While knowledge about the safety benefits of riding rear facing longer and keeping children in harnessed car seats until they’re ready for booster seats seems to be spreading through the parenting community, we still see (both online and in person) that many families abandon their child’s booster seat before the child can pass the Five Step Test. This may be because there are limited booster seat options for bigger kids that offer a consistently safe vehicle seat belt fit while also being easy for a child to use and carry around by themselves. Graco saw this critical need and has released the Graco RightGuide seat belt trainer. It was originally sold as part of the TurboBooster Grow booster seat, but is now also sold as a standalone seat! We are very excited to share this seat with you.
The Graco RightGuide is described as a “seat belt trainer.” We’d go on to describe it as a highly portable belt positioner. We’ve found that the Graco RightGuide Seat Belt Trainer provides a fantastic vehicle seat belt fit for our carpoolers and older kiddos, comes in its own travel bag, and is so comfortable that some of our models forgot they’re sitting on it.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Weight range: 50-120 pounds
- Height range: 43-60 inches tall AND at least 5 years old
- Expiration: 10 years from date of manufacture
- Weight: roughly 1 pound
- Width at narrowest point (back of the seat pan): 9 inches
- Width at widest point (at the belt guides, when fully expanded): 18.5 inches. Note: when the child sits in the seat, these guides tend to fold in so this measurement will always be smaller and vary based on the child’s size.
- Width at widest point: 12 inches
- Seat pan depth: 12 inches
- Carry bag for easy transport through airports, trains, and carpool situations
- Shoulder belt guide adjuster
The RightGuide’s most notable feature is how portable it is! It’s small enough and discreet enough to fit in a backpack. This kiddo is in 4th grade, she’s mere moments away from passing the Five Step Test but still needs a little something to help the vehicle seat belt fit her properly. The RightGuide tucks right into her backpack, she’s able to set it up and use it properly on every ride.
Getting started with the RightGuide is a pretty quick process. First, flip the seat over, then unfold the belt guides from their pockets underneath the seat into their upright positions. If you’re not using the shoulder belt guide adjuster, that’s all there is to it.
Note: in Canada, the shoulder belt guide is required. It is optional for use in the United States.
If you are using the shoulder belt guide adjuster, there are just a couple more steps to finish the setup. The shoulder belt guide adjuster is stored in a cubby on the seat. It’s permanently attached to the seat (phew! We can’t lose it!). As a long time booster user and reviewer, my home contains more than a few random shoulder belt guide adjusters and other car seat parts that probably belong to various car seats that I probably don’t even own anymore. That won’t be the case with the RightGuide, since that adjuster remains attached!
While it’s a fun game to identify the brand and seat, and even the child who used that particular booster seat, it’s not what you want to have happen when you’re in a new car and realize that in this particular car, you could really use that shoulder belt guide adjuster. Do not fret — the RightGuide keeps that adjuster right there on the back of the seat itself! Just flip the RightGuide over, open the cubby door, remove the adjuster, then attach the adjuster onto the vehicle seat belt.
Then, close the cubby and turn over the seat. With the child sitting in the RightGuide, adjust the length of the strap so that the belt guide is positioned at the center of the child’s shoulder. Once that’s done, thread the shoulder belt through the guide, and buckle the vehicle seat belt. Make sure the lap belt is under both guides, and the shoulder belt is under the guide on the buckle side. That’s it.
The shoulder belt guide adjuster will not need to be adjusted every ride. Your child’s height will not change all that much, and you want to bring the shoulder belt to their shoulder, so it usually works just fine with an occasional adjustment as they grow.
Mysterious Red Piece on the Bottom
The only other thing to note about the underside of the RightGuide is that there is a third red piece besides the seat belt guides. This red flap with an equal sign on it is a holdover from when the seat came inside the TurboBooster Grow. When using the RightGuide solo you’ll ignore it and leave it flat — don’t extend it when the RightGuide is in use by itself.
This sounds complicated on paper, but in person, it’s really not.
The RightGuide includes a sort of handy tote bag that has a little fabric loop on the end of it (along with a regular-sized carry strap). While Graco hasn’t flat out said that the little loop on the bag is for travel, I found that by tightening the shoulder carrying strap all the way, and using the hook loop, I was able to attach the bag rather solidly to our luggage. It’s a lot nicer than other ways to travel with a backless booster. It could also easily fit in our carry on luggage completely, or in a backpack, or be carried in its carrying bag by my 10 year old (the only risk is that she loses it!). The RightGuide’s portability means there is no reason to not take a booster seat along for the ride.
Pro tip: if you’re using the RightGuide in a taxi or other rideshare, leave the vehicle door open until your child is set up. That way, the driver will have to wait before starting to drive!
Fit to Child
As usual, Graco has created a product that provides an exceptional vehicle seat belt fit. With next to no effort for the older child (at least 5 years old, though this seat is geared toward older children) to buckle themselves, the belt fit is flawless.
We’re very excited that this product’s height limit is SIXTY inches tall. Sorry, I felt the need to shout that. This is the first Graco product that goes above a 57 inch maximum height. While this is not the tallest height limit on the market, these extra 3 inches of height make the RightGuide last longer for taller kids, and the 120 pound weight maximum also allows for longer use among heavier kids. CSFTL is excited by any additional time older kiddos and pre-teens can use a booster seat or belt guide trainer.
7 Years Old
This model hails from Canada so he’s required to use the shoulder belt guide adjuster when riding in the RightGuide. He’s 54 inches tall and weighs 68 pounds. He’s able to set up the RightGuide by himself and the vehicle seat belt fits him well. The RightGuide is so small that he’s able to ride between or beside his sisters in the three across situation that is everyday for this family.
Here, he’s in a 2001 Chrysler Cirrus that has a lap-only vehicle seat belt in the center seating position. His sister rides in a harnessed car seat that’s installed safely in the center seating position while he’s able to ride outboard.
8 Years Old
Our 8 year old model is 50 inches tall and weighs 65 pounds. The RightGuide fits him well and he finds it pretty comfortable. We did find that for him, in this Toyota Sienna’s sloped vehicle seat, the lap portion of the vehicle seat belt appears to be a bit twisted — it mostly lays flat but we’d prefer that it lay flat consistently. The lap/shoulder belt bunches up in the belt guide just a bit as well. We didn’t have those issues with him in other vehicles.
9 Years Old
This model is 9 years old, 48 inches tall and weighs 82 pounds. She rides in a carpool van many days every week and the RightGuide makes that carpool possible for her and her family. The RightGuide tucks discreetly into her backpack and she’s able to set it up without help from adults. This adds up to no worries for her parents when this kiddo rides in the van.
10 Years Old
Our first 10 year old model weighs 108 pounds and is 59 inches tall. The RightGuide gives her that extra boost she needs in order for the adult seat belt to fit her properly. We anticipate that the RightGuide will be invaluable during this last bit of growth until she passes the Five Step Test.
10 Years Old
Our model is 10 years old, 55 inches tall, and weighs 97 pounds. She’s solidly within the RightGuide’s height and weight limits, and her lifestyle fits the demographic perfectly — she regularly gets rides with friends, goes on field trips, and we travel by plane several times a year. This is the perfect seat to have in its carry case hanging in the house ready for her to grab. It’s small, light, and easy enough for her to manage by herself. The only thing I would have to do for her is set the length of the shoulder belt guide adjuster the first time. She can get the seat in and out of the bag herself.
She finds the seat easy to transport and set up, and we haven’t needed the shoulder belt guide adjuster. A smaller or younger child may need that adjuster, or this model might need it if the vehicle seat belt is mounted in the ceiling. Most children who are size appropriate for a backless booster don’t generally need it to achieve a proper vehicle seat belt fit in most vehicles (unless they’re in Canada. Then it’s required for this seat).
Important Information: Where to Find
FAA Approval: Because the RightGuide is a booster seat, the seat is NOT approved for use on board aircraft. It requires a lap and shoulder belt, and commercial aircraft have a lap belt only. That’s ok, children who fit in this 50+ pound seat will fit in the plane’s belt, and so do not need a car seat while on board the airplane. The RightGuide can be stored in the overhead bin, under the seat in front, in the carryon bag, in your child’s backpack, or in your backpack.
Date of Manufacture: Underneath one of the guides on the underside of the seat, the date of manufacture label has been secreted away. The seat is good for 10 years from that date.
Manual: The manual stores in the same cubby as the shoulder belt guide adjuster. The manual is not large — it’s basically one large piece of paper folded up, with one side in English and one side in Spanish.
As expected, Graco has made yet another booster product that provides a great belt fit that works well. They have a formula that works and they’ve stuck to it. We’re very grateful for that. And for the first time they’ve gone past their 57 inch limit. The seat is comfortable while small, a seeming hard nut to crack. It’s easy enough for a child to use on their own, easy to transport, and relatively inexpensive. The 5 year minimum age and 50 pound minimum weight are exciting to see, limiting this seat to kids who are ideally old enough and big enough to use it, and the 120 pound and 60 inch maximums will help it last for kids who are big enough to still use it.
Our friends at Graco are giving away SIX of these amazing carpool options to lucky readers from the United States. Please read our terms and conditions, then enter for your chance to win!
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