The Pet Gear backpack has been, without doubt, one of the best investments that I have made – and a full four years later I stand by that.
The particular model that I chose, the Pet Gear I-GO2 Traveler Roller Backpack is five products in one; carrier, car seat, backpack, roller bag, and tote.
This allows me to take Rory virtually anywhere, including restaurants. If I am out walking Rory through town and get a sudden urge for apple pie ala mode, I can have her happily hop into the backpack, and take her into the restaurant with me.
I am a guy and not much of a cook, but live within easy walking distance of 15-20 restaurants of every ilk. To date I have not had one issue with having her in a restaurant. In most cases they know she is in there and some waitstaff will even pay her a special visit. In perhaps an equal number of cases she goes undetected; not because I am a ninja but because the carrier is pretty nondescript and does not tend to draw attention.
It has been an exceptionally hot summer in the Pacific Northwest and on no occasion was it necessary for her to stay in the car, which we can all agree is and inadvisable notion.
I also ride both a bicycle and a Yamaha Vino scooter and the backpack allows me to have her with me on both.
I walk with Rory on a leash to a grocery store. Once there I put her in the carrier and put it in my cart. When I’m done shopping I take her out of the carrier, and put the groceries in, allowing me to complete her walk and transport my groceries on my back.
It works great as a car seat as well; the strap slips easily over the headrest securing the seat in place.
I purchased several different dog backpacks before deciding on the Pet Gear model. I chose it because it had the most stable platform for the dog. The Pet Gear has a flat rigid bottom on which sits a lightly padded cover. Others that I compared had soft bottoms like a student backpack, which meant that the dog’s own weight would force the sides in uncomfortably.
My second choice was the Zanies Casual Canine Ultimate Backpack Carrier. It is actually more comfortable for the human, and when it’s on the ground the front can be opened to form a little mesh tent. Besides the soft bottom which would be unstable and likely uncomfortable, the dog had outward visibility through just one side.
With the Pet Gear, your Havanese can see out of both sides and the back. It stands to reason that the added visibility also equates to added ventilation.
I also purchased the Kyjen Outward Hound Front Carrier backpack. It is well constructed and light, but did not strike me as being particularly hospitable to living cargo.
Pet Gear offers many different sizes and colors. The I-GO2 Traveler measures 11.5 L x 16 W x 17 H and easily accommodates my 7 pound dog. A forum friend tried it out with her 13 pound dog and it accommodated her nicely, albeit snugly, as well. If your dog is 15 pounds or more I would recommend the Pet Gear IGO2 Plus which is 16 L x 13.5 W x 22 H.
Airline approved? The Pet Gear I-GO2 Escort model is represented as airline approved with the caveat you check with your airline to be sure. It has a narrower footprint at 14 L x 9 W x 19 H and is rated for pets up to 15 lbs. The Traveler and the Plus models are not represented as being airline approved.
Why didn’t I buy the airline approved model? It’s narrow footprint to fit under an airline seat makes it appear less comfortable for daily use as a carrier, a backpack, a car seat, and sometimes even a bed than the Traveler. If I ever decide to fly somewhere with my Hav I will order the Escort then.
Despite its many virtues, it is not the most comfortable backpack you will ever carry and some reviewers talk about a hard surface that gets you right at the tailbone. Having read about this shortcoming I set out to cure this before the backpack arrived. I purchased this black memory foam pad and it tucks perfectly into the straps to pad the flat area.