Ditch the car seats?
What?!?!? Did I seriously just say that?? I tend to be Miss Safety, but seriously this product is changing how we do car safety around here, especially for traveling. Because it is SO much easier than hauling car seats.
This past December we traveled with 5 kids aged 8 and under to Alaska to visit my family. That’s 4 kids in 5-point harnesses. I don’t care how pro of a parent you may think you are, that’s a LOT of car seats to lug through four airports (we go with the cheap seats, folks!) I was scrambling to find a way to get us all safely and sanely there.
I consulted my friend (and expert), Sarah at Alaska Baby Rentals (THE best as far as testing and knowing their gear) and was told about the Ride Safer Travel Vest, a booster replacement for kids aged 3+ and weighing 30-80 pounds.
The vest meets or exceeds all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, is simple to use after a slight learning curve, is comfortable for the kids AND fits in a carry-on.
How Does it Work?
This was my first question, of course. Basically boosters are there to get kids higher so the seat belt hits them in the correct spot on their body. The vest just brings that seatbelt down to THEM and gets it in the correct spot.
The child puts the vest on (it does not need to fit tight like a 5-point harness), and then attaches the seat belt to it once they are in the car.
The vest comes in two different sizes, small and large. Both my boys are wearing a size large. J (almost 9) is about to max out the vest and P (age 6) has it cinched down as far as it will go. P is also wearing the optional crotch strap that helps keep it in place a bit better, especially for the littler ones.
Things to Know:
- You’ll notice in the photos there is some gap at their shoulders. This is totally fine and doesn’t compromise their safety.
- The vest itself doesn’t need to be super tight to be effective either. For a while J was velcroing his tight, and when he would sit down it would become uncomfortable. A little loosening totally fixed the problem.
- To open the clasp at the front of the vest, if you squeeze it together, it brings the rings together and releases the hold on the belt. This video is helpful.
- The bottom part of the vest should sit flat on their lap.
- You can also leave the vest attached to the seatbelt and have the kid unbuckle and leave it in the car. This is slightly faster once they master it.
What we love:
- Very easy to use
- Comfortable for the kids when fitted properly
- Very portable and easy to stuff in a bag for travel
- Great for carpool/switching between many vehicles
- A perfect second seat for much cheaper than most car seats
- Helps fit three kids across safely in any car
- Tether option available
What we aren’t so crazy about:
- If the waist belt is velcroed too tight (which actually isn’t necessary to be safe), it’s uncomfortable for the kids since it pushes on their belly.
- The buckles are made so they are hard for a kid to undo if you have one that would try to get out of it….and take a little bit to figure out for parents too!
Honestly, if I can keep my kid in a 5 point harness, I’ll do so until they just don’t fit it anymore. So, for my younger ones, this is a travel-only solution. However, for my oldest son who is too big for most boosters to fit him comfortably, but still isn’t quite in the perfect position for the seatbelt, this Ride Safer Travel Vest is a game-changer!
The vest is also perfect for people trying to fit three kids across in a car, especially helpful for rental cars when you really don’t know what you’re going to get!
Safe Ride 4 Kids generously provided us this gear in order to facilitate this review. However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own. A few of these links are affiliates. Thank you so much for clicking through them to make your purchases – it helps offset the cost of this blog in a (VERY VERY) small way!
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