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Hands-on Gear Review
BubbleBum ReviewPrice: $30.00 List | $29.99 at Amazon
Pros: Lightweight and portable, budget-friendly
Cons: Harder to use, lower quality
Bottom line: Acceptable performance for a travel friendly, inexpensive choice
The BubbleBum booster seat is an inflatable cushion that boosts children up, so the vehicle seatbelt properly aligns with their body for a safe fitting. This product is small and very lightweight making it ideal for carpool and travel, or instances where children may need to carry their booster. While this product has some inherent issues, like the use of lower quality materials and some difficulty with seat belt retainers, we still think it is the best thing going for times when you may need to carry or transport a booster seat for driving safety. With the lowest price in the group, this easy to buckle option makes a great add-on safety option for use when your full-size booster would be too cumbersome or heavy for the job at hand.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Booster Car Seats of 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
BubbleBum is the first inflatable booster seat and was invented by Grainne Kelly. Kelly came up with the BubbleBum idea when she got frustrated carrying around heavy and bulky boosters for her two children. This booster meets and exceeds EU and US requirements. This innovation is the flagship product for a company that now makes a children's neck pillow and activity organizer for the backseat. The BubbleBum sells in more than twenty-eight countries.
The comparison chart provided here includes the overall scores for the booster seats we tested in this review. The BubbleBum (in blue) did not rank that high compared to the competition, but it is the lightest option and the highest scoring backless booster, making it a Top Pick for travel and carpooling.
The sections below provide details on how the BubbleBum performed compared to the competition. Overall scores were calculated using individual metric scores with an emphasis on crash test results and ease of use.
The BubbleBum earned a 5 of 10 for crash test results. This a below average score for the group.
All of the boosters included in this review have passed the Federal minimum guidelines for safety and are therefore considered safe. The testing of the boosters in thie=s review allows for an apples to apples comparison of results using the same standards and facility that NHTSA uses in their testing. The BubbleBumprovides what we consider to be a basic level of protection with test results that were generally average for the group.
This booster's head sensor on the crash test dummy registered 603 where the maximum HIC allowed is 1000 ( the lower result is better). While this is below the maximum, it is higher than the Evenflo Spectrum with results of 456.
The chest sensor results (g) on the BubbleBum crash test dummy showed 45 g where the maximum allowed is 60 g and a lower result is better. The lowest (and Best) result in our tests is the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex with a result of 39 g (see comparison graph above).
Backless vs High Backed
In general, we feel a high backed booster provides an added degree of safety by creating a shell similar to convertible car seats for possible side-impact collisions or vehicle intrusion from the outside during a crash. However, that being said, we feel any safety belt-positioning device is better than none and the BubbleBum fills a niche where boosters are often skipped for the sake of convenience. This is why this product earned a Top Pick for travel and carpooling.
Ease of Use
This product earned a 4 of 10 for ease of use. Given its lack of features or back, the lower ease of use score is somehow even more disappointing.
Our kid testers were able to buckle themselves in easier with this product than the mifold seat belt adjuster.
However, the belt strap fell out of the retainer regularly and they struggled more with the shoulder retainer and keeping it in the right spot for proper alignment (above left). Unlike the high back boosters, this kind of booster needs more attention (above right) to the retainer location as it can move.
Installation and moving the BubbleBum is fairly easy. It has no LATCH and is so lightweight kids can move and adjust the booster themselves. The seat is spot clean only and it does have a crevice that wraps around the entire product where gunk can and will get lodged.
Weight and Size
The BubbleBum earned a 9 of 10 for weight and size.
This product has the lightest weight in the group at only 1lb. Even the smaller mifold is heavier with a weight of 1.5lbs. The BubbleBum is 14 inches wide, making it the second smallest after the mifold's 9.4 inches. It is highly likely you can fit up to three of the BubbleBum boosters across the back seat of most vehicles given the smaller width. This makes them a great choice for carpooling as it enables the transport of more children than traditional highbacked boosters.
This booster earned a 5 of 10 for comfort.
Our little testers all felt that this seat was comfortable and gave it fairly high ratings compared to the competition. They felt the air-filled base was comfortable and had no real complaints. For us, the fabric is not as soft as it looks and isn't that friendly on bare legs. It also lost points, however, for not having a back or headrest which can increase napping capabilities.
This booster earned a 3 of 10 for quality.
The padding on this product is an air cushion. overtime, the cushion struggles to stay inflated indicating a loss of air pressure somewhere and a quality assurance issue. the fabric isn't as nice as it could be and the design of the seat means it will easily collect grime and the fabric may not wear well over time. The Overall fit and finish are somewhat cheap and sloppy. Even though the product is inexpensive the simple design could have been executed with higher-end materials.
While not necessary for using the BubbleBum, the following accessories are offered from the same company and look kind of cool and truly useful.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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