We transported our son in an infant car seat from the time he was just a newborn. Recently, however, he has gotten a lot bigger, and it is a pretty daunting task to lug him around like we did when he was much smaller. This reality motivated us to look for a different car seat.
We have heard all the horror stories of parents having to buy new car seats every couple of months or years. You need an infant car seat, you need a rear-facing car seat, you need a forward-facing car seat, and you need a booster seat! It’s enough to induce a panic attack in even the calmest of parents. As you might imagine, we were thrilled to be offered the opportunity to try out an all-in on option: the Diono Rainier.
The most important feature for us was safety and with that criteria we quickly did some research. Diono has a great track record on safety (especially for side impact), which makes that its major selling point. As a nervous mother, that was enough to put my mind at ease.
The Diono Rainier came with minimal assembly required. We noticed that the manual instructions require a few steps, but nothing that wasn’t easy to figure out. The car seat comes with an attachable cup holder that can be placed on different sides on the unit. Our biggest complaint with the whole seat (if this even counts as a complaint) is that we have had trouble making sure the cup holder is secure. Our son likes to grab it and is able to pull it out of the seat. This is a minor issue.
The operation of the car seat itself is simple. The seat comes equipped with the LATCH system, so it easily hooked into our car. We set up the seat for rear-facing, so we attached a piece to the bottom of the seat (this piece comes with the car seat) that creates the proper recline angle. The Rainier allows passengers to remain rear-facing from 5 to 50 pounds (wow!). When we turn the car seat around (for passengers 20 to 90 pounds), we will simply remove this attachment.
Changing the height of the headrest (there are 12 positions available) is done by simply pulling up or pushing down. You can also easily adjust the height of the harness straps (there are five shoulder and three buckle positions) with a few easy steps. Finally, getting our son in and out of the seat is no problem, and the harness straps tighten without any issue.
The car seat itself is pretty slender and doesn’t take up a lot of space in the car. I think occasional backseat passengers (who aren’t in the car seat) will appreciate not having to feel like they’re wedged up next to it. We did notice that the seat doesn’t have any sides to it, which is most notable when our son drops a toy and it instantly rolls out. We have seen other car seats that “contain” a little bit more. That said, the lack of sides will probably be nice when the seat is converted to a booster seat (for passengers 50 to 120 pounds).
We recently went on a trip that required air travel. The Diono Rainier has a great feature that allows the seat to fold up which makes the unit much smaller and easier to carry. We also noticed that accessory straps are available that allow you to carry the seat like a backpack. My husband is really interested in these since the seat is on the heavier side (thanks to all those great safety features!). That said, traveling with the seat was easy. We were able to install it in our rental car in just a couple minutes and had no issues quickly folding the seat and transporting it through the airport. I read that the seat is also FAA approved if you want to set the seat up on the plane, but we didn’t do that (lap baby all the way!).
Overall, we are very pleased with Diono Rainier. You can clearly tell that the car seat is well made and able to stand up to all that kids will throw at it. It is a higher end seat in terms of price, but the value is clearly there with the exceptional safety rating and the fact that the seat converts all the way up to a booster seat. It might just be the last car seat you ever have to buy!
- Easy to assemble
- Can fold car seat completely flat to cart around.
- Airplane approved
- Converts to booster seat
- Easy material to wipe away messes and easy to remove upholstery to put in wash
- Good side impact protection
- Very easy release latch (not button) to release the five-point latch system; makes it easy for larger hands
- Easy to tighten straps when rear facing… a problem we ran into with other car seat
- Very solid
- Good packaging and easy to install
- Cup holder comes out very easily and our son is taking it out constantly to chew on or throw across the back seat
- No sides to car seat, so toys are lost frequently
- Can’t change recline angle
To buy: us.diono.com