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MadeForMums group editor Gemma tested this car seat with her 2-year-old son. It was installed in multiple cars and taxis, including a Vauxhall Golf and a BMW 3-Series, for journeys of varying lengths. It was also taken on two flights (as both hand luggage and hold luggage).
What were your first impressions of the RyRy Scallop car seat?
My first impression was that this was by far the smallest package I’ve ever seen a toddler car seat arrive in. We’ve tested a number of car seats over the last couple of years and this is a very different offering in terms of its portability. That said, even folded down with the straps and bag attached, it’s still a car seat, so I’d still consider it large and relatively heavy to carry. It weighs 9kg: very, very light for a car seat but still quite a lot to carry on your back. I was sceptical that this was something I could truly carry around on my back for long periods of time, but I was keen to put that to the test.
How easy is it to install?
One of the selling points of the RyRy Scallop is that it’s designed to be moved easily between vehicles. It has built-in Isofix connectors on the back that just need to be pushed and clicked into place, with green indicators to let you know when it’s fitted correctly. You then need to choose either the top tether or seatbelt fitting to complete installation. This does add to the time it takes to fit the seat, but ensures it is fitted safely and securely.
I chose to use the seatbelt fitting most of the time as this is the easiest to do from the passenger door of the car. The full installation procedure (from folded) is as follows:
- Unclip the folded seat, click into place and tuck away the elastics
- Release the Isofix “legs” from the back of the seat and pull a tab to lock them
- Position the Isofix connectors at the Isofix points on your car
- Push into place until they click and the buttons go green
- Remove the padding from the seat and unclip the seatbelt panel
- Thread the seatbelt through the panel, under 2 notches
- Thread the seatbelt under the guides and clip in place
- Ensure the seatbelt is tight and the seat is secure
- Close the seatbelt panel and replace the seat fabrics
There’s a video online to guide you through installation, and I did have to watch this a couple of times to get the hang of it. Once I was confident I had the knack, fitting the seat took me just a couple of minutes and I easily did it in an idling taxi.
How does the RyRy Scallop compare to other car seats for this age group?
The RyRy Scallop can be used from 15 months, with a height limit of 105cm and a weight limit of 18kg (around age 4). Price-wise, at £349 it sits towards the high end of the market, comparable to the Nuna Prym, Maxi Cosi Mica Pro Eco and the Joie i-Spin Safe. However, all those seats offer extended rear facing (ERF) up to age 4, thus have large bases and swivel capability. This seat is much smaller and lighter, but as a result of its compact build it is a forward-facing only seat, which will not suit everyone.
Once fitted, the seat takes up significantly less space on the back seat than something like a rotating car seat with a base, or even a front-facing Group 1/2/3 seat like the Joie Fortifi. We still found it a bit of a squeeze to get one toddler and two adults in the back of a car with the child in a window seat, but for journeys of under an hour we were comfortable enough. Due to its narrow design, this is one of few seats that will fit in a row of 3 across a back seat (provided there are Isofix points and appropriate belts or tether points in all positions).
This is by far the smallest and lightest toddler car seat I’ve come across. It folds in half to the size of a small suitcase, and has straps and a bag for travel. The only similar mass-market seat I’m aware of for this age group is the Maxi-Cosi Nomad (£150) but there is a key difference between the two: the Nomad is designed to be a travel seat for occasional use and Maxi-Cosi does not advise it’s used as a primary car seat, whereas the Scallop is intended for daily use as well as travel.
What are the key safety features of the RyRy Scallop?
The RyRy Scallop adheres to the most up-to-date EU standard, R129, which tests seats for rear and forward-facing collisions, and also side impact crashes. On either side of the seat you’ll find the side impact protection panels, which absorb shock in the event of a collision. The brand says, “The RyRy Scallop may be small and compact but that didn’t mean we were willing to compromise on safety.”
However, many parents do look for car seats that have undergone further testing beyond R129, such as the optional Swedish Plus Test, often called the “world’s toughest car seat test.” Currently, only rear-facing car seats have passed this test, so parents looking for that extra reassurance may wish to look at ERF seats.
How portable is the RyRy Scallop?
Although this is very compact for a car seat, you have to expect a certain size and weight. At 9kg it is half the weight of some toddler car seats, and only a couple of kilograms heavier than popular compact folding pushchairs like the Babyzen Yoyo2 or Bugaboo Butterfly. Once folded and secured, you pull over the “bag” (which actually is more like a cover) and click some shoulder straps into the back of the seat so can be worn like a backpack.
At first, I really wasn’t sure it was really a practical item to carry on my back for more than a few minutes, but I was pleasantly surprised once I got used to it. Although it’s bulky I wore it through the airport, often while also pushing my son in his pushchair, without any problems or back pain.
How easy is it to fold up?
Folding it back up is a simple process but it does take two hands to release the seat (you have to pull it forwards sharply to be able to fold it up). Once the seat is folded up it’s secured by two small elastics that hook together around the base. I must admit I did wish that these were thicker / stronger or had a better clip or fastener, but they seemed to do the job and hold the seat together, and being small they are easy to tuck away when not in use.
Can you really take it into the cabin of a plane?
You can take the seat on some flights as cabin baggage, but it’s not designed to be used as your child’s seat on the plane, it must be stowed. The dimensions of the car seat once folded and packed away are pushing the upper limits of cabin baggage, but I had no problem taking it on a plane and fitting it into the overhead lockers on a British Airways flight. RyRy advises that most larger airlines should accept it, but they do warn that budget ones will not.
On my return journey I asked to put it in the hold to see how it would cope with being thrown around by baggage handlers, and I’m happy to say it came out the other end without a scratch.
How comfortable did your baby/child find the RyRy Scallop car seat?
Although the compact design means certain comfort features – such as multiple reclines – are lacking in this seat, my son seemed very happy in it and seldom complained. The headrest is adjustable and the straps nicely cushioned. He fell asleep in it a number of times after busy days on holiday, and his head would occasionally slump forwards due to the lack of recline, but at his age (2 and a half at time of testing) this wasn’t too much of an issue.
The seat fabric is merino wool, which has temperature regulating qualities that really helped during warm weather, although it is a fabric that needs a bit of extra care and you must be careful of how you clean it (a simple wipe or sponge clean is best). The brand provides a little shaver to remove bobbles that may develop over time, which is a nice touch.
How easy is it to strap your child in and were the straps secure and easy to adjust?
The seat has the usual 5-point harness you’d expect in a toddler car seat, and it was very secure and as easy to fasten as other brands I’ve tried. The button to loosen the straps is accessible from the front of the seat rather than being hidden under a pocket or flap, which is something to note if you have a curious toddler – sometimes they will try and press this themselves, but thankfully my son hasn’t worked this out yet.
How robust does the seat feel?
Given the effort that’s been put into making this lightweight and portable, it still feels solid and well-built, and this was backed up when I put it in the hold of the plane and it came out in perfect condition. The fabrics are top notch and the whole design feels very stylish and high-end, there are even multiple fashion colourways you can purchase. This is, of course reflected in the price: the merino wool in particular is a luxury design choice.
Who would this car seat be most useful for?
This seat is designed for families for whom a more traditional fixed car seat with a heavy base is impractical. It would particularly suit urban families – even parents who don’t drive themselves – who need a portable solution that can be moved between cars and taxis. Obviously it’s also an amazing solution for any family that travels by plane a lot.
The founders of the company live in South West London and the seat was designed based on their own experiences of this kind of lifestyle. I’m also London-based, and although we have a car now we haven’t always, and my son is just as likely to be in his grandparents car or a taxi than he is with me. I can think of multiple occasions in the past when it would have been so handy to have this seat: I could have taken this on public transport then put it in a car at the other end, all while pushing my son in a pushchair, which would have made trips to visit family so much easier.
On holiday, it was a game-changer – you just don’t know what you’re going to be offered by a car rental company so knowing I had a car seat in the right size that I could fit safely myself was really reassuring. The seat complies to EU regulations so it’s legal to to use across Europe but do check if you’re going further afield – it’s not suitable for travel in the USA, for example.
This also offers flexibility as a day-to-day car seat for the short drives I tend to take. Families that use their cars more frequently for long journeys, overnight drives, on motorways and so on will probably prefer to have additional features like multiple reclines or extended rear-facing for more flexibility and reassurance, so this may not work as a primary car seat in those instances.
What’s in the box?
- 1 x RyRy Scallop car seat
- 1 x carry bag/cover
- 2 x shoulder straps
- 1 x bobble remover
Now you’ve tested it, what would you have wanted to know before purchasing the RyRy Scallop car seat?
Mostly, that it really is as portable as it claims to be. I was very sceptical when I first saw the size, but once I actually started using it I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to carry around. It’s not something you’ll want to wear on your back for a long walk, but for getting between vehicles and modes of transportation, or through an airport, it was fine, and worth the bulk for the convenience.
I also think a lot of emphasis is put on this seat and its portability for travel, but it’s worth noting it can also be used at home as a day-to-day car seat to get more value for money, depending on your lifestyle and specific needs.
Where can I buy the RyRy Scallop car seat?
This well-made car seat offers flexibility and portability for families who travel and/or use multiple cars and taxis. It’s a smart innovation designed to tackle an issue a lot of families face, particularly those living in urban settings. However, it lacks some of the added features of “static” car seats and will not be suitable for all lifestyles: it is definitely one of those products that you’ll know instantly is right or wrong for you. It performed well in our travel tests, in both the cabin and the hold, offering convenience and reassurance when driving abroad.
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Dimensions & Weight
|Child age (approx)||From 15 months|
|Child weight||Up to 18kg|
|Child Height||76cm to 105cm|
|Car seat installation||Isofix connectors|
|Travel system compatible||No|
|Side crash protection||Yes|