I own the original version of this unique and highly-portable child restraint so I was eager to compare it to the newest model manufactured by Dorel. Since I love my old “Go” I wondered how I would feel about this new model. Would I feel the Dorel “Go” love? I’m happy to report that I do!  I <3 the Safety 1st Go Hybrid Booster!

What is a Hybrid Booster?

The Safety 1st Go Hybrid Booster is a highly portable, forward-facing only child restraint system.  It combines the advantages of a 5-point harness with the portability of a booster.  It does this by combining a backless booster with a flexible, almost vest-like upper body restraint system that requires a tether anchor to secure it and hold it in an upright position. Ideally, this CR is designed to be installed using the LATCH system that is available in most vehicles made since 2003. If you don’t have lower LATCH anchors in your vehicle but you have top tether anchors – you can still install this restraint using the seatbelt and the top tether but it’s not as easy as a LATCH installation. Actually, it’s a pain in the neck to install with seatbelt so I tend to recommend the Go Hybrid  only if you have designated LATCH anchors in the seating position where you will install this seat.

Specs & Measurements:

  • With 5-point harness: for kids over 1 year old, 22-65 lbs, 34″-52″ tall.
  • As backless booster:  for kids 40-100 lbs, 43″-57″ tall.
  • Weight: 10.4 lbs (according to my digital bathroom scale)
  • Highest harness height (will vary slightly depending on vehicle): approx 17-17.5″
  • Lowest harness height: approx 12″
  • Crotch strap positions: 7″, 8.5″, 10″
  • Lifespan: 6 years (there is a DO NOT USE after 20xx stamp on the back of the upper portion)

To make it portable and light, the “Go” only has a plastic shell in the headrest portion and of course in the backless booster portion. For that reason, the vehicle seat back or headrest must provide adequate head restraint for the child.

Features:

5-point Harness to 65 pounds- Among the best features of the “Go” is the 5-point harness that is rated to 65 lbs. Once the child outgrows the harness either by weight or by height, the harness straps and flexible backing are removed and the “Go” can be used as a backless booster.

Adjustable Harness Height- There is no need to rethread harness on the “Go”. Simple adjusters are included on each shoulder strap. Before seating the child, squeeze the adjuster and move it all the way up. Once the child is in, lower it their shoulder lever. Super simple!  The harness is outgrown by height once the child’s shoulders are above the level of the highest height setting.

Front Harness Adjusters- The “Go” has simple harness adjusters located on each of the hip straps of the 5-point harness. Each side of the harness must be tightened and loosened independently. This might sound strange but it really isn’t a complicated process. However, it is different from the central front adjuster found on most forward-facing carseats.

LATCH- The “Go” has a flexible LATCH strap on each side of the base to attach to the vehicle’s lower anchors (if your vehicle has lower LATCH anchors). An adjuster is included on each side of the LATCH strap for ease of installation. The push-on lower anchor connectors are much easier to attach and remove than the hook-style connectors found on some child restraints. Slots on the underside of the base bottom are provided to store the lower LATCH attachments when not in use. The LATCH system is definitely the preferred installation method, although it is possible to install with seatbelt and top tether (provided that you can get an acceptable installation).  Dorel does not state a LATCH weight limit in the Go instruction manual or on any of the sticker labels. You may use lower LATCH anchors plus top tether to install this seat until the maximum weight allowed by the vehicle manufacturer. If no limit is given for the lower anchors, or if the vehicle manufacturer defers to the child restraint manufacturer, Dorel allows LATCH to be used to the full max weight of 65 lbs!  Center installations with LATCH using non-standard spacing (more than 11″ apart) is allowed as long as the vehicle manufacturer specifically allows it and you can achieve a tight installation (less than 1″ of movement from side-to-side and front-to-back). The LATCH attachments must be disconnected and stored when the Go is used as a backless booster.

  

 

Padding and Comfort- All the padding in the Go is incorporated into the thick, cushy cover. And it really is thick and cushy. My son had no complaints and actually preferred the Safety 1st Go to the original version when he tried them side-by-side. Harness strap pads are not included, but the crotch strap has a nice buckle pad (aka belly pad).   The crotch strap/buckle has three positions and they are all extremely generous. The outermost position measures 10″! Seriously – that is not a typo!

Travel bag- each Safety 1st Go arrives neatly folded in its own convenient carry bag! The bag with Go inside measures approximately 10″ x 17″ x 18″.

 

Fit-to-Child Comments

The combination of the sliding harness height adjusters and 3 crotch strap/buckle positions should result in a good fit for children of various sizes and proportions – at least for those kids who are old enough to appropriately use a forward-facing only child restraint. Even though the “Go” is rated for kids over 1 year old who weigh at least 22 lbs and are at least 34″ tall – I personally wouldn’t put a 1-year-old in this seat unless there was no better option. In my opinion, the “Go” is best suited for kids who are at least 2 years old. Remember – children are best protected in rear-facing child restraints for as long as they are still under the rear-facing weight and height limit!

  

 

In backless booster mode the Go Hybrid received a “Check Fit” rating from the IIHS. This rating is neither good nor bad – it just means that you should check the fit of the lap and shoulder belt on your child in your vehicle to assess whether this seat provides optimal belt fit in booster mode. Honestly, I don’t think many “Go” owners will use this seat in booster mode. Removing the back portion with the harness (and reattaching it) is not something you want to do unless you have no other option. It’s complicated!

 

Installation Comments:

Lap Belt Installation- Technically, the “Go” can be installed in harness mode with a lap-only seatbelt as long as that seating position has a top tether anchor. I didn’t have a chance to install this seat with that type of system so I cannot comment on how likely you would be to achieve a tight installation with this installation method.

Lap/Shoulder Belt Installation-  I ain’t gonna sugar-coat this (and not sure I could if I wanted to), if you have a switchable retractor on your seatbelt (which means the seatbelt locks by pulling the shoulder belt webbing all the way out), you may not be able to achieve a proper installation. The seat cannot move more than 1″ from side-to-side or from front-to-back once it is installed. I don’t think I have ever been able to achieve a really tight installation using this method. The best I could ever accomplish was 1″ or 1.5″ of movement and that was after a lot of work. Now, keep in mind that this is just one person’s experience with this model and the previous Go model that I have owned. Perhaps it might work better if you had a lap/shoulder belt that had locking latchplates. Maybe I’ve just had bad luck with incompatibility issues. I really don’t know. I just know that the seatbelt installations I have attempted over the years have not had particularly positive outcomes. If you need to attempt a seatbelt install – please make sure you carefully READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! Belt routing is not intuitive – at all.

LATCH- It’s a dream. Once you’ve practiced once or twice it shouldn’t take more than 60 seconds (unless you need to go searching for the top tether anchor in the vehicle). Since almost all vehicles since 2003 have LATCH anchors in at least two seating positions (there are some exceptions), and all rental cars and most modern taxis in the U.S. have LATCH somewhere in the vehicle – it should be possible to take advantage of the easy LATCH installation in the majority of cases.

 

Advantages:

  • Lightweight (just over 10 lbs)
  • Narrow
  • Energy-absorbing EPP foam lines the sidewings (it’s a thin layer and only on the sides but something is better than nothing!)
  • Highly portable when packed in its travel bag – fits in the overhead bin of an airplane!
  • Easy installation with LATCH
  • Easy to adjust harness height
  • Easy to buckle
  • Tall maximum harness height
  • Depth of base provides excellent leg support for older kids
  • Comfortable and well-padded
  • Could be a good option for newer vehicles with fixed, angled head restraints
  • SafeGuard components
  • Made in the USA!

 

 

Disadvantages: (In fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific Go Hybrid issues)

  • Requires using a top tether anchor
  • Difficult to install with seatbelt
  • Difficult process to detach and re-attach back portion from lower booster portion (if you detach it you really don’t want to have to put it back on – trust me)
  • No central front harness adjuster – each side of the harness is tightened and loosened independently
  • Headwings may not provide ideal support for sleeping heads (if you can recline your vehicle seatback a notch or two prior to installation – that might help)
  • Not a good option for pick-up trucks with funky tether routing
  • Not FAA approved – cannot be used on an airplane because aircraft seats don’t have the required top tether anchor

 

Conclusion:

The Safety 1st Go Hybrid Booster is a fantastic option for families with forward-facing kids ages 2+ who use rental cars or taxis. It fits easily in the overhead bin on an aircraft so you never have to gate check it and worry if it’s getting damaged out of sight. It also tends to work very well in 3-across situations if you have the ability to use LATCH. Additionally, it could also be a good option for child care providers, grandparents and agencies that transport various forward-facing children in vehicles with LATCH anchors.  It cannot be used on a school bus or an airplane because neither of those have top tether anchors.  However, if you’re flying I suggest pairing it with the CARES harness (for use on board the airplane) then you have all the important bases covered – in the air and on the ground!

You can find information from Safety 1st on the Go Hybrid Booster here. Thank you Dorel and 360 Public Relations for providing the sample used in this review.  No other compensation was provided and the opinions in this blog are solely those of CarseatBlog!