As your child grows and her car seat starts to become too small, you may start asking yourself whether you need to purchase a booster seat for her. Many states require children to be in a booster seat until age eight. (Check out this guide to state-by-state child passenger laws by AAA.) Regardless of your state’s laws, it is always safer to keep a child in a safety restraint system until they are tall enough for the shoulder belt to fall comfortably across their chest. According to the CDC, booster seats are 45% more likely to protect children ages four to eight from serious injury than seat belts alone. You will want to move your child over to a booster seat once they have reached the maximum weight capacity for their car seat; for many car seats this is 40 pounds, but please check your user manual to see what the limit is for your car seat. High back booster seats, specifically those with a five-point harness system, are a very safe option for children in between fitting in their car seats and being tall enough for the built-in seat belt. They are similar to car seats in that they have a seat and a back that is placed in the vehicle’s seat and strapped in through the seat belt system. They’re a comfortable and secure choice for your precious cargo.
While we’re on the topic of safety, take a look at our top 10 best safety gates for stairs, meant to keep crawling babies and toddler safe from a dangerous tumble. And for bigger kids, make sure you check out the top 10 best potty training pants for toddlers and beyond.
Below I’ve broken down the top 10 best high back booster seats for cars. See which high back boosters have the best safety ratings and what other bonus features they offer.
1. Best High Back Booster for Easy Installation: Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight Combination Harness-2-Booster Car Seat
This car seat to booster seat will keep your kiddo safe from 25 pounds all the way up to 120 pounds! It has a nine-position harness and a two-position buckle for lots of buckling positions to fit kids of all different sizes safely. You can install this booster seat easily with click tight installation, simply by buckling the seat belt. This booster seat has complete side impact protection as well as a deep protective shell to absorb impact from crashes. The seat also has a front-adjust recline so you can alter the angle of the seat for your child’s comfort. The Britax Frontier has no rear-facing capability.
At $272, it is fairly expensive, but if you plan accordingly to use it as a car seat first, then as a booster, it can get you through many years. This model can be used either with the belt or the LATCH system. Due to its bulk and weight, this booster seat is not easily portable for travel. It does not convert to a backless booster seat.
Price: $272 (20 percent off MSRP)
- Works up to 120 pounds (after converting to seat belt mode)
- Two cup holders
- Ultimate impact protection
- Click tight installation system ensures that everyone can install the car seat securely and confidently by just buckling the seat belt
- More expensive
- No rear-facing capabilities
- Somewhat heavy at 25 pounds and not highly portable
- Does not convert to a backless booster
Find more Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight Combination Harness-2-Booster Car Seat information and reviews here.
2. Best Convertible High Back Booster: Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster
The Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster is a convertible harness to high back booster that also converts to a backless booster for extra versatility and portability. Because of the three different modes of use, this safety seat can accommodate children weighing from 22 pounds all the way up to 120 pounds. This seat has a three-position recline for your child’s comfort, though some consumers have reported the seat does not recline as much as expected. It also comes with an integrated cup holder and one-hand adjustable head rest. The Graco Nautilus has a five-point harness system for children on the smaller end of the spectrum, which works up until 65 pounds, so it is a great option if you want to keep your child in a five-point harness well after they grow out of their car seat.
This seat has no rear-facing capability, so you may want to stick with a standard car seat until your child is ready to forward face. Some consumers report minor issues with tightening the straps once the child is positioned in the seat, as well as that the seat pads tend to slip around and are not affixed as well as expected.
Price: $137.99 (19 percent off MSRP)
- Three-in-one harness to high back booster to backless booster
- Three-position recline for comfort of child
- Five-point harness system and side-impact testing for safety
- Works for kids weighing 22 to 120 pounds
- No rear-facing capability
- Some consumers report that tightening the straps is somewhat difficult
- Seat pads tend to slip around
- Some consumers report the seat does not recline as much as expected
3. Best Affordable High Back Booster: Evenflo Chase LX Harnessed Booster
The Evenflo Chase LX Harnessed Booster is a two-in-one combo five-point harness car seat and high back booster seat that supports and protects kids weighing 22 to 110 pounds. This booster/car seat is lightweight at just 11 pounds, and it comes equipped for the LATCH system, which allows for easy installation and transfer between vehicles. This product is designed and tested for side impact and structural integrity at energy levels about twice the Federal Crash Test Standards. The Evenflo Chase LX is very inexpensive at under $60. It comes equipped with integrated cup holders that do not interfere with installing multiple car seats. It even has a pillow seat that is removable and washable.
This booster seat does not have rear-facing capabilities. It has fewer harness positions than other car seat/boosters, and it does not recline. Some consumers have complained that the padding is not thick/soft enough for their kid to be comfortable.
- Two-in-one car seat to booster seats kids from 22 to 110 pounds
- Works with LATCH system for easy installation
- Seating pillow is removable and washable
- No rear-facing capability
- Fewer harness positions than other booster seats
- No recline positions
- Some consumers complain padding on seat is not thick enough
4. Best High Back Booster for Ultimate Safety: Recaro Performance High Back Booster Car Seat
The RECARO Performance High Back Booster Car Seat is another convertible car seat to booster that should work from 30 pounds to 120 pounds. It has racing-inspired full-body side impact protection with metal-reinforced side wings that are designed to protect each of the five vulnerable areas of a child in a side impact crash: the head, neck, face, torso and pelvis. The seating area is wide and deep for your child’s comfort, and the seating itself is made from Cloud Comfort memory foam. For additional comfort and safety, the head rest has 11 different positions. The seat fabric is temperature balancing.
This is an expensive product, but ratings are very high. This booster cannot be converted into a backless booster seat. This seat does not recline, and some consumers have complained that the cup holders are too small and due to the position, difficult for children to use on their own.
- Seating made with Cloud Comfort memory foam
- Quick-life 11-position head rest
- Luxurious, temperature balancing fabrics
- Seating area is wide and deep for extra comfort
- Cannot be converted into a backless booster seat
- Does not recline
- Cup holders are small and somewhat difficult for children to use
5. Best High Back Booster That Kids Can Buckle Themselves: Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat with Latch System
The Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat with Latch System keeps your child riding in high back booster seat mode from 30 to 100 pounds and from 38 to 57 inches tall. When your child is ready, it converts to a backless booster for children 40 to 100 pounds and from 40 to 57 inches tall, which makes it much more convenient for travel or switching between vehicles. This booster works with the LATCH system on your vehicle for added security. However, be warned that some consumers have reported that one side of the LATCH system can tend to get a little loose. This high back car seat has great back support. It has a unique front adjustment system that allows you to easily tighten the booster seat to the vehicle when it is in backless mode. It also has a self-buckling system for kids to help them develop their independence. The price is right at under $70 for a booster that will last up to 120 pounds and 57 inches, getting you through until your child is tall and large enough to be safely secured in a seat belt.
This booster is not convertible as a car seat and does not feature a five-point harness system; children must be at least 30 pounds to be safe in this booster. Some consumers have reported that the padding is not very thick/soft and that it is somewhat frustrating that the cup holder is only on one side of the seat and cannot be moved.
Price: $66.80 (16 percent off MSRP)
- Great back support
- Simple self-buckling system for kiddos
- Unique front adjustment allows you to quickly and easily tighten the backless booster seat to the vehicle
- Some consumers complain that one side of LATCH system gets a little loose
- Not for children under 30 pounds; not a harness-based car seat
- Padding on seat not very thick
- Cup holder on one side only
6. Best Lightweight High Back Booster: Diono Monterey XT High Back Booster Seat
The Diono Monterey XT High Back Booster Seat is a booster with extra-deep aluminum reinforced side walls and expanded polystyrene foam for maximum side impact protection. It is a lightweight booster seat (under 20 pounds) with a stylish design, and it comes in at just under $100. The seat is comfortable for kids, with adjustable width for shoulders and adjustable height for head support. The cup holders are seamlessly integrated into the design, and they retract when not in use.
Some consumers have reported this seat is somewhat difficult to clean, since the seat padding does not come off for washing. It is not a convertible five-point harness system, so children must be at least 40 pounds to safely use. One consumer reported not receiving any installation instructions with this product. Finally, some consumers report that the booster seat is somewhat bulky, and they cannot fit as many of them in their car as they would like.
Price: from $99.99
- Lightweight and stylish design
- Extra-deep aluminum reinforced side walls and EPS foam for maximum side impact protection
- Customizable and comfy seating, with adjustable width for shoulders, adjustable height for head support and retractable cup holders
- Affordable mid-range price
- Somewhat difficult to clean
- Not a convertible seat with harness; not for children under 40 pounds
- One consumers reports receiving no installation instructions
- Somewhat bulky
7. Best High Back Booster for Travel: Graco Highback Turbobooster Car Seat
The Graco Highback Turbobooster Car Seat is a great, inexpensive option for travel and carpooling. It’s a super lightweight booster seat, weighing in at just nine pounds. It does not work with the LATCH system and does not attach to the vehicle seat—you simply use the booster to raise your child’s height so that the seat belt fits around them safely and comfortably. Because of this, some consumers find it not to be as secure as they would like. This booster seat is safe for kids weighing 30 to 100 pounds; it is not a convertible car seat and does not have a five-point harness. It is very inexpensive at under $50.
Some consumers have complained that the cup holders are too small and shallow, making them difficult to use. Finally, some consumers have complained that the fabric tends to show stains easily and is difficult to clean.
Price: $43.69 (13 percent off MSRP)
- Converts to backless booster seat
- Super lightweight and portable at just nine pounds
- Safe for children weighing 30 to 100 pounds
- Does not attach to vehicle seat
- No five-point harness; not a convertible car seat
- Cup holders are too small
- Fabric shows stains easily and is difficult to clean
8. Most Comfortable High Back Booster: Britax Parkway SGL G1.1 Belt-Positioning Booster
The Britax Parkway SGL G1.1 Belt-Positioning Booster is a booster seat safe for children weighing 40 to 100 pounds. Although it is not a convertible car seat and does not have a five-point harness, it does attach to the lower LATCH connectors on vehicles, making it safe and secure in case of a crash. The booster utilizes Safecell protection with integrated absorbing foam on the sides, as well as impact absorbing through the durable base. The SecureGuard crotch strap helps to prevent internal injuries to the child’s abdomen in event of a crash. The seat is comfortable, featuring deep side and head wings for a cozy fit.
Some consumers have noted that this seat is narrower and shallower than other booster seats, making it not as comfortable for tall kids. This seat is a bit pricey at $128, though still within the mid-range of booster seat prices. It has no recline options. It features integrated, retractable cup holders.
Price: $128 (20 percent off MSRP)
- Safecell protection from impact with integrated absorbing foam on the sides and impact absorbing through the durable base
- Deep side and head wings for a comfortable fit
- SecureGuard crotch strap helps prevent internal injuries from the belt from sitting on the child’s abdomen
- Lower LATCH connectors to secure seat to vehicle
- Not a convertible car seat; children must weight at least 40 pounds to use safely
- No recline option
- Narrower and less deep than other booster seats
9. Best Adjustable Height High Back Booster Seat: Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster Car Seat
The Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster Car Seat is a super inexpensive booster seat (just $30.49!) that adjusts with your kid as she grows, adjusting to six different height positions. This high back booster converts to a backless booster for even more portability and convenience. Its slim design and light footprint (it weights just 8.2 pounds!) make it a great candidate for travel or carpooling. The fabric comes in a cool design that kids love, and the seat cover is removable and washable. This booster seat is safe for kids weighing 30 to 100 pounds (though because there is no five-point harness, you may want to wait until your child is larger to put them in this seat).
This booster seat does not attach using the LATCH system for extra security. Consumers have noted that the fabric is fairly thin and not comfortable for longer trips. Finally, some consumers have noted that this booster seat does not feel as sturdy as other boosters on the market.
Price: $32.99 (18 percent off MSRP)
- Converts to backless booster seat
- Height adjusts to six different positions for growing child
- Machine washable fabric in cool design
- No five-point harness
- Seat padding is fairly thin
- Doesn’t feel as sturdy as other booster seats
- Doesn’t work with LATCH system
10. Best All-Around High Back Booster: Britax Pioneer G1.1 Harness-2-Booster Car Seat
The Britax Pioneer G1.1 Harness-2-Booster Car Seat comes highly recommended by my personal network of moms, so it’s most likely the one I will purchase for my son when the time comes. (He weighs 38 pounds now, so will likely still fit in his current car seat for a few more months.) This is a two-in-one convertible car seat with a five-point harness and LATCH connectors that converts into a booster as your child grows. This booster seat isn’t messing around when it comes to safety: it contains SafeCell Impact Protection, which includes an impact-absorbing base, tether and harness, an impact-stabilizing steel frame and complete side impact protection. It also has a deep protective shell to absorb impact during a crash.
The quick-adjust eight-position harness and two-position buckles means this booster seat grows with your child, allowing them to ride in comfort. It also boasts a front-adjust recline for an extra level of comfort. This booster is somewhat expensive, at $184, but in my opinion well worth the price for the additional safety features. Consumers report that this particular model is somewhat difficult to install and transfer between cars; the Frontier is much easier. Finally, some consumers have reported a squeaking noise while the vehicle is in motion.
Price: $184 (20 percent off MSRP)
- Contains SafeCell Impact Protection, which includes an impact-absorbing base, tether and harness, an impact-stabilizing steel frame and complete side impact protection
- Front-adjust recline easily alters the seat angle for your child’s comfort
- Quick-adjust, eight-position harness and two-position buckle
- Connects with LATCH system
- Doesn’t convert to backless booster seat
- Somewhat difficult to install, transfer between cars
- Some consumers have reported a squeaking noise