My Prisoner Transport Crate

Mom and Dad are strong believers in safety, and like to be proactive in the event of an emergency.  However, there was one glaring oversight, our car.  For years Dad has been on a mission to find us the perfect travel crate, but none measured up to his safety standards in the event of an accident.  Now thanks to a friend’s recommendation, his quest is complete, and just like that my role as copilot has ended!  Why was I not consulted before purchasing this prisoner transport system? Ok, I may be overreacting.  Mom and Dad purchased a MIM Safe Variocage dog transport crate to protect Asa and me on our road trips.  Their reasoning is admirable, and I do admit the crate is built like a tank.  But how am I suppose to be their copilot if I’m in a crate at the back of the car?  Anyways, here is my review assembling the Variocage Double Extra Large Dog Crate.

According to Dad’s research, MIM Safe Variocage used major car manufacturers’ crumple zone guidelines to develop a crash-test certified dog crate that meets or exceeds safety standards in both front and rear collisions, and vehicle rollovers.  Apparently the fine folks who delivered my unassembled crate were also worried about my safety, and wanted to do their own independent research based on how damaged the box was when it arrived.  Now I’m no expert, but it appears they tossed it off the truck a few times before delivering it to our door.  However despite a few dings, the unassembled crate passed the delivery guy’s unscientific test and was not damaged.

Despite the delivery guy’s best efforts to the contrary, our Variocage arrived undamaged.

After years of searching for the right crate, what drew Dad’s attention was not only that this company’s crate performed well in crash-tests, it was developed to be “tailor-made” for the owner’s car with it’s adjustable depth and is angled to match the rear seat and hatchback of many car models.  This flexibility makes it a perfect fit for Dad’s car, yet it can also be adjusted to Mom’s as well.  One problem though.  Although in the reviews people warned that the Variocage was hard to assemble, no one mentioned that the directions only come in Swedish!  While Asa set out to learn Swedish in a morning, I turned to my most trusted source for information – Youtube!  Ok, so the first video I tried was also in Swedish, but a few clicks later I did find one that proved to be quite helpful.

Dear customer service, Jag talar inte svenska! (Translation: I do not speak Swedish!) Sincerely, Asa

Overall the crate itself was easy to assemble, and took Dad and I under two hours.  The real test was the divider.  MIM Safe Variocage recommends when carrying two dogs, we should sit separately and not be able to reach one another.  I suppose this is to prevent us from knocking heads in an accident, and on the bright side does keep Asa from annoying me on long trips.  Anyways, the divider is adjustable in case one dog happens to be on a diet and needs more room than his slimmer little brother, and it can also be removed if we need more space overall.  All good attributes, except that it was complicated to put together and awkward to properly adjust inside the crate.  That one piece took Dad an hour to do!

Testing out the crate before the depth was adjusted to accommodate my length.  I was suspicious something wasn’t right, but little did I realize it would have doors!

The MIM Safety Variocage Double Extra Large without the middle divider inserted or depth extended.

Finally the crate was assembled and Dad used the tie downs provided by the manufacturer to further secure it in the cargo area.  Asa and I each easily hopped into our appointed sides to see how we liked our MIM Safe Variocage Double Extra Large.  With the divider in place, Asa and I each have room to sit and look out the window or lay down if we get bored.  There is also just enough room for us to turn around and face both front or back.  Ok, so again perhaps losing a bit of weight would be helpful because Asa turned with ease and I felt a bit cramped.  But in the event of an accident the less room to flop around the better.  It is designed that the telescoping poles and crumple zones take the impact of an accident, so that in the event of a crash it will compress in a controlled manner similar to how cars are designed.  This way it will keep me safely contained while also limiting the impact I experience, and prevent the crate from breaking through the back seat or breaking apart.  The crate also comes with a an emergency hatch in the rear to ensure that I can get out should the hatchback of the car not open after an accident.

The moment we realized our copilot status was being taken away from us.  Asa’s response, “Det här är inte rättvist!” (This isn’t fair!) 

The red buttons in this photo are the rear escape hatch. Simply unscrew and Asa and I can exit if the doors can’t open.

After our initial inspection we settled in for our inaugural car ride in our MIM Safe Variocage Double Extra Large transportation crate.  Everyone was excited about what we heard, or in this case, what we didn’t hear.  There wasn’t any rattling!  This crate is solidly designed without all the annoying rattling that comes with traditional wire crates.  Dad also commented that when we lay down so Asa’s big blockhead isn’t in the way, there is good driver visibility through the bars.  A feature I like is it comes with a grooved rubber matt so that our paws don’t slip when Dad takes sharp turns.  However, we are in disagreement with Mom and Dad over the double doors to let us out.  They each open separately, so Mom and Dad have more control over us when exiting the car.  No more suddenly jumping out when Mom opens the door and I see a menacing Squirrel lurking.  But I suppose that is a good safety feature, and I admit I like that the doors are designed with gas hydraulic motion springs to stay open, which eliminates the annoyance of the door accidentally shutting in my face while jumping in and out.

Confused by his crash course in Swedish, Asa was unable to understand my directions in English on how to unlock my side of the crate! “Tyvärr, jag barkar inte Engelska.” (Sorry, I do not bark English.)

Overall, the the Variocage Double Extra Large Dog Crate meets all of Dad and Mom’s criteria safety-wise.  It is crash-tested and meets or exceeds safety guidelines for front and rear collisions, as well as rollovers.  It is complicated to assemble, but perhaps if the directions weren’t in Swedish it may have gone a bit smoother.  Asa and I fit comfortably in it, and have the ability to move around, although limited by the divider which can be removed.  It is also solidly designed, so no annoying rattle, and even has an emergency escape hatch.  My biggest complaint is I can no longer sit directly behind Dad and put my head on his shoulder when he drives.  However, if the MIM Safe Variocage Double Extra Large Dog Crate protects me in an accident and gets me to my destination safely, Dad can learn to drive without me looking over his shoulder.  But I can’t help but feel I’m in a prisoner transport vehicle!

I suppose safety is a good thing, but I can’t help but feel like a prisoner in my own car!


About the author

Chuck Billy is a Golden Retriever, living in Southern Maine, who likes to share his unique observations on life with his little brother Asa. When not writing his blog, he spends his days being awesome.

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