The Safety 1st onSide Air is a lightweight and compact convertible car seat with a low price tag. How does it compare against other reasonably priced car seats? Continue reading for my full review.
The big safety feature being advertised with this seat is “Air Protect.” This is Safety 1st’s side impact protection, and it’s a welcome addition to bargain-priced seat. It does add some peace of mind over entry level seats such as the Cosco Scenera.
Aside from the side impact protection, you won’t see any advanced safety features, which has a lot to do with the price. However, this seat meets NHTSA standards just as every other seat available on the market does.
Weight and Dimensions
Depth: 17 inches – The depth of the onSide Air is less than that of most seats on the market. This means it won’t take away from the leg room of passengers seated up front, making it great for compact cars.
Width: 17.5 inches – The width is also one of the narrowest available, again being great for smaller cars.
Height: 26.5 inches – In terms of height, the onSide Air is about average. It sits fairly high given its relatively low height limit. This can be a plus if you’d otherwise find yourself bending over a bit to put your child in a seat. The overall height is still short enough that it doesn’t greatly impact rear visibility for the driver.
Weight: 12 pounds – This is also a pretty lightweight car seat, making it good for travel or as a spare seat that you move around from car to car.
This seat’s instruction manual is fairly well laid out. The pictures are pretty accurate, but some of the wording can be confusing.
The seat uses a flip-down recline stand which isn’t quite as sturdy as the rotating bases used in more pricey car seats. Since there are only two positions for the angle adjustment, it may be necessary to use a pool noodle or rolled up towel to get the proper incline angle. There are level lines on the sides of the seat rather than a more helpful bubble level, but again that is a feature mostly found in $200+ car seats.
For the LATCH system, this seat has a pair of hooks with an adjuster rather than the nicer one-piece LATCH connectors found on some seats. You’ll need to route the LATCH hook through the belt path in the seat which takes a bit of work.
For both LATCH and seat belt installation, getting the straps tight enough can be a little tricky. You may need to put your knee in the seat and put your weight on it when installing forward facing to get a snug fit. Overall, it’s not the easiest seat out there to install, but it’s as good as anything in this price range.
The onSide Air can be used rear facing up to 40 pounds. That’s great for a seat well under $100 and matches the limit of many seats costing three times as much. Though this seat is rated for children as small as 5 pounds, it doesn’t offer an infant insert, so it doesn’t offer a very snug fit for newborns. If you’re moving on to this from an infant car seat, this won’t apply.
When used forward-facing, this seat has limits of 40 pounds and 43 inches. These are pretty low limits, so plan to move on to a booster seat once it is outgrown. It’s a more compact seat than some so it just doesn’t have as high of a back and as many harness positions as larger seats do. These are tradeoffs for a smaller seat which frees up more space in your car.
There are a total of four shoulder harness adjustment positions which give a good range of adjustment up until the height limit of 43” is reached. Another welcome adjustment is the three different buckle positions. You will need to rethread the harnesses to reposition them, which takes a minute or two but is pretty easy.
As noted earlier, there is just one recline position and it may be necessary to add a pool noodle or rolled up towel to get just the right angle.
Fabric and Design
This seat is quite comfortable with good quality fabric. The cover takes a bit more work than some to remove. It can be washed in soapy water by hand, but it’s not machine washable.
Warranty and Customer Service
This seat has a 1 year warranty which is standard for the car seat industry. Customer service is handled by Dorel Juvenile Group, which has mixed reports in their helpfulness. If support is very important to you, going with a Graco seat for a bit more money may be worthwhile.
Every car seat is given an expiration date, after which point it’s no longer safe to use the seat. This seat has a 6-year expiration date, which is typical of seats in this price range; no better, no worse.
This seat comes with a very reasonable price tag. While it’s not quite as cheap as Cosco brand seats or the Evenflo Tribute 5 DLX, it does offer additional side impact protection. This is still one of the most affordable seats available and it’s good for its price tag.
The onSide Air includes a removable cup holder, which is always a welcome addition. The cup holder does tend to fall off a bit easily, so I only recommend it for spill-resistant cups.
Safety First doesn’t offer any accessories for their car seats, such as travel bags or seat protectors. However, there are many universal products out there made by other brands that will work.
- Side impact protection
- Compact and lightweight
- Rear facing up to 40 pounds
- Comfortable fabric
- Good value
- Setting recline angle may require pool noodle/rolled up towel
- Low forward facing weight and height limits
- Cup holder doesn’t lock in place
While there are several areas where this seat could be improved, the same can be said for any reasonably-priced car seat. Overall, the onSide Air is one of the best values out there. It’s a very lightweight and compact seat which makes it a good choice for a budget travel seat or a spare for the grandparents’ car. It’s also a good choice as a main car seat when space in your vehicle is limited.