The most important consideration when buying a portable booster seat for a “big kid” is, of course, safety. But oftentimes parents mistake heft and size for protection. That assumption can lead to constant headaches for parents with kids who often carpool to and from school or soccer practice in other people’s cars, or who just have a revolving cast of riders in and out of their own backseat. That makes these booster seats, which can deflate, roll up, and disassemble small enough to be conveniently portable, an especially attractive buy for kids on-the-go. All of them meet up-to-date standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics on booster seat safety as well as our high criteria, including safety testing, consumer reports, and compactness. Plus, some of them come with cupholders.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Car Seats
Recommended for: Ages 4–12, 40–100 pounds
Weight: 1.6 pounds
The Mifold Grab-and-Go‘s primary perk is how lightweight and portable the booster seat is. Winner of the JPMA’s “Best in Show” innovation award last year, it’s a foldable, backless booster seat small enough to fit inside a kid’s backpack. Instead of boosting a kid up to make a seatbelt fit, the Mifold locks the seatbelt down at the perfect height in any car. Made of an aircraft-grade aluminum and a “super tough plastic polymer,” it comes in six colors, including blue, pink, green, and yellow.
BubbleBum Backless Booster
Recommended for: Ages 4–11, 40–100 pounds
Weight: one pound
The ultra-compact BubbleBum, despite a so-so name choice, is an inflatable booster seat that fills and deflates quickly with just a few pumps. Awarded “Best Bet” Booster by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) six years in a row, the BubbleBum rolls up tight enough to fit in a handbag or backpack when not inflated, and it’s narrow enough to fit with two others of the same size in your standard backseat.
Free Extra Car Seat Base from Graco
For a limited time, buy any SnugRide® SnugLock™ infant car seat and receive an extra base from Graco! Enjoy the ease of moving your new infant car seat between cars. Great for all new parents that want easy installation in 3 simple steps with SnugLock™ Technology!
Harmony Youth Booster Seat
Recommended for: Ages 4–10, 30–100 pounds
Weight: 2.5 pounds
Winner of the IIHS’s 2018 “Best Bet” Award and Consumer Reports Top Pick Booster, the Harmony Juvenile Youth Backless Booster has a unique V-shape design that’s easy and safe to install. It’s uber-plush seat pad is ideal for longer drives, and it’s removable for machine washing. Like the BubbleBum, the Harmony Youth Booster Seat can fit with three other seats of similar size, and it comes with a one-year warranty.
Evenflo Big Kid Amp
Recommended for: 4 years and up, 40–110 pounds
Weight: 8.2 pounds
The Evenflo Big Kid Amp is a two-in-one seat: a highback for kids at least four years old, and a backless portable booster for when they grow bigger. The seat transitions seamlessly whenever your child is ready, and a six position height adjustment lets you modify the Evenflo’s position for any size. The removable pad is machine-washable, and did we mention it has two cup holders built in?
Recommended for: Ages 3–10, 30–100 pounds
Weight: 9 pounds
While weighing in on the hefty side, the Graco TurboBooster still disassembles into a portable unit and makes up for its size with its high safety standards. The booster seat back can recline somewhat to grant your kid a more comfortable position, and it’s two cup holders fold inside the seat to make more room. The TurboBooster is also sold as a lowback model only, and comes in four, multicolored designs.