Booster Belt Guide Face Off!

Booster Belt FitBooster seats serve one primary purpose: to place the car’s seat belt over 3 strong points of a child’s body.   A properly fitting booster will sit low over the hips and across the center of the shoulder to spread the possible force from a crash over these strong areas.

One of the biggest struggles we’ve had with high back boosters is shoulder belt guides.  It seems simple enough — just slide the seat belt through the belt guide and it stays put, right?  Not quite.

All belt guides are not created equal. Some are hard to thread, others don’t stay in place, while others make the seat belt stick so the belt doesn’t retract.  Since a booster rider is responsible for their own placement in the seat, a belt guide is a crucial piece in selecting a booster for your child.

To help with this process, we’ve created the Booster Belt Guide Face Off! The ideal booster belt fit spreads the seat belt across three main points of strength on the child’s body: the middle of the shoulder and both hips. A properly fitted high back booster will consistently place the seat belt in the correct position.

We reviewed most of the boosters on the market today to see how their belt guides stack up. We’ve grouped the seats in two categories: Combination Seats/Multi Mode Seats and Dedicated Boosters. Within each category, they’re listed in order of how easy the belt guide is to use.

  • Less Easy To Use
  • Somewhat Easy To Use
  • Very Easy To Use

When assessing the belt guides against our criteria, we looked at the following:

  • Ease of threading the shoulder belt through the guide
  • Ease of accessing the shoulder belt guide
  • Ease of retracting the seat belt through the guide

Combination Seats/Multi Mode Seats

Combination seats are forward-facing only seats that include a 5 point harness, which can be removed once the child has outgrown it and the seat can be converted into a booster. Popular examples of these seats are the Evenflo Maestro, Graco Nautilus, Graco Argos, and Britax Frontier. Multi Mode seats are a small group of seats that can operate in many modes, usually rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster. Some convert to a backless booster as well. Popular examples of these seats include the Evenflo Symphony, Safety 1st Elite Air, and Graco 4Ever.


Combination Seats: Very Easy To Use

Graco 4Ever Shoulder Belt Guide

Graco 4Ever Shoulder Belt Guide

Graco 4Ever

Read CSFTL Review

  • Belt threads easily through the guide
  • Once threaded, belt moves freely through the shoulder guide
  • Belt remained in the belt guide and did not slip out between car rides

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


Graco Milestone Shoulder Belt Guide

Graco Milestone Shoulder Belt Guide

Graco Milestone: Booster Mode

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  • Open belt guide is easy to access
  • Belt retracts easily when headrest is above the shell
  • Belt does not retract smoothly when headrest is below the shell
  • Belt stays in the retractor and rarely slips out between uses

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy to Use


symphonyEvenflo Symphony: Booster Mode

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  • Pros: belt retracts freely, easy to thread, belt stays in guide when child buckles/Unbuckle
  • Cons: belt gravitates upward in the guide with certain belt geometry and may pull belt uncomfortably high on some children. Low top setting.

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


Kiddy World Plus open belt guide

Kiddy World Plus: Booster Mode (**RECALLED)

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  • Easy to put in the belt in the guide
  • Belt “clicks” into place and requires you to release it
  • Easy to retract belt when in the belt guide.

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


Graco Argos Shoulder Belt Guide

Graco Argos Shoulder Belt Guide

Graco Argos (discontinued)

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  • Guide is easy to access
  • Seat belt threads easily through the guide
  • Belt stays in place well.
  • Retracts easily in most seating positions

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


Combination Seats: Somewhat Easy To Use

Kids Embrace Shoulder Belt Guide

Kids Embrace Shoulder Belt Guide

Kids Embrace Car Seat

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  • Actual belt guide is hard to see but fairly easy to access
  • Seat belt threads easily through the guide
  • Belt stays in place well.
  • Retracts slowly, but without catching

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


Evenflo Maestro Shoulder Belt Guide

Evenflo Maestro Shoulder Belt Guide

Evenflo Maestro

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  • Belt is hard to thread
  • Once threaded, it tends to pop out of position

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


Baby Trend Hybrid Belt Guide

Baby Trend Hybrid Belt Guide

Baby Trend Hybrid

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  • Belt is hard to thread
  • Once threaded, it’s very hard to get it out.
  • However, it’s very unlikely to come out while the child is using it though.

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


Britax Frontier 90 Booster Mode

Britax Frontier 90 Booster Mode

Britax Frontier 90/Pinnacle 90: Booster Mode

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  • Belt often won’t retract automatically when headrest is below the top of the shell
  • Once the headrest is raised, access is easier but still hard to retract
  • Small space and notch in the middle of the guide makes threading seat belt a challenge

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


Diono R120 in booster mode belt guide

Diono R120 in booster mode belt guide

Diono R120: Booster Mode
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  • Belt guide integrated into headrest, this can cause the belt to not retract easily
  • Belt guide is easily accessible
  • Belt guide does not adjust, this booster is very short-lived as a result

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


Britax Pioneer booster mode belt guide

Britax Pioneer booster mode belt guide

Britax Pioneer: Booster Mode

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  • Same guide as the Britax Frontier
  • Belt often won’t retract automatically when headrest is below the top of the shell
  • Once the headrest is raised, access is easier
  • Headrest raised: belt retracts automatically
  • Small space and notch in the middle of the guide makes threading seat belt a challenge

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


Britax Frontier 85 Booster Belt Guide

Britax Frontier 85 Booster Belt Guide

Britax Frontier 85: Booster Mode (discontinued)

  • Belt guide is hard to access when the headrest is below the top of the seat’s shell
  • Belt often won’t retract automatically when headrest is below the top of the shell
  • Once the headrest is raised, access is easier
  • Headrest raised: belt retracts automatically
  • Flat shape makes threading seat belt fairly simple

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


Combination Seats: Less Easy To Use

Evenflo SecureKid Shoulder Belt Guide

Evenflo SecureKid Shoulder Belt Guide

Evenflo SecureKid

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  • Belt guide is very small and hard to thread
  • Caregivers should be vigilant to make sure belt remains threaded
  • Once threaded, it tends to pop out of position

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Less Easy To Use


Dedicated Boosters

These seats do not have harnesses — they just act as belt-positioning boosters.   They often are at a lower price point than combination seats.  The belt guides listed below are listed in order of ease of use.

Dedicated Boosters: Very Easy To Use

Harmony Dreamtime Shoulder Belt Guide

Harmony Dreamtime Shoulder Belt Guide

Harmony Dreamtime

  • Open belt guide is easier to use than key ring style guide found on other boosters
  • Seat belt stays in place.

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


Graco Turbo Booster with Surround Sound belt guide

Graco Turbo Booster with Surround Sound belt guide

Graco TurboBooster with Safety Surround

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  • Belt threads through belt guide easily
  • Belt retracts without issue

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


Safety 1st Store 'n Go Shoulder Belt Guide

Safety 1st Store ‘n Go Shoulder Belt Guide

Safety 1st Store ‘n Go

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  • Belt threads through belt guide easily
  • Insert is right in the middle so chance of it coming out accidentally are slim
  • Belt retracts without issue
  • Easy for children to rethread

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


Britax Parkway Shoulder Belt Guide

Britax Parkway Shoulder Belt Guide

Britax Parkway SGL

  • Belt guide is large and hangs below the headrest for easy access
  • Belt threads through guide easily
  • Belt retracts with minimal issue

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


RECARO Performance Booster belt guide

RECARO Performance Booster belt guide

RECARO Performance Booster

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  • Belt guide is large and hangs below the headrest for easy access
  • Belt threads through guide easily
  • Belt retracts with minimal issue

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120

Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120

Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120

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  • When the headrest is on the lower settings, it can be a bit tricky to thread due to side pieces covering the back of the belt guide
  • Once threaded, seat belt does not work its way back out of the guides

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


Clek Oobr Shoulder Belt Guide

Clek Oobr Shoulder Belt Guide

Clek Oobr

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  • Shoulder belt threads easily through the guide
  • Once threaded, seat belt does not work its way back out of the guides but can get stuck on the insert at times

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Very Easy To Use


Evenflo Big Kid Shoulder Belt Guide

Evenflo Big Kid Shoulder Belt Guide

Evenflo Big Kid

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  • Head support leans forward compared to the rest of the seat. This is nice for vehicles that have headrests that aren’t removable and tilt forward, but it makes for some weird geometry with flat backed vehicle seats.
  • Belt doesn’t come out of the guide, but can sometimes get caught up in the case of the non-standard belt geometry.

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


Maxi-Cosi RodiAP Shoulder Belt Guide

Maxi-Cosi RodiAP Shoulder Belt Guide

Maxi-Cosi RodiAP (discontinued)

  • Closed belt guide keeps belt from slipping out
  • Belt retracts easily in seating positions where the seat belt comes out close to the booster
  • Belt doesn’t retract as well in seating positions where the belt comes out from behind the booster

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


Diono Monterey Shoulder Belt Guide

Diono Monterey Shoulder Belt Guide

Diono Monterey
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  • Belt retracts without issue
  • Side access can be tricky for children to rethread
  • Belt tends to slide out of the older style of belt guide

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


The RodiFix doesn't sit flush against the back of the Prius' seat.

Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Shoulder Belt Guide

Maxi-Cosi Rodifix 

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  • Shoulder belt threads easily through the guide
  • Once threaded, seat belt does not work its way back out of the guides
  • Belt can get stuck on/twist within the belt guide

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Somewhat Easy To Use


Dedicated Boosters: Less Easy To Use

Cosco Pronto Shoulder Belt Guide

Cosco Pronto Shoulder Belt Guide

Cosco Pronto

  • Belt guide is fairly small
  • Guide is a bit hard to access
  • Once seat belt is threaded, it doesn’t slip out easily
  • Belt doesn’t retract easily

CSFTL Ease Of Use Rating: Less Easy To Use


Overall Thoughts

Belt guide effectiveness is more than just how easy it is to thread and retract the seat belt; often, seat belt geometry plays a part in booster fit. After reviewing the belt guides in so many seats, we’ve seen that dedicated high back boosters have, for the most part, the most user-friendly belt guides. This doesn’t mean that combination seats can’t and don’t work just fine, only that if you’re in the market for a booster, a dedicated high back booster might make for easier loading/unloading of your passenger.