Just over a year ago, I posted a very positive review of the Kobi Pet Carrier: I liked its features, and loved how it expanded on demand (with a zippered gusset) from 18″ long to 21″ long, but regretted that even the larger of the two sizes available was too short, at 10″ tall, for Chloe (who’s 12″ tall at the shoulders). Kobi kindly let me offer it as a giveaway, and it went to reader Debra Lee, whose pup is 8″ tall at the shoulder. A happy ending — but then I heard again from Kobi this spring, and learned that they’ve redesigned their carrier and added another, larger size. Would I like to review it and give it away? I most certainly would, I told them, and the carrier promptly arrived. Please note that I have not been paid for this review, and I did not promise (and Kobi did not request) that it would be positive. I will provide the giveaway details in a separate, later post.
That was, what, two months ago. Embarrassed by my delay, I decided to give the new, large Kobi Pet Carrier all my attention, and Chloe traveled in it last week from Seattle to Tampa. The short story is that it’s an excellent carrier, and one that I plan to buy for myself for use on long-haul trips (under my own rules, I cannot keep a carrier sent to me for review if it costs more than $50, and the large Kobi carrier costs $114). Here’s the longer version:
Much about the large Kobi carrier has not changed since my last review, and that’s good. I still like its design and construction — sturdily made of ballistic nylon twill, the carrier has solid zippers and hardware, plenty of mesh ventilation panels, and a truly capacious side pocket. Privacy panels on each end fold tidily away into a shallow pocket when they’re not needed; the privacy panel on top can be rolled back and snapped to the bottom of the carrying straps (a neat solution, and one that I haven’t seen elsewhere). I believe there was, previously, a similar solution for the privacy panel on the long side of the carrier; in the current version, the side privacy panel is secured, when rolled up, only with a single magnetic snap, and tends to roll down.
I still like the mesh ventilation panel on the top of the bag — as you know from other reviews, I feel strongly that you should be able to see down into your pet’s carrier, since she’ll be at your feet for most of your trip. I wish the panel were closer to the bag’s end, however, since it disappears under the seat when your pet is fully tucked in for takeoff and landing.
I like how the provided tether is removable, I like how the shoulder strap doubles, in a pinch, as a leash, and I like the carrier’s seatbelt solution (two straps at either end of the long privacy panel can be passed around the lap portion of a car’s seatbelt and secured with hefty chunks of Velcro). There is still no built-in luggage handle strap, but Kobi sent me their new solution: The Luggage Adapter is a mesh corset (you wrap it around the carrier, securing it closed with a long Velcro strip; because it’s mesh, air still reaches your pup) with two Velcro-lined ballistic twills straps you can slide over your luggage handle. It’s a little unwieldy — it works best to lay it on the ground or another flat surface and secure it closed with both hands, and you’ll need both hands to loosen the Velcro that lines the handle straps. The pay-off for all that work, though, is that the Velcro lining on the straps molds them around any configuration of luggage handle, which means no slaloming around for your pup. And the quicker, less secure solution still remains — the handles are long enough to loop over your luggage strap (just keep an eye on your pup and make sure her carrier remains balanced on your suitcase).
The main new feature, though, is the larger size. The carrier I reviewed last year was 18″L x 13″W x 10″ H; in the new line-up, the medium Kobi carrier is just about that size, at 18″L x 12″W x 10.5″ H. The new large size is advertised as 18.5″ x 12″ x 12″ (a hair longer than the large SturdiBag, but otherwise comparable). Tape measure in hand, I checked, and that’s accurate. However, the bag’s weight (it is noticeably heavier than the large SturdiBag) and a long day of use means that sitting here on my in-laws’ couch, the bag falls into a wider, lower shape, more like 11″ tall and 14″ wide. That’s no problem from your pet’s point of view: When she wants to stand up, she’ll push the carrier “roof” up to the full available 12″ (and beyond) if she wants to. I actually don’t mind the effect, since Chloe really spends all of her travel time lying down, and she appreciates the extra width.
The zippered end gusset (and that zipper really could use a lubricating shot of graphite) adds a full 3″ in length to the bag, which Chloe took full advantage of. We gave her the extra room in the gate area, zipped the gusset closed for boarding and takeoff, unzipped for the flight, then rezipped for landing. While the large SturdiBag has some features I prefer (lightweight, a flexible rib supporting the bag’s middle, a “floor” that can be shortened, a top mesh panel you can reach through while the bag is under an airplane seat), it simply cannot get any longer — this carrier can, and those extra three inches are a dream. Two other carriers I’ve reviewed, the Sleepypod Air and The One Bag, can also be extended in length (well, the Sleepypod Air starts out long and can be shortened, but the available length is what I’m focusing on), and they each have admirable features. The large Kobi carrier is unique, however, in providing the extension option in combination with a generous, but still workable height and a workable basic 18.5″ length.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, however, and here’s a picture showing the carrier in action on one of our recent Southwest flights:
The carrier comes in charcoal, with black trim, and chocolate, with pink trim. The all-black option I reviewed last year has been discontinued, but the charcoal is very discreet (because the carriers I use are pushing, or busting, the upper limits of most airlines’ stated maximums, I choose them in slimming black).