My son was barely a year old the first time he became an international traveler. Taking a quick trip to the Bahamas seemed like the best way to test his airplane behavior, and he passed with flying colors, becoming quite a confident regular visitor to Nassau by age 4. Turned out the hardest part of traveling with my little dude was bringing his car seat with us, because my back got quite the workout from carrying his Britax Marathon One-Click in one of those giant black backpacks.
Most parents probably know what I’m talking about. Traveling with full-sized car seats leads to additional checked baggage fees, longer waits at the carousel and especially space issues in crowded airports. You’ll turn like a tanker trunk with one of those giant backpacks on. Oh, and let’s not forget that there’s a huge risk of losing your only car seat, so you have to spend a few hundred dollars on another one just for travel. But we do what we have to where safety is concerned, especially with the crazy way some cab and shuttle drivers navigate the streets of our favorite destinations.
Fortunately, two Swiss dads and frequent travelers finally said, “There has to be a better way.” Frustrated by the lack of alternatives to expensive car seats, unreliable car-share options and the aforementioned airline fees, they created WhizRider, which is the smallest car safety option in the industry for children ages 4 and up.
Smallest? Is That a Good Thing?
Normally I begin by diving right into a product’s core purpose, but WhizRider begins with a first impression. You don’t expect a car seat to be so small, and as you can see the package is barely bigger than a large coffee and weighs under one pound. It’s fair to be concerned by this first impression, but WhizRider’s design is extremely clever, based in one of the inventor’s fondness for rock climbing, and it far exceeds the U.S. safety standards for car seats.
In fact, the two dads worked with a team of biomechanical and accident research specialists to ensure that even at a small size this seat was as safe as full-size car seats.
How Does it Work?
Imagine that you’re strapping your child into a harness for his first skydiving expedition. That’s the vibe you get from WhizRider, with its chest harness and leg loops, which were designed to prevent “submarining,” or when the child slides under the seatbelt. Steel safety clips attached to the base strap of the seatbelt and make it impossible for the child to slip under in an accident. Additionally, a steel clip on the shoulder keeps the seatbelt firmly on the chest.
Whereas your regular car seat takes several minutes to install (if you’re a seasoned pro and the cab’s seatbelts are up to snuff), the WhizRider takes less than a minute for the child to put on and clip to the seatbelt. Even better, when the ride is done, you don’t have to struggle again to remove the car seat, and you can head right into the hotel lobby for check-in.
What Do We Love Most?
Safety is always the top priority, but you won’t get far if the child isn’t comfortable. The lightweight design ensures that the vest isn’t clunky, but it’s also a relief that the leg straps don’t chafe the child’s skin. If your child is squirmy in the car, or at least while adjusting to this new setup, you might want to consider using a towel or cloth to act as a barrier, but when I tested the WhizRider on my son, he was drawn to the new freedom and appreciated sitting in the backseat like a big boy.
My only concern at that point was getting him back into his standard seat, and that took a little bribery. So, my best advice is to keep a few M&M’s handy.