Monday, May 25, 2015

Car travel - Variocage crates!

From left to right - Alpha, Battlestar, Nari and Starbuck in the Double Large Variocage crate


This is a continuation on my thoughts on car travel with my dogs. For the first post in this series - go HERE for my review of the Sleepypod Clickit car harnesses

This part of my car travel posts focuses on the Variocage. A variety of places online sell them in the US - I purchased mine from 4x4northamerica.com because they were having a 10% off sale. If you want to purchase one, try searching around to see if you can find a site that's offering a deal. Note: I paid for this crate myself (although I wouldn't have minded getting this discounted or for free in exchange for this review :)). For reference, here are my dogs' measurements:

Starbuck (Klee Kai - miniature size)
    Weight: 12 lbs
    Height at withers: 14"
Nari (Klee Kai - miniature size)
    Weight: 12 lbs
    Height at withers: 13.875"
Alpha (Klee Kai - toy size)
    Weight: 9 lbs
    Height at withers: 12.5" 
Battlestar (large Sheltie)
    Weight: 22 lbs
    Height at withers: 16.5"

Car: 2011 Subaru Outback
Variocage size: Double Large

Car crate: Variocage Double Large 

Variocage: 
This thing is a beast and it is one glorious beast! This is probably one of my most favorite dog purchases of all times - it is beautiful. I went with the Double Large. The Double XL would have also fit in my Outback but I chose to go with the Double Large as it's 3 inches shorter (I have small dogs) than the Double XL. The crate has been crash tested (although Center for Pet Safety has not tested it yet). It also has it's own crumple zone. Here are the Pros and Cons:
      Pros:
        - Heavy duty (mine weighs around 80 lbs)
        - Each door can lock individually with a key
        - Can use a pad lock/combination lock to lock the doors
        - Doors are amazingly smooth and stay open when you want them to 
        - Adjusts to the length of your car to maximize crate space
        - Has 2 side-by-side compartments 
        - Looks pretty awesome - I've had the guards at work stop me just to check out the crate :) 
        - I can finally crate from my car and not worry about people stealing my dogs!!!
        - The back of the crate is slanted so it fits very nicely with the way the rear seats are angled
        - I was able to offset the crate just enough to be able to fit a folded up wire crate in the back 
      Cons: 
        - Once installed you're not going to want to be taking this thing out at all 
        - Blocks your rear view a little but really not bad at all 
        - Alpha's one complaint - the bottom half of the door is solid so has to stand up to look out :)

The 'Double' has two separate compartments - each side has its own door. Since my dogs are small I have 2 ride in each side of the crate. The dogs love the crate and just lay down and sleep pretty much the entire trip. I found memory foam bath mats that fit perfectly so it's nice and comfy in there.

Here are some detailed pictures:

Interior picture showing the 2 crate sections. The doors stay open like that  making it very easy to get dogs in and out.

I offset the crate so that I could fit in a folded wire crate in the back right next to the Variocage.

The crate surprisingly doesn't take up that much of my view out the rear view mirror. 

All four girls comfortable in their crate - Alpha is barking because she wants to get out and play :)

That's about it for my thoughts on the Variocage. They are simply amazing and definitely worth the money!! Again - I didn't receive any compensation for this - just my my view. Let me know if you have any questions. 

If you want to read about the harnesses I use for car trips - see THIS POST. 

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