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The Trunki BoostApak is a Group 2/3 booster cushion combined with a practical rucksack to make travelling with children easier. Featuring children's travel brand Trunki's distinctive, kid-friendly style and weighing less than 2kg, it provides a truly portable safety boost when you do not have a traditional car seat.
I had seen pictures of the Trunki BoostApak before and always thought the product was a great idea. It seemed practical, well designed and with the Trunki brand's distinctive, playful style. Both my kids loved the look of it and my 3-year-old keeps asking for the "dragon rucksack".
The newest child seat laws recommend children are at least 125cm tall or 22kg (approximately age seven) before using a booster cushion, but the BoostApak was approved under previous regulations as a Group 2/3 car seat, which means it is actually suitable and legal to use for kids between 15 and 36kg (approximately 4-12 years).
By design, a booster cushion is a bit trickier to grow out of than other types of car seats and, as my daughter grows, we'll probably use it more and more. I'm confident the BoostApak will last until she is 12 - unless she's so tall by then that she does not need a booster seat at all.
When packed up like a backpack, the BoostApak is 40x36x18cm, with an 8-litre capacity - so it's the size of an average adult rucksack. I was keen to try it as a seat in the middle space in our car's back row, which does have a proper seat belt but is sandwiched between a full-sized, high-backed booster and a rear-facing car seat so is quite narrow .
The BoostApak is very easy to install, and the illustrated instructions are easy-to-follow. There's no harness or Isofix connectors, you simply place the rucksack onto the seat and fold out the 'backrest'. Then you need to adjust the strap that holds the diagonal section of the car's seatbelt in place, which needs to be attached to the booster on the same side as the car seatbelt buckle and lengthened so that your child's shoulder is aligned with the arrow indicator.
My daughter just meets the minimum weight and height levels of the new i-size guidelines for using booster cushions, so I would not want to rely on this type of car seat for everyday use. I would also be nervous about using it on long trips, as there is no side impact protection or headrest. However, for short transfers, or to accommodate extra children on the school run, I trust the BoostApak to do its job.
The fold-out back support has an ergonomic design that supposedly keeps your child comfortable and encourages better posture - although this feature did not seem very obvious to me. My daughter did enjoy sitting on it, although I think she would get a bit wriggly on longer journeys.
We have not used the BoostApak on a long journey yet, but when we do I anticipate that I will be carrying it. It's a bit too bulky for my daughter to carry comfortably as it has the shape and feel of a good quality, grown-up backpack. However, it is really useful as a rucksack. It holds a surprising amount (change of clothes, wipes, toys, snacks and so on) and the hard shell means the contents are well protected even when it's being sat on. It would be perfect to take to the theatre or cinema as a booster seat - no car required.
The main safety feature of the BoostApak is that it raises your child so that the existing car seat belt is more suitable to keep them safe in the event of an accident. Not all available booster cushions provide a strap that adjusts the diagonal seatbelt, so that is definitely a plus.
The main - and significant - difference is that a booster cushion does not provide any additional safety features to guard against side impacts or to support the head and neck of your child. This is obviously a very different level of protection than a high-backed booster provides.
I love that the BoostApak is so portable and easy to store in the car for emergencies. Whether I'm bringing one of my daughter's friends home in our car, or visiting cousins, it's great to have the option to whip out an extra booster that's easy to use - and fits in our middle seat!