Like many others, I was fascinated by the concept of the BubbleBum, an inflatable booster seat that made its debut in the US a few months ago. But I was also a bit skeptical. Things that inflate can also deflate. They can tear or pop. I envisioned a seat similar to a beach ball or one of those inflatable yard decorations people put up at Christmas. You know, the kind that comes with little patches of vinyl in a repair kit?

BubbleBum seemed like a charming company (their Facebook page is by far the most entertaining of any company I follow), but would that translate into the quality of their product? Even as I eagerly read reviews from other people (including experienced technicians who I trust a lot), I had some misgivings about this inflatable seat.

However, any concerns about the BubbleBum’s durability disappeared once I finally had one in my hands. This is no cheap carnival toy, folks. This is heavy-duty and tough. Rugged. It’s like the cowboy of…well, of inflatable booster seats.

I was excited to give the seat a try, so I opened the valve, gave a few puffs, and it was ready to go. I put it outboard in the third row of our 2010 Odyssey and threaded the lap belt through the belt guide farthest from the buckle.

I wasn’t sure how my son Elias would react to using it as he tends to resist change, but the novelty was enough to get him excited. He sat down and pronounced it very comfortable.

To properly use the BubbleBum, you need to thread the lap belt through a guide close to the buckle, too. I figured I’d need to explain that to Elias, but I was busy getting the other kids in the car. To my surprise, he figured it out on his own and got properly buckled in without any direction from me.

The lap-belt fit was good, and the shoulder belt was excellent–even better than in the high-back Monterey he usually rides in.

Elias thought the seat was really cool…until it came time to buckle it in again for our next trip. He asked if he could skip the red belt guides, and I told him absolutely not. After that, he wouldn’t stop complaining. He’s not a fan of exerting any extra effort, though.

Although the BubbleBum won’t be an everyday seat for us, it will be fantastic for travel. In fact, I had a chance to borrow one for a trip we took a couple months ago, but I declined. Now, knowing how comfortable and durable it is, I wish I had. It would have been much easier than lugging a TurboBooster through O’Hare.

I have to hand it to BubbleBum: They’re a neat company with a very cool, innovative product. They definitely thought outside the box–or the bubble–on this one.