Best Rear-Facing Only Infant Car Seats 2021

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Expert Recommended Infant Carseats for 2021-2022

CarseatBlog helps you find the best carseat for you! Below you’ll find the complete list of our recommendations for 2021-2022 for Rear-facing Only Infant Car Seats. The selection criteria are based on multiple factors, including our extensive hands-on experience installing and using each seat as well as the competition in each category and price point. We do not separate this list by price; however, our top picks in each budget category can be found in our Editors’ Picks section. This article gives you some background to these recommendations for what we feel will be the safest rear-facing only car seats in many situations. If you’ve found this resource to be helpful, please consider purchasing through our affiliate links or from our exclusive DEALS TRACKER page. This supports CarseatBlog’s mission to deliver the most professional carseat reviews and child passenger safety resources.

Rear-facing only infant seats typically have a base that stays in the vehicle although most (but not all) models can also be installed without the base. This type of carseat is rear-facing only and is highly portable. Almost all babies will outgrow the infant seat by height before reaching the weight limit. You can purchase extra bases to use in other vehicles if that suits your needs.

Chicco KeyFit 30 & KeyFit 35

KeyFit 30 Features: 4-30 lbs.; up to 30″ tall; 3 sets of harness slots; 1 buckle position; 5-position adjustable base; unique center-pull lower LATCH anchor tightening adjustment; premium push-on lower anchor connectors; lockoffs for easy seatbelt installations; EPS foam; newborn insert (4-11 lbs. only); handle can be in any position during travel

KeyFit 35 Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 5-position no-rethread harness, 1 buckle position; 6-position adjustable base with anti-rebound bar; unique center-pull lower LATCH anchor tightening adjustment; premium push-on lower anchor connectors; lockoffs for easy seatbelt installations; European beltpath routing option when installed without base; EPS foam; newborn insert (4-11 lbs. only); handle can be in any position during travel

Drawbacks: KeyFit 35 offers a no-rethread harness (which is great) but this feature adds a little bit of extra weight to the carrier making KF35 weigh about 8 oz. more than KF30 model.

Our comments: Both models fit preemies equally well. KeyFit 35 will last longer before being outgrown. Both models are very easy to install in a variety of vehicles using either lower LATCH anchors or seatbelt. Easy to attach and detach carrier from base. You can never go wrong with a KeyFit but be aware that there is a Chicco KeyFit 22 model for sale which is less expensive but has a maximum weight limit of 22 lbs. We have a full review of KeyFit 30.

 

Clek Liing

Features: 4-32 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 3 sets of harness slots; 1 buckle position; unique 7-position adjustable base with load leg; rigid lower LATCH connectors; belt-tensioning lockoff for easy seatbelt installations; energy-absorbing EPP foam; 2-piece newborn insert; SPF 100+ canopy; allows European beltpath routing when installed without base; 9-year lifespan before expiration; Merino wool fashions are free of all fire-retardant chemicals.

Drawbacks: Most vehicles don’t have dedicated lower LATCH anchors for the center seating position (although there are a few that do). Just be aware that if you plan to install this seat with LATCH, that you will most likely need to install in an outboard (near the door) seating position. You can still install Liing in the center seating position, but most likely you will need to install the base with seatbelt. Not a big deal since Liing has a nice tensioning lockoff for seatbelt installation, but something consumers should be aware of. Also, the carrier is heavy. At 10+ lbs., Liing is heavier than most other infant car seats.

Our comments: Load leg vastly improves crash protection. Once you’ve read the manual, Liing is relatively easy to install in a variety of vehicles using rigid lower LATCH connectors. Easy seatbelt installation with tensioning lockoff. Harness adjuster is smooth and very easy to tighten straps. Fits preemies and small newborns well. Instruction manual says handwash or spot clean only but website FAQ clarifies that machine washing in cold water using a front loader on delicate cycle is acceptable.  See Our full review of the Clek Liing.

 

Evenflo LiteMax DLX

LiteMax DLX Features: 3-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 5-position no-rethread harness, 3 buckle positions; 4-position adjustable base with load leg; push-on lower anchor connectors; tensioning lockoff for easy seatbelt installations; dual-zone recline angle indicator; European beltpath routing option when installed without base; EPS foam; newborn insert; handle can be left up in vehicle; lightweight carrier.

Drawbacks: If LiteMax is installed in an outboard seating position, Evenflo requires 1.5″ of space between the carseat and the vehicle’s front seat. Also, travel system stroller compatibility is currently limited to Evenflo strollers.

Our Comments: Evenflo is the first to offer the exceptional safety benefits of load leg technology on an affordable infant car seat. Between the safety features, the ease of installation, and the harness fit, it’s a great value for parents who are looking for premium safety features without the premium price tag. Also a good fit for preemies. See our full review of LiteMax DLX.

 

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35SnugRide SnugLock 35 Platinum/Elite

 

SnugLock 35 Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 4 harness height positions; 2 buckle positions; SnugLock base which also acts as a lockoff for seatbelt installations; basic hook-style LATCH connectors; EPS foam; handle can be in any locked position during travel, allows European beltpath routing when installed without the base.

Platinum/Elite Features:  4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; premium SnugLock DLX base which also acts as a lockoff, 15-position no-rethread harness, visor extension on the canopy, rapid-remove cover for easy cleaning, allows European beltpath routing when installed without the base. Platinum XT model comes with cold-weather boot.

Drawbacks: The Platinum model has all the bells and whistles but the tradeoff is that makes the carrier heavier than the more basic SnugLock model.

Our comments: The SnugLock Platinum model comes with the premium SnugLock DLX base that we prefer but the regular SnugLock model is lighter and offers a better value. Both models are easy to install and both fit preemies and small newborns well. Both also have a tall shell so they fit older babies and smaller toddlers well. See our full review of the SnugRide SnugLock 35.

 

Nuna PIPA rx

Features: 4-32 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 3 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle position; updated RELX base with load leg; rigid lower LATCH connectors; lockoff for easy seatbelt installations; EPS foam & memory foam; 2-piece newborn insert; UPF 50+ canopy with “Dream Drape”; handle can be in any position during travel; allows European beltpath routing when installed without base, all 2020 Nuna car seat covers are free of fire-retardant chemicals.

Drawbacks: Most vehicles don’t have dedicated lower LATCH anchors for the center seating position (although there are some that do). Just be aware that if you plan to install this seat with LATCH, that you will most likely need to install in an outboard (near the door) seating position. You can still install Pipa in the center position, but most likely you will need to install the base with the seatbelt. Not a big deal since the Pipa base has a nice lockoff but something consumers should be aware of.

Our comments: Load leg vastly improves crash protection. Super easy to install in a variety of vehicles using rigid lower LATCH connectors. Easy seatbelt installation with lockoff. Harness adjuster is smooth and very easy to tighten straps. Fits preemies and small newborns well. The “Dream Drape” feature is amazing. We have a full review of Nuna PIPA.

 

UPPAbaby Mesa

Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; no re-thread harness with 5 height positions; 2 buckle positions; adjustable base with tension indicator and auto-retracting lower LATCH connectors; lockoff for easy seatbelt installations; EPS foam; integrated canopy made with SPF 50 material; handle can be in any position during travel

Drawbacks: No-rethread harness design lacks a splitter plate so it may not be possible to replace the harness straps down the road if you wanted to do that. Carrier is on the heavy side but that’s the tradeoff for a seat with bells and whistles.

Our comments: MESA is packed with safety and convenience features and is compatible with UPPAbaby Vista & Cruz strollers. The base is a breeze to install with lower LATCH connectors. Seatbelt install is also easy thanks to lockoff on base. This model fits preemies and small newborns well. The Henry & Jordan fashions are made with merino wool and are free of added flame-retardant chemicals. MESA has a 3-year warranty with product registration. See our complete UPPAbaby MESA review.

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