WAYB Pico Folding Travel Carseat Review
Anyone who has ever flown with kids knows the struggle. You have to carry your suitcases, the kids’ carry ons, car seats, whatever random snacks you acquired while trying to keep the kids from ruining everyone’s airport experience, and then you somehow have to get your kids onto the plane, without any free hands to physically wrangle them. Then the car seat needs a seatbelt extender or the buckle is right in the small of the kid’s back and the end result is just that everyone is miserable.
Or you don’t bring a seat and you rent one at your destination and it’s a) not the right seat, b) it’s disgusting, c) you don’t know its history or whether it’s safe, but mostly likely d) all of these horror-scapes above.
Or maybe you’re traveling in a different city and you need to take an Uber or Lyft or a cab with kids. You can pay extra in some cities for a ride share with seats installed, but it’s more expensive and harder to come by and you weren’t the one installing those seats, so it’s still a risk. You can legally choose not to use a carseat in some places but then you have to restrain your kids in a moving car and unfortunately all the crash probabilities and risks don’t go away on vacation. In short, traveling with kids is a mess.
Have I convinced you never to travel? Just hold on for a moment, because the solution to this stress may have arrived.
WAYB (pronounced way-bee) claims to have the solution with their new seat, the WAYB Pico. I was one of many parents and CPS technicians who was immediately intrigued. Before I spoil the whole review, let’s dive into the details.
WAYB Pico Highlights
- Forward facing only
- For children 1 and older (WAYB recommends you wait until age 2), 22-50 pounds, 30-45 inches, and shoulders below the top of the seat back
- Whole seat weighs 8 (!) pounds and folds very compactly
- One shoulder harness position, one crotch buckle position
- Body is made of aerospace-grade aluminum
- Seat is made with ASTROKNIT™ mesh, which takes the place of foams
- Pico is eco-friendly, with the majority of the seat being recyclable
- MSRP $330, or bundled together with a fabulous travel bag for $410
- Width of seat: 14.75 inches at the widest point (middle of the torso)
- Height of seat with headrest in lowest position: 22.75 inches
- Height of seat headrest fully extended: 27.75 inches
- Depth of seat: 15.25 inches
- Harness (torso) height: 16.5 inches
- Weight of seat: 8 pound
Fit to Child
The first time I saw the Pico, I was skeptical. It is SO small. I worried that it wouldn’t fit older kids or would be outgrown too quickly, especially with a 45” height limit. But rest easy, my eyes deceived me.
I put all 3 of my kids, ages 7, 4 and 1 into this seat and somehow they all fit. It might be magic because it’s seriously the smallest seat I’ve ever seen.
I’m going to start with the littlest, who is 22 months, 25 pounds and 33 inches. I was easily able to adjust the seat to hold him totally securely, despite being on the smaller end of the limits of the seat. Now, the tricky part is that he can’t legally ride in this seat in California, despite being within the stated limits of the seat, because he’s not yet 2 years old. If you choose to use this seat for travel, you’ll need to research the rear facing laws at your destination, because you may not be able to use this seat for your younger toddlers everywhere.
My middle kid is 4.5 years old, 41.5 inches and 32 pounds. He also has the longest torso of any child I have ever met. And even with that, he still has a solid 2-3 inches of torso growth left in the Pico. I was absolutely shocked. He fit well and said the seat was so comfortable that he wanted to keep it in the car. That’s a ringing endorsement if there ever was one.
My oldest kid is 7 years old, 47.5 inches and 49 pounds. He has outgrown this seat per the stated limits and I would not use it for him and am not recommending you do so either, just to be clear. I just put him in it because I wanted to get a sense of whether the harness would truly accommodate a 45” inch child and I feel pretty confident in saying that it really will. The shape of the seat definitely gives more room than the written measurements would suggest. My oldest had outgrown it by a sneeze, even though he was almost 3 inches taller than the limit.
The adjustment process is a little tricky at first because the harness adjusters aren’t what you’re used to. There’s one on each hip strap and they resemble a lower anchor adjustment mechanism. You have to tighten each side independent of the other, which is a little tricky at first, but it gets easier with practice and it’s not hard to do. There’s no moving the shoulder straps or the crotch buckle because there’s only one slot, which is kind of great, actually. I do think that chest clip is oddly hard to place on some kids because the straps go so high that your perspective is skewed. So if you decide to get the Pico, stand back and look at the child, not the seat as a whole, to make sure things are in the right spot.
Fit to Vehicle
So, the Pico will fit, in terms of width and height, just pretty much anywhere you could put it. It’s that small. It solved a terribly tricky 3 across for me last month when I went back to work and my babysitter had to haul 3 kids in a compact car.
The lower anchors can be used the whole lifespan of the seat because it’s so light and they are definitely the easiest way to install it. The only tricky part of the lower anchor installation is that a little bit of slack can get caught in the lower anchor belt on the non-adjuster side, so you just have to be watching both sides to make sure to remove it all.
The seatbelt installation is not complicated by any means. There are red seat belt guides that hold the belt in place, then it’s a standard install (lock the belt, remove the slack, get less than an inch of movement at the belt path). Depending upon the angle of your seatbelt, it may bunch lightly, but it doesn’t make it terribly challenging to remove the slack, it just may look a little different than you may be used to.
In all my vehicle fit tests, I found one issue that popped up a few times. The tether strap is a reasonable length, but because of the compact design of the seat causing it to sit so low, the tether strap is not long enough to reach the anchor point in some cars. In my primary vehicle (2015 Honda Odyssey), it’s 2-3 inches too short. In several other cars (mostly passenger cars), it fit without issue, so it’s really a matter of which car you’re in and how far down your anchor point is. WAYB has tested the Pico with just the seatbelt and with just the lower anchors and it passes crash testing those ways, but we strongly recommend the use of a tether whenever it is available and this is no exception to that. I’ve spoken with WAYB and their FAQ now states, “The Pico’s tether strap is built to reach almost any tether anchor locations, but if Pico’s tether hook does not reach your tether anchor please reach out directly to WAYB at [email protected] to receive a free tether strap extender for your Pico.” If you find yourself in a vehicle where the tether anchor is very far from the seat, you may check to see if any of the other seating positions have a closer anchor, as sometimes the middle seat’s anchor point is better.
Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing:
WAYB allows LATCH installation in the center seating position if the vehicle manufacturer allows it and the LATCH anchor bars are spaced 11-20” apart. Check your vehicle owner’s manual to see if there are allowances for anchor spacing other than 11-20″.
Inflatable Seat Belts
WAYB has determined that the Pico CANNOT be installed with any inflatable seat belts found in vehicles.
Fit to Airplane
I’m sad to say that I neither have an airplane, nor the money to take a trip just to try this seat, though I did consider it. Fortunately, I have family who has the means and energy and a 3 year old! My sister used the Pico on a recent trip with my nephew Asher. Asher is 3 years old, 35 pounds and 39 inches. My sister was easily able to transport the seat through the airport and install it on the plane without a seatbelt extender. At WAYB’s recommendation, she threaded the seatbelt through the guides before buckling, then buckled and tightened.
Though the buckle was right in the middle of the seatback, because the mesh seat is reasonably taught, Asher couldn’t compress the seat enough to make contact with the buckle. The design was really, really thoughtful and I am mostly just mad I have installed so many harder seats on airplanes than this one. Where have you been all my life, Pico? And yes, Asher’s chest clip could be moved up a touch. I told you it was tricky to place correctly and unlike when I tossed my kids into my car, I couldn’t just bump his clip up and retake the picture because, well, I wasn’t there. So heed a warning here and be mindful of this.
Since the Pico sits so low on the airplane seat, the tray table can be lowered for the child to use during the flight.
WAYB recommends spot cleaning whenever possible, with a mild, wool safe detergent, but you can remove the fabric and hand wash everything with warm water and wool safe detergent.
Crash and Lifespan
WAYB goes by NHTSA standards for replacement following a crash, and it is well described in the manual.
The Pico is covered by a 3 year (!) limited warranty from day of purchase, which is pretty great. The seat itself has a 6 year lifespan from date of manufacture, but Pico’s advocate told me that they intend to monitor this and decide whether to extend the lifespan as they are able to test the seat as it ages. Because it’s brand new, they aren’t sure how the materials will age and their goal is to make sure that it can be used as long as is safe to do so.
- Compact doesn’t even begin to describe the size of this seat. It is so small and so light.
- Eco-friendly with aluminum frame and other recyclable materials
- Removable shoulder strap covers
- 4 fashions, from black on black to a couple really eye catching options
- Wool blend ASTROKNIT™ mesh is breathable and reduces the need for foams
- Uses NHTSA rules for replacement after a crash. This may not seem like an advantage, but I truly believe that it is forward thinking in a new car seat.
- The cover isn’t machine washable, which isn’t a huge disadvantage as it would be pretty easy to hand wash, but it’s worth noting, I think.
I feel like travel seats are an area where many companies have tried to make their seats work, but the reality is that conventional car seats just aren’t travel seats. WAYB did the opposite: they strayed from convention, focused on travel and portability and they really knocked it out of the park. The WAYB Pico does everything it promises to do, and it does it with genius design and eco-friendly materials. If you’re looking for a car seat for travel or a tight three across, or both, look no further. It’s an expensive seat, but it is a niche seat using state of the art materials. The Pico is the seat you’ve dreamed of every time you’ve sat down sweaty from the car seat hustle on an airplane. It’s the seat you’ve wished you had in every Uber ride with kids (or in every Uber ride you skipped because of kids). It’s the seat you wanted when you had to rent one through your car rental place. If you have a kid in the size and age range covered by Pico and intend to travel, run, don’t walk, and get one. You won’t regret it.
Thank you to WAYB for the sample Pico used in this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog. More information at their official website: WAYB.com.
RECALL ALERT: The NHTSA reports WAYB is recalling certain WAYB Pico child restraints manufactured between March 1, 2019 and May 12, 2019. The headrest’s aluminum tubular frame can break allowing the headrest to detach. For more info: https://carseatblog.com/48803/
FYI – Wirecutter did a long-term test with the WayB and the frame broke. Apparently this happened to another seat unrelated to Wirecutter. I have one and am kicking myself for having bought a seat that didn’t have a long track record. Now waiting for the recall to happen.
We have so far not had a similar issue with our WayB and would report on any such issues with any carseat if we discovered a safety concern. Unfortunately, this is always a possibility with a new product and we simply don’t know if it was a rare issue with one or more isolated products or if it could be a more widespread concern.
It’s fairly irresponsible to not at least report / mention in the body of your post that the NYTimes’s Wirecutter no longer recommends the Wayb Pico. Simply because this hasn’t happened to your own Wayb Pico, doesn’t mean this shouldn’t be mentioned. For you to say they knocked it out of the park in the main body of your review then mention that issues are “always a possibility with a new product” only in response to a commenter lends to how non-credible your review truly is.
I don’t think I can agree that it’s critically important to mention that one person had a part break on a seat when the seat is still in my possession and has been used quite extensively. It was used daily for almost a month by a 4 year old, it has been on 4 airplanes, and in several rental cars in use for weeks at a time. There are zero cracks, bends, or anything other than a perfectly functioning travel seat. I have no reason to believe that this is a problem beyond the exact seat that was given to Wirecutter, and if it turns out that it is, we will, of course, update our review or write a follow up post. For now, that does not seem to be the case.
The reality is that car seats aren’t indestructible. My 2 year old threw a huge tantrum a few weeks ago, grabbed the headwing of his convertible seat and destroyed the foam. This wasn’t a new seat, it is a much beloved and widely used seat, but it, like every other seat, is breakable. One seat breaking isn’t automatically reflective of a bigger problem.
@Katie – First, do you see the flaw in your argument? You’re not comparing apples to apples when using the example of your 2 year old actively destroying the seat during a tantrum versus the breaking of the Pico upon normal wear and tear? You note yourself that your carseat wasn’t new, but “much beloved,” as opposed to Wirecutter’s carseat, which was used for a few months (heck, the Pico hasn’t even been widely available for a full year).
Second, if you read the Wirecutter review, they note specifically that theirs wasn’t the only isolated incident. Wayb admitted that there was at least another isolated, unrelated incident where the exact same part broke. If they broke in different areas of the carseat, this might be a different story, but seems like too much of a coincidence that they broke in the same area.
Finally, it’s clear to me, at least, that these ultimately aren’t two isolated incidents given Wayb’s recall of the Pico, which supports my original post that it’s highly irresponsible to not even mention the Wirecutter review. I’ll add on to that now, as it’s highly disappointing that the recall update is located at the very bottom of the Carseatblog’s otherwise rave review. Any responsible review website should put the update at the top before your original review.
Hi there. So when I say “much beloved” I don’t mean much used, I mean it’s a seat that the car seat world likes very much. It’s not an old seat and my child still broke it with minimal effort. Conversely my Pico (which is part of the recall and which I will be getting a fix for) has been used pretty aggressively without event. I’m not here to argue that these seats aren’t breaking, they obviously are and as promised, we reported as soon as the recall started. No one is denying it, we are simply trying to suggest that it’s not the experience we’ve had using this seat.
Finally, I think my confusion lies in the expectation that we would report on what a different car seat group finds? I think you’ll find that within the car seat parts of the internet that there are many diverse opinions and experiences about a variety of seats and we focus on our opinions and experiences as do most other sites. The great news is that you’re free to browse them all at your leisure.
Also there’s a separate post about the recall here that was published on Tuesday.(https://carseatblog.com/48803/wayb-pico-recalled-for-headrest-defect/). The note on the post was just for those who may not have read the front page of the website. I hope that helps resolve some disappointment.
As I stated, Wirecutter’s single incident or the other one you mentioned was simply not enough verified information and we did not know if only some or all Pico products were affected. Though commonplace in the media today, we prefer not to spread unsubstantiated claims and instead waited for an authority like the NHTSA to issue a statement. Now that there is a recall and the range of dates for affected models is known, we quickly posted a notation in our review, a comment here in response, a blog and a post on our facebook page. Owners of affected products can find this information in our review and comments, while those who own product made after May 12th do not have to worry unnecessarily as theirs are not included in the recall.
Various child safety seats have a recall and we don’t usually include such notations in our reviews. This was an exception given it is a very new product and potentially serious recall that does not have a remedy yet.
We do appreciate your concern, and in fact you have mentioned it right here in response to our review. This is the usual way for owners to let us know of issues they have had, or for readers to share concerns like this one.
If Wirecutter was more established as an authority in the Child Passenger Safety industry and had a verified issue with multiple retail samples, it might warrant further concern and reporting by other news media. An investigative report published in the actual New York Times might be a different matter. Otherwise, we generally don’t refer to other review websites for anecdotal reports about carseat issues. For example, if we were to believe every reported issue was representative of a major injury risk, then nearly every carseat on the market would be suspect based upon reviews and reports on the internet, social media and retailer websites. What would be non-credible is to propagate a reliability concern that ends up being isolated or in some cases even damage caused by the owner. We base our reviews on our own experience and expertise, which is quite significant, both individually and as a team.
When there is clear evidence of a widespread issue, such as an NHTSA investigation, published report in a peer-reviewed journal or major national news outlet, recall or other voluntary action, we will be much more likely to report on this. We have no reason to doubt the report by Wirecutter. On the other hand, we also don’t know their reviewer(s), they have not contacted us about their findings, and I don’t recall meeting any of their staff at technical meetings, conferences or trade shows in nearly 20 years we have been involved in the industry. As such, it is certainly not something we would publish in our own review, nor would I expect they do the same in a similar situation. Even if we had an isolated failure of our own, we would likely mention it, but it wouldn’t necessarily preclude us from giving appropriate praise to a product if we thought it could be an isolated issue. Without any additional information from Wirecutter and evidence that this issue is more common, it would actually be irresponsible to highlight it in our own review if we have not had a similar experience or additional verified reports indicative of a widespread problem.
If you offer the tether extensions, might you also have an extension for the crotch buckle? My child had to sit on the fabric flap in order to relieve some discomfort in that area as it is too tight & short.
Hi – can the wayb be used as an everyday car aeat as well, or is it only recommended for travel?
The Wayb can definitely be used as an everyday carseat. The harness adjusts differently than other carseats, though, but I think like everything, it’s a matter of getting used to it.
I’m trying to understand crash test results for this seat. I cant seem to find it anywhere. We are looking to purchase the seat for travel and Uber rides, so not our daily seat. But I still want to make sure it’s safe. What’s your assessment. Thx!
Unfortunately, there are no comprehensive crash test ratings for carseats like there are for new vehicles. Manufacturers generally self-certify to the minimum required government crash test standard, but as far as I know, the results are not required to be made public. Every legal car seat must pass to be certified for sale, but the actual injury measurements are generally not available. So, you can be sure it has met the federal safety standards, but beyond that, we can’t say if it is any safer or less safe than another carseat.
Just a quick comment for you about the tether length – we have tether extenders available if anyone runs into an issue with the tether length. Please contact our Customer Experience team at wayb.com for assistance.
Beth Warren, WAYB Safety Advocate
Will this work in a vehicle that predates the LATCH system AND does not have seatbelts that lock? We have an older vehicle we’d love to take our 3yr old in on special occasion drives but the seatbelts don’t lock.
Hi Jennifer! If the car has a latch plate (the male part of the buckle, essentially) that can slide along the belt, then you can install the Pico with a locking clip. The manual has a good description of the process!
We are trying to determine if it is safe, we followed all instructions but it seems to move more than an inch. What are we doing ñ wrong? We are trying to put it in a Honda Civic with the fixed headrests in the back….
I see your comment is over a year old, but the rest here are some 3 years old so doesn’t hurt to reply for the record. You probably aren’t doing anything “wrong” that you can change with a written explanation. There are two possibilities in your situation. One is simply that it won’t work. Not every car seat is compatible with every vehicle.
But the first step I’d suggest is to find a certified CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) in your area to help. I’m a former tech. We know little things to try to improve installation, and if they can figure out what is needed to get this seat tightly and safely installed in your car, they can then teach you what they did in your case. It can be particularly tricky to use a locking clip and get a tight install.
Some 20+ years ago there was a product made that was particularly difficult to install. It was the first ever seat that converted from harness to a booster, and in an era when car seat weight maximums were all just 40 lbs, it had higher top harness strap slots that would fit kids longer. In Canada the same seat was certified to 45 lbs, and the difference wasn’t in the seat but in crash test regulations. Canada has always required a top tether and used one in their crash tests, but in the US there was also the required test without a tether which it couldn’t pass over 40 lbs.
One day I was working a car seat checkup when a volunteer came and asked me if I could come try to get one in they were having trouble with. It was known that I owned one myself. So 120 lb, 5’4” me went and the 200 lb muscular firefighter stepped aside so I could try. And I got it tight in two minutes. It sure wasn’t a matter of strength! With a wiggle wiggle here, and a tug tug there and a pull pull here…I’d just gotten to know where the seat belt tended to resist being pulled tighter thru the belt path and adjusted those spots a little at a time.