Until now, there have been a lot of things your child shouldn’t sit on in the car: phone books, pillows, table saws, backpacks. The first three still aren’t a good idea, but the fourth one is ok, as long as it’s the Trunki BoostApak by Safety 1st.
Years ago, Trunki introduced the…well…Trunki, a combination suitcase and wheelie-toy that makes it easy for parents to pull their children through an airport. It was only a matter of time before this led to another bag you can sit on, this time in a car.
Although it sounds unorthodox, the BoostApak is a federally approved child restraint, and a version is already available in Europe. It is intended for children at least 4 years old, between 40-80 lbs, and 43-52 inches.
External base width: 14″
External base depth: 15″
Widest point (armrests): 14.5″
Height to top of armrests: 8.75″
Internal seating width: 10-12″
Internal seating depth: approximately 11″ before the seat slopes down.
Belt guide max height: 22″
Weight: About 3.5 lbs
The BoostApak is probably best suited for travel, carpools, and other occasional trips rather than as an everyday seat. The advantage of the BoostApak is that you can put stuff inside of it, so your kid doesn’t have to worry about toting the booster separately.
We’ll get to the backpack aspect shortly, but since this is CarseatBlog, let’s start with the booster features.
Converting the BoostApak from a backpack to a booster is pretty simple, and any kid mature enough to ride in it can probably do most of the set-up him/herself. Here’s a demonstration:
As you can see, there are a few aspects that are different from what you normally encounter:
1) The BoostApak’s belt-positioning clip is required (usually it’s optional on other boosters). Kids will likely need help with this.
2) The belt positioner goes on the side closer to the buckle. On other boosters, the clip goes in the center or on the side where the shoulder belt comes out.
3) The bottom edge of belt positioning clip needs to be level with the shoulder closer to the buckle, then runs diagonally across the child’s back and clips onto the shoulder belt. This results in the belt positioner sitting below the child’s shoulder.
4) The lap portion of the seatbelt goes under both armrests, but the shoulder belt stays outside the armrest. Although this isn’t the only booster that requires the shoulder belt to stay outside, typically the shoulder belt goes under, too.
I suspect those are all things that could easily be overlooked if people don’t read the manual, and we know people often don’t read the manual. The back of the booster does have cute little illustrations, but people tend not to look at those, either (especially for something as straightforward as a booster), so I could easily see misuse occurring, just because it doesn’t follow the typical expectations.
Some of the standard rules do apply: The BoostApak can be used only with a lap AND shoulder belt, it’s not approved for airline use, and head support is required up to the middle of the child’s head.
The BoostApak provided a good fit on my 8-year-old. He thought the seat was a bit hard, but didn’t complain much. It offered more leg support than I would have imagined.
As a backpack, the BoostApak won’t hold everything you need for a vacation, or even a day at school, but its capacity is fine for incidentals. The cavity measures approximately 4.5″ x 10.5″ x 13″. I was able to comfortably fit two workbooks, an iPad, a bottle of water, and a small doll. The manual contains warnings not to overstuff it.
So, how do I feel about the BoostApak overall?
- Very portable!
- Serves a dual purpse
- Provides good leg support
- Fairly easy to set up
- Belt-positioner required at all times
- Unusual rules about belt-positioner and seatbelt routing
- Not well padded
- Low standing height limit. Hopefully they’ll reconsider the 52″ height limit in the future, as my tall 8-year-old has technically outgrown it by height, even though he has plenty of room left before he maxes out the belt clip.
If you’re looking for a part-time seat your child can easily carry with her, the BoostApak could be an excellent option. The belt guide probably requires an adult’s help to set up, but other than that, the booster is simple to convert and easy to use. This seat is very different from anything else currently available on the US market, but that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s fun to think outside the backpack!
The BoostApak will be a Buy Buy Baby exclusive, and should start shipping this month.
Thanks to Safety 1st for providing a BoostApak to sample!
More info on the BoostAPak can be found on the Dorel website here: http://safety1st.djgusa.com/en/djgusa/safety1st/booster-car-seats/boostapak-bc062