We Review the Pet-A-Roo Pet Carrier by Outward Hound

Is this front-facing, backpack-style item the inexpensive pet carrier Ace has been waiting for?

Last Updated on August 7, 2015 by

Recently, Ace and I reviewed the Mutt Mover by Timbuk2, a backpack-style dog carrier. This was one of my favorite products that we have tested, because it was the full package: functional, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. Timbuk2’s bags are fantastic, but their cost is prohibitive for some dog owners.

This week, Ace and I decided to try out a more affordable dog carrier from a brand I like, Outward Hound. When Ace was a puppy, I owned and enjoyed their Treat ‘N Training Bag and the Backpack Pet Carrier. I have found Outward Hound to be a less expensive brand with products that are sturdy and simple in their design.

Ace took a spin in the Pet-A-Roo Pet Carrier ($35.99; on sale for $19.78), which is like a backpack that you wear on your chest instead of your back. The Pet-A-Roo comes in two sizes -– size small can accommodate dogs up to 10 pounds, while medium is for dogs 10 to 20 pounds. Since Ace is 15 pounds, we tried the medium. You can choose from black (which is more like a dark gray), blue, or pink accent colors. The Pet-A-Roo includes unique features like a top drawstring closure, a leash attachment to secure the dog in the carrier, and a small front pocket.

Although Ace’s weight falls in the middle of the appropriate range for the size medium, she barely fit into the Pet-A-Roo seated. I felt nervous that the top of the carrier came up to her mid-chest; I worried she would fall out of the carrier if I were not vigilant. It would be helpful if in addition to the weight limits Outward Hound included height limits for using the Pet-A-Roo comfortably.

The Pet-A-Roo’s shoulder straps are nicely padded, but I worried the bag did not feel stable when I put it on before Ace got in. However, once she was in the carrier, the bag felt more stable. The anchor for the bottoms of the straps is not on the bottom of the bag like a typical backpack, but rather on a strap that travels from the front to the back of the backpack parallel to the ground. This means the straps put tension on the front of the Pet-A-Roo, cinching it your body.

The waist strap is another stabilizing feature and helps redistribute the weight of your dog across your hips. I think the addition of an adjustable strap connecting the two shoulder straps (like a sternum strap on a backpack) would be a helpful addition to make the Pet-A-Roo more secure.

Other features on the Pet-A-Roo were hit or miss. I like the mesh sides, which make sure your pup has plenty of air circulation on your journey. The drawstring top would be very useful for small dogs or puppies, or if you used the Pet-A-Roo to transport other small animals. The front pocket is too small to hold more than either your cellphone or your wallet; not both. A larger pocket would come in handy, especially if you’re using this bag for a puppy and need to get your hands on wipes, your clicker, treats, or a small toy.

Similarly to other Outward Hound products I’ve tried, the Pet-A-Roo’s material is a durable nylon, which will hold up to everyday scratches. I like the simplicity of the design, as well as the black-and-pink color scheme. I also really like the price –- although the small retails for $29.99 and the medium for $35.99, the Outward Hound website offers the small for $16.70 and the medium for $19.78.

Although the Pet-A-Roo did not work for Ace’s dimensions, I think it is a great carrier for puppies and dogs of small stature as well as weight. Wearing the carrier on your front allows you to watch your puppy while traveling, reward her easily for good behavior, and kiss her little head every time you think about how cute she looks, which is probably frequently. Given that a puppy owner likely has spent much more money on her dog than she ever imagined, and given the puppy might grow out of the carrier quickly, Outward Hound’s affordable pricing is another appealing feature of the Pet-A-Roo for puppies.

Dogster Scorecard for the Pet-A-Roo Pet Carrier by Outward Hound

  • Quality: The Pet-A-Roo’s materials seem durable enough to withstand everyday wear and tear.
  • Style: I like the simple design and color scheme of this bag.
  • Function: Ace was too tall for the Pet-A-Roo; puppies and dogs of small stature would fare better.
  • Creativity: A front-facing carrier is a great way to attend to your puppy while traveling.
  • Value: Outward Hound is currently discounting the medium Pet-A-Roo at $19.78, which is an excellent price given the bag’s quality.

Bottom line

The Pet-A-Roo is an inexpensive, front-facing backpack-style carrier for owners of puppies and petite, small dogs.

Dogster readers, what is your bag-of-choice for toting your small dog? Share your experiences in the comments!

Read more reviews from Ace’s Mama here!

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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.

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