Traveling with dogs can be tricky, and often your dog will need some form of containment while you’re away from home – when it comes to giving your dog a safe space while on the go, soft sided dog crates are an excellent solution!
They’re easy to transport and lightweight, making them great for all sorts of travel. Whether you’re visiting family, traveling for work, or camping on vacation, we’ll help you find the best for your pooch.
A soft sided dog crate is great for you if your needs align with these features:
A soft sided dog kennel isn’t great for you if:
There are a lot of factors to look for when trying to find a perfect soft sided dog kennel. If you think a soft sided dog crate is right for you, then be sure to consider these features before making your purchase.
A good soft sided dog crate has windows that are usually made of plastic, mesh ventilation, or both.
Mesh can provide more ventilation in hot, muggy weather, but plastic windows can protect more against rain or cold. Decide what makes the most sense for your pup and your travels!
Look for a well-built yet lightweight frame for your soft-sided crate. This thin, metal pop-up frame will be similar to tent poles or a child’s parachute tunnel. If the frame is too heavy, the crate won’t be as portable and easy to transport as you may like. However, flimsy frame quality might result in a crate that collapses with just a tiny breeze! Finding an ideal balance is key.
Decide how much visibility you want your dog to have. Some dogs do best when their crate is a dark, quiet, safe space for them. Others like to be part of the action and want to see everything that is happening around them.
Many soft-sided crates have zippered portions or adjustable covers, which allow you to control how much visibility your dog has depending on his mood or personality.
Ideally, your new soft sided dog crate will include a mat. If not, or if you don’t like the one that comes with your mat, you’ll need to get one to keep your pup comfy!
Make sure to consider what you need in a crate pad – older dogs may need more orthopedic materials, while potty-problem dogs will definitely need something waterproof and easy to wash.
Many soft-sided dog crates are quite small, so be sure to triple-check what size crate you want for your dog. They should have room to comfortably stand up and turn around inside the crate.
Keep in mind that if you’d like to carry your smaller dog, you should find a crate with a shoulder strap. This won’t be possible for larger dogs.
Some soft dog crates require more assembly than others – the vast majority are a breeze to set up. Some don’t even require any tools for assembly!
If you’ll be assembling and disassembling your crate often for traveling from place to place, we definitely recommend looking for a crate that specializes in easy, quick assembly.
The K&H Classy Go Soft Crate is a large, square-shaped soft-sided crate option. It’s your best bet for a larger dog (the vast majority of other soft crates can’t handle bigger canines), and is quite sturdy.
The K&H Soft Crate is a bit pricey, but comes with a fleece pad, pockets, and a storage bag. The dark grey design with green trim is relatively innocuous, and the crate comes in a few different sizes to accommodate different breeds!
This crate is also a breeze to assemble – no tools are needed, so you can expand and collapse it in just a few minutes.
The crate can also be completely broken down to lie flat for super easy transportation and includes two points of entry for your pooch.
PROS: Users love how easy the crate is to install. They say it’s easy to carry around and fits even their big German Shepherds! It opens from the front or side and has its own pockets for storing treats and other goodies! Its locking zipper also makes it a bit more secure.
CONS: Like many crates, users worry that dogs with separation or destruction issues would easily escape from the crate. Some less savvy users had a hard time setting the crate up for first use. One of the zippers unzips in an awkward way, so keep an eye on that!
The 2PET Foldable Dog Crate is an attractive, smaller crate that’s easy to transport, even with your dog still inside! It opens from the top or front and is best suited for smaller dogs.
This soft-sided crate is covered in a soft Oxford 600D fabric cover that is water resistant, fully removable, and machine washable, making it a breeze to clean.
It also includes a waterproof mat as well as a washable fleece cushion to serve as the crate’s bottom pad.
This crate comes in several sizes, from small (20 inches) to extra large (32 inches). The 28 inch version (large) is confirmed to fit dogs up to 25 lbs. , and the 32 inch version (XL) is believed to comfortably house dogs up to 50 lbs, but this cannot be confirmed by any owners.
Its ample windows made of mesh panels are good for dogs that like to see outside. The manufacturer donates a portion of each sale to charity, as a bonus!
PROS: Customers love the easy set-up, and find it easy to use to transport small dogs. Customers also commented on how attractive the crate is.
CONS: Some customers feel that the crate’s zippers and mesh have a “cheap” feel. The door can be a bit cumbersome, as the door is somewhat small for the size of the crate and must be velcroed open.
The Arf Pets 3 Door Folding Soft Dog Crate is another great option for a soft-sided dog crate, and the larger size can even fit dogs weighing up to 70 pounds.
It comes in a soft blue-grey and has doors on the front, side, and top, allowing for three different points of entry and plenty of ventilation.
This crate is built to last with a heavy-duty frame, washer-friendly material, and a waterproof base. Its unique folding design allows it to be assembled or collapsed easily, using a snap frame with retractable springs.
This crate does not have a shoulder strap (opting for traditional handle straps instead), but you probably don’t want to shoulder your Labrador in a crate, anyway!
Since the Arf Pets 3 Door Crate lacks a carrying case or mat, so you may need to purchase some additional accessories.
PROS: Owners love how convenient this crate is for traveling with large dogs, saying that it’s easy to fold and buckle down for transport. Their dogs love how roomy the crate is, and that every window can be opened or closed for the dog’s comfort!
CONS: Owners stress that you should buy a pad for the bottom of the crate, since it definitely needs some extra cushioning. They also say that although the canvas is strong, this crate should not be used for puppies or dogs that still chew and escape – some dogs escaped in under an hour! Make sure to measure the dimensions of the crate and your dog – some customers found the crate a bit too small for their pets!
The Petnation Port-A-Crate E2 is the lowest-cost option on this list. It’s small, easy to carry, and cute with a bone cutout window!
This soft-sided dog crate is lightweight, can be assembled without tools, and comes together in seconds!
The outside is made of a heavy-duty tight weave mesh fabric, stretched across a steel frame skeleton for support and strength. It’s also made of waterproof material, making it easy to clean in the event of messes.
This crate has mesh windows and superior airflow and has doors on the front and top, but not the sides. This crate is available in 6 sizes, ranging from 16 inches (holds up to 10 lbs) to 36 inches (holds up to 70 lbs), so be sure to check what size is right for your dog. Petnation provides a handy measuring guide to ensure you pick the right size for your pet.
While this soft-sided crate does not include a mat, Petnation makes mats that are meant to accompany the crate, which can be purchased separately.
PROS: Customers love the lightweight style. Some even say their dogs prefer this to their normal crate! Customers report using the crate for years, a testament to good manufacturing. They love the easy washing of the crate and say that it doesn’t hold stink in.
CONS: Like all the crates on this list, this crate will not work for dogs that are not crate trained! They’ll chew their way out in no time. Some customers found manufacturing issues resulting in zipper malfunctions or torn mesh, but this was pretty uncommon.
The Pawhut Soft Sided Folding Crate comes in three sizes (24”, 32”, and 40”) and three colors (green, khaki, and red), giving you lots of options for customization!
The crate is made of water-resistant oxford material with PVC coating, and uses a steel frame for support. The inside cushioning is made of faux lamb cashmere for canine comfort!
This model has three doors with breathable mesh windows, which can be covered or uncovered to adapt to your dog’s preferences. It also provides several pockets on the sides and folds flat for easy transportation and storage.
PROS: Owners love all the pockets and have found that they can use a carabiner to prevent Houdini hound escapes for clever dogs that have figured out how to use zippers. Owners say that it seems roomy and stable, and love the reinforced corners, to reduce wear and tear!
CONS: The crate can’t be taken apart to go through a washing machine, so you must scrub it to clean. It also doesn’t have any sort of carrying straps, so you it’s not ideal for those who want to carry their dogs inside of it. Like all soft-sided dog crates, it’s not suitable for dogs that will try to escape their crate.
What do you use your favorite soft-sided dog crate for? What features do you love? Let us know in the comments below!
Kayla Fratt is an Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through the IAABC and works as a professional dog trainer through the use of positive reinforcement methods. She also has experience working as a Behavior Technician at Denver Dumb Friends League rehabilitating fearful and reactive dogs.