Sherpa “Ultimate Pet Carrier”
Best suited for: In-cabin airplane carrier (Small and Medium sizes), car carrier
Also works for: Over the shoulder carrier
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.