Pros: portability; convienience; safer than built-in vehicle child safety seats
Cons: Not FAA approved; not recommended for long road trips
"Tote 'n Go Portable Car Seat
The "Car Seat" you can fit in a Diaper Bag! Never get caught without a car seat again! This portable travel vest is ideal for vacations, taxis, and carpools, and makes a great second car seat for grandparents and caregivers. Converts ordinary seat belts into an instant five-point safety harness. Machine washable cover, with a padded backrest and impact-absorbing stress plate. Weighs just 4 lbs. Meets all auto safety standards Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213- ***not approved for aircraft use. For kids 25-40 lbs. or up to 40" in height. Not FAA approved." Manufacturer's description downloaded from www.djgusa.com.
Okay, now for my review: In all honesty, we did not want to lug our two full-size car seats around the airport and then cart them home (we used this for our four year old). So, we bought this portable car seat on ebay.
I am a skeptic at heart and wasn't sure that this seat would work for us. It came without directions and was a bit hard to figure out how to install. (I e-mailed the manufacturer for directions and they e-mailed them to me immediately!)
Installation: This took about fifteen minutes of full tugging to ensure the seat was properly installed. You have to thread the seatbelt through the back of the seat and then tighten the seatbelt as much as possible. This takes alot of upper body strength and was a bit hard since you have to tug the seatbelt with one hand and hold this square seat in place.
Make sure you install this car seat in the middle seat FIRST before putting another car seat next to it; otherwise, you'll have to battle with the two car seats (live and learn, right?). We rented a minivan while on vacation (a Dodge Grand Caravan identical to ours)and the minivan did not have the Latch system like our van so I wasn't sure if it was installed properly. I read and re-read the directions and it looked okay but, like most people, I love the LATCH system because it's virtually impossible to install a car seat wrong.
Overall, this seat was easy to use; it has the 5-point harness system that matches our own full-size seat BUT there is no bottom to this seat. Imagine your current car seat minus the head, bottom and the sides; just a rigid back with harness and minimal padding. So, cut off the back, head and sides of your regular car seat and there you have it. (one square of hard, molded plastic covered with padding and harness attached...literally a quarter of a car seat!).
My son complained after about an hour that this seat was uncomfortable; his bottom was on the van seat but his arms were free dangling(with no side rests) and his feet actually were bent over the seat.
Yes, this seat is safe with the 5-point harness; but no, I wouldn't recommend this for long car trips. We stayed in the Denver area but spent a lot of time driving to see the sights and visit with family.
I think this car seat takes alot to get used to and he really didn't have enough time to do that; but I wouldn't recommend for all the time use unless you're a city-dweller (Save your regular car seat).
Main impression: take this on vacation when you're not going to be driving for a long period of time or use this in the city when you may travel in short jaunts or in taxis! This can be left at grandma's house for emergencies or used by people who travel in taxis as a way of life.
The weight is manageable (it will fit in a LARGE diaper bag or carry-on bag) for most persons. Overall, for the price, the convienience of not lugging a full-size car seat around an airport makes this a good buy.
BUT, this is NOT FAA (airline) approved so they won't let you bring this on the plane. Keep this in mind! Try ebay for a cheaper price; I paid $20 new and $8 shipping on ebay versus $29.95 retail; plus tax and shipping.
Update: This carseat was just mentioned by the manufacturer as seeking FAA approval. The manufacturer has quoted several studies and actual accidents with this travel car seat versus the vehicle manufacturer's built-in child safety seat.
This Cosco travel car seat outperformed the safety designs of the vehicle built-in child safety seat according to Cosco. As a result, the manufacturer is seeking FAA approval citing the studies done by the NHTSA and the NIA as the grounds for appeal concerning the FAA's non-certification of use aboard commercial flights.
When I learn of the outcome, I will again update this epinion. After reading the studies by the NHTSA, my opinion of the use of this portable car seat versus my opinion of the built-in vehicle child safety seats has changed.
As always, it's important for parents and consumers to do their own research before deciding on a car seat. This update was done only because I had seen the studies in my AAP journal.