Amazon carries a lot of Bergan carriers, so I thought I’d take a look at their most appealing product, the Bergan Comfort Carrier. I ordered the Large size (19Lx10Wx13H), but for airplane use you’d want to order the Small (17Lx8Wx11.5H). That’s officially larger than most U.S. airlines’ maximums, but the carrier is very flexible, so it will actually work. It also looks trim, especially in black, so it may not catch a ticketing agent’s eye at all. [Please note that the carrier also comes in a “Plus Small,” which turns out to be the same size as the Small but with a water bowl, leash and treat bag thrown in. Stick with the Small size — the water bowl and leash you buy elsewhere will be better quality, and Ziploc bags work fine for treats.]
There are a lot of things I like about this carrier. It has huge ventilation panels, including one on top, so you can see your dog while she’s at your feet, where she’ll be for most of your journey. A small zip along one edge allows you to reach in easily and pet (and feed) your dog. It has several good-sized pockets, a thick fleece pad, and it collapses for storage. A small clip secures together the two zipper tabs at each end, so the zippers cannot work open (or be worked open by your dog). The carrier is light, so it won’t kill your weight allowance, and it has sturdy loops through which a seat belt can be secured.
Here’s what I don’t like: It’s not a very sturdy product. I love the idea of the zipper clip, but the clip itself is flimsy, and wouldn’t resist a really concerted escape effort. On the bag I received, the zipper for patting access arrived opened behind the zipper head — it closed when I zipped it open and shut again, but it was a bad sign, and the zippers are, in fact, very lightweight. This is one of the best bags I’ve seen in this price range, but it will not hold up to repeated use.
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And now for something completely different: the Pet Flys carrier in the “Enter the Dragon” pattern. I ordered it in the Super size (19Lx9Wx12H), which fits Chloe but is too large for airplane use — the carrier doesn’t flex the way a SturdiProducts or Sherpa carrier does. It comes in two smaller sizes, both of which will work as in-cabin carriers: the Mini is 13Lx8Wx9H, and the Small is 16Lx9wx10H.
This carrier is solidly-built and thoughtfully-designed. It also has style. “Enter the Dragon,” one of several eye-catching designs, is black and purple and decorated with a huge embroidered black and red dragon. The exterior is sturdy canvas; the interior is some sort of wipeable nylon material, with fleece on the bottom and one long side (a separate fleece blanket is included to provide padding). No fabric mesh here: one end is a stainless-steel mesh window, and the other is pierced with several large grommet holes for ventilation. A chain tether clips to the mesh window and can clip to your dog’s collar. A privacy flap can be lowered over the mesh window. There is a shortish strap that functions as a handle, and a long shoulder strap — the two straps can be connected to make a really long strap, allowing you to sling the carrier across your body like a messenger bag.
Here’s what I don’t like about it. My smallest gripe is that the canvas straps are so sturdy and thick that it’s nearly impossible to snap them shut around their rings. There’s also an odd little strap sewn inside that I think is meant to allow you to zip the long, entrance side of the bag partly closed but then snap back a corner so your dog’s head can poke out. I can imagine situations where that might be a good idea, but the strap begs to be chewed off by a bored dog.
A bigger gripe? When the carrier is at your feet, you can’t see your dog at all. There are two very large grommet holes near the top ridge of the carrier, but they don’t provide a view. And although I like the option of privacy for a dog, this carrier strikes me as too private. Both long sides are solid fabric, so the only way your dog can really see out (or you can see in) is through the mesh window on one end. Chloe takes an interest in her surroundings when she’s traveling, and I like to keep an eye on her, so this is not a good match for us — I appreciate, though, that it may be just the ticket for some dogs.
One more thought: Although the label says that it “buckles easily into the car for maximum safety,” I don’t see how. There are no loops through which a seat belt can pass — perhaps the manufacturer means that the seat belt can pass through the shorter handle. If so, it would be somewhat secure, but not as secure as the Bergan carrier (above), whose loops are positioned so that a seat belt really holds it tightly against the back of the passenger seat.
If my gripes don’t impress you, you’ll like this carrier. It’s pricey, but you’re getting what you pay for.