Using booster without highback for vacation travel

J

Jak

Guest
I have a 48 lb 5 year old who is tall and had to be switched from RF to the Diono Monterey XT 2 in 1 highback booster at age 4.5 ( at a much younger age than their shorter and lighter older sibling).
They do well with the high back in our SUV and I have no intention of changing that until the child or seat no longer fits the car well.

But, we are travelling by plane for vacation soon where lighter items makes a difference (and the highback Monterey actually falls apart if you don't hold it together with 2 hands or bindings). So, I am considering bringing just the non-back portion of the booster. I don't think I will use it for the flights since there is only a lap belt (correct me if you think there is a benefit), but we will be driving in a rental car for about 2 weeks where the child needs a booster and I want to use my own.

Can the low booster be used safely and what are the specifications? We tend to leave our kids RF longer than most (my eldest was 7) and in highback boosters longer too so this matters to me. I can't find good information on the Diono website or other sites on relative height of child to the vehicle seat to evaluate if just using the booster portion is safe.

Any info or ideas are welcome. Thanks!!

J
 
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ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Hi there!
You're correct that you can't use a booster in a plane, to get that out of the way. You can carry a backless booster on and stow it under the seat.
The weight and height ranges for the Monterey are the same for high back and backless.
Some considerations for using backless on vacation:

-Will your child sit well without side support? 5 is a bit on the young side for typical backless use but it's a safe choice if they can sit properly (other caveats below.) For long drives with sleep likely maybe a high back is a better choice, but if it will mostly be short drives at your destination it will likely work fine.
-Backless boosters often work better with the fixed forward leaning headrest you may find in a rental car, since it causes a gap behind a high back.
-On the other hand, if shoulder belt positioning is iffy, a belt guide may be needed- correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe the Monterey has one for backless mode.
-Is the belt positioned properly in backless mode? Because the child's back is further back without the booster behind them, I often find young riders have the belt too far down the thighs in backless mode in this booster, not making any contact with the hips, which is dangerous. Shoulder belt positioning may also be bad. Test the fit without the back.
-If you find that fit may be an issue, or want a belt guide or just a lighter booster, you might consider buying a different, cheap backless for travel instead. (This also saves taking the booster apart and putting it back together- and it's not a bad idea to have a spare for carpool situations or a grandparent's car!)

If you'd like recommendations for a travel backless, please let us know.
 
J

Jak

Guest
This is all very helpful, thank you!!

I will try the backless version in our car tk test those aspect, but I acknowledge that other (rental) cars may have different seating (head rests, seat depths, etc).

Yes, I would really appreciate some suggestions for travel backless boosters please.

TIA!
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Happy to make some recommendations!
Options I would consider include:
-Cosco Rise. Pros: very cheap, lightweight, tends to fit younger booster riders well. Cons: no belt adjuster.
-BubbleBum inflatable booster. Pros: Super portable, positions belt well on younger riders, has a belt adjuster, expiration is from purchase rather than manufacture date so you get the full lifespan. Cons: extra step of inflating, different belt guide to learn, takes a little practice (start right away!) to learn to maintain balance around curves etc., shorter expiry, shallow so older kids often do not like how it feels.
-Graco TurboBooster backless. Pros: tends to fit most kids well, especially with option of 2 armrest settings to better fit the lap belt, shoulder belt adjuster. Cons: a bit bulkier than the other 2 listed, adjustments (and sometimes assembly) to the armrests require a screwdriver.

And as a bonus, you can also look at the BabyTrend PROtect folding booster. It fits in an overhead compartment easily when folded, and is lightweight and highly adjustable with decent fit to most kids in most cars; cons would be the back is rather short, and it's more expensive, and doesn't fit younger kids very well in backless mode in a lot of cars. But it's certainly something to at least know is out there and read reviews of.
 
J

Jak

Guest
Happy to make some recommendations!
Options I would consider include:
-Cosco Rise. Pros: very cheap, lightweight, tends to fit younger booster riders well. Cons: no belt adjuster.
-BubbleBum inflatable booster. Pros: Super portable, positions belt well on younger riders, has a belt adjuster, expiration is from purchase rather than manufacture date so you get the full lifespan. Cons: extra step of inflating, different belt guide to learn, takes a little practice (start right away!) to learn to maintain balance around curves etc., shorter expiry, shallow so older kids often do not like how it feels.
-Graco TurboBooster backless. Pros: tends to fit most kids well, especially with option of 2 armrest settings to better fit the lap belt, shoulder belt adjuster. Cons: a bit bulkier than the other 2 listed, adjustments (and sometimes assembly) to the armrests require a screwdriver.

And as a bonus, you can also look at the BabyTrend PROtect folding booster. It fits in an overhead compartment easily when folded, and is lightweight and highly adjustable with decent fit to most kids in most cars; cons would be the back is rather short, and it's more expensive, and doesn't fit younger kids very well in backless mode in a lot of cars. But it's certainly something to at least know is out there and read reviews of.
Thank you for these suggestions! I am still hedging on going backless or not so I will look these up.

It turns out that there is a belt guide with the Monterey XT - at least they call them that. In full mode it has the guide at the shoulders and in backless mode there is a long belt attached tk the lowwr front of the seat, with the red plastic belt path piece attached, that I think has to go up and behind the child to be attached and tightened for the belt to go through it. I had no idea what this was for but (after much searching) I found a good video for a different seat showing how to use it online.

I hope I can figure this out, since we don't have a lot of time before travel!

Thanks!!
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Ok excellent! I hadn't noticed that with the Monterey. That can definitely help with shoulder belts that need minor adjustment, and is what the other backless boosters all have.
 

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