Charley has used a Sherpa pet carrier since he was ten weeks old. We have tried some other carriers, but Charley is so used to his Sherpa that we just stick with that. In particular, he’s used to hopping in and out of the opening in the top. He is not as comfortable getting into a bag that doesn’t have a top opening.
SHERPA PET CARRIER
We’ve tried a few different Sherpa models (Delta, Ultimate, and the Roll-Up) and sizes (Medium and Large). Sherpa also makes a wheeled carrier, but I haven’t tried it. For me, the Roll-Up model is the best. It has flaps on three sides that can be rolled up allowing air to pass through fabric screens — great for warm weather. It is also smaller and lighter than some of the other models. It has two slim zippered compartments on one end for carrying a few supplies. It doesn’t have as many pockets as some other models (like the Ultimate), but having fewer pockets also means it is slimmer and easier to carry.
Charley weighs just under 18 pounds (8 kg) and fits fine in the Medium bag. He will hop right into it and go to sleep for several hours, no matter where we are going. After a few hours, he does seem to get restless, so I got a Large size bag to give him more wiggle room for longer trips. Both feel equally comfortable on my shoulder. The Medium is perfect the trips on the subway, to the vet and around town. The Large is a little bit bulky maneuvering through crowds and narrow aisles, so I prefer to use the Medium when I can.
My one complaint of the Sherpa bag is the strap is not very good. Specfically, it does not have a proper snap closure, but a rather flimsy sliding closure. With my first Sherpa bag, the closure slid open and the bag slipped from my shoulder. Luckily, I caught it and Charley was not hurt. You may wish to consider adding a different strap, perhaps from a messenger bag or some other piece of luggage. The strap I use came from a Tenba presentation case, but I think other luggage or camera gear straps would be good too. Just something with a comfortable wide strap and secure closure snaps or clips.
I also use more comfortable cushions than the ones that come with the Sherpa. I think this helps Charley from becoming restless on longer trips. Precision Pet’s SnooZZY OrthoAir Inflatable Bed (size 1000) is very comfortable and the SnooZZy Cozy Comforter (size 1000) is also good. (Sitstay.com is a good place to find these.)
If you are interested in a carrier with wheels, you might want to take a look at Tutto’s Pet-on-Wheels case. Charley fits in the Medium size and has tried it for short trips around town. He goes right to sleep, just like with the Sherpa. It is sturdy and well-constructed and looks more like a traditional suitcase. And if you already have Tutto luggage, it works well with that. Sherpa also makes a wheeled carrier, but we haven’t tried it (mainly because I don’t like wheeled luggage). On one occasion I saw a Sherpa stroller, but never saw it anywhere else, so it may have been custom-made.
I saw someone else using the SturdiBag and thought I would give it a try. The one I tried is the Extra Large — it is larger (taller) than even the biggest Sherpa and is big enough for Charley to stand in, but is also quite bulky to carry around. A smaller size, like the Large, would probably be OK for him and would be easier to manage. It has some nice details that the Sherpa lacks, namely a comfortable strap, better zipper pulls, buckles, etc.
Unfortunately, despite its name, the SturdiBag is actually quite flimsy. It is made of lightweight fabric held in place by flexible struts — sort of like a tent. The first time we tried it, I said “Get in the bag” and Charley jumped on top, just the way he gets into his Sherpa bag and he flattened it completely. It did spring right back to shape as soon as Charley stopped standing on it. This shows how flexible this bag is — which allows it to fit under seats, but also demonstrates that it offers zero protection for the dog if something fell on the bag. The Sherpa bag is a little sturdier, offering more protection. It is for this reason that I cannot recommend the SturdiBag. It seems a little too bulky for a shoulder bag and not sturdy enough for luggage.
I also tried the Scout Messenger Pet Bag which seems like a great option for traveling on the subway, but unfortunately was too small for Charley. It says it is for pets up to 12 pounds. It is well-made and would be fine as a shoulder bag. (It is soft and does not offer the dog any protection.) I used to use a Large NY Bike Messenger Bag (1610) by Manhattan Portage for Charley’s friend Spike. I could carry him everywhere in that.
What kind of pet carrier do you use? Please feel free to leave a comment below.