Solvit “Tagalong Wicker Bicycle Basket”

Best suited for: Bike carrier
Also works for:
Quality: ★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★

This is a charming, old-fashioned bike carrier for a small dog. Made of woven wicker over a metal frame, the carrier comes with a a faux-sheepskin liner, a wicker sunshade, and a tall “safety cage.” Attached to the interior of the carrier is a short lanyard that can clip to your dog’s collar or harness.

According to the manufacturer, the Cruiser can hold dogs weighing up to 13 lbs. and measuring 13″ tall at the shoulders. Chloe’s a large small dog, and this was one of the largest bike carriers we could find. She fits in it very well, and we like how it’s made. The sheepskin liner is pretty thin, so add a soft towel for comfort. Another small gripe? It’s often hard to get hold of. Be patient, and order it well in advance of biking season.

Amazon link:
Solvit Tagalong Pet Bicycle Basket

Wagwear “Boat Canvas Carrier”

photo-5Best suited for: Over the shoulder carrier
Also works for: People avoiding puppy bling
Quality: ★★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★★

Wagwear sells beautifully-made dog gear online and in its tiny New York store. Their stuff has the same preppy appeal of the L.L. Bean catalog, but in a higher price range. We bought the “Boat Canvas Carrier,” which comes in a range of colors and reminds me of the L.L. Bean’s canvas totes.

It’s a great carrier, especially for the summertime. It’s well-made and sturdy, with a small side pocket and a rigid bottom for structure. There is a short lanyard sewn in, to clip to your dog’s collar or harness. The top zips closed, and whoever designed it was clever enough to include a wide canvas panel under the zipper, so that your dog’s fur doesn’t get caught.

It comes in two sizes: Small (8.5Hx12Lx 6W) and Large (11Hx15Lx8W). The Large fits Chloe perfectly. Negatives? It’s pretty pricey ($130), and you can really only spot-clean it.

Wagwear also sells a “Boat Canvas Carrier (Hampton Bag),” which is very similar except that that it closes with a cinch buckle and not a zipper, and doesn’t have a side pocket. It costs $104-120 and comes in three sizes: Small (8.5Hx12Lx 6W), Large (11Hx15Lx8W), and Extra Large (15Hx17Lx8W).

Sherpa “Ultimate Pet Carrier”

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

Sherpa makes several lines of pet carriers. So far, I’ve looked at the “Ultimate Pet Carrier” and the “Ultimate Bag on Wheels.” The Ultimate Pet Carrier comes in Small, Medium and Large; the Ultimate Bag on Wheels only comes in Medium and Large. Both bags have built-in straps through which a seatbelt can be passed, allowing the bags to work well as car carriers.

The Small size (8.5Hx15Lx10W) will satisfy all the U.S. airlines; the Medium (10.5Hx18Lx11W) is officially too large for all of them except Alaska/Horizon and Midwest. Although Sherpa suggests that their Large size is acceptable for some airlines, at 11.5Hx20Wx11.75W it’s even larger than Chloe’s SturdiBag.

I’ve bought the Medium and Large sizes, and returned the Large right away (if I’m going to break the rules, I’ll do it with the SturdiBag, which is better-designed and better-made). I hesitated over the Medium, because I’d bought the rolling version and on the trip I used it I loved being able to wheel Chloe behind me. If she were slightly smaller I would have kept it (I gave it to a friend with Papillons). Since then, however, I’ve seen (and bought!) rolling carriers that are better-designed — the Sherpa bag is pulled by its shoulder strap, clipped onto a couple of rings on the front end of the bag, which makes the bag hard to maneuver and tippy.

I just can’t like this carrier, even though I love its inventor’s ground-breaking work in getting soft-sided carriers accepted for in-cabin use. The only mesh openings are on the sides and end, so you can’t see into the bag when it’s in its usual spot under your feet. The privacy panels roll up, but where they’re secured in the SturdiBag with velcro straps, the Sherpa panels are secured with fiddly clips. Though the Sherpa and SturdiProducts carriers are in the same price range, the Sherpa bags feel cheesy. They’re also heavy. The Ultimate Pet Carrier weighs 3.75 lbs. and 4.26 lbs. in Small and Medium, respectively, and the Ultimate Bag on Wheels weighs 7.27 lbs. in Medium. Several airlines impose a maximum weight on in-cabin pets — Northwest, for example, requires in-cabin pets to weigh less than 15 lbs., including their bag — so a heavy bag limits your options.

Amazon links:
The Ultimate Sherpa Bag – Black / Small
Sherpa Legacy Ultimate Pet Bag – Medium
Ultimate Sherpa Bag Pet Dog Cat Carrier Large Red Airline

SturdiProducts “SturdiBag”

photo-6Best suited for: In-cabin airplane carrier (Small and Cube sizes; Large size with warning), car carrier
Also works for: Over the shoulder carrier
Quality: ★★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★★

We bought SturdiProducts’ large-sized SturdiBag in the belief that it was just barely acceptable to most airlines. We now know that it’s too big (12Hx18Lx12W). On the bright side, its support struts are very flexible, so it does, in fact, fit under every seat we’ve encountered (and Otto the cat and Chloe the dog have both been fine — the carrier has a lot of headroom).

Also on the bright side, it’s a beautifully-made product, with great features like top ventilation panels (with privacy blinds) and a small top hatch that zips open to allow pats. It’s very light (the Large size is 2 lbs., 10 oz.; the Small size is 3 oz. lighter; and the Cube is just 1 lb., 10 oz.), which helps with the airlines’ weight limits. It also has built-in loops through which a seat belt can be buckled, making it an excellent car carrier.

The Extra Large SturdiBag (16Hx20Lx12W) is far too large for airplane use, but it’s a terrific over-the-shoulder carrier and car carrier for dogs up to the size of a Cocker Spaniel or a Sheltie.

Unusually, the SturdiBag comes with a divider in two sizes (Large and Extra Large), so you can carry two pets together, but each in their own space.

If you have a pet that fits into the small SturdiBag or the SturdiBag Cube (at 10Hx18Lx10W and 10Hx10Lx10W, they’re both pretty close to the major airlines’ maximums), I recommend them unhesitatingly. We love the Large size, and it’s fit under every seat we’ve been in, but it’s enough over the airline’s maximum sizes that you’ll have some anxious moments talking to ticket agents. So far, showing them how flexible its sides are has been effective — they’ve been willing to let the flight crew make the call, and no flight attendant has flickered an eyebrow at it.

Amazon links:
SturdiBag Large Pet Carrier – Black
SturdiBag Small Black Pet Carrier

PetEgo “Jet Set Carrier”

Best suited for: In-cabin airplane carrier (Small and Medium sizes only), motorbike carrier
Also works for: Over the shoulder carrier, short-term backpack, car carrier
Quality: ★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★

PetEgo’s Jet Set Carrier, in the Small and Medium sizes, is well worth considering as an in-cabin carrier. The Small is 9.8Hx17.7Lx9W and the Medium is 10.6Hx19.7Lx9.8W — both are officially larger than the airlines’ maximum sizes, but they’re close enough that they’ll work, especially since they’re soft-sided and fairly flexible. The Large size (11.8Hx21.7Lx10.6W) is too long to work as an in-cabin carrier.

It’s a well-made, well-designed product, with nice features like built-in shoulder straps (so it can be carried as a backpack) and built-in clips that allow a long strap (provided) to be wound around a car’s headrest and buckled to the bag (so it can be used safely as a car carrier). It has some good-sized mesh ventilation panels, and a privacy panel on its main opening.

The Jet Set Carrier can also be bought as part of a JS Travel Kit that includes two small suitcases (one rolling). I can’t get enthused about that option, because the suitcases seem small and fussy to me (and at least one of them would have to be checked), and would provide me with wheels only at the point I no longer really need them (I need them on layovers, to get out to pet relief areas, not at the end of my trip, when I can loop Chloe’s carrier ’s handles over my own suitcase’s handle).

The carrier can also (with a couple of accessories) clamp on to your bike or motorbike and serve as a bike carrier. Unfortunately, although it will keep your dog contained and safe, her only view will be to the sides through mesh panels, so it’s less than ideal as a bike carrier. As a motorbike carrier, I like it — the coverage from the carrier will protect her from wind and debris.

Amazon links:
Jet Set Black Label Pet Carrier, Medium
Airline Approved Jet Set Pet Carrier By Petego Size Small-17.7

Creature Leisure “Carry Den XT”

photo-4Best suited for: Short-term backpack, in-cabin airplane carrier (Medium size only)
Also works for: Over the shoulder carrier
Quality: ★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★★

Creature Leisure’s Carry Den XT is an interesting crossover carrier for a small dog — it has handles and a shoulder strap, but it also has backpack straps that tuck away in its side pocket when they’re not in use.

Creature Leisure makes good-quality products, and this is another one. It can be collapsed for storage (the two bars and padded liner tray that give it structure can be slipped out and the carrier folds down to about a 4″ tall package). The side pocket that holds the backpack straps can also hold the shoulder strap while it’s not in use, and a few slim objects like a leash and harness, poop bags and treats.

It comes in two sizes: Medium (12Hx17Lx10W, 3 lbs.) and Large (14Hx19Lx12W, 3.5 lbs.). The Medium is within shouting range of the airlines’ maximum sizes, but it’s too small for Chloe. We bought the Large, which is much too large to work as an in-cabin carrier, no matter what Creature Leisure says on its packaging.

As a backpack, it’s not perfect — a sturdy structural element crosses your back about halfway up, and promises to be bothersome after a while. For short-term use, though, it’s great, and if your dog fits into the Medium and you use the bag for air travel, it would also be very useful during layovers — carrying a dog in a shoulder bag out to a pet relief area and back is no joke, and the backpack straps will make your life much easier.

The carrier has lots of mesh ventilation panels, and several snaps that allow you to open a panel completely and snap it out of the way. It doesn’t have any privacy panels, however, so some dogs may feel too exposed. As a backpack, the carrier will position your dog behind you, where you can’t see what kind of interactions she’s having, so a privacy panel on the main door in particular would have been a good idea.

Creature Leisure “Den”

Best suited for: Hotel or vacation rental crate
Also works for: Everyday crate, if your dog doesn’t scrape to escape
Quality: ★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★★

Photo by Creature Leisure
Photo by Creature Leisure

We own three of these Dens, two medium ones (for travel and for a vacation home) and a large one (for everyday use at home). The Den comes in three sizes: Small (17Hx22.5Lx15.5W), Medium (24Hx29.5Lx22W), and Large (30Hx38Lx28.5W). We like the Den because, assembled, it is sturdy and solid; and it collapses with the simplest of approaches — the four aluminum poles that provide structure at the four long seams of the crate slip out of their sleeves and are stored in one of the end panels, allowing the mesh side panels to collapse between the two end panels. The resulting 4″ deep rectangle has a strap to hold it closed. The crate comes with a shoulder strap, which I’ve never had a reason to use, and the company also sells a fairly durable soft bag for the collapsed crate, with enough extra room to fit a supplemental floor pad and some extra bedding.

Other things we like? Its mesh panels extend almost to the ground, so a dog lying down can still see out of her crate. It has D-rings in convenient places, to secure it in the rear compartment of your station wagon, SUV or minivan. The manufacturer even included a reflective PVC-coated nylon sun shade that can be snapped on to the top of the crate, in case you decide to use it outside on a sunny day.

Things we don’t like? The included floor pad is minimal, so you really need to buy one or two thick pads to make the floor comfortable. Chloe does sometimes scratch to escape her crate, and she managed to work her way through the reinforcing tape on a corner of the door of her large-sized Den in a very short period of time. I think it was a flaw in that particular crate, though, since her medium-sized Dens are still fine. My main complaint about the Den is that it does not include a clip designed to secure the two tabs of the zipper closing the front panel.

Roof Box Company “DogBag”

Best suited for: Car travel
Also works for: Beach, picnic cabana
Quality: ★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★

The first crate we bought was The Roof Box Company’s DogBag. The DogBag folds up (with a complicated maneuver akin to the one you may already be using on your car windshield sunscreen) and fits into a normal-sized backpack (provided by Roof Box). It has plenty of mesh netting so your dog has good ventilation and fairly good visibility. You need to supply your own floor padding (Roof Box’s Quilted Liner is thin, and pretty pricey).

It has numerous straps and tie-downs meant to stabilize it on the back seat or in the trunk of a car, so it works as a safe car carrier. Roof Box also sells an “open air kit” that includes a sun shade and 4 pegs, making the crate useful for picnicking, or as a beach hut. (Roof Box suggest that you use it as a camping tent for your dog, but I think it’s wiser all around for a dog to share your tent when camping.)

My only gripe with the DogBag is that the piece of solid fabric that flops down when the front door is zipped open (the flap is meant to cover and protect your rear bumper from a muddy dog jumping into your car’s trunk) covers the front of the crate when it’s zipped closed. A dog lying down inside can see out low mesh panels on the sides and back, but not out the front.

Please note that the DogBag comes in a wide range of sizes, from Extra Small (nearly an 18″ cube) to Large (nearly a 35″ cube). We got the medium size, which turns out to be more than a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel needs — the small size would have been sufficient.

PetEgo “Contour Messenger Bag”

photo-3Best suited for: Stealth transport
Also works for: People avoiding puppy bling
Quality: ★★★★
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★

Chloe’s messenger bag, the PetEgo Contour Messenger Black Label Bag, is a great stealth carrier. It comes in two sizes: Small (10.5Hx14Lx8W) and Large (13Hx20Lx10W). It also comes in a sporty orange-and-grey color combination, but I think the all-black option looks more like an computer bag and doesn’t highlight the mesh ventilation panels.

It has many good features, but the ones I care most about are the mesh “tower” and a small, zipped hatch in the top panel. The tower can be raised solidly into place with a couple of interior struts, or it can be left unsupported so your dog can push it up with her head when she wants to. When she’s done gazing and lies down, the top lowers again, returning the bag to its normal shape. The hatch in the top panel allows her to stick just her head out of the bag, or allows you to stick just your hand in to pat her.

Other nice features are the removable pad that lines the bottom of the bag and the poop bag dispenser built into the tiny pocket on the front of the bag. An overarching nice feature is that the bag is very well made (which it should be, at that price). After using it heavily for several months, the welting at the seams is beginning to show some wear, but the rest of the bag looks untouched. If it weren’t for that seam wear, this would be a solid 5-star review.

Amazon link:
Contour Messenger Bag Black Label Pet Carrier

PuppyPurse sling carrier

Best suited for: Showing off an adorable small dog
Also works for: Beating the heat
Quality: Unknown
Price: $$$$
Overall rating: ★★★★★

The PuppyPurse carrier is really a sling for your dog, with four leg holes. The sling wraps around your dog’s torso and closes along your dog’s spine, presumably with Velcro. There are D-rings at the neck and tail to which you clip two straps that can be shortened to go over your shoulder, lengthened to go across your chest, removed altogether (so your dog becomes a handbag), or half-removed and used as a leash. You can even use one of the straps to lash your dog to your hip, like a fanny pack.

It’s meant for small dogs, between 2 lbs. and 6 lbs. “plus” (the XXL size will fit a dog with a 16.5″-18.5″ chest circumference). I think Chloe would fit into the XXL, and she’s a rangy 12 lbs.

Some comments express concern about the degree of support the PuppyPurse provides to a dog’s back end, but it looks as though the sling extends far enough behind the rear legs that that wouldn’t really be a problem (and the makers of the PuppyPurse assure us that it’s “great for pets with arthritis, a broken leg, or other medical or physical problems”). The pictured dogs all look happy as clams, for what that’s worth.

I do see that it’s breezier than a regular carrier, but it doesn’t work for me for a number of reasons. First, the reason I put Chloe in a carrier is to conceal her in a place that doesn’t allow dogs, or contain her appropriately in a place that requires dogs to be in a carrier. Otherwise, she walks on her own. The PuppyPurse obviously wouldn’t work in either of those situations.

Second, I carry a purse every day of my life, and I know what I do it — I cut a corner too close, or I lean a bit going through a door, and my purse gets whacked. I fear that if Chloe were over my shoulder in a PuppyPurse I’d lose sight of the fact that she’s a dog and treat her just like my regular purse. I think it’s safer for her to have a carrier’s protection.

And keep in mind that a regular carrier provides protection in the other direction too. If you have a cranky or nippy dog, the PuppyPurse seems like a problem waiting to happen: There your dog is, looking adorable and attracting pats — and right at nipping height, especially for youngsters who are likely to be the first to tick off a cranky dog.

And finally, carrying Chloe over my shoulder in a PuppyPurse would mean that I’d have two things over my shoulders in this heat — at least with a carrier, I can stick my essential purse items in the pockets.