There is nowhere I’d rather spend my free time than hiking in the mountains and forests in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nature is at once engrossing and relaxing, grounding me and renewing my perspective on and appreciation for life. Spending time with Ace brings me similar rewards, and when I combine an exhilarating hiking trail with my favorite four-legged friend, I am truly in heaven.
Recently, I was introduced to Mountainsmith, a company that makes quality outdoor gear like backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags. It has a small line of dog products, including a backpack, a bed, and a piece of dog luggage called the K9 Cube. Part of Mountainsmith’s line of modular storage, the K9 Cube ($59.95) is designed to be a dependable, well-made tote that can organize and store everything your dog needs for her next adventure, all in a compact and easy-to-carry space. Like other cubes in the Travel Storage system, the K9 Cube can be stored alongside other cubes, such as the Cooler Cube or the Bike Cube, in a Modular Hauler, which keeps your car tidy and densely packed during your journey.
I just love the concept of Mountainsmith’s Travel Storage system. Packing for even brief adventures often requires careful planning, and this is especially true if you are lucky enough to be accompanied by a dog who has her own distinct needs. Anyone who travels in smaller vehicles has had the exasperating experience of trying to fit all your gear into the trunk and cab like a giant 3-D jigsaw puzzle. While I have not had the opportunity to try other items from this line of products, if they are of a similar quality and ingenious design as the K9 Cube, the Travel Storage system is a great investment for frequent car-based travelers.
My sample K9 Cube’s first surprise was the price tag. For about the cost of a backpack, the K9 Cube is made from quality materials (including durable RipStop fabric and sturdy hardware) and is designed with lots of little extras specifically for travel with a dog. It is also designed for the human’s comfort, including a removable padded shoulder strap and a padded handle. Its dimensions are generous but manageable: 15 by 15 by 7.5 inches. I would have expected the K9 Cube to cost $20 or $30 more.
My favorite dog-friendly aspect of the K9 Cube is the drop-down food and water tray. The front pouch zippers open to reveal two fabric, PEVA-lined (waterproof, PVC-free) bowls. Although the website describes the food and water bowls as slightly different, with the food bowl supposedly having some kind of drawstring closure, both of my bowls were the same and without a closure.
The bowls attach to the tray with Velcro and can be removed for cleaning or to use the shallow pockets to store other things. Although I could not find information on the package or the product’s website about how to clean the K9 Cube, it looks like washing the bowls by hand with soap and water would be adequate (I would love to be able to throw them in the washing machine).
The K9 Cube’s interior includes a few removable parts, so you can customize it to suit the needs of your particular trip. If you’re going away overnight, bring along the food container, which takes up approximately half of the main storage area. This PEVA-lined container is made of the same material as the exterior of the K9 Cube. The zipper closure runs along three sides, so the top can be opened wide for easy access to the food inside. I like that as your dog consumes the food, the fabric could be folded or squashed down to make room for other objects in the bag. The removable interior divider attaches to the walls of the K9 Cube with Velcro. I appreciate that the fuzzy side of the Velcro is attached to the walls, so that when the divider is removed it won’t snag on anything.
Several mesh pockets are placed strategically on the exterior and interior of the K9 Cube. The long pocket on the inside of the lid closes with a zipper and would be perfect for holding small objects such as medication, poop bags, or tick tweezers. The two mesh pockets on the sides close with elastic and would accommodate toys or a bottle of water.
The K9 Cube is an attractive deep red color with sunny yellow and dark gray accents. I think it is tasteful and would be easy to find in the sea of objects packed away in your trunk. Mountainsmith offers several color options for other kinds of Cubes, and I think it would be great if they did the same with the K9 Cube.
Dogster Scorecard for Mountainsmith’s K9 Cube
Quality: Sturdy hardware and RipStop fabric mean the K9 Cube can take a bit of a beating in the back of your car.
Style: The K9 Cube looks as cool as my human outdoor gear and is a pleasing, easy-to-spot red.
Function: If your dog needs to travel with it, the K9 Cube has a place to store it.
Creativity: My favorite part of the K9 Cube is the drop-down food tray, which stores away in the front panel. Genius!
Value: Given the K9 Cube’s quality and unique design, I think $59.99 is a great price.
The next time we get the chance to get away for the day or weekend, Ace and I are bringing along the K9 Cube, an all-in-one storage and feeding station for adventuresome dogs and their lucky humans.
Dogster readers, tell us about your most indispensible dog travel gear in the comments below.
Learn more about dogs with Dogster:
- The 10 Biggest Misconceptions About Guide Dogs for the Blind
- 6 Things to Remember When You Have a Fearful Dog
- Four Things You Should Know About Your Dog’s Growl
About Ace’s Mama: This East Coast transplant enjoys the bounty of San Francisco, including its micro-climates, farmers’ markets, and secret stairway walks. When she’s not walking with, talking about, or kissing the face of her Boston Terrier, Ace, she blogs about Ace’s adventures. Product reviews writer and guinea pig at Dogster.