Car Seat Substitute
- What: Ride Safer Travel Vest
- When: Traveling with kids
- Why: Packable, easier to fit multiple car seats
- Where: Amazon
Have you seen the Ride Safer travel vests? Maybe you’ve struggled to install three car seats in a single row in a rental car in a foreign country after very little sleep and long hours on a flight. Heck, maybe you’ve struggled to install three car seats in a row, period. Or you need to pick up an extra child on short notice. But you don’t want to sacrifice safety, especially when it comes to cars and other drivers. Enter the Ride Safer harness.
It acts like a car seat, but without all the bulk. Instead, your child wears it as vest to properly position the seat belt already in your vehicle. It comes in two sizes, small for kids 30-50 pounds, and large for kids 50 to 80 pounds. I doubt most three year olds, who might easily pass the minimum weight, can handle this type of safety restraint. They tend to move around too much. But for older kids, it seems so much more appealing than hauling another car seat around.
You adjust the vest to fit your child. Once they climb into the car already wearing the vest, you thread the seat belt through the proper clips over the thighs and shoulder. It also makes it super simple to move freely between multiple cars, and works on public vehicles like taxis. It comes in a backpack small enough that kids can carry their own even if they aren’t wearing it. You can also leave the vest mostly attached to the seat belt in the car, like a regular booster seat.
We got one to try out on our upcoming trip. I’m not sure how well it will work for daily usage, but I will be sure to update with more info after we have more experience. In the meantime, it’s good to know there’s an alternative to lugging around big booster seats.
While Consumer Reports, my favorite site for car seat ratings, hasn’t reviewed this item, it has been crash test rated and passed. It does not provide the same safety as a highback booster seat because it has zero side impact protection. But the harness does offer more restraint than a regular seat beat used without a five point harness in a booster seat. Maybe your kid has outgrown the weight restrictions on their five point harness but can’t sit still and not turn around or reach down to get things while driving. Then this vest will keep them in a harness up to 80 pounds.