Dog Whisperer Soft-Sided Carrier

Best suited for: Over the shoulder carrier
Also works for: Car carrier
Quality: ★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★

This is a surprisingly well-made and appealing carrier, but I can’t recommend it. Here’s what I liked: It’s sturdily-constructed of heavyweight material, and the zippers are solid and function well. The mesh panels are of good-quality mesh, and they’re huge — no problem with ventilation in this carrier. The zipper runs all the way around the front sides and top panel, so that when the bag is completely unzipped, it can function as a comfortable travel bed.

Here’s what I didn’t like: This carrier does not allow you to see your dog from above, which is the view you’ll most often have of her as you’re traveling. Please also note that to reach your dog during travel, you’ll have to position the main zipper just so — what looks like an access zipper on the top is really just a pocket in the carrier’s lid. The deal breaker for me, though, is that this carrier (20Lx11Wx11H) is simply too large to work as an in-cabin carrier. It’s much larger than the official U.S. airline maximums, but even if you’re willing to push those limits, in my experience, 19 inches is as wide as a carrier can be and still fit under an airplane seat.

Amazon link:
Dog Whisperer Brown & Blue Soft Side Dog Carrier

Outward Hound “Roll Along Pet Carrier & Backpack”

Photo by The Kyjen Company

Best suited for: Backpack, wheeled transport
Also works for: In-cabin airplane carrier
Quality: ★★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★

The Roll Along Pet Carrier both rolls and converts to a backpack. At 19Hx14Wx10D, it’s larger than the last Outward Hound carrier I reviewed, but it shares many of the same features, including enormous ventilation panels on the front and sides, and roomy pockets — big enough to carry your dog’s leash, poop bags and treats and still leave plenty of room for a wallet and keys.

This carrier handles its various tasks pretty well. Our 13-lb. dog Chloe is at the upper limit of what it will handle, and with her on board the carrier rolls well but shows a tendency to wobble. Carrying her on my shoulders, I wished for straps that were better-padded, but noted with pleasure that the carrier is quite light and its hard bits rest on the back of my hips, which have sufficient padding of their own. (The backpack carrier that I own, Creature Leisure’s Carry Den XT, is a better-quality bag, overall, but throws a structural support uncomfortably across your backbone.) I could see carrying Chloe in this bag for a while — not all day, but certainly for a couple of hours — and it would work well for people bringing their dogs with them on a scooter.

“Great for airline travel,” says the marketing materials — and indeed, a dog park friend of mine who travels the world with her Schipperke is on her second Roll Along Pet Carrier (the first carrier’s wheels “melted” during a particularly rigorous trip to South America). It needs to be pointed out, however, that this bag exceeds every major U.S. airline’s maximum dimensions for an in-cabin pet carrier (it does much better with international airline maximums). As you know from previous posts and comments, most carriers you see are non-complying. Unlike some non-complying carriers, though, this bag looks big, probably because of its large side pockets.

It won’t fit left-to-right under an airplane seat — the handle will get in the way, and the 10″ depth (which will be the height, once the carrier is laid on its back) is structured enough not to flex. It would, however, fit front-to-back, with the narrower part by the handle inserted first under the seat. A few inches of the widest, bottom part would be visible to an alert flight attendant.

From your dog’s point of view, it works as an in-cabin carrier. Even Chloe, a big small dog, had lots of room, and the padding on top of the handle structure is light but sufficient. Negatives? This carrier has no privacy panels, which may be an issue if your pet prefers cave-like solitude when she’s traveling. Some users complain that the front ventilation panel droops onto their pet when the bag is on its back. It does, a bit, but Chloe seemed completely unfazed.

I’d buy this bag in a heartbeat for international travel, and I’d probably risk it, with fingers crossed, for domestic travel too. Frankly, I wish I’d bought it instead of my Creature Leisure Carry Den XT (purchased for outings to farmer’s markets).

Kyle Hansen of the Kyjen Company sent me three different Outward Hound carriers to try out and review. Kyjen has not paid for these reviews, and when I warned Kyle that they might not be love-fests, he said, essentially, “let ‘er rip.” Pet Carrier Review’s policy requires me to give away freebies valued at over $50, and Kyjen has agreed that the products will be given away to Pet Carrier Review readers.

Amazon link:
Kyjen Outward Hound Pet Roll Along Carrier & Backpack, Black

Midwest “i-Crate” Folding Crate

Photo by Midwest

Best suited for: Everyday crate
Also works for: Hotel or vacation rental crate
Quality: ★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★

This is the crate I should have bought when I first brought Chloe home. I’ve ended up with it, after a variety of collapsible fabric crates, a Marchioro “Ithaka Clipper 6” crate, and a Sky Kennel crate, but I wish I’d started here.

First things first: I bought the iCrate Single Door Folding Crate, Model 1530 (which is the size Medium, at 30Lx19wx21H). Chloe could fit in the next smaller size, but for her everyday crate I like her to have lots of room. I also bought a crate cover, because it will help protect her from the sun (if summer ever returns to Seattle), and without it, she’s really exposed — with it, the crate is more den-like. I bought both items from Fetch Dog, since the crate cover that Midwest sells has its good points (I like the quilted bumpers) but the Fetch Dog cover allows you to roll up one or more sides if you wish.

Here’s what I like about the iCrate: It’s fairly easy to assemble and disassemble, Chloe cannot scrape her way out of it, and the latch (the model I bought only has one) works smoothly and opens/closes without effort.

Here’s what I don’t like: The top panel just catches closed on the front and back panels — add any weight, and it un-catches. That means that our cats can’t sleep on top of the crate, and that I can’t rest Chloe’s heavy tote of gear on top either.  I should mention, though, that my parents own iCrate Model 1536, which is the next size larger and also has two latches rather than one. We’ve used it for Chloe when we visit, and its top seemed sturdier than ours. We had no problem stacking stuff on top.

That’s a pretty mild gripe, though. On balance, I’m delighted with this crate, and Chloe seems to like it too. Please note that it is also available with two or even three doors, so if your home kennel set-up would work better with a door that opens on the long side, for example, that option is available.

Amazon link:
Midwest Metal I-Crate Single Door 30in x 19in x 21in

Outward Hound “Backpack Pet Carrier”

Photo by The Kyjen Company

Best suited for: Backpack
Also works for: In-cabin airplane carrier
Quality: ★★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★

I’ll just say up front that I like this product a lot. Outward Hound’s backpack is the same size as a school backpack, but it’s been optimized for your small dog’s comfort and for your convenience.

The sides and top flap consist nearly entirely of mesh panels, so your dog has plenty of ventilation. The side seams have been reinforced, so the bag will not collapse onto your pet if the bag is laid on its back, and since the bottom is stiffened, the product retains its shape pretty well when a dog of the appropriate size (see below) is on board. Nice details include a lanyard inside to clip to your dog’s harness, and a clip that allows you to roll back and secure the top flap, in case you want your dog to poke her head out the top. There are three generous pockets, one of which includes a key clip. The shoulder straps are padded, and there are chest and waist belts to distribute your dog’s weight.

The only downside, from my point of view, is that the carrier is too small for Chloe. I believe it would also be an awkward configuration for a long dog like a Dachshund. If you own a fairly petite dog — say 10 lbs. or under — this is a carrier that might fit nicely into your life. It’s lightweight, which is both its curse (a heavier-weight bag might keep its shape under a heavier load) and its blessing (why add more weight to your back?).

Though it’s not mentioned on the packaging, this would work as an in-cabin airplane carrier for a small dog. The back, which would be on the ground when the bag was placed under a seat, is sufficiently padded and the padding appears to be water-resistant. The mesh panels give you a good view of your dog, and the double zipper around the top panel allows you to unzip it a bit to reach in with treats, ice cubes, etc. And the backpack straps would be a big help during layovers, as you dash outside to reach a pet relief area. Here too the carrier’s lightness is a positive, since it reduces strain on your back and gives you a better chance of meeting an airline’s maximum weight requirements (see Pet Carrier Review’s Guides for details about U.S. and international airlines’ in-cabin pet policies).

Kyle Hansen of the Kyjen Company sent me three different Outward Hound carriers to try out and review. Kyjen has not paid for these reviews, and when I warned Kyle that they might not be love-fests, he said, essentially, “let ‘er rip.” Pet Carrier Review’s policy requires me to give away freebies valued at over $50, and Kyjen has agreed that the products will be given away to Pet Carrier Review readers.

Amazon link:
Kyjen Outward Hound Backpack Pet Carrier Black Small

Winner of the Outward Hound “Sling-Go” giveaway

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaway for an Outward Hound Sling-Go Pet Carrier, and thank you to The Kyjen Company for sponsoring it!

Photo by The Kyjen Company

The randomly-selected winner was Amanda who recommended Freddie’s Place in Austin, TX. Here’s why:

Their outdoor patio isn’t just one of South Austin’s best places to enjoy a margarita on a warm evening or a bloody for brunch, but Sunday afternoon is devoted especially to dogs and their owners. They have “Hair of the Dog Specials” from 11am-4pm and during the warmer months they have best dog trick contests with treats for all participants.

Amanda, please email me your mailing address, and I’ll send you your prize! Click on “More about Pet Carrier Reviews” for my address.

Giveaway: Outward Hound “Sling-Go Pet Carrier”

I recently reviewed Outward Hound’s “Sling-Go Pet Carrier,” and now I have the pleasure of offering it to a Pet Carrier Reviews reader! Many thanks to The Kyjen Company for sponsoring this giveaway.

Photo by The Kyjen Company

How to enter

Using the form below, please tell me about a favorite dog-friendly place — a park, hotel, shop, or restaurant that you and your dog have enjoyed together. Choose wisely, because you only get one comment per giveaway!

If you subscribe to my other blog, Dog Jaunt, or follow @dogjaunt on Twitter, however, you will get additional chances to win. Subscribers, please insert the secret code at the bottom of each post and type it into the form. Twitter followers, please type in your Twitter name.

Please include your email address in the comment form (your email isn’t shared with anyone, and I will not send you email unless you win).

Deadlines

Please submit your comments before 11:59 pm (Eastern time) on Tuesday, Jan. 5. We will choose a winner randomly, and the results will be announced in a post here and on Dog Jaunt on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

The fine print

To enter, you must be a U.S. resident, age 18 or older. Only one comment per person per giveaway post. Duplicate comments and anonymous comments will be discarded. Please make sure that the email address in your comment form is valid (email addresses are never public). Winners must claim their prize within three business days after the date of notification of such prize. A winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified three business days will be considered a forfeiture of the prize and an alternate winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. We will disqualify any entries that we believe are generated by scripts and other automated technology. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. Employees, partners and vendors of Dog Jaunt or Pet Carrier Reviews and their immediate family members are not eligible to enter.

[Form removed…giveaway is over!]

Kyjen Company/Outward Hound “Sling-Go Pet Carrier”

Photo by Kyjen Company

Best suited for: Over the shoulder carrier
Also works for:
Quality: ★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★

This sling carrier is made of a sturdy polyester twill fabric, elasticized along the open sides. The bottom is slightly padded, in case you need to set your pet down in it. It is surprisingly capacious — at 13 lbs., Chloe is a large small dog, and she fit in the sling comfortably. She chose not to lie down, but she could have.

There is a clip halfway along the open sides that can be closed to keep the sling from gaping open, but this is by no means a stealth bag. At very least, your dog’s fur is visible; more often, her head and shoulders will be visible too. There are also clips at each end, presumably to clip to your dog’s harness. The shoulder strap is broad (though not padded) and a large clasp allows you to fit the strap around you, if you prefer that to hoisting it over your head. The strap also includes a tiny built-in zippered pocket, big enough for a key or a couple of poop bags or treats.

The bag is well-designed and well-made. Although I tired of carrying Chloe around after a while, I lasted much longer with this sling than I ever have holding her in my arms, and it handled her weight with ease. It could handle dogs slightly larger than she is, I believe — say up to 20 lbs. — though heaven help your shoulders. Padding on the shoulder strap would be a nice addition, but I’m otherwise very pleased with this carrier.

Kyle Hansen of the Kyjen Company sent me three different Outward Hound carriers to try out and review. Kyjen has not paid for these reviews, and when I warned Kyle that they might not be love-fests, he said, essentially, “let ‘er rip.” Pet Carrier Review’s policy requires me to give away freebies valued at over $50, and Kyjen has agreed that the products will be given away to Pet Carrier Review readers.

Amazon link:
Outward Hound Sling-Go-Pet BLACK

Pet Flys Carrier

Photo by Pet Flys
Photo by Pet Flys

Best suited for: In-cabin airplane carrier (Mini and Small only)
Also works for: Over the shoulder carrier
Quality: ★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★

I ordered the Pet Flys carrier in the “Enter the Dragon” pattern and the Super size (19Lx9Wx12H), which fits Chloe but is too large for airplane use — the carrier doesn’t flex the way a SturdiProducts or Sherpa carrier does. It comes in two smaller sizes, both of which will work as in-cabin carriers: the Mini is 13Lx8Wx9H, and the Small is 16Lx9wx10H.

This carrier is solidly-built and thoughtfully-designed. It also has style — “Enter the Dragon” is black and purple, decorated with a huge embroidered black and red dragon, and there are several other eye-catching designs. The exterior is sturdy canvas; the interior is some sort of wipeable nylon material, with fleece on the bottom and one long side (a separate fleece blanket is included to provide padding). No fabric mesh here: one end is a stainless-steel mesh window, and the other is pierced with several large grommet holes for ventilation. A chain tether clips to the mesh window and can clip to your dog’s collar. A privacy flap can be lowered over the mesh window. There is a shortish strap that functions as a handle, and a long shoulder strap — the two straps can be connected to make a really long strap, allowing you to sling the carrier across your body like a messenger bag.

Here’s what I don’t like about it. My smallest gripe is that the canvas straps are so sturdy and thick that it’s nearly impossible to snap them shut around their rings. There’s also an odd little strap sewn inside that I think is meant to allow you to zip the long, entrance side of the bag partly closed but then snap back a corner so your dog’s head can poke out. I can imagine situations where that might be a good idea, but the strap begs to be chewed off by a bored dog.

A bigger gripe? When the carrier is at your feet, you can’t see your dog at all. There are two very large grommet holes near the top ridge of the carrier, but they don’t provide a view. And although I like the option of privacy for a dog, this carrier strikes me as too private. Both long sides are solid fabric, so the only way your dog can really see out (or you can see in) is through the mesh window on one end. Chloe takes an interest in her surroundings when she’s traveling, and I like to keep an eye on her, so this is not a good match for us — I appreciate, though, that it may be just the ticket for some dogs. Our cats would love it.

One more thought: Although the label says that it “buckles easily into the car for maximum safety,” I don’t see how. There are no loops through which a seat belt can pass — perhaps the manufacturer means that the seat belt can pass through the shorter handle. If so, it would be somewhat secure, but not as secure as carriers with loops positioned so that a seat belt really holds it tightly against the back of the passenger seat.

If my gripes don’t impress you, you’ll like this carrier. It’s pricey, but you’re getting what you pay for.

Amazon links:
Happy Skull Pet Carrier by Pet Flys : Size MINI
PET FLYS Forever Koi Pet Carrier SMALL

Loveabledog “City Chic” carrier (from How’s Your Dog)

Photo by How's Your Dog
Photo by How's Your Dog

Best suited for: Over the shoulder carrier
Also works for:
Quality: ★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★

This carrier is available on Amazon, from a vendor called How’s Your Dog, but it appears to be the product of a Chinese company called Loveabledog. I bought it because it looked promising: It’s priced high enough that it should be a good-quality product, and it was advertised as “fully collapsible,” which is interesting in itself but also suggested to me that it might flex enough to fit under an airplane seat. I have to say that I’m disappointed. Unfortunately, it cannot be returned, so I’ll be donating it to my favorite local shelter.

There are some things I like about this carrier. It’s cleverly designed to unzip completely into a long strip with two “ears” that are the side panels. Tuck the ears in, and the whole thing folds up into a compact package for storage. It has two large mesh ventilation panels (the “ears,” again) and another, smaller one at the top of one of the long sides. I’m guessing, but it sure seems like it would be waterproof.

Here’s what I don’t like. The faux leather exterior looks and feels unpleasant, in my opinion. There is a large exterior pocket, but for it to latch closed it needs be holding hardly anything (and nothing bulky). The mesh panels are sturdy enough, but the fabric below them is a thin polyester twill that a dog could easily shred. She’d still have to claw through the exterior faux leather material at that point to escape, but a single layer of that material may not be much of a barrier. There is no way to reach into the carrier from the top — when the carrier is assembled, in fact, access is only through one end. At 17Lx11Wx12H, it’s taller than allowed by all major U.S. airlines, and it does not flex like a SturdiProducts or Sherpa carrier. Since it’s wider than it is tall, turning it on its side won’t help.

It also won’t work as a car carrier, since it doesn’t include loops to pass a seat belt through. Since there are no mesh openings at eye height on the long sides, moreover, your dog could only see out the ends, which sounds like a recipe for carsickness to me.

For this price, you can do a lot better.

Amazon link:
How’s Your Dog