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Backpack carrier for a small dog: Creature Leisure Carry Den XT

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Chloe in her Carry Den XT

In one of my first posts, I mentioned Creature Leisure’s Carry Den XT as an interesting crossover carrier for a small dog — it has handles and a shoulder strap, but it also has backpack straps that tuck away in its side pocket when they’re not in use. I just bought one, after spending a weekend morning holding Chloe in our arms while we tried to shop at a local farmer’s market (getting around the market’s prohibition against dogs underfoot or sniffing produce). So what do we think of it?

Creature Leisure makes good-quality products, and this is another one. It can be collapsed for storage (the two bars and padded liner tray that give it structure can be slipped out and the carrier folds down to about a 4″ tall package). The side pocket that holds the backpack straps can also hold the shoulder strap while it’s not in use, and a few slim objects like a leash and harness, poop bags and treats.

It comes in two sizes: Medium (12Hx17Lx10W, 3 lbs.) and Large (14Hx19Lx12W, 3.5 lbs.). The Medium is within shouting range of the airlines’ maximum sizes, but it’s too small for Chloe. We bought the Large, which fits her well, but is much too large to work as an in-cabin carrier, no matter what Creature Leisure says on its packaging.

As a backpack, it’s not perfect — a sturdy structural element crosses your back about halfway up, and promises to be bothersome after a while. In another post, I suggested that the Carry Den XT might be a way to handle carrying your small dog with you on a bicycle when you’re traveling, but I’m rethinking that. That crossbar might just be too much on your back, especially bent over a bike. For short-term use, though, it’s great — my farmer’s market problem is solved. If your dog fits into the Medium and you use the bag for air travel, it would also be very useful during layovers — carrying a dog in a shoulder bag out to a pet relief area and back is no joke, and the backpack straps will make your life much easier.

The carrier has lots of mesh ventilation panels, and several snaps that allow you to open a panel completely and snap it out of the way. It doesn’t have any privacy panels, however, so some dogs may feel too exposed. As a backpack, the carrier will position your dog behind you, where you can’t see what kind of interactions she’s having, so a privacy panel on the main door in particular would have been a good idea.