A while back, we said we’d be picking up the Ride Safer Travel Vest (about $120 — careful, that link has really annoying music) for H and promised to report back. We got it, and then it sat around not getting used for a long time (nine months or so). Hence, no report. But finally, we gave it a workout this fall, first on a trip H took with Grandma, and then on a trip to visit my family in Denver.
At first, we really thought we hit the jackpot. The travel vest was a carseat without being a seat! No big plastic thing to lug to the car! We could pack it in a suitcase! We were home free!
It was indeed very light, very portable, and just hangs in the closet out of the way most of the time since it it’s hardly ever in use. I practically forgot we owned it for the first 9 months. It works OK and we’ve had no real problems with install in any of the cars we’ve used (a random collection of rentals, carshares, relative’s cars and a shuttle van to/from a florida airport)
But (and you knew there was a but), I have some gripes. At first, my only gripe was that the fit seemed weirdly loose in the shoulders for something that is supposed to position a seatbelt over the shoulder, but it seemed OK, and at 4 years old, 40 pounds and 40 inches, H was solidly in the height/weight range (For the small: 3-6 years, 30-60 pounds, 34-52 inches) so we just went with it.
And at first, that was pretty much my only complaint, though H had plenty of her own. She let us know (repeatedly) about the back of the vest riding up, her butt sliding down the seat, and how it was just so “cunfable” (that’s “uncomfortable” to those uninitiated into the joys of riding in a car with our daughter). That child will happily sit on an open bike in a freezing downpour, commenting merrily on the depth of the puddles or the possible length of the storm, but suddenly it’s like the princess and the pea when she gets in a car, so we thought nothing of the reports and were just glad not to have to strap in two carseats, and glad that we hardly ever drive. But then, during our trip to Denver, H got to try her cousin’s cheap graco backless booster (like this one, $25). Here are a few snippets from the report from the backseat:
“Mama! Look at that! I can see almost half of all the things! I bet I can see even more than you! What are those? Oh! Those are the mountains! Wait. Mama. Are we driving through a forest? (we weren’t, it was a park with a few trees in it) Oh Mama! My tummy doesn’t hurt! And I can keep my bum scooted back!…”
When we arrived at our destination, H popped out of the car and said, “Mama, we should really stick with this one. You tell Ima OK?”
So. There you have it. H’s review of the Ride Safer Travel Vest vs. Graco backless booster. The booster wins.
As for me, I felt more confident on the booster belt positioning and install, partially because, as H reports, she did a better job keeping herself scooted back on the seat (because it’s sized to fit a kid’s legs). We also knew H was prone to motion sickness, but hadn’t realized just how much being able to see out a side window would help with that. Yes, it’s another piece of plastic, and harder to fit in a suitcase, but we’ll be forking over our $25 bucks to get one.
I really wish the travel vest had panned out. It seems like it should be the perfect solution for the carfree parent. But at least in our hands, for our kid, it just doesn’t make the grade.
Disclosure: No one gave us any products, money or anything to write this post. If they had, I might have been nicer.