Customer Reviews: J.L. Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag
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on May 7, 2009
JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag

We love this back pack car seat bag and now own 2 of them. The bags have been through many trips and have held up very well. The bag fits many different types of carseats -- including our Graco infant seat & base and also our Britax car seat for the older child. It's pretty comfortable to carry on your back and wheel the rest of your luggage. When I was pregnant with our 2nd child, my husband put the back pack on and a baby carrier on the front. Both made getting through the airport escalators, etc. very easy. We don't use strollers on trips -- it's easier to travel without them.

Mom tip -- I like to use a clear zip bag (like the one you get when you buy a comforter or similar) to stow all their clothes, diapers, etc. in the same piece of luggage with the car seat. That way if they inspect that piece of luggage, they can see everything through the clear plastic & don't have to go through it quite as much (I also put small stuff in ziploc bags just in case they do so that they won't lose the pacifiers, etc.). Also, if you're going to put clothes in with the carseats, it's a lot easier to use a separate bag that you can quickly throw in on top of the car seat & take out as you're going to/from the airport.

Just make sure the backpack doesn't get too heavy because we've had to repair one of the bags after overloading it on several trips. Now we put anything heavy (like a Costco size can of formula) in our luggage. It's also smart not to weigh yourself down too much since you're carrying it on your back. I agree with one of the other reviewers -- the center of gravity is a little odd because of the car seat so it is possible to get off balance if you bend over to do something with it on your back so be careful!
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on January 4, 2013
We use this product with our Chicco Keyfit 30 infant car seat. The car seat fits in this backpack. The best way to put the car seat into the backpack (in our opinion) is have the car seat attached to the base, and put the base along the side that will be alongside your back. When closing the zippers around the car seat, we find it to be a snug fit at two points, but it still closes without any issues (no breakage, no zipper damage).

So here's the good points that we like about this car seat travel bag. It can hold a lot more stuff than just the car seat. We stuff a lot of additional things into this bag, it's crazy. The trick we find is to put the additional items into soft bags (plastic bags or those eco-friendly grocery bags), because the additionals would be easier to remove and replace during the security check at the airport. Rather than taking out additional items one by one, just having a bag or two to remove works better.

The last time we traveled, we had just north of 35 lbs of stuff in it (car seat included), and the travel bag worked fine.

So far, we've traveled a few times with it without a problem. We've gate-checked the bag twice, and we've counter checked-in the bag twice. One travel was on an international flight. Our last travel where we checked-in the travel bag unfortunately involved a layover and a flight transfer (so it was handled a lot), but the bag held up fine. From all of these travels, we haven't had any damage to our travel bag or to the car seat inside. I was a bit concerned during the times we decided to check in the travel bag at the airport counter (less for me to carry to the gate), but everything turned out fine.

Being able to toss extra stuff into this thing then gate-check it is really nice. It really expands the amount of stuff you can bring with you and not have to check in (then retrieve at baggage claim). Nowadays, it seems like the overhead compartments are smaller and smaller, and the airlines really wants travelers to check in as much of their luggage as possible at the counter. We can use smaller carry-on items (or smaller pullmans), and stuff the travel bag with items that we don't need during the flight (no liquids no sharps, of course). We (I) carry the thing on my back all the way down the jetway then hand it off by the airplane door, and the airline will stow the travel bag with the rest of the luggage during the flight. When we arrive and deplane, the travel bag is waiting for us at the jetway. Gate check-in. Never did it before, but now a big fan of it.

Another bonus feature of this style of bag is that it's a backpack. Having arms and hands free to carry or to address other stuff (a child about to knock something over, for example) is nice. It's not easy to spin 360° with it on or do the tango with it, but there is still plenty of movement possible. Hand and arms free though is key. Just be careful not to hit anybody with the bag when turning or when say, in an elevator.

We kept the plastic bag that it came in (which is zippered shut). When we are not using the travel bag, we pack it up, keep it in the plastic bag, and then just store it in the closet.

Overall, we like this product very much. No damage and no zipper problems. No rips (so far, knock on wood). Hands-free. Arms-free. Convenient extra space for gate checks. Works well with the Chicco Keyfit 30.

(Not sure how it will hold up with other car seats. Maybe other car seats are too big and bulge out the zipper too much?)
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on July 15, 2013
I purchased this car seat cover for my "round two" of travel/flying solo with my Tiny Tot. Round one I learned a few things and I changed up my styles bit for this one. I have two pictures also posted above regarding the tight squeeze of zipping my seat in and a smart/space saving packing tip.

I have an Evenflo Symphony 65 e3 All-In-One Convertible Car Seat and it ALMOST didn't fit. Let me say this, if you do have two car seats I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you Pre-pack the one you're traveling with at Home. I did a test run of my seat in our house and thankfully I did because it put up a fight! I had to squeeze and tweek the seat adjustments of my chair by raising the head rest and pullinh the zippered pieces together so that it could fit the contours of the stitching of the bag (insert "...Fat man in a Little Coat.."). I would have hated to attempt to bag my car seat at a busy airport traveling solo with a mobile infant. At home he could walk around, etc. in the confines and I didn't have to worry about him being kidnapped (seriously, it could happen), wandering off, hit by a car at passenger drop off/parking lot.

Once your car seat is packed (depending on the size) and on your back you are a walking barge, keep that in mind so you don't bump yourself into something/one. I'm a 5'4"/140lbs female and I could carry my seat on my back, you'll look like a pack mule but it can be done (remember you're only carrying it to baggage check!).

*HIGHLY SUGGESTED* *Smart/Space-saving Packing Tip* If you're traveling with bulky diaper, wipes, extra blankets, etc. all the Extras kids come with use the plastic zipper bag the seat is packaged, place those bulky items in there, and put them in the car seat before you zip it up! This saved so much space in my personal luggage. Additionally, God forbid, if your zipper breaks (mine has not, but we have only used it for One round-trip flight so far) your items are secured in the bag! They won't fly all over the place and get randomly lost! Also, as seen above, the bag is CLEAR, if TSA needs to check your seat for security measures, it's easy for them to see what you have and again, your stuff won't fall out and get lost!

UPDATE: 3/30/14
I had to bump this review up to five stars. I have now traveled with this protective bag on many flights over the past year. There is one area on the bottom that's starting to show wear but that's what's to be expected after 5-6 round trip flights. I'm no longer stuffing the inside seat area due to our boy getting older and requiring less excess stuff (diapers, a million bath toys, wipes, etc) and that has tremendously assisted in this bag zipping much easier. The airline counter employees compliment the bag due to it making handling much easier. It makes solo travel easier also.
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on December 29, 2011
I am so happy with this purchase! We have used this carrier with a Britax Marathon car seat on 8 flights so far and it is so durable I foresee it lasting for the life span of this car seat at least. My husband and I have taken turns wearing the carrier on our backs through the airports and we have also checked the whole thing as well.

I do not trust car rental car seats and always prefer to take our own, I like that once you get past security you can pack whatever you want into this bag, gate check it (for free on almost all airlines) and get a few more items in without these ridiculous baggage fees. Great for coats, etc. The carrier is a snug fit on our Britax, but it fits perfectly, just requires some patience when zipping up. Most airports made us take it out to go through security but it was not a big deal.

The only downfall is that you may feel a bit silly walking around with this giant mound on your back, but we have passed several couples with the same thing in airports and it is totally worth it.

The carrier is comfortable for me to wear on my back, but was heavy for me to carry by hand (my husband was OK with it). I would usually put my daughter in an Ergo Baby carrier on my front and this car seat carrier on my back (see photo I attached to the product page) and we pile the rest of our bags into her stroller and go. I feel the padding helps protect the car seat from any less than gentle baggage handlers.

The one thing I have not yet tried is carrying this on the plane to install the car seat on a plane seat, but I will be attempting this in a few weeks so I will report back.

I am glad I went with this model as I choose a cheaper route with our stroller bag and have regretted that (cheap red one).
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on April 15, 2009
LOVE this car seat bag!

Fits Britax Marathon convertible seat (which we love) perfectly, plus I can fit a few other items on the seat and still zips up without any problems, which is great for airline travel!

Before, I used it for a rear facing infant seat (baby trend flex-loc) plus the base when traveling by air, and that worked wonderfully as well! With the smaller infant seat, I could actually fit about 60 diapers, plus a small bag for all my baby's clothes for the trip, some toys, blankies AND still had room! I didn't even really need an additional bag for her! I think I may have packed some items in my own suitcase that were hers, but I always pack way more than I ever need.

Also great because airlines do not charge luggage fees for baby items such as car seats or play yards!! Woohoo! A way to beat the system and save some cash while on vaca, folks!

Love that this bag is padded - you spend a lot of money on a good car seat and you want it protected while in the care of luggage handlers.

Straps are easily adjustable.

Never had a problem with the zipper, which surprised me, but it is actually quite sturdy.

Has been through many trips and has zero wear! Tough fabric!

Love the spot on top to put your information on it.

It is a little awkward to have on your back and it does bump you in the back of the legs, but I am also short at 5 feet 2 inches, so maybe a taller person wouldn't have that problem. I thought about getting one with wheels, however, I would already be pushing a stroller with my daughter in it and wheeling a bag or two of my luggage so I didn't want yet another thing to roll around.

It does get a little heavy on your back as well, but once again, I'm short and a very petite weakling so for an average person, I think it'd be fine! Also, keep in mind that you probably won't have it on your back for long if you're checking it with your other luggage. If you plan on gate checking it...Well, I think I would just recommend checking it with your other luggage!! If you're set on carrying the seat on, I recommend getting one of the attachments to turn the convertible carseats into a stroller so you don't have to carry it on your back while carrying your baby/toddler eht entire time, or for an infant seat just bring your stroller system or a stroller that the carseat plops on top of like the Baby Trend Snap N Go since it's lightweight, easy to use, and has decent room for storage underneath. I still highly recommend just checking the carseat and if your child is 1 and up, get the CARES Harness for the airplane ride. It rocks and makes traveling so much easier, more relaxing, than lugging all kinds of stuff around on top of chasing a toddler or hauling all their stuff like a pack mule.

Would be great if it came in a few other colors, but black is fine, and it doesn't show dirt so that works for me. I just put a bright colored ribbon, bandanna, or unique luggage tag somewhere for easy identification. (Of all luggage, I do not want my child's carseat to be accidentally grabbed by someone else!)

When I'm not traveling, I use it to store our infant car seat and base, keeping it looking great and protecting it for future use.

Take it from a frequent traveler, the bottom line is this bag is awesome!

We've had this car seat bag for over 2 years now and it's still doing a great job!
Most recently, on a trip to Phoenix from St. Louis, the zipper did pop open very slightly, however no items came out. I was concerned about it for the flight back home, but the zipper stayed shut, so I'm assuming it was an airline personnel grab that popped the zipper.
I'm still amazed at the durability of the fabric and padded sections. Very easy to get seat in and out. My only issue with it is it's very large and since it's padded (which I love), it's hard to get it to a more compact size while on vacation. Usually just leave it in the trunk or stash it in a closet so it's not a huge deal, but just kinda bugs me.

****** ANOTHER UPDATE!! 12/2012 ********
We've had the bag for a loooong time now. Have used it from the infant seat to the Britax Marathon and now she is 5 years old and we just bought the Britax Frontier 85 - FITS PERFECTLY in this bag! I am thrilled!!!! (If you have a Britax Frontier 85 Sict, however, I do not believe it would fit in this bag, but the original Frontier 85 fits great!)
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on October 1, 2013
Our car seat is a Britax B-Safe. The car seat DID fit without the base, but we decided against bringing the base. There was tons of empty room in the bag with the car seat in it and another review had suggested we use that empty space to put all our consumable baby items in there, using the bag it came in. This was a fantastic suggestion. There was plenty of room to fit all the baby food, diapers, formula, baby life vest, and some other items in the bag for our full week-long trip (Cruise) where we had to pack everything.

The back-pack straps made carrying it much easier when we had to, though we opted to check at the counter and use our harness to carry the baby instead.

The first set of flights out (United), the bag survived with no damage and we picked it up at the oversize baggage area. Keep that in mind as it was in a separate area than the regular baggage and we had to look for it. We changed planes and it was international, so that says good things about the durability.

On the return trip, we changed planes (Virgin America), but there was some damage to the bottom of the bag. From the looks of it, the damage is scuffing, as if it was dragged by the handle. I took pictures of the scuffing and posted them on here. The other tear looks like it got caught on something, either coming out of a vehicle or the plane. We didn't notice it until it got home, don't know if we can blame it on the airline or night.

I'd buy this bag again. It was much less than the form-fitting one from Britax and had extra room for more things. I'm debating whether I want to reinforce the bottom with some other material so that it won't scuff and tear so easily, or if I want to upgrade to the one with a plastic base and wheels.

There were a lot of folks who had issues with the zippers. I could see very easily how if the zippers had a lot of stress on them they would pop out and become useless very quickly. It isn't so much that the zippers are cheap as there is a lot of material they are holding onto and a lot of surface area to pull back. A better design may have been to have fold-over snaps to give the zipper some more support so that it doesn't pull out. I also fully believe that stuffing extra stuff into the bag to fill it out made a huge difference on it staying together.

All in all, it saved the carseat from damage, gave me more room to pack things in a bag that is considered "free" by the airlines, and wasn't quite as hard to carry around as I had anticipated. The bag is ginormous, so expect to get some looks from folks, but it is much better than a destroyed car seat when you get where you are going.
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on August 19, 2008
Our Ultimate bag has survived multiple trans-Atlantic flights and 6+ Caribbean/European/US domestic flights per year since 2004 (it's now Aug. 2008). It has a few rips which are completely the fault of the airline (one looks like an actual knife cut it), which I've mended with duct tape, and still it keeps going. I absolutely cannot recommend it enough for its durability. By comparison, we purchased a 'cheap' alternative last year for our 2nd child. That thing was absolutely destroyed in one single trip overseas. The Ultimate Travel Bag is head and shoulders above its competition. I CANNOT RECOMMEND IT HIGHLY ENOUGH. If you want something with wheels - I see that's an alternate model now. I would warn, however, the "other" bag we bought, it had wheels - and those were the first things the airlines popped off.
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on December 11, 2014
There were several reviews that say this bag will not fit the Chicco NextFit. Well mine was just delivered and I just tried it out… And it does fit. It's a very tight fit and the zipper seems a bit stressed, but it definitely closed. I took the advice of a previous commenter and used seat position 6. I am slightly concerned about the zipper holding up through travel, but we are going to give it a try. If it breaks on our trip I will update this review.
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on August 2, 2015
I bought this nearly four years ago and we've traveled, checking it on the airplane, probably two dozen times. It's held up perfectly and has been great. You would think it would be unwieldy to carry on your back, but it actually is pretty easy and as comfortable as carrying a 20+lb carseat can be. I've used it for a Chaperone, a Boulevard and a Frontier (all Britax) seat at different times and they all fit. I recommend it to all my parent friends and would absolutely buy it again.
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on November 10, 2009
While we have not yet been able to travel with it...that is still a few weeks away. We really like the sturdy material and padding. The biggest plus we found is that it still fits the Britax Advocate CS car seat...which is a few inches wider than most because of the side impact protection. I wanted to make sure that other people who may have the advocate CS saw this info. I'll update my review after I travel with it.
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