From the first day we got Mia, who is a "Yochon" or Yorkshire Terrier & Bichon mix, we wanted her to be accustomed to travel and adventure. Although she's spoiled and wears her small dog syndrome as a badge of honor (barking, territoriality, disdain for large dogs and small kids), she is no delicate flower! In fact, she's downright tough for being only 12 pounds and nine years old. She may be spoiled but we've always introduced her to new experiences and stimuli. She'll bark at intruders but not at fireworks. She'll hike as far as her senior hips allow. And she has more frequent flyer miles than must people.*
In her nine years of flying, we've only purchased two styles/brands of dog carriers. We've never needed a hard crate at home because we gently introduced her to these soft-sided dog bags that she actually enjoys spending time in. We needed these carriers to provide her with the most leg room yet still be airline approved to fit under the seat in front of us.
The first bag we used for several years was Teafco's "Argo" in the large size. This sturdy soft-sided bag has front and back vents for breathability, and front and top zipper openings for accessibility. It has a padded shoulder strap and a side pocket for doggie bags and vaccination documents (required for international travel).
When we encountered a zipper malfunction with our first Argo bag, the company was kind enough to replace the entire bag. They are a great company with many styles of carrier bags and accessories. Our large Argo bag has softened over time and currently measures 19" long x 9" high x 11 wide. It is stained and faded (i.e. well-loved) but still serves as our backup bag.
Our primary dog bag is now the Sleepypod "Air". We had our first Air for 3 years before it wore out from very frequent use. With either brand of bag we'd suggest being patient with the zippers, as they see the most wear. Now that we know to be gentler with the hand strap and the zippers, we think our new replacement bag will last even longer. Despite the shorter lifespan of our first Sleepypod, we still feel that their Air beats out the Argo on features, customization, privacy, and convenience. Not price. At $157 for the Air on Amazon vs. Argo at $103 , the Air is the bigger investment but one we're willing to make for all the convenience it provides.
Below are photos of our new Sleepypod Air as well as Sleepypod's features as listed on their site.
In addition to all these great features, we're happy to report that Sleepypod is a California-based company with a retail store in their Pasadena headquarters. For us, that means shopping local. Yay!
However, as with any product, there are a few potential drawbacks with the Sleepypod Air:
Offgassing: Because this product is primarily nylon, it will likely have a plastic odor when it first arrives. I'd suggest airing it out overnight before introducing your pet to the bag. You wouldn't want them associating the bag with a bad odor. It actually took Mia several weeks to transition from her Argo bag to her Air. Once she began voluntarily using it there was no looking back.
Weight: Like I mentioned, at 4.9 pounds this carrier is on the heavy side. That's a sacrifice we're willing to make because it's so feature rich and heavy duty. The Argo bag is not significantly lighter at 4 lbs (including a liner we added aftermarket).
Velcro vs. Snap Closure: In their latest model, Sleepypod has swapped out a metal snap for a Velcro closure in order to keep open (fold inward) the front flap. While the Velcro works for now, I felt the metal snap was plenty secure and didn't run the risk of getting full of fuzz and hair like Velcro does. Only time will tell if the Velcro wears out and we have to replace it.
Longevity: As I've mentioned, be gentle with the zippers in order to extend the life of this bag. Additionally, the stitching that affixes the hand carrier strap to the top of the bag did wear out on our first bag. While we could have gotten this repaired, it's still a potential vulnerable area to monitor. The bag has a 1 year limited warranty.
So this is probably the longest blog you've ever read dedicated to the review of a pet carrier. But because good quality pet carriers are expensive, we feel it's a purchase that's well worth the research. Although designed for air travel, the right bag may just end up being your pet's favorite accessory. If you're ready to try the Sleepypod, keep reading for a discount on your purchase.
Although Province doesn't have any endorsement deal, affiliation, or get free products from Sleepypod for mentioning them, we were provided with a coupon code to use on our next purchase. Because the code is public, we're happy to pass it along to readers. For 10% off your next purchase on Sleepypod.com use code AR14. We get nothing when you use the code. In fact, we'd be grateful if you buy on Amazon through our affiliate link. Amazon affiliate sales help pay to keep this site running and you'll probably save a few bucks too.
Stay tuned for a future post in which I share our best pet travel tips. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for the latest @ProvinceJournal.
*Curious where Mia has traveled? Our intrepid explorer has trekked Canada from Victoria Island in the West to Prince Edward Island in the East and everywhere in between from Banff to Montreal to Halifax. For all her love of the provinces, she's an urban hound at heart and has lived in Portland, Oregon, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles. She rode a dune buggy on the shore of Lake Michigan and ascended the winding elevations of Mt. Hood and Yosemite. She's sniffed the seabreeze of the Northumberland Strait and island hopped the Florida Keys. She has spent countless nights at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills and is probably the first and only dog to walk the red carpet with Robert Duvall and Neil Patrick Harris. She's been pampered poolside atop a skyscraper in Miami and has barked in the Embarcadero. But it's her humble life at home she perhaps loves the most. Mia howls with wild abandon when we pull into the driveway after time on the road. At home she's a sun worshiping, lizard chasing, squirrel terrorizing, messy haired, DOG who lives to sniff the dirt and collapse in a human lap from exhaustion of a life well lived.