This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which pet carrier backpack is best?

Pet carrier backpacks make it more convenient to take your pet places. For instance, if you need to carry your cat to the vet on foot, it’s much less hassle with a backpack carrier than a conventional handheld carrier. 

Some people also use their carriers for small dogs, particularly on long hikes where the little canines might tire out. The Kurgo K9 Pet Carrier Backpack is an excellent choice for cats and dogs up to 25 pounds. 

What to know before you buy a pet carrier backpack

Weight capacity

All carriers list a weight capacity. Not only does it give you an idea of which pets will fit inside, but it also tells you the maximum safe weight. A small, stocky dog weighing 20 pounds might fit comfortably inside a carrier with a 16-pound weight limit, but the carrier might not hold them safely. 

Dog carrier backpacks often have a larger weight capacity than those designed with cats in mind. That said, most pet carriers work equally well for cats or dogs, as long as they’re within the weight limit. 


Just because your pet weighs less than the maximum capacity doesn’t mean a carrier is the right fit. Slim but tall dogs might be below the weight limit for a carrier but too large to comfortably fit inside. 

Measure from the base of the neck to the base of the tail and the top of the shoulders to the ground, while standing. Add 2 to 3 inches to these measurements, and you’ll find the minimum carrier size for your pet. 


Pet carriers must have plenty of ventilation to allow a good flow of fresh air inside. Without this, your pet could overheat or struggle to breathe. Carriers should have vents or mesh panels on more than one side. If you’re flying with your pet, some airlines have strict rules about the necessary amount of ventilation in a carrier, so check before you buy. 

What to look for in a quality pet carrier backpack

Waterproof base

A waterproof base prevents leaks if your pet has an accident in the carrier. This is a particularly important feature for long trips or senior pets. 


Airline-approved carriers meet the size and ventilation requirements of most major airlines. However, each airline has its own rules, and the term “airline-approved” isn’t regulated. It’s worth checking the specific requirements of the airline you’re flying with before purchasing, so you don’t end up with a carrier you can’t use. 


Some backpack carriers double as wheeled carriers, with long telescoping handles, similar to those on wheeled suitcases. They’re not good for all-terrain use but are handy in airports and train stations. 

Padded shoulder straps

Carrying your pet isn’t the most comfortable activity, especially if they’re relatively heavy. Padded shoulder straps help to relieve some of the pressure, so you don’t struggle. 

Chest strap

A chest strap or sternum strap secures across the chest of the wearer, between the two shoulder straps. When fastened, it takes some of the weight off your shoulders and transfers it to your chest, making your load feel lighter. 

How much you can expect to spend on a pet carrier backpack

Basic carriers start at roughly $25-$40, while high-end versions cost as much as $100-$150. 

Pet carrier backpack FAQ

Are pet backpacks safe? 

A. Yes, they’re safe as long as they’re strong enough to hold your pet’s weight, close securely and have ample ventilation. If you intend to use the tether point inside, ensure your pet wears a harness, not a collar. Otherwise, it poses a strangulation risk. 

Do pets like being carried in backpacks? 

A. While some dogs and cats are happy to ride in backpacks, many feel the same way they do about other pet carriers: they’re not fans. Pet backpacks are sometimes advertised as ways to take indoor cats or dogs with mobility issues on adventures, but this isn’t a good choice for all pets. 

Primarily, you should use them just as you would any other carrier (for instance, to take your pet to the vet or on a flight). However, if your pet truly enjoys being carried around in a backpack, then you can use it for hikes and other excursions.

What’s the best pet carrier backpack to buy?

Top pet carrier backpack

Kurgo K9 Pet Carrier Backpack

Kurgo K9 Pet Carrier Backpack

What you need to know: Despite the “K9” in the name, this carrier is just as well-suited to cats as dogs. 

What you’ll love: It holds cats and small dogs up to 25 pounds. The chest strap and the padded back and shoulder straps make carrying your pet more comfortable. It has side vents and a mesh top for ventilation. 

What you should consider: You must roll the top up when your pet is inside, and it can get in the way. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Top pet carrier backpack for the money

PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack

PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack

What you need to know: This backpack is a great choice for dogs and cats up to 18 pounds. 

What you’ll love: It’s well-ventilated with three mesh panels and has doors on both sides for easy entry. The front and side pockets are perfect for holding water bottles and pet essentials. 

What you should consider: It’s not the most durable carrier overall, so it’s best for occasional use. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Worth checking out

Mr. Peanut's Aspen Series Airline-Approved Backpack Pet Carrier

Mr. Peanut’s Aspen Series Airline-Approved Backpack Pet Carrier

What you need to know: Meeting the size requirements of popular airlines, it’s perfect for traveling with your pet. 

What you’ll love: With mesh panels on the top, front and both sides, it provides plenty of ventilation. It’s durable and secure with self-locking zippers. The seat belt attachment lets you use it as an in-car carrier. 

What you should consider: It isn’t the roomiest of carriers, so it only fits pets up to 10 pounds. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals. 

Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.