Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Product Review: Solvit Car Cuddler

Solvit's Car Cuddler is a seat cover with a bolster that helps your dog ride comfortably and securely in the car. It basically turns your back seat into a luxury dog bed. This thing is sturdy, seat belt compatible, and comes in two sizes so you can use it with both bench seats and bucket seats. It is machine washable, and comes apart for easy washing.
Surveyor Chevyvan camper

Disclaimer: Solvit sent me this product free in exchange for my review!

I recently acquired a second vehicle. It is a 1975 Chevy camper van, and it is awesome. It is also loud. Sometimes parts fall off. I call it the Tardis. Right now it does not have air conditioning, so in the sweltering California autumn I always drive it with the windows down. The roar of the engine and the wind blowing around makes a ride in the Tardis a bit hair-raising for my sensitive little herding beasts. Since I brought the van home, I had been trying to find a way to introduce the whole concept to Zip and Godzilla without making them think the Tardis was going to eat them.
Car seat cover with bolster

They layout of the van is interesting, it has a big bench seat on one side, and a sink, refrigerator, bathroom, stove, and closet on the other. The safest way to have the girls ride in the Tardis is on the bench seat with seatbelt harnesses. While I plan to retrofit the vehicle with three-point seatbelts, for now it only has lap belts. I wasn't sure how well our supersafe SleepyPod Clickit Sport harnesses would work without shoulder belts, so I opted to use safety restraints designed to connect to a single point. Zip wears the Ruffwear Load Up harness in the van, while Godzilla wears the AllSafe harness.

bolster bed bench seat vehicle cover

The safety harnesses do a nice job of keeping the girls on the bench seat, but that doesn't help them feel more secure about the whole adventure of riding in the Tardis. Since the seat folds out into a bed, it's pretty flat. There is nothing for them to brace against or snuggle into, so the harnesses just sort of trap them on this weird bench.

This is where the Car Cuddler comes in. I don't know why somebody didn't come up with this idea sooner. It basically turned my weird camper bench seat into a snuggly and secure bed. I installed it before bringing the girls out to the van for the first time. They were a little concerned about jumping into the vehicle at first, but as soon as they saw the Car Cuddler they knew it was for them. It became an instant home base in our home away from home, so if I'm gunning the engine trying to keep it alive, they just snuggle in a bit deeper and don't freak out about the noise.

Pros: The dogs somehow automatically know that this is a dog bed. The bolster gives them something to brace against, and helps keep them on the seat. Has openings for seat belts! Fits securely on the seat with a combination of straps and tubes you push into the crack at the bottom of the seat. Is designed for seats with headrests, but was easy to anchor even on my totally-nonstandard seat. Sturdy with thick fabric that doesn't slide around like crazy on the seat. Machine washable, and the bolster and bottom pillow both come out so you can just wash the cover without the bulky parts.

Cons: The zippers that hold the pillows are very small, if I was planning a lot of zipping and unzipping I would be worried about how well they'd hold up.

Bottom Line: The Solvit Car Cuddler successfully convinced Zip and Godzilla that the Tardis was a pretty cool place to be.

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