Many families have long been fans of UPPAbaby’s full-featured Mesa rear-facing only seat and we have, too. It has many easy-to-use features that make installing and using it correctly fairly painless. We’re pleased to see that the UPPAbaby car seat family now includes a booster seat — the ALTA high back booster. Join us as we take a look at this exciting new member of the UPPAbaby lineup.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Weight range: 40 – 100 pounds
- Height range: 38 – 57 inches tall
- Lowest Belt Guide Position: 14 inches
- Highest Belt Guide Position: 22 inches
- Expiration: 10 years from Date of Manufacture
- Side Impact Pods
- Energy Response Headrest
- SECUREfit Lap Belt Positioning Clip
- Rigid Lower Anchors
- Machine-washable Cover
- Shell height: 29 inches, Fully Extended
- Maximum width: 19.5 inches without cupholder, 22 inches with cupholder
- Width at belt path: 17 inches
- Internal seat pan width: 12 inches at the back of the seat, 14 inches at the front
- Internal sidewings width: 14 inches
- Weight: 16.2 pounds
- SECUREfit Lap Belt Positioning Clip:
I am a big fan of lap belt positioning clips, because I have a child with low core muscle tone, who is otherwise booster-mature, but can be a little slouchy. Having a lap belt clip is not a substitute for the maturity to sit still and sit correctly, but it does give my low-tone kiddo the extra support he needs to sit comfortably and correctly on a long drive. I found the ALTA’s clip much easier to adjust than the one on the seat I normally use. It is not required to use the SECUREFit clip, but UPPAbaby strongly recommends it. It is not removable.
- Rigid Lower Anchors
With the instruction manual in hand, I found the ALTA’s rigid lower anchors straightforward to install. UPPAbaby recommends the use of the anchors if LATCH is available for the seating position. If the anchors are not used, the seat will need to be belted in place when unoccupied to prevent it from becoming a projectile. This seat does not allow lower anchor borrowing – standard 11” spacing between the anchors is required.
- Machine-Washable Cover
Kids are messy – a machine washable cover is always appreciated. The ALTA’s cover can be machine washed on the gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent and dried flat away from direct sunlight. The seat’s cover removes easily with a zipper and two snaps. The backrest cover simply pulls out of the shell – reinstalling it requires a ‘fabric key’ stored in a pocket on the inside of the seat cover.
The UPPAbaby ALTA is a high back booster only. The seat ships unassembled, but the manual is very clear that it is not intended to be a backless booster, and the bottom portion cannot be used alone.
Assembling the ALTA was a quick and straightforward process. Place the seat portion on the floor, facing up. The backrest has a curved piece at the bottom – hook this piece over the hinge at the back of the seat portion, and rotate the backrest upright until it clicks and locks into place. The additional piece of cover on the seat then tucks up underneath the backrest’s cover.
Once it’s assembled, the seat stands upright on its own, and doesn’t come apart every time it’s picked up and moved – for that, this caregiver is duly grateful!
The optional cupholder can be clicked into a small hole on either armrest. I found that having the cupholder installed made it more difficult to route the seat belt correctly through the belt path, and wound up not using it.
Adjusting the Headrest
The headrest (and the shoulder belt guides) adjust up and down via a grey handle on the back of the headrest. The mechanism is simple enough, but I found the angle difficult when the seat was installed. The headrest should be positioned to place the red belt guides just above the child’s shoulders.
Known Issue: Shoulder Belt Slipping
We’ve seen a number of caregivers report that the shoulder belt can slip out of the belt guide when using the ALTA, most often when the child is buckling themselves into the seat. Since our primary goal is that every caregiver and child be able to install and use their car seat or booster seat correctly, we researched this issue and were able to replicate it ourselves.
I enlisted the help of Nigel the Shark (Review Kid does not need to be told to lean in the seat) and installed the ALTA outboard. Issue confirmed – if Nigel had tried to buckle his own vehicle seat belt, the shoulder portion of the belt would have slipped out of the guide.
UPPAbaby’s fix for this issue is a set of clips that get installed into the belt guides. The clips come in individual bags, helpfully labeled ‘Child’s Right’ and ‘Child’s Left. The installation instructions were clear enough, but I found the task somewhat difficult both in terms of aligning the guides at the correct angle and getting the clips in far enough.
UPPAbaby recommends using a tool such as a pencil for this, but I didn’t have one readily available so I wasn’t able to confirm the usefulness of that suggestion.
Pro tip: remove the seat from the vehicle before installing these clips. I found it somewhat easier once I had more space to maneuver and could change the angle of the seat. The clips are quite effective in preventing slippage – I couldn’t get the belt to slip with the clips installed no matter how I fiddled with it. They do make it more difficult to thread and remove the belt from the guide – their instructions recommend disconnecting the lower anchors and pulling the seat toward the retractor to make removal easier, and I did find that that seemed to help.
Lower anchors on a booster don’t help to restrain the child, but they do prevent an empty booster from becoming a projectile if there is a collision when the child isn’t present (an unanchored booster should always be belted in when not in use).
The ALTA includes rigid lower anchors. This is the first seat I’ve used with rigid anchors, but after a quick look at the manual, I found the system quite easy to use. Pull the release handle located at the front of the seat and slide the seat forward to expose the plate with the anchors. Rotate the connectors 180° until they are pointed toward the vehicle’s lower anchors. Push the connectors onto the anchors until you hear a click and the red indicators on the connectors turn green.
Pull on each connector to ensure that they are secure. Pull the release handle again and slide the seat back onto the lower anchor plate until the backrest of the booster seat is flush against the vehicle seat back.
To release the lower anchors, pull the release handle and slide the seat forward, then pull back on the connector release located on the side of each connector. To store the connectors, rotate them 180° to point toward the front of the seat, then pull the release handle and slide the seat back onto the lower anchor plate.
Please note that the ALTA in our review was installed in a vehicle that has 3 dedicated sets of lower anchors, even in the middle seating position.
UPPAbaby requires the backrest of the ALTA to sit flush against the vehicle seat back, and does not allow a gap due to protruding vehicle head restraints. It also is not allowed to overhang off the vehicle seat. The seat was compatible with the outboard seats in my ‘08 Cobalt (I have had compatibility issues with some seats in those positions), but may be incompatible in vehicles with protruding, non-removable headrests or very shallow seats.
Fit to Child
Seven Years Old
Our model here turned 7 years old while writing this review. He weighs 50 pounds and is 51 inches tall, placing him well within the ALTA’s stated height and weight limits. He normally rides in a high back booster, and was happy to take the ALTA for a spin. He gets a nice belt fit, but I did notice that he needed more reminders to sit back and not lean than he does in his usual seat. Part of that may be that, due to the pandemic, he’s not in the car much these days.
However, part of it also seems to be that the sidewings on the ALTA are a lot narrower than his usual seat – he did better when I reinstalled his usual seat. This fellow is built long and lanky – I suspect the narrower wings on the ALTA would be uncomfortable for a stockier or broader-shouldered child. For a seat that does not have backless booster functionality, that could significantly limit the seat’s usable lifespan.
Important Information: Where to Find
FAA Approval: Like all booster seats, the ALTA requires a 3-point lap-and-shoulder belt. Consequently, it is not approved for use aboard aircraft.
Manual Storage: The manual tucks into a handy pocket on the back of the seat, located below the headrest adjuster handle.
Date of Manufacture: The date of manufacture (and the expiration date) are located on a sticker on the bottom of the seat.
The UPPAbaby ALTA is a booster seat with a lot of very nice features, and a very nice belt fit. However, due to the extremely narrow sidewings and the lack of a backless mode, this is not going to be a long-lived seat for a lot of kids. For families with very petite children, however, the features of the ALTA could make it a very appealing option.