I was asked about this carrier — which I hadn’t seen — by a reader who has a larger small dog, like Chloe, and was looking for an around-town tote. Large totes are hard to find (I use Wagwear’s canvas tote or an OllyDog Olly Tote for the times when Chloe can be visible, and PetEgo’s messenger bag for the times when she can’t), so I was eager to see this new bag, made by the same company that makes Chloe’s beloved SturdiBag, in person. SturdiProducts kindly sent me a sample to review. I have not been paid for this review, and I did not promise (and SturdiProducts did not request) that it would be positive. The Incognito tote costs more than $50, so I will be giving it away to one lucky Dog Jaunt reader (total value: $65). I’ll provide the giveaway details in a separate post on Monday, June 25, 2012.
SturdiProducts makes no bones about the purpose of this carrier: The product tag says “Designed for discrete pet travel” (that should be “discreet,” but you get the idea) and “Because forgiveness is easier to get than permission!” They’ve achieved their goal. Aside from a subtle tag on the side bearing the URL “www.PetCarrier.com,” there is no way to tell that this bag — once all the mesh ventilation is concealed behind privacy panels — contains a pet.
The carrier is 14″ tall, 16.5″ long, and 8.5″ deep (at its deepest — narrowing to 6″ deep at the top of the bag). These are not the dimensions that SturdiProducts provides, but I rechecked with my tape measure, and that’s what’s in front of me. It comes in black (which I requested), maroon (which I got), and several cheerful patterns (including a very tempting cheetah print).
One end opens completely with a double zipper, and the other opens halfway. Two metal clasps are provided that you can use to clip the zipper ends together. The top half of each end has a mesh ventilation panel with an optional privacy panel; when they’re not needed, the privacy panels can be tucked down into the large pockets on each end.
The carrier is generously provided with pockets — aside from the two on the ends, there are a couple of really enormous ones on each long side. This is a bag that will easily hold both your dog, her leash and poop bags and your wallet, car keys, phone, etc. That’s rare, let me tell you.
There is one more big mesh ventilation panel across the top of the bag, which can also be opened completely with a double zipper. It too has a privacy panel, which either covers the top of the bag (held in place with a couple of Velcro strips), or folds away (a little awkwardly) into a slot above one of the padded handles. There are two of those, and they’re fairly comfortable. Alternatively, the carrier comes with a long nylon strap — long enough to carry the bag cross-body if you prefer — with a good-quality shoulder pad. The nylon strap detaches, so you can tuck it away and use just the padded handles (which look more purse-like).
A thick and comfortable pad is provided for the bottom of the carrier, and there is a loop at the bottom of the bag to which a lanyard with clips on both ends (provided) can be attached, to keep your pet from leaping out. There is a luggage slot on one of the long sides, through which you can also pass a seat belt, to secure the carrier in a car. [This would not be a great choice for an in-cabin airplane carrier. It could be done, I suppose, but the bag would have to lie on its side (you’d move the pad so that it was available to your pet in the bag’s new orientation), giving your pet only 8″ — narrowing to 6″ — of headroom. The SturdiBag is a much better size and shape.]
The carrier is very well made. The zippers are of good quality, and move easily. A lot of thought, clearly, has gone into the design, and as you can see from this picture, once all the privacy panels are closed, you simply can’t tell there’s a pet inside.
What don’t I like? There’s no designated place for the top mesh panel to go, if you’ve decided not to zip it closed. You can let it drop into the body of the bag (I wish there were a Velcro tab that would hold it in place against the inside wall) or you can let it flop outside the bag, which is unsightly.
My main concern, though, would be the effect on Chloe of using this tote in the heat of summer with all the privacy panels closed. They are loose enough that in cool weather, or in an air-conditioned building, she would be comfortable and supplied with sufficient air. She fills the carrier, however, and since I would buy it in black, it would be a heat sink. If you buy this tote (I will, for sure, especially since it’s on sale at the moment), keep part of your mind focused on your pet’s state of being and minimize the time she’s in the sun, or in the heat, in full stealth mode.