Looking for an inexpensive, compact convertible car seat after the rear facing only seat is outgrown? The Safety 1st Guide 65 is a great convertible for just this situation. The Guide 65 rear faces to 40 lbs or 40″ and is easily found in most bix box stores. Check it out!
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Rear facing weight range: 5-40 lbs.
- Rear facing height range: 19-40″ (Canada-19-36″)
- Forward facing weight range: 22-65 lbs.
- Forward facing height range: 29-49″ (older versions have a 34″ minimum)
- Shell height: 24″
- Lower harness position: 9″
- Highest harness position: 17″
- Expiration: These seats vary with 6, 8, and 10 year expiration dates, please check your seat for specific date
- Lower anchor weight limit: Date of manufacture before 2/2014 – 65 lbs or vehicle manufacturer’s limit; Date of manufacture 2/2014 or after – child weight 40 lbs or vehicle manufacturer’s limit
- Narrow seat that also takes up a small amount of space front to back
- 2 rear facing level lines – more reclined for children under 22 lbs, more upright for children 22-40 lbs
- Non-sport model includes child positioning pillows for better fit
- 5 harness slot positions and 3 position crotch buckle
- Adjustable headrest
Fit to Child
Fiona, Huggable Images newborn, 7 lbs, 17″
When the seat is installed rear facing, the harness straps need to be at or below the shoulders. This is clearly a convertible seat best fitted to children moving out of their infant seat rather than using it from birth. Even though it’s rated at a minimum of 5 lbs, most average children won’t fit the harness until around 6 months. Fiona, had quite a bit of room still before being big enough to fit this seat.
Freya, 9 months, 15 lbs, 27″ and 17 months, 18 lbs, 30″
Freya is our long-term model for the Guide 65. She started using it at 9 months when her shoulders were right at the bottom harness slot. Her fit has been good throughout the duration of using this seat. Even at 2.5, she still has plenty of height left in the seat.
Unity, just shy of 3 years old, 30 lbs, 36″
Unity still has plenty of room to rear face in the Safety 1st Guide 65 before her head is even with the top of the head support in the highest position. The height maximum is 40″, so she would most likely hit that before her head would reach the top of the head support. Read about why rear facing is still the safest way for Unity to ride.
Keep in mind that in Canada, she would have already outgrown this seat rear facing due to the 36″ maximum required in that country.
Unity, 3.25 years old, 34 lbs, 37″
Unity is able to use the Guide 65 both rear facing and forward facing. She is using the second to top harness position and the head rest is in the highest position. When using the Guide 65 forward facing, it’s very important to always use the tether.
Chloe, Huggable Images 6 year old, 46 lbs, 48″
Even our big kid testers fit the Guide 65 well in the forward facing position. This will get most children to around 5 years old before outgrowing the harness. It was a great fit for Sophie. Her ears are right below the top of the headrest and shoulders are right at the top harness slot. At 6, Chloe is more than likely able to switch to a high back booster at this point, but if your Little outgrows it sooner than she did, you may want to get some more information on when switching to a booster is appropriate.
One issue that I’ve seen come up with the Guide 65 rear facing is head slump. There’s an easy fix for this though, just bump the head rest up a click or two and it will help keep their head a little more upright. The photo in the tan seat is with the headrest right at the harness slot and the purple is two clicks above.
The Guide has some things that make installation a bit unique, we’ve got more information on that in our Guide to the Guide.
This seat can be installed with either lower anchors or seat belt, though I’ve found lower anchors to be much easier due to the small belt paths. It can be done, but hands will get scratched in the process. Installation rear facing can be a problem in some vehicles depending on the slope of the back seat. You can install with pool noodles in the seat bight to help with recline or do a noodle less install as shown in this video.
One of the biggest pros to this seat is the price (ranges from $80-$100 depending on the model) and the small space it takes up. As you can see in this photo it only takes up about the same amount of space front to back as the Combi Coccoro, one of the smallest convertible seats on the market. The Guide 65 is at the highest recline level (for kids 22-40 lbs) in this picture as well.
Unlike rear facing, forward facing installation of the Guide 65 is more straight forward. The Guide 65 has a foot that is stored when rear facing and needs to be pulled out to support the seat when forward facing. With a lower anchor limit of 40 lbs, many caregivers will choose to use the seat belt when the child outgrows the rear facing limits and the seat turns forward. Whether using the lower anchors or seat belt, the tether should always be used when forward facing.
Important Information: Where to Find
Expiration Date The Guide 65 used for this review has an 8 year expiration date. The date of manufacture can be found on the side of the seat towards the child’s feet with the expiration date stamped on the back of the seat. This Guide 65 was manufactured March 16, 2015 and the expiration date says Do Not Use after 2023.
FAA Approval The Guide is FAA approved. The sticker with the FAA wording on it is at the bottom of the seat right above where the foot needed for forward facing is located. With it being so light weight and its ability to be more upright after 22 lbs., it makes a great travel seats for Littles on planes. Leaving on a Jet Plane has more information on safe travels with Littles.
Manual Storage The manual for the Guide 65 is stored in the forward facing foot. It’s flipped under for rear facing, but if you unfold it you’ll see the manual tucked neatly inside for safe keeping. The manual is very important and should be read before using and installing the seat. It also gives information on how to contact the manufacturer in case you have questions while installing.
- Fits well in small spaces
- Usually needs a pool noodle to install
- Does not fit newborns and young infants
- Straps can be twisty
- Headrest sometimes pushes kids’ heads forward
With a lower price, local availability, and smaller front to back space for children over 22 lbs, the Guide 65 is a highly recommended seat. The seat does have some quirks when using it rear facing, but hopefully our tips above can help and you can seek out a local Child Passenger Safety Technician to help as well.
Both the Safety 1st Guide 65 Sport and non Sport were used in this review. Dorel, the parent company to Safety 1st, also makes a few ‘clones’ to this seat. These include the Eddie Bauer XRS 65 and the Safety 1st Easy Fit 65. All of these seats carry the same stats and limits. You can find the Guide 65 on Amazon.com
Similar seats in this category (lightweight, budget-friendly, convertible seats)
Credit to our Models
Thank you to Huggable Images for providing us with the dolls used in this review. Learn more about these training dolls in our review.
Neither Safety 1st nor Amazon sponsored this review; opinions, as always, are all our own! Originally written by Angela Tastad. Edits maintained by CSFTL.