Ride Safer Travel Vest: A Versatile Travel Buddy

Let’s face it: traveling with kids can be quite challenging at times; and not just from the whining and “Are-we-there-yets”.  There’s a lot of stuff to haul around too!  In addition to bringing all of your clothes, toiletries and bribes items for entertainment or distraction, you also need to bring their car seat or booster.  Since the average child needs a booster until they’re between 10 and 12 years of age, we parents have a lot of things to lug around for a long time!  But there is an option that can make traveling with a slightly older child much easier!–The Ride Safer Travel Vest (RSTV).

4 is 7.5 yrs old, 50 pounds and 48
“4” gives the RSTV a thumbs up! He is 7.5 yrs old, 50 pounds and 48″ tall and is wearing a Large RSTV2.

Instead of carting around a large, heavy car seat or high back booster, you can use the RSTV to keep your forward-facing child safe while in the car (and soon, while on a plane too)!  This innovative product, as the name implies, is a specially designed vest that the child wears in the car in place of a car seat or booster.  Not only does it help to position the seat belt correctly, it also distributes the energy from a crash over large areas of the child’s body should you be involved in a collision.  For added stability and protection, there’s also the option of using their specially designed tether strap (mounted to a designated tether anchor).

G is 6.5 yrs old, 34 pounds and 44
“G” is 6.5 yrs old, 37 pounds and 44″ tall.
He’s wearing a size Small RSTV2
With the tether in place, G is unable to move out of the correct position.
With the tether in place, “G” is unable to move out of the correct position.

There are currently two versions of RSTV available.  We reviewed Version 2 (which, we believe, is the more versatile version offered at this time).  It currently comes in either blue or pink (but as of tomorrow, they’ll be available in several more colors in a new air mesh-covered fabric) and in 2 sizes: small and large.  Each size is adjustable with a large, velcro strap which is attached to the vest’s buckle that you see on the front of the vest.  The optional (but very useful) crotch strap can also help significantly with fit.  We installed our RSTV2 in a 2012 Honda Odyssey. It is important to note that when selecting a size, not only does one need to keep in mind their child’s weight, but also their seated height.  The height for the RSTV is calculated differently than “seated height” would be calculated for a traditional child safety seat.  Have the child sit on the floor, leaning up against the wall, but instead of measuring from the floor to their shoulder top, measure from the top of their thigh to the top of their shoulder. Once the correct size is determined, you’ll need to choose the version that is best for you.

As mentioned above, we like that the RSTV2 provides an optional tether.  Crash test analysis has proven that the use of a tether in a traditional forward-facing car seat can limit head excursion (the amount that the head moves in a crash) by as much as 6 inches.  The RSTV2’s tether also helps to distribute crash energy over yet another area so that the energy is focused away from the child.  We also love that RSTV2 can be used with a lap & shoulder belt OR a lap-only belt (as long as a tether anchor is available in that position).  If you have an older vehicle with a lap-only belt and no tether anchor, contact your dealership or Safety Belt Safe USA to inquire about a retrofit kit: https://www.facebook.com/SafetyBeltSafeUSA    (If a retrofitted anchor point is not an option, contact Safe Ride 4 Kids for other possible alternatives).  This version also offers an optional head/neck support for added comfort should the child desire.

Installation is quick and simple!  Just have your child put the RSTV on, buckle them in (routing the belt through the guides), attach the tether and you're ready to go!
Installation is quick and simple! Just have your child put on the RSTV, buckle them in, route the belt through the metal guides (on the lap & shoulder), attach the tether (if applicable) and you’re ready to go!
Just chillin' in the RSTV....
Just chillin’ in the RSTV2….

The RSTV is a fantastic option for several situations including:

  • Travel
  • Taxi rides
  • Spare seat
  • Tight 3-across configurations
  • Bus rides (when a seat belt is available)
  • Carpooling

It’s lightweight and very compact.  It comes with its own travel bag and can easily fit into a backpack or carry-on bag.  Since there’s no rigid sides, it can even be rolled up to help save space! The RSTV is approved for children as young as 3-years-old & 30 pounds, but we wouldn’t necessarily recommend that it be used for a child so young.  We would recommend that if the RSTV will be used for a child under 5 that there be an adult seated in the back with them.  This is to ensure that they remain correctly positioned (sitting upright for the duration of the trip without slouching, leaning over or to the side, slumping down, etc…) and that they don’t play with the seat belt or do anything else that would compromise their safety in the event of a crash.  We are slightly less hesitant about a younger child using it on occasion (assuming that it fits them correctly and provides a safe belt fit) when the tether can be utilized since it does often help to limit the possibility of the child falling out of position.  It is most ideal for a slightly older, more mature child.  The Large RSTV will fit a child up to 80 pounds.

Proper fit of the seat belt thanks to the RSTV!
Proper fit of the seat belt thanks to the RSTV!  The lap belt is across G’s lap, not his belly and the shoulder belt is centered on his shoulder.
M is 10.5 yrs old, 54 pounds and 51
“M” is 10.5 yrs old, 59 pounds and 53″ tall. She is wearing a Large RSTV, which is providing excellent belt fit.

Some interesting things to know:

  • The RSTV, like most child safety seats, will likely need replacing after a crash.  (Contact Safe Ride 4 Kids or Safe Traffic System, Inc for crash-specific information)
  • The RSTV can be recycled (contact Safe Traffic System, Inc for information)
  • The RSTV2 is FMVSS 213 Certified
  • They are approved for use with inflatable seat belts (with available replacement clips)
  • They have a 10 year use life
  • They can not currently be used in conjunction with a booster seat, (however, they are developing a compatible booster seat, which will remain optional.  It’s expected to be released later this year.)
  • Safe Ride 4 Kids offers a low-price guarantee
  • Safe Ride 4 Kids offers a Trade-Up program for when your child outgrows their size Small RSTV

If you’d like more information on the Ride Safer Travel Vest, be sure to check out http://saferide4kids.com/ or http://safetrafficsystem.com/ver4/  In addition to more information, they also have links to some great videos!  You can purchase one right here.
*Safe Ride 4 Kids provided us with a Ride Safer Travel Vest to for the purpose of writing a review.  That was our only compensation.

Cozywoggle Jacket Review 11/1/2013

It’s November and it’s officially getting cold in many parts of our country!  If you’re like most parents, you’ve been starting to look around for a nice, thick winter jacket to keep your child toasty warm during the cold winter months ahead.

 

But did you know that most winter jackets are extremely dangerous to wear in the car?  If you’ve ever seen the infomercials for those space-saving bags, you can easily visualize what happens to a traditional winter jacket when force is applied to it – it compresses.  This leads to dangerous slack in their harness or seat belt during a crash, which could lead to injury or even ejection from their seat and/or from the the vehicle itself!

 

So what’s a parent to do?  Well, there are several safe options:

  • A single-layer, form fitting, waist-length fleece jacket is safe to wear in the car since it’s already pre-compressed.  A second, more traditional jacket can be purchased for your child to wear when playing in the snow.
  • You could remove your child’s thick winter jacket and put it on them backwards after strapping them in, but this can be time consuming and frustrating –  let’s face it, when it’s freezing outside, we all want to get things done as quickly as we can!
  • A Car Seat Poncho is a safe & popular product for parents with small children, but since ponchos are open on the sides, it’s not very conducive to playing in the snow and can be a bit drafty on some of those blustery winter days.

Recently, I came across a new product called the Cozy Woggle jacket and it really caught my eye!  It looked like it might be a great solution for a lot of families so I was thrilled to get my hands on one a few days ago.

 

Image The back of the jacket simply "flops" over the top of the car seat and the front of the jacket keeps your child nice & warm.
The back of the jacket simply “flops” over the top of the car seat and the front of the jacket keeps your child nice & warm.

The Cozy Woggle looks just like a traditional winter jacket, BUT the sides of it actually *unzip* to make it car seat friendly!  Your child will just walk out to the car with the jacket intact and climb into their seat.  You’ll unzip the sides of the jacket and they’ll simply pull their arms out of the elastic wrist bands.  The back of the jacket easily flips up and over the back of their car seat.  All you’ll do at that point, is reach under the front of the jacket and buckle your child into their seat.  The front of the jacket will cover your child’s torso & lap to keep them nice and toasty.  If they get too warm during the car ride, it can easily & quickly be removed and set aside until you reach your destination.  Once you arrive, the child simply puts his or her arms back through the wrist cuffs.  You quickly zip each side back down & you’re off!

Cozywoggle front view
Should your child get too warm, the jacket is easily removed since there’s nothing between the child and harness.

 

(You can view one of their videos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=En5PrGde90A )

 

The jacket is constructed from a heavy duty wind/water resistant polyester shell, a cushy polyester fiber-filled body & a soft fleece lining.   The hood is removable to reduce possible bulk and/or for those who prefer to wear a hat.  Since I just got the jacket last week, I cannot attest to its long-term durability.  I don’t know that I’d expect it to be on par with something from L.L. Bean, but I have no immediate concerns at all.

 

The Cozy Woggle comes in a selection of popular colors, including navy blue, red, dark purple and pink.  It comes in a nice variety of sizes too (12 mos to size 6)!  I was especially thrilled to see it offered in some bigger sizes (note: the sizes 5 & 6 do not have the penguins embroidered on them.  Instead, the company name appears).

 

Even though my 6-year-old son wears a size 5 top, I requested his jacket in a size 6 to leave room for extra layers (for playing in the snow) since I was unsure how the sizing ran.  The jacket is definitely big on him, but that did not seem to be a hindrance in the car seats that he tried the jacket out in (a Britax Marathon70 and a Britax Frontier; both forward-facing).  He said that the jacket is warm, soft and comfortable and wasn’t at all bothered by it in the car seats.

cozywoggle under-view
My favorite thing about the coat!–Absolutely nothing between the child and the harness!

The Cozy Woggle currently retails for $74.99 (plus S&H) but they have very generously offered a discount especially for Super Car Seat Geek fans THROUGH THE END OF NOVEMBER 2013!  Simply use the promotion code “CARSEATGEEK” when ordering athttp://www.CozyWoggle.com and you’ll instantly save $15!

 

As a mother & Child Passenger Safety Technician, safety in the car is paramount.  I understand how dangerous a winter jacket can be when worn in the car.  I feel confident in the safety of this product and I feel comfortable recommending the Cozy Woggle to other parents as one more convenient & effective way of keeping their child(ren) safe & warm in the car!