Diono Solana Backless Booster Seat Review

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Diono Solana

Diono Solana

The Diono Solana backless booster seat is a cousin of the Solana 2, which used to be known as just the Solana. This particular relative is a lightweight, fuss-free booster seat that is only sold in a two pack of booster seats, yet it is not the Solana 2. This is the only booster seat that’s sold this way, which makes it kind of unusual.

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Weight range: 40-120 pounds
  • Height range: 38–63 inches tall or if the top of the child’s ears are above the top of the raised vehicle seat headrest
  • Crash replacement: Canada: replace after every crash
  • United States: NHTSA replacement guidelines for minor crashes, replace after moderate to severe crashes
  • Expiration: 8 years from date of purchase

Measurements

  • Width at widest point: 17 inches wide
    Seating area Depth: 15 inches
  • Weight: less than one pound

Unique Features

Fabric Cupholders

Diono Solana cupholders

Diono Solana fabric cupholders

Diono describes these cupholders as “elasticated” which naturally makes me think of the Incredibles. They’re sewn into the seat’s cover and while that flexibility makes them a little tricky to use, they cannot be lost since they can’t be removed from the seat. We’re always a fan of parts you can’t lose so that’s a point for the Solana.

Easy Remove Cover

The Solana’s cover is fairly plush and does remove easily — it’s sort of like a shower cap that slides over the plastic portion of the booster seat.

Wide Seating Area

The Solana’s website describes this feature as: “COMFORTABLE & CONVENIENT – Ergonomic seat base for big kid comfort and lightweight design to move between vehicles with ease.” We think of it more like a wide seating area that some larger children find more comfortable. We suspect that the flared armrests are as much a part of this wideness and comfort as anything else. But since we advocate for best practice, which includes keeping kiddos in booster seats as long as possible, the Solana’s seating area is a plus.

I do want to mention that it’s not quite as wide as the seating area in the Solana 2, which is also known as the “backless portion of a Cambria.”

Solana vs. Solana 2

Diono Solana 2

Diono Solana 2

We live in a world where car seats can have complicated names (Graco, I am looking at you here) so we’re no strangers to naming confusion. The Solana brings a unique challenge to the market since it has the same name as a different backless booster (Solana 2), that’s also sold under yet a different name (Cambria) as a high back booster.  The Solana 2 has a different shape, it’s a bit wider, and lower anchors.

That’s the booster you see here.

Diono Solana

Diono Solana

Our Solana (the one we’re looking at today in this review) is a bit narrower and does not have lower anchor connectors.  It’s also only sold as part of a 2 pack in the United States (sold by itself in Canada) yet it does not have the number 2 in the seat name.

No Assembly Required

The 2 pack of Solanas arrives neatly tucked together in one tidy package. That’s nice for shipping but extricating the boosters from each other took a bit of effort. Eventually, I separated the cojoined boosters and was ready to dive into my review.

Three Across

The Solana’s widest point is 17 inches, that’s right around the magic number to make many three across combinations possible. We do suggest trying the Solana with your set of car seats or booster seats but with other slender seats surrounding it, we’d assert that it’s a likely winner.

Installation/Setup

The Solana is what my kiddo (now a former booster rider since she passes the Five Step Test to ride in the adult seat belt) calls a “plopper” because the setup only involves plopping the booster onto the vehicle seat. That’s about as simple as it gets!

Lap/Shoulder Belt Routing

Diono Solana belt routing

Diono Solana belt routing

The lap portion of the vehicle seat belt routes under BOTH of the belt guides, one on each side.  To us, those belt guides look a lot like armrests but our friends at Diono wanted to clarify that they’re really the belt guides.  We’re glad to have the opportunity to provide this level of clarity here — anything to help caregivers use a seat properly is a win in our book!

We’re noting this belt routing because the diagram on the label that’s attached to the Solana itself makes that second belt guide (arm rest) kind of difficult to see. The diagrams in the manual are a bit more clear.

Shoulder Belt Guide Adjuster

Diono Solana 2 shoulder belt guide adjuster

Diono Solana shoulder belt guide adjuster

The seat includes an optional shoulder belt guide adjuster that’s conveniently attached to the seat so it’s (nearly) impossible to misplace.

Fit to Child

Now that the pandemic has been downgraded to an endemic, I’m thrilled to report that I’ve got at least one human model to test this seat. (Just kidding, a steady stream of Covid cases between the two families have made this impossible so here is my doll.)

Six Year Old Doll

Diono Solana 2 6 year old doll

Diono Solana 6 year old doll

Our 6 year old Huggable Images doll is working hard to help with our reviews. Our doll is 48 inches tall and weighs next to nothing, thanks to it being filled with fluff. The lap portion of the belt fits our doll well –it’s low across the tops of the thighs but the shoulder belt fit, while acceptable, is a little high. Conveniently…

Diono Solana 2 6 year old doll with shoulder belt guide adjuster

Diono Solana 6 year old doll with shoulder belt guide adjuster

The shoulder belt guide adjuster is attached to the seat so we added it to the vehicle seat belt, pulled the webbing until it was snug and checked the fit. With the guide in place, the shoulder belt now sits in exactly the right place for our doll.

8 Year Old Child

Diono Solana 8 years old

Diono Solana 8 years old

FINALLY!  We have some human models available to help me with this review!  This awesome model is 8 years old, he’s 59 inches tall and weighs 70 pounds.  In between telling me about every video game ever (our conversation went all the way back to the original Nintendo and Game Boys so I had some thoughts to contribute) he was kind enough to model this booster for us.  He found it comfortable enough and didn’t report any issues.  He did have trouble buckling the vehicle seat belt but that’s definitely more about my car’s recessed buckles than about this seat itself.

8 Year Old Child

Diono Solana 8 years old

Diono Solana 8 years old

This model is also 8 years old, she’s 56 inches tall and weighs 70 pounds.  She reported no issues with the Solana and was able to buckle herself with ease.  That’s because she’s not in my car, she’s in a car with more considerate buckle stalks.

Important Information: Where to Find

Diono Solana labels

Diono Solana labels

Date of manufacture label: the Solana expires 8 years after the date of purchase. The date of manufacture label is found on the bottom of the seat.

FAA approval: like all booster seats, the Solana cannot be used on an airplane. That’s because booster seats require a lap and shoulder belt but airplane seats only have lap belts. However, it’s small enough and light enough that families may want to consider it as a travel option, it would fit nicely in the overhead compartment on an airplane, then be ready to go when they arrive!

Overall Thoughts

The Solana does exactly what it needs to do — position the seat belt in the correct locations across the child’s body.  We found the vehicle seat belt pretty darn consistent across all of our models — stuffed and humans alike. It’s lightweight and easy to carry, so that makes it a nice option for carpooling or travel. Having our seat arrive as part of a 2 pack is a little odd but we can also see how that would be useful.