
68
100
0
66
100
0
65
Star Rating
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Pros Great crash test results, high quality, rigid LATCHInexpensive, comfortable, easy to use, lightEasiest to use, better crash test results, priceBetter crash test results, price, lighterEasier to use, narrow width, comfortable
Cons Heavy, hard to move, harder to useWider, doesn't LATCHAverage quality, widest seat bottomLess padding, qualityHigher price, higher HIC crash test result
Ratings by Category Clek Oobr Evenflo Spectrum Chicco KidFit Diono Monterey XT Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120
Crash Test - 35%
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Ease Of Use - 30%
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Weight/Size - 15%
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
6
Comfort - 10%
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
Quality - 10%
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
7
Specs Clek Oobr Evenflo Spectrum Chicco KidFit Diono Monterey XT Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120
Modes High Back Booster,
Backless Booster
High Back Booster,
Backless Booster
High Back Booster,
Backless Booster
High Back Booster,
Backless Booster
High Back Booster
High Back Booster Weight Range 33 - 100 lbs 40 - 110 lbs 30 - 100 lbs 40 - 120 lbs 40 - 120 lbs
High Back Booster Height Range 38" - 57" 44" - 57" 38" - 57" 38" - 63" 39" - 57"

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
BabyGearLab Review Team


Last Updated:
Wednesday
October 18, 2017

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Crash Test Champion


Clek Oobr


Clek Oobr Editors' Choice Award

$233.74
(15% off)
at Amazon
See It

Weight range: 33-100 lbs | Booster weight: 19.3 lbs

Great crash test results
High quality
Rigid LATCH
Heavy
Harder to use
The Clek Oobr is a high backed booster you can also use backless. This steel frame booster has the best combined crash test results, and it comes with a rigid LATCH system to secure the booster to the car. We like the adjustable headrest, armrests, and easy to clean fabric. While this booster is heavy and more cumbersome than some of the competition, making it a poor choice for carpooling and travel, we think it more than makes up for this failing with impressive crash test scores, quality materials and the ability to quickly secure the booster to the car. This booster seat is an excellent choice for families with safety on the brain who don't need to worry about the ease of carpooling.

Read review: Clek Oobr

Great Overall Booster


Evenflo Spectrum


Editors' Choice Award

$54.99
(8% off)
at Amazon
See It

Weight range: 40-110 lbs | Booster weight: 11.6 lbs

Easy to use
Comfortable
Inexpensive
Wider
Cannot be converted to backless
The Evenflo Spectrum is a budget-friendly high backed booster with an impressive head sensor crash test result. This ultra-comfy booster won the hearts of little testers with its ample seating area, nap-worthy headrest, and super soft fabric. We like that this option is one of the lightest high-backed boosters we tested and that it is easy for children to buckle themselves in without help. While this seat is one of the widest in the review and possibly not the best choice for families with multiple children in car seats, it is the least expensive high backed product in this review with the second highest overall score. We feel its price and performance make the Evenflo a cost-effective, easy to use, solution for almost any family in need of a great booster.

Read review: Evenflo Spectrum

Economical Performer


Chicco KidFit


Best Value Award

$99.99
at Amazon
See It

Weight range: 30-100 lbs | Booster weight: 10.4 lbs

Easy to use
Better crash test results
Lightweight
Wide
Not the best for napping
The Chicco KidFit is a versatile booster that works with or without the back. This option locks in place using Chicco's self-ratcheting LATCH anchors that make securing it to the car a breeze. This booster is the lightest product with a back in this review which may make it an option for carpooling despite its wider size. We like that this product is easy to use and has a slightly better than average crash test score for such a reasonable price. This seat is not the best choice for families with more than two safety seats as it is the broadest option in this review. It also isn't the most comfortable or highest quality option. However, it is a good booster with a higher overall score at a reasonable price. We think it is a good choice for families looking for an easy to use booster with better crash test results.

Read review: Chicco KidFit

Budget-Friendly Booster


Diono Monterey XT


Best Value Award

$89.99
(10% off)
at Amazon
See It

Weight range: 40-120 lbs | Booster weight: 14.2 lbs

LATCH attachment
Price
Easy to use
Lower quality
Less padding
The Diono Monterey XT is a high-backed booster that works without the back. This product secures with clip LATCH anchors that tighten from the front. It has an adjustable headrest, and the back width is also adjustable for size or comfort. Passengers report it is pretty comfortable and has a headrest that is the best for napping. We like that this product has dual cup holders and is easy for little ones to buckle for themselves. This booster isn't the best quality, and the wider bottom means it isn't the best choice for families with multiple safety seats, but it is a good choice for children that are taller or need the room an adjustable seat back provides.

Read review: Diono Monterey XT

Top Scoring 5-Point Harness


Britax Frontier ClickTight


Top Pick Award

$272.00
(20% off)
at Amazon
See It

Weight range: 20-120 lbs | Booster weight:23.7 lbs**

5-point harness
Better crash test score
Higher Quality
Not good for carpooling or travel
Potential harness tightening issue

The Britax Frontier ClickTight is a quality booster seat with a 5-point harness you can use until your child is 90 lbs. This versatile booster is super easy to install using the CLickTight method, has an easy to use headrest, and is LATCH ready. This booster is easier to use than most of the competition and it earned a better than the average crash test score. This booster is really heavy and large making it a poor choice for frequent travelers or carpooling, but it is a great choice for parents who want to keep their little ones in a 5-point harness for as long as possible.

Read review: Britax Frontier ClickTight

Best for Travel and Carpool


BubbleBum


Top Pick Award

$29.99
at Amazon
See It

Weight range: 40-100 lbs | Booster weight: 1.0 lb

Small and lightweight
Inexpensive
Simple install
Harder to use
Lower quality
The BubbleBum is a somewhat unique backless booster that is great for traveling or carpooling. This product is the lightest in our review and the second smallest making it easy to carry and move from car to car. This inflatable booster has the lowest price in the review and is easy for kids to use or carry themselves. We like the simplicity of this option and think it is tough to beat for families who do a lot of carpooling. Overall we prefer a high-backed booster for the increased safety, but the Bum is better than forgoing a safety seat altogether and will definitely do in a pinch. The Bubblebum's lower price makes it a cost-effective second seat when it isn't feasible or practical to use your high-backed go-to option.

Read review: BubbleBum


select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
72
$275
Editors' Choice Award
Quality and great crash test results make this heavy seat more desirable
69
$60
Editors' Choice Award
Budget-friendly, easy to use booster that functions well and is lightweight
68
$100
Best Value Award
Better crash test results in an easy to use, inexpensive booster
66
$100
Best Value Award
Inexpensive option that is lighter with better crash test results
65
$300
Easy to use, narrow option with high price and higher HIC crash test result
63
$340
Top Pick Award
Quality option with a 5-point harness and better crash test results but it's expensive
52
$170
Disappointing crash test results and heft negate the friendly price point
51
$30
Top Pick Award
Inexpensive easy to transport booster that is great for travel
50
$280
Uninspired performance for the price that is larger and heavier
45
$45
Hard to use with poor crash test scores negates its great portability

Analysis and Test Results


In this review, we include the pertinent details you'll need to make an informed decision on which booster seat is the best option for your child and budget. The rating table above is a comparison of the overall scores for the boosters we tested. The overall scores were determined using the performance results the boosters earned in each metric.

We purchased and tested a variety of booster seats for this review including a backless option and a belt-positioner (far left).
We purchased and tested a variety of booster seats for this review including a backless option and a belt-positioner (far left).

We tested each product over several months under the guidance and supervision of a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician. We created a set of comprehensive tests derived from our convertible car seat tests and used these results together with the crash test data to determine the scores and rank for each option.

Booster Time
Experts agree children should stay rear-facing until at least age 2. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and NHTSA, recommend baby stay rear-facing as long as the seat allows, and at least until 2 years of age. Children can move to a booster as young as four years old, but despite the convenience of a booster, BabyGearLab aggress with the experts that children stay in their 5-point harness car seats as long as the manufacturer's recommendations allow. This shift from a 5-point harness usually happens between 40-65 lbs depending on the car seat. Each time you move to a new level of a protective seat, there is a reduction in the protection it provides.

Each booster we tested was compared side-by-side in an identical manner. While each option has met the minimum safety guidelines outlined by the Federal government, they are not equal in form or function nor do they all offer an additional margin of protection compared to the competition.

The Clek Oobr is a versatile booster with the best combined crash test results in the group.
The Clek Oobr is a versatile booster with the best combined crash test results in the group.

Crash Test Performance


We contracted with the same crash test facility used by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct our booster seat crash tests. The products were tested using the NHTSA protocol outlined in FMVSS 213.


We analyzed the crash test sensor data from each booster's crash sled dummy to determine how they performed compared to each other and the Federal safety standards. To help you understand crash tests a little better, we've included comparison graphs using the actual crash test results in each booster's gear review, and have summarized them below.

What are the most critical details from crash tests for analyzing results?
  • The risk of head injury
  • The risk of chest injury

A detailed analysis of automobile crash injuries for children indicate that head and chest injuries are the cause of the most significant risks of severe or fatal injuries.

All Tested Products Provide a Basic, Safe Level of Protection
All of the booster seats we tested passed the minimum Federal safety standards. Therefore, all of the boosters we tested provide at least a basic level of crash safety protection. Our main focus for crash testing is to identify boosters with crash test performance results that exceed the Federal requirements by a wider margin. We consider these seats as providing an additional level of protection based on their crash test sensor data.

This graph shows a comparison of the HIC crash data for the Evenflo and the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex which had the best results in the group.
This graph shows a comparison of the HIC crash data for the Evenflo and the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex which had the best results in the group.

Understanding the Head Injury Criteria (HIC) Score


For the crash tests, sensors are put in the head and chest of a crash test dummy that is buckled into the booster secured to a sled to simulate the forces experienced in an actual crash. NHTSA crash studies show that the risk of injury is higher for forward facing children. The Federal safety standard uses a factor called the Head Injury Criteria (HIC) score for scoring. This score is a measurable way to access the likelihood of injury arising from an impact. Each booster must obtain a HIC score equal to or lower than 1000 to pass the Federal requirements. Better performance results yield lower scores as the amount of force exerted on the child is less.

In our tests, the Evenflo Spectrum earned the best HIC results with a 456. This result is under half the maximum allowed and significantly below the worst results in the group received by the Graco Nautilus 65 LX with a 759. The Britax Frontier ClickTight had a good result as well with a 482, and the Clek Oobr sensor recorded an HIC of 493.

This graph shows a comparison of the mifold chest sensor results (black) and the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex results (green)  which is the best in the review.
This graph shows a comparison of the mifold chest sensor results (black) and the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex results (green), which is the best in the review.

Understanding the Chest (G) Clip Score


The same crash test dummies include sensors in the chest that also measure impact forces. The results from the chest sensors are used to calculate the Chest (G) score, which attempts to numerically determine the likelihood of an injury occurring to the organs located in the chest cavity. To pass Federal requirements, the products must obtain a score less than 60 (G).

High Backed vs. Backless


We prefer a booster with a back as opposed to a backless option because we believe they are intrinsically safer. While there are no agreed-upon safety tests for side impact collision or other kinds of crashes to definitively prove this theory, we feel it makes logical sense that a protective shell (similar to that found on a convertible car seat) will provide additional protection for little ones depending on the type of crash and possibility for intrusion of foreign objects into the passenger area.

This video is a comparison between the crash test video for the mifold belt positioner and the Clek Oobr:



Also, a high backed booster seat is better at keeping children positioned correctly, especially if they frequently nap in the car. A backless booster does not have the support necessary to keep little ones correctly positioned if they fall asleep and slump or fall forward. In our opinion, this theory makes sense and is why we recommend you use a booster with a back whenever possible. However, we believe any belt-positioning booster is safer and preferable over nothing at all.

The Clek Oobr has the best crash test score based on the best-combined sensor data from our crash test dummy.
The Clek Oobr has the best crash test score based on the best-combined sensor data from our crash test dummy.

Best Booster Based on Crash Test Analysis


Using crash test report analysis, we rated each booster in comparison to the competition using a 1-10 system. This scoring method helps quantify the options that, in our opinion, offer an additional margin of protection over and above the basic level of protection found in all of the seats. The Clek Oobr earned the best crash test score in the group with a 9 of 10 and the best-combined sensor data in the test group. The **Diono Monterey XT*, Britax Frontier ClickTight, and the Chicco KidFit earned second place score for crash testing with 7s.

The Evenflo Spectrum is easy to use and buckle even when using it without the back.
The Evenflo Spectrum is easy to use and buckle even when using it without the back.

Ease of Use


Booster seats may seem simple and virtually the same. However, they are very different in how easy they are to use.


The Ease of Use metric includes the features and functions you use on a regular basis. This metric includes buckling, attachment, recline, and additional features.

Boosters seats are not as complicated as Convertible or infant car seats, but that doesn't mean there aren't features on each that are hard or easy to use. For this kind of product, one of the most important daily activities will be buckling in and whether or not little ones can do it for themselves. Other considerations would be securing the product to the car (if applicable), adjusting the headrest and recline features, and moving from car to car.

The Chicco is one of the easiest boosters in the review to use both for parents and children.
The Chicco is one of the easiest boosters in the review to use both for parents and children.

In our tests, the Evenflo Spectrum and Chicco KidFit each earned the high score for ease of use with an 8 of 10. The Evenflo is a basic booster with an easy to move headrest. It is easy for riders to buckle themselves while sitting in it, and the lighter weight and lack of LATCH make it easy to move from car and car. The Chicco KidFit is marginally harder with a LATCH connection that is quick and simple. The headrest moves smoothly, and passengers had no trouble getting in and getting buckled.

The side slides on the mifold help pull the seatbelt and hold it in the correct lap position. But something about the design makes it hard to buckle the belt while sitting in the right position.
The side slides on the mifold help pull the seatbelt and hold it in the correct lap position. But something about the design makes it hard to buckle the belt while sitting in the right position.

The hardest to use was the mifold because it has trouble keeping its position and is the most difficult for little ones to use both for buckling and positioning the shoulder belt retainer. The bottom of the mifold gets in the way of the buckle, and the retainer moves up and down when children rotate to use the buckle.

The mifold is the smallest product in the group and the second lightest with a weight of 1.5lbs.
The mifold is the smallest product in the group and the second lightest with a weight of 1.5lbs.

Weight/Size


We checked the weight and width of each product at its widest point. The weight of the boosters is important for parents who plan to use the seat while traveling or for carpooling.


Being able to move the seat easily from car to car is important if you plan to do it on a regular basis. Also, the width of the booster may play a factor in your buying decision if you need to fit multiple car seats in your back seat. The narrower width could make it possible to install three across to fit multiple children. However, if your seat isn't going to move very often and you don't have a space limitation, then the weight and size may be less important to your family. Another consideration is that some of the high backed boosters can b used without the back creating a much lighter and overall smaller package that could make a backed booster a product that does double duty.

It is easy to see that the depth and width of the Spectrum headrest would be supportive for napping and help avoid the dreaded floppy head.
It is easy to see that the depth and width of the Spectrum headrest would be supportive for napping and help avoid the dreaded floppy head.

Comfort


For comfort, we compared the foam support, feel of the fabric, design of the seat including the depth of the seat bottom and headrest, as well as the potential for cozy napping. Some boosters offer denser padding or a cushy feel, softer fabric, or a steel frame. Boosters were tested side-by-side by adult testers and children for general comfort compared to the competition.


The Evenflo Spectrum earned the highest score for comfort with a score of 9 of 10, a cushy bottom, deep and supportive headrest, and soft fabric. Both passengers and parents felt this option is conducive to cozy napping. The Clek Oobr, Diono Monterey XT and the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex earned the second highest scores for comfort with 7s. These booster seats were all comfortable, but each was lacking in some way like the Clek Oobr has a shallow seat bottom which leaves longer legs dangling, the Diono Monterey has less padding than the competition, and the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex lacks armrests, and the headrest is not suitable for napping. The most uncomfortable option we tested is the mifold with a score of 2. This product provides minimal padding and relies on the vehicle seat for comfort. The no-slip fabric isn't soft, and it doesn't even prevent slipping. The mifold lacks a headrest and offers no support for napping.

The Britax is the highest quality option in the review using high-end materials and sturdy construction it shines compared to the competition.
The Britax is the highest quality option in the review using high-end materials and sturdy construction it shines compared to the competition.

Quality


When it comes to quality, we compared the materials used and the construction of the final product. We considered the padding, foam, fabric, and the attention to detail in the finished product. We considered each factor and how it contributes to seat stability and longevity.


The Britax Frontier Clicktight is the highest quality option in the review with a score of 9 of 10. This booster uses nicer materials and has an impressive attention to detail in the construction and design that creates a contained, and sturdy seat that looks as good as it functions. The Clek Oobr and mifold also earned impressive scores for quality with 8s. The lowest quality score goes to the BubbleBum with a 3. This booster has a flimsy feel and uses cheap thin feeling fabric. The overall fit and finish look sloppy and somewhat incomplete. However, the price tag makes the quality level acceptable even if it is disappointing.

The roundup of booster seats includes the options shown here.
The roundup of booster seats includes the options shown here.

Conclusion


Choosing a booster seat is just as important as your other car seat buying decisions. Given this, we hope the information we provide in this review and in our Buying Advice article will help narrow the field to the best choice for your needs and wallet.
BabyGearLab Review Team

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