This is a review of the Trunki Boostapak. If you’re looking for a review of the Trunki Pull-Along Suitcase, it’s over here.
How Did I Get It?
I bought it from a baby shop. Specifically, I bought it from Mothercare in Singapore.
For those not in Singapore: I once emailed the guys at trunki to find stockists for their rolling suitcase and they replied promptly with a list of local outlets.
For those in Singapore who want to try their luck on the second-hand market: see my second-hand shopping guide to Singapore.
Where, when and how often do I use it?
I first used it for the eldest just before he turned four. It’s actually supposed to be for ages 4-12, but P is big for his age and he was well above the stated weight requirements as well as being taller than the average five year old. That said, it suited him better from about four-and-a-half up.
Nowadays, we use it on all our travels as well as for taxi rides or lifts with friends at home, plus at restaurants, theatres, and miscellaneous tarmacs. It’s basically our nappy bag – we never know when it’ll come in handy.
Versatile. Lightweight. Easy to use. Nice, firm seatbelt guides give me confidence. Washable cover.
And did I mention versatile? We have used it as a car seat and a day pack (obviously) and also as a booster seat at restaurants, theatres and cinemas, and on board flights. It also makes a handy time-out or bums-on-seats-while-we-check-the-map-so-nobody-gets-run-over chair, and increases the comfort of sitting on a hot tarmac at an air show, which comes up more often than you might at first expect.
P likes it because, unlike the Ridesafer Travel Vest we bought earlier, it allows him to see out the car window, and I can’t tell you how much happier everyone’s trip is when the four-to-five-year-old can see out the window.
Since it earns its living in other ways, we tend to have far fewer of those “I wish I’d brought the car seat” situations, which is always handy for when the unexpected happens. Our car seat is always just… there, whether we thought we’d need it or not.
If going somewhere with just our older (toilet-trained) child, the space inside the pack is more than adequate. It is pretty fixed, however, due to the hard case, and is not as big as the bag we would usually take as a whole family – though you should keep in mind we’re usually carrying nappy or toilet training supplies for our younger child, amongst other todderlish things.
We tend to solve this by taking two small packs, one of which is the boostapak. This system actually works well for us as things tend to be more easily accessible in the smaller bags and it allows us to split up without too much kerfuffle. In fact I would go so far as to say we are converts to a two-daypack system, even without taking into account the more limited capacity of the boostapak.
The other drawback is there seems to be an awkward stage with it. The first time P used it we were very pleased, but just around the time of his fourth birthday his legs grew a bit and he looked kind of slumped because his legs no longer stuck out straight, they tried to dangle, only they weren’t dangly enough. This didn’t look quite right to me. A few months later, however, the problem solved itself as his hip-knee length increased enough to match the seat. He was around four and a half years old by then, however, and bear in mind that he was above the 95th percentile for height for his age. I would love to hear if anyone else has experienced this within the recommended 15kg+, 4-12-year-old range. I guess the lesson is just check before you travel if you’re planning to use it with a child below, say, five. Then again, it was a fairly brief period in the lifespan of the ‘pak, and I may be over-reacting.
As far as safety goes, if we owned a car I’d use a high-backed booster seat with all that head protection. For our purposes, though, I’m comfortable with it.
How does it compare?
You may be tempted to think that the boostapak loses out against the Ridesafer Travel Vest in terms of weight or size. To my mind, however, it doesn’t – the RideSafer Vest is a single-purpose gadget, so after you get out of the car, it’s pretty much dead weight in your pack, whereas the boostapak – is the pack. (The RideSafer people may argue that the vest can double as a harness if you add a leash, but in my experience most kids in their target agegroup are actually too old for that kind of thing.)
Similar arguments apply against inflatable or foldable booster seats. Some claim to have additional utility as pillows, but given that I have never wanted for a pillow in twenty odd years of travel, including five with kids (isn’t that what rolled-up baby carriers and nappy bags are for?) I would say the additional utility there is extraordinarily marginal. And the inflatable ones require, well, inflating. Not all that convenient at the roadside, even if you do happen to have lugged it in your day pack. Plus, how does that inflatable stuff go on hot tarmacs at air shows?
Do I recommend it (to whom)?
Yes, I do. I recommend it to anyone travelling with a child of booster seat age – especially if they or their younger sibling needs a booster seat to eat at the dinner table (a big plus if your destination is not great on high chairs – although for that purpose, think about combining it with a shoulder harness and/or luggage-strap lap belt for younger toddlers) or if you take your littlie to theatres and cinemas. (Or air shows.)
You can find out more about the Trunki Boostapak at their website.
Disclosure: The only reward I’m getting for this is the smug sense of self-satisfaction that comes from dispensing one’s unsolicited advice.