I LOVE a good piece of equipment that easily becomes one of your most used items. Read on to see why this carrier is worth the investment.
Whenever I start a new hobby or explore different interests I begin researching whatever it is that I need in order begin. If you're anything like me you won't splurge and buy everything you need right away, you'll just purchase the necessities. This product has easily become a 'must bring' item in our adventures and therefore is one of the things we need!
"We have taken this backpack with us everywhere. Whether it's a short trip around the neighbourhood, running errands, or going on bigger adventures - the backpack comes with. We've been using it almost daily for a solid year now and can still say we are in love with it!"
Like anything that you buy, there are two sides of a review: the pros and cons (or features you'd wished the product had). That being said, there are lots more things that I love about this item than things I'd like for it to have (and literally not a thing I hate about it). Let's start by exploring the features, then I'll review the things I love, and end with a quick glance at the things I'd add/change.
Pockets: This is definitely super important to me. When we are out exploring I bring along some food (usually some Churus and Crumps' Mini Trainers), a pet first aid kit, and a travel bowl for water. Always having these items ready to go rather than gathering them every single time makes life a lot easier (and allows for necessary items to never be forgotten) so pockets are a must.
Ventilation Windows: When Gibson is tired or if we are at an outdoor pet-friendly patio, he will lay down inside and relax (especially post adventures). Other times, I put him inside the carrier for safety reasons or if I'm trying to get somewhere by a certain time. I love that he has a ventilation window in every direction so that air can flow easily and he can see in all directions so he doesn't feel like he's missing out as he relaxes in the carrier.
Waste/Shoulder Straps: For longer hikes it's always nice to buckle these straps in to help distribute the weight more evenly as you explore.
Built In Collar Buckle: Using this feature depends on the personality of your cat and if you are in motion or not. Gibson often wants to jump down unexpectedly so we keep him on the leash when he's inside so that if he does jump down, he won't choke. When we are stopped at a patio or having a picnic, coffee, etc. we will clip him in (most often by this point he's tired as we always do pre-adventures before these times and he's cool to hang inside). I advise using this feature with caution. I didn't include a photo of this but if you'd like to see a photo, please ask! UPDATE: On May 16th/20, we went for a socially distant hang with some friends for coffee. I attached Gibson to this collar buckle and Gibson got real spooked by my friend's child's remote control car. He went to run out of the backpack to get away from the toy and the backpack came with him which terrified him even more as he ran to a busy street in the downtown core of Toronto. Now, this guy is not at all scared of oncoming traffic so I ran like I've never run before to get to him. Thankfully, he turned to run on the sidewalk, the collar buckle broke off, and he stopped running (so he was clearly terrified of the backpack being behind him on top of being spooked by the toy car). I want to recommend that you NEVER EVER use this feature and always keep your feline companion attached to their leash which is attached to you. In fact, cut this out of the backpack. We also had a friend's cat (@theoretically.teddy) who jumped out of the backpack and since their neck was twisted in this collar buckle, almost choked. It's not worth the risk.
Hard Bottom Board: This board is covered with a faux fur on the one side and oxford cloth (the material that the backpack is made of) on the other. What we love about this bottom board is that it is removable so if there's a mess that's made on the inside you can always take it out to scrub it clean. Underneath the board is a vinyl material which can also easily be cleaned for any wet messes. Finally, we often train with Gibson so I love that the board easily comes out because we use it as a target spot for him (it's how I taught him to stay, jump on my shins, etc.).
Size: There is a perfect amount of space in this carrier in order for Gibson to be comfortably relaxed and he is 10.2 pounds (4.6 kg). The product dimensions measure 33 x 27.9 x 43.2 cm so it's perfectly sizeable for a cat.
What I Love
(in order of importance of things that should be considered when buying any carrier)
Safety: One of the main reasons I take this with me everywhere is because I need a plan B in case any threats approach us (most often, off-leash dogs). If you'd like to read all about the dangers of cat exploring in this subject you can subscribe here as I'll be discussing this in one of my future posts and you can be the first to know! If Gibson is outside the carrier (which most often, he is) then I can act quick and put him inside (I always leave one of the two vents open for this) or on top.
Durability: It'll be a year in May, 2020 since I have had this carrier and have used it every single time I go outside with him (except for short walks in our front and back yard). There is not one rip, tear, or break in this thing and as mentioned before, he is now 10.2 pounds (4.6 kg) and it can manage his weight just fine (it will hold up to 16 lb or 7.2 kg). Even if it did malfunction at this point, we'd buy another one for sure.
Comfortability: I haven't read many bad reviews on this backpack but one review on Amazon said that the bottom dug into this person's back and they needed to add padding onto it. I have never felt uncomfortable wearing this item. There's a decent layer of padding to cushion your back and when the waist clips are on, as mentioned before, for longer walks it makes for an easier walk as the weight is carried by your waist. It's also spacious and therefore has always seemed to be very comfortable for Gibson as he fits with space left around him. We always toss in a blanket to make it extra cushiony for him.
Familiarity: When we first started using the backpack I would leave it open by the door. Since he LOVED going outside he'd put himself in it and wait until the next adventure. Making it comfortable probably helped him to eventually see it as a familiar space, so grab anything that has your cat's scent on it already and throw it in there as they take time to adjust to their new spaceship. Allowing time for your feline companion to familiarize themselves with this space will help them to become more confident as you explore with it together.
Multifunctional: Gibson is the kind of cat explorer who likes to see it all. That's why he will often rides on top of the backpack as I am wearing it on my back (1st picture of 3 at the top of this post) or he will ride on his hind legs with his front paws resting on the top or sit inside of the backpack looking out as I carry him in the front of me (2nd picture of 3 at the top of this post). He will also relax in it when he's tired (3rd picture of 3 found at the top of this post). I'd say this backpack is for both types of cats - the introvert and extroverted explorer.
Price: For the quality and features you get with this backpack, the price is so fair! In Canadian, with taxes, it came to $64.39 ($45.89 USD) without shipping.
Overall, we'd give the Petsfit Solid Bottom Backpack Carrier a rating of 9.5/10 only because there are some things that we'd like to see added to make this backpack even better.
What I'd Change/Add
Weather Resistance: Canada's winters can get pretty cold but in order to maintain consistency of exploring beyond the house with Gibson I like to make sure we still get out (when temperatures aren't below 0°C). Even then, we will explore in stores that are pet-friendly which still requires us getting to and from the car and store. Anyways, one day we had seen one of our Instagram pals @roxythe_kitty (who's also one of our fellow Canadian Instagram friends living in Calgary, Alberta) going for a walk in the middle of winter in a backpack similar to ours with what appeared to be a fleece liner. They had mentioned that it was actually made to be a cat tunnel but had been using it to provide Roxy with added warmth during the colder seasons - BRILLIANT. Months later some local Toronto cat explorer friends of ours got together and had a swap and that SAME fleece liner showed up for grabs! Best believe I took it (thanks @kiki_thebengal). Upon doing some research we found that it was called The Jackson Galaxy Comfy Cocoon which can be found on Amazon. Made out of 100% polyester fleece, this sleep or play sack makes for THE PERFECT liner for this backpack in the colder months (please see the 1st photo of the 3 down below). I'd also be nice to find a backpack cover for the top ventilation window for times when unexpected rain comes. It once rained when we were out and I had to put my sweater on top to keep Gibson warm and dry when some rain had come unexpectedly.
Closure Mechanism for Top Vent: As mentioned before, sometimes we have Gibson riding inside as I carry him in the front of me. It would be really helpful if there was some way to secure the vent on the top with velcro similar to the front vent (see 2nd photo of 3 down below) so that the flap was out of our way. This might be an easy task for an advanced sewer; I imagine it would look like one of those reusable food bowl covers.
Loops for Things to Hang: I found it a bit difficult to secure our P.U.P. bag (pick up poop) holder onto the top zipper (see 3rd photo of 3 down below). The travel water bowl I have also comes on a carabiner that I'd love to clip somewhere but cannot. It'd be nice to see this thing have loops already fastened to the backpack (at least 2) for these purposes but if you're crafty, you could always sew or fasten these things on yourself.
One last thing to note is that it's not recommended to put two cats in this type of carrier. If you'd like to know options of 'ways to go' with 2 cats and 1 human, you could always reach out to @ziggy.and.charlie and ask about the stroller they use for their 2 cats. They have the Regal Plus and love it because it fits 2 cats comfortably. Pushing it, however, might be an issue for people taller than 5'3" because it the handles aren't adjustable to reach beyond that height without needing to hunch over. Another option that was recommended is the Pet Gear Jogger No-Zip Stroller used by @leeloo.sieh.multicats. Finally, I think that the model @thestinkymochi uses is quite fun looking and worth mentioning! With a 5 in 1 design, the Ibiyaya Carrier/Stroller (Luxury package) looks pretty neat. Though @thestinkmochi is only one cat, Mochi's guardian mentioned that it's most likely suitable for 2 cats horizontally (so, as a stroller, carrier or car safety seat) but not vertically (so, as a backpack or trolley). You can find more options of strollers on the Cat Explorers website.
If you're interested in purchasing this backpack yourself, we do have a code for a very small discount which can be entered here as you make the purchase. The code is ‘thegibsonchroniclespetsfit’. You can also purchase it on Amazon.
Here are some options of Petsfit backpacks similar to the one I have in case the one we use happens to become unavailable (as it has once):
Petsfit Comfort Cat/Dog Backpack: Click here to be redirected to this product.
Differences: No pockets, holds up to 15 lbs (6.8 kg) instead of 16 lbs (7.2 kg).
Petsfit Light Weight Pet Carrier Backpack: This product can be found on the Petsfit website.
Differences: The location of the pockets moved to the side and vertically (which unfortunately takes away the two vents on the side making no sense to me), the closure to vent moved from the front to the top (also making no sense to me), holds up to 8 lbs (3.6 kg).
Petsfit Soft Pet Backpack Carrier: This product can be found on Amazon.
Differences: The location of the pockets moved to the side and vertically, the closure to vent moved from the front to the top, holds up to 13 pounds (5.9 kg).
Though I rave about the pockets on our backpack and needing a clasp for the top vent, I would much rather have vents surrounding Gibson giving him more air and a better view. I also like that when he's tired, we can open the front vent and he can see ahead of him. For those reasons I would have to say that the next best choice to this backpack by Petsfit is the Petsfit Comfort Cat/Dog backpack. To make up for the loss of pockets, I would just use a fanny pack.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read. I'd love to hear from you on which carrier/backpack you're using and why! Feel free to message me on Instagram, email me, or drop a comment below (just note that I cannot comment back but always read what you write).
xx Sarah & Gibson