There's a lot of dog carriers out there. From big brands like Kurgo and Outward Hound, to established fashion brands like Timbuk2 and similar designs such as the Ruffit Dog Carrier. If you're here you're probably asking yourself "which carrier is best for me and my dog?"
It all started when we wanted to take our dog for a bike ride. She couldn’t keep up and we couldn’t carry her in our hands so we began to look around for existing “pet carriers.”
First we bought the Outward Hound “Pooch Pouch” that sat on my front. It was difficult to put her in feet first and although she was clipped to a lanyard the bag had very little security holding her in place. As I rode my knees hit the bottom of the bag causing Daisy to jostle mercilessly. She jumped out of the bag at every other dog she saw and ran from side to side which threw my balance off. We thought it may work for hiking but the Pooch Pouch was so unbalanced and flimsy that Daisy tipped from side to side and front to back so I ended up holding the bottom of the bag anyway. I might as well have been holding just my dog.
Problem: Difficult, rear feet first entry. No security. Poor balance and interfered with activities.
We decided to try putting her on our backs and were drawn to the Pet Life On-The-Go Travel Bark-Pack. It looked flexible, lightweight and fairly inexpensive. Once again, we put Daisy in feet first which took an incredible amount of time and effort. Her whole body went inside the bag with only her head sticking up and then a cinch strap closed the bag around her collar. We put her on my back and the bag appeared too top heavy as she fell forward dangerously. The cinch strap began to loosen and I had to lay down face first on the ground to keep her from falling out of the bag completely. After several attempts and while leaning very far forward I began my bike ride. The security system was fragile and her arms kept popping out which would cause her top half to swing wildly out of the bag. After a few miles we gave up and went home. When I took her out of the bag she seemed disoriented and just wanted to lay on the ground. She stayed like that for the rest of the day until we took her to the vet and explained what had happened. The vet informed us that dogs often get motion sick and that facing backwards can be disorienting and dizzying for dogs.
Problem: Difficult, rear feet first entry. Flimsy security. Dangerous balance. Disorienting, rear facing design.
The next logical option was a sling. Based on previous failures we decided to try two; the Furry Fido Pet Sling and the Pet Puppy Carrier Sling. Both were relatively cheap and looked comfortable for Daisy. We realized immediately that neither one was what we were looking for. On a bike ride my balance was constantly pulled in one direction, one of my shoulders was always aching from supporting all of her weight, I used one of my hands to balance her constantly and there was nothing keeping her from jumping out which she did several times.
Problem: Throws human off balance, puts all weight on one shoulder, not hands free, no security.
We went back to the back carriers and found several that looked safe for Daisy. Once again, we bought two while even later we tried a third. The Masvis Carrier with the spaceship bubble design and the Pet Gear Traveler and the Petsfit Comfort Pet Carrier. They all looked sturdy and safe for Daisy and so far the backpack option was the best one. These seemed like the addressed all the concerns we had with the Petlife On-The-Go Travel Bark-Pack; balance, safety, direction of dog etc. We placed Daisy in the enclosed carrier and she immediately began to scratch at the ceiling of the bag. Thinking she would get used to it I put the Pet Gear Carrier on my back and started off on my ride. Daisy whined the entire trip and paced up and down inside the carrier often scratching at the sides. While the bags were indeed more balanced, Daisy moving from side to side nearly threw me off several times and her whining made my heart ache. When I got home and took my cycling jersey off my wife exclaimed and pointed to my shoulders where I had long purple marks stretching down both sides. The weight of the bag had popped blood vessels all over my trapezius that had caused unsightly purple contusions. We came to the conclusion that dogs want to hang their heads out car windows for a reason and that cooping Daisy up had caused her immense anxiety as she could not see who was carrying her or where she was going.
Problem: Anxiety inducing enclosed design. Too much freedom of movement for the dog causing balance changes for the human. Heavy, uncomfortable design.
We decided that we would make our own bag that addressed each of these concerns.
We started by visiting our veterinarian to gather feedback about comfortable dog positions and the ways we could design the most ergonomic carrier ever. We were informed that the “begging position” is a natural positon for dogs and although they are often incapable of holding that positon by themselves for extended periods of time, with proper support that positon would be quite comfortable for a healthy dog.
We began to craft a bag around Daisy addressing balance, safety, comfort and fun and the K9 Sport Sack began to take shape.
The bottom of the bag became stiffer than the average backpack so she had a platform to sit on and her back stayed straight. Her body would remain in the begging position with her front pressed up against my back for support. We eliminated excess fabric so she stayed swaddled and comforted throughout the adventure. Straps were placed in strategic spots throughout the bag that could be tightened and loosened to adjust her posture to the perfect positon. We later added mesh side panels that allowed airflow to cool the dog down.
Daisy’s Comfort? Check. Hands free design? Check.
The straps were made wide and thick with breathable holes to eliminate shoulder sweat. The material we chose was Cordura based in its lightweight, breathable, durable quality. Daisy’s weight was distributed evenly throughout the bag so she was incapable of tipping forward or backward and while she could look over either of my shoulders, she could not run wildly all over my back causing me to lose my balance.
My comfort? Check. Proper balance? Check.
In order to keep her from getting out she would need a collar of some kind. At the top of the bag we created an adjustable collar that clipped snugly around her neck and just below that we cut two holes so Daisy could stick her arms out onto my shoulders. With her arms through those holes it became extremely difficult for her to get out of the bag but allowed her to use her feet to balance herself against my back. For good measure we added a small metal ring that clipped to Daisy’s collar making it impossible for her to exit through any part of the bag except the zipper entrance. Later we placed straps perpendicularly over the zipper to hold the zipper closed for larger dogs whose weight places extra stress on the zipper as well as add lumbar support to keep the dog upright. We also added a zipper loop to the zipper that clips around the collar clip as yet another safety measure.
Daisy’s safety? Check.
The zipper was placed on the back of the bag so she could easily be inserted with minimum wiggling and stress. Over time we discovered a method of putting her front arms in first, clipping the collar and then inserting her back half into the bag which worked 200% better than putting her rear feet in first.
Easy Entry? Check.
Once she was in the bag Daisy became very calm as her front was pressed against my back. We set the bag slightly higher than the average backpack so Daisy could peer over my shoulder. Her face was right next to mine. She could see me, feel me and smell me, knowing it was me and being comforted by that.
Comforting? Check. Fun? Check.
The K9 Sport Sack has evolved aesthetically to include secondary considerations such as color, visibility, the ability to accommodate a wider range of dogs and humans but the original concept of safety, comfort, balance and fun has been the same all along.
We have also has several companies try to replicate our success. A few years ago the Ruffit Dog Carrier became the second forward facing backpack dog carrier on the market. We have also noticed a reinvigoration of the pet carrying market as other rear facing and enclosed carriers have come into existence such as the Snoozer Pet Carrier and the Petego Lenis Carrier as well as front carriers such as the Riveroy Legs-out Front Pet Carrier and the Top Paw Front Carrier. These bags, however, fail to address the concerns that we originally had that the K9 Sport Sack was born into. To truly have a hands-free, comfortable, safe, balanced, easy to use option, the K9 Sport Sack is the choice.
See another review of the K9 Sport Sack here
Thanks for choosing K9 Sport Sack!