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).
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).
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.
The RSTV is a fantastic option for several situations including:
- Taxi rides
- Spare seat
- Tight 3-across configurations
- Bus rides (when a seat belt is available)
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.
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.