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Product review: Kobi Pet Carrier

Please note that this post should be read as a supplement to a more recent one about a newer, larger Kobi Pet Carrier (introduced in early Spring 2013). As you’ll see, some of the features of the current bag are the same as I’ve described below, so you’ll want to come back to this post — just start with the newer post, and remember that the measurements provided in this post are no longer relevant.

Photo by Kobi Inc.

A Dog Jaunt reader named Marc asked me in a comment if I’d seen the new Kobi pet carrier, which caught his eye — and quickened my pulse — because its end unzips to release a mesh gusset, expanding its length on demand. I hadn’t, so I contacted the company and asked for a sample to review. They kindly sent me one, and I have now had a chance to check out its features. I have not been paid for this review, and I did not promise (and Kobi did not request) that it would be positive. Because the Kobi carrier costs more than $50, I will be giving it away to one lucky Dog Jaunt reader (total value: $95). I’ll provide the giveaway details in a separate post on Monday, March 19, 2012.

Owners of pets weighing under, say, 10 lbs. have it easy. They can buy a small SturdiBag (my preference) or a medium Sherpa bag (the first soft-sided pet airplane carrier, and still popular), and their worries are over. Their bag will fit under the seat in front of them. Agents will wave it by without a second look. The rest of us, blessed with pets in the 10-20 lb. range, are always looking for a carrier that will satisfy the eagle eye of a ticketing agent, or a gate agent, but will expand onboard to give our pets a bit more leg room (or start out large, like the large SturdiBag, and flex enough to fit under a seat). Look back through the “Product reviews” section of this blog, and you’ll see me rhapsodizing over the large SturdiBag, of course, but also Creature Leisure’s Pet Pilot XL (gussets), the Sleepypod Air (ends that fold up on demand), and, in the right context, the Smart Space carrier (pop-up “tent”).

The latest addition to the list is the Kobi Pet Carrier, which starts out at a respectable — and very workable — 18″L x 13″W x 10″ H (the regular size; please note that the Kobi carrier also comes in a  size Small, which is 17″L x 10″W x 8.5″H). While you’re waiting in the gate area, or once your plane has taken off, you can unzip one of its ends and a mesh gusset expands to give your pet 3″ more length (as well as a significant additional source of ventilation). Here’s a video of the bag in action (take my advice and turn the sound off).

It’s a beautifully-designed and well-constructed bag. It’s made of ballistic nylon, with sturdy nylon mesh ventilation panels, and plenty of them (even when the expansion gusset is closed). One of them is on top, which pleases me because it lets me see down into the bag — when you’re flying with a pet, she’ll mostly be at your feet. Each ventilation panel has a privacy cover, secured either open or closed with sturdy snaps. Your pet can enter from either end, or from the top. Two straps along one long side let you secure the carrier around a seat belt; a pocket runs the length of the other side, providing generous space for treats and a roll of poop bags (though you’ll need to fold your pet’s paperwork in thirds to fit). The shoulder strap is sturdy and has a loop built in to one end so it can function as a leash in a pinch. The pad can be coaxed over the strap’s buckle, so it remains centered over your shoulder.

There is a small tether inside, which can be completely removed if you prefer. The padded bottom is secured by Velcro strips to the inside of a shallow nylon tray. The stiffener that provides the tray’s structure is sewn in, and cannot be accessed. I asked for an all-black carrier, since I like to minimize the perceived size of a carrier, but it also comes in charcoal with black trim, and chocolate with pink trim.

The main gripe I can come up with — and it’s a stretch — is that the zippers tend to stick a bit, especially on the expanding gusset. I think a spritz of graphite would solve the problem. The carrier also does not have a luggage handle panel, but the carrier’s handles are long enough that they can be pulled over a suitcase handle (keep an eye on your pet while you’re walking, because there’s nothing to stop her carrier from shifting sideways on top of your suitcase). I can’t get too worked up about this issue because the large SturdiBag, which is Chloe’s preferred carrier, also lacks a luggage handle panel; the SturdiBag’s own handles work fine for the purpose.

Although I’m enthusiastic about the Kobi carrier’s quality and features, I won’t be buying it for myself because it’s just too short for Chloe. She’s about 12″ tall at the shoulders, and this carrier tops out at 10″ tall. It could certainly handle her weight (currently about 14 lbs.). Please note that while the carrier’s ends are firmly structured, the middle of its top isn’t, so it flexes in height quite a bit  — if you encounter an under-seat space with some obstructions, you might well be able to angle the carrier around them.


  • Alexandra

    Very interesting! Thanks for your ongoing reviews! And thanks for the suggestion to turn the sound off on the demo video! Haha.

  • Maureen

    Thank you for your review of the Kobe Pet Carrier, I had been looking at that this product on line. One of my girls is on the large side at 20 lbs and is much longer than she is tall. To accomodate her length and meet airline requirements I did a search for expandable pet carriers Kobi and The One Bag were the two that looked the most promising. Have you reviewed The One Bag? It can be found at Thank You, Maureen

  • I haven’t, Maureen — thank you so much for pointing me to it! The larger size is appealing to me (Chloe wouldn’t fit in the smaller size) — I’m a little concerned about its length (I wish it started at 18″, not 19″), and I’ll be interested to see how flexible its top is — 11.5″ is within shouting range of Chloe’s height, but is too tall (unless there’s some good flexing going on) for many under-seat spaces. I’ll write to them and ask if they’ll send me one to review and give away. (How did I miss it? Thank goodness for you guys….)

  • Ezra's mom

    We want to win!

    Ezra has a Sherpa carrier. He is 15ish inches long from neck to base of tail, and nearly 11 inches tall.

    We love your blog!

  • AStern

    I bought this bag based off your review and I absolutely love it. The bag is extremely discrete and while I do have a legitimate service animal, I love being able to keep my pooch out of sight sometimes. She weighs 17 pounds and the bag can definitely support her weight.


  • Oh, I am relieved. I believe in my reviews, of course, but it’s always happy news when I learn they’ve helped other people make a choice that works for them. Thanks for letting me know!!

  • Momma Jo

    Our newly adopted Dachshund is going to go to the State Fair Dachshund races…So we were looking at hands free as I need both hands to steer my sons Wheel Chair system aka hands free. Bronx the Dachshund is squirrelly and over stimulates easily (leash walking around would not work in a high energy place) All the backpacks seem not to accomadating for a long Mini Dachshund and the slings are not doable if he decides to bolt while my attention is diverted.
    So the Kobi seemed ideal having the option to cover the mesh windows ( he has seperation issues and has taken out the screens in our home within’ minutes.
    We drive a bus so he has a crate in the bus that is size for Labs. He is good in that for travel mode.
    I am going to see if I can find a used Kobi as we don’t go to weekly venues that are dog friendly. So the price is a bit high for not using it more than a few times over the years.

  • I hope it works for you guys, Momma Jo! I haven’t yet been to an all-Dachshund event, but they sound like such fun. Please let us know if the Kobi ends up meeting your needs!

  • Dana

    Your website is so incredibly informative, and I’m learning so much!

    I did, however, want to just say that my Rilo is a 17 pound Corgi/Spaniel mix, and when we were prepping for our cross-country plane trip, we bought the medium Sherpa, returned it when I thought it was too small, then bought it again. And, you know what? It was PERFECT. He’s very long (17 inches from shoulder to tail), but short (10 in. tall), and he curled up happily inside, and we had absolutely no trouble from anyone, even when I positioned the bag front-to-back under the seat. (It possibly helped that Rilo is the friendliest, happiest dog most people have ever met!)

    So, I just wanted to submit that as an owner of an even larger-small dog that the medium Sherpa was totally fine for us 🙂

  • Thanks so much for your comment, Dana! There are times when I’m very happy to be wrong. Thanks too for including the details about Rilo’s breed and size — so helpful for other travelers trying to decide what carrier to get their pup.

  • Karin

    I just contacted the Kobi web site; was expecting a reply within 24 – 48 hours and got it in about 24 minutes instead! Anyway, they now sell the velcro luggage adapter on their site. It is $25.

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