Best Travel Dog Crates for Summer 2017 - Hayes Haus

Best Travel Dog Crates for Summer

best travel dog crates - review article

If you’re bringing your canine best friend along with you on vacation, you’ll want to make sure they’re comfortable during the trip because a happy pooch means a happy family that’s sure to enjoy their vacation!

Whether your adventure is a short domestic trip by car or a long international excursion by plane, the most important piece of luggage you’ll want to remember is your dog’s crate. Because if you purchase one of the best travel dog crates on the market, it’s mostly guaranteed that your puppy will stay happier and more comfortable from the time you leave your home until you arrive at your destination. However, as you begin researching the transportable kennels out there, you’ll realize that that’s hundreds of options to choose from…

Some are durable but don’t fold. Other are collapsible for convenience-sake, but can’t keep dogs safe in the event of a collision. Whichever travel dog crate you choose, there’s going to be a trade-off of pros and cons that need consideration. Even the most expensive gear has distinct advantages and disadvantages, so as you navigate this list of recommended travel kennels, keep in mind the type of trips you, your family, and your dog will be taking. No matter how positive or negative any review is, there’s no other family in the world with the same exact needs as you.

Best Travel Dog Crates

ProductRatingDog SizeAirline-Approved?Price Range 
VariocageBest Crash TestedAll sizesNoVery HighCheck Prices
Grain Valley Dog Supply Collapsible Dura-CrateBest CollapsibleAll sizesNoHighCheck Prices
Petmate Vari KennelMost Affordable Airline ApprovedAll sizesYes - CargoMediumCheck Prices
Petmate Sky KennelSafest Airline ApprovedAll sizesYes - CargoMediumCheck Prices
Midwest Folding Wire CrateBest Wire FoldableAll sizesNoLowCheck Prices
2PET Foldable Dog CrateBest Soft FoldableSmall, mediumNoMediumCheck Prices
Petego Pet Tube KennelBest Back Seat + Long DistanceSmall, medium, largeNoMediumCheck Prices
Pawfect Pets Pet Travel CarrierBest Small Dog CarrierSmallYes - Carry OnLowCheck Prices

As you sort through all the reviews, keep in mind you and your family’s specific travel plans and goals for your dog as you take your trips and adventures across the USA and the world.

Get a crate with the correct dimensions

Your dog’s favorite kennel will not be the one the can’t fit inside. Before purchase, consider the dog’s size and make sure they’ll fit inside the crate not only now, but as he or she grows. An extra small Pomeranian has much different travel needs than an extra large Great Dane. One will need more padding while the other requires a stronger, heavy-duty design.

Consider loading and unloading

How will you move your dog in and out of your car, truck, or SUV?

This may seem silly, but it matters a lot if you end up with door panels that don’t swing open to the side you need them to. If you’re not sure where in your vehicle the kennel will be placed, I suggest opting for one of the more versatile crates on this list. The Petsmate Vari Kennel, for example, only opens one way and may leave you feeling frustrated if the door specifications don’t end up meshing with your vehicle

Choose style and colors last

While a great looking enclosure for your pooch may indeed be a top priority for your purchase, I strongly advise you to choose from the best looking products only after you consider the points mentioned above. Dimensions that fit your dog, a kennel that opens and closes the way you’ll need it to, and even safety should be considerations you decide on before design and style come into play.

Now, here’s the list…

Best Crash Tested Dog Crate: Variocage

Accidents happen. Protect your pooch with the safest dog crate in the world. Crash-tested and safety-rated for all collision types.

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When it comes to aesthetics, the Variocage looks more like cage you’d find at the vet’s office than a comfy travel kennel but this is by design. The biggest benefit of securing your dog in a Variocage as you travel isn’t looks after all, it’s safety. Because in the event of a surprise collision, you need assurance that a big investment into a car-safe crate for your dog has the safety features make the price tag worthwhile. And when it comes to safety features, no canine kennel comes close to the Variocage.

Distributed by 4×4 North America, the traveling safe-kennel is one of the only dog crates in the World that’s not only safety-rated, but crash-test approved by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. It’s not just crash test approved for one collision scenario either, the Variocage has received high marks for both front, rear, and roll-over crash tests. So no matter which direction a potential accident strikes from, your canine will be protected inside the safest travel crate in the World.

Superior safety features make Variocage #1

The safety feature that best explains this distinction is the emergency escape hatch for accidents. In the event of a crash, you can insert your special key into the lock to release your (scared) pooch though a special opening to save the day. And being scared resulted in your dog soiling the crate, no worries. The crate is easy to clean because it comes with a removable rubber floor mat.

You may be thinking “yes, this is a safe crate, but will it fit in my car or SUV?” After researching through lots of reviews, I can confirm the answer is yes. Although Variocage is big and bulky when compared to other kennels you’d place in your backseat or trunk of your vehicle, you and your pup can rest assured knowing that it comes in a 14 different sizes. You’re sure to find a size that’ll match your canine companion’s size as well as the size of your vehicle. For comparison, both the extra-large and extra extra large models have been reviewed to fit in the truck spaces of Subaru Outbacks, however, the reviewer did not that it blocked the rear view mirror.

Variocage Review Summary

The Variocage is the most durable crate on the market, but it’s also more expensive. If you’re not a good driver and do lots of traveling with your dog, then it’s an option to be considered. For only taking trips to and from the vet, it’s likely overkill.

Best Collapsible Dog Crate for Easy Transport

For those who need the strength and integrity of a safe heavy duty crate but lack the space to keep it fully assembled 100% of the time.

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When it comes to functionality, there isn’t much that compares to this safe collapsible aluminum canine crate from Grain Valley. It’s a must-have for dog owners who see safety, temperature control, and portability as their main concerns when buying a new pet carrier.

Grain Valley Dog Supply has been providing well built safe kennel options for dogs since 2006. While this car-kennel isn’t crash tested like the Variocages are, it is made of strong aluminum material. Aluminum is lightweight yet incredibly strong, which absorbs physical forces very well. It’s also extremely resistant to temperature change which makes this crate ideal for erratic climates.

Grain Valley Dog Supply Dura-Crate Review Summary

Like the Variocage, what I’ll call a “dura-crate” by Grain Valley Dog Supply is built to last. The added benefit of being able to fold such a durable kennel makes the cost worthwhile for many dog owners who value both durability and convenience.

An unmatched combination of convenience and durability

Thinking about convenience? This heavy duty dog kennel folds up to be less than 8″ thick, meaning it can be slid under a bed or stored easily no matter where you and your dog are traveling. An additional feature is the stainless steel locking mechanics…

The door latch will not rust and will work in extreme temperature changes, so you’ll never have to worry about your canine companion getting trapped inside. Another benefit is that the construction means it’ll never to rust because it’s welded “no-rust” rivets, making it a long-term investment for dog owners.

This Grain Valley best-seller comes in a variety of sizes and is recommenced for active dog breeds, bigger than medium in size. Durability matters, and that’s an area where this Grain Valley Dog Supply dura-crate delivers. Buying one is a great decision if you own an active dogs who “destroys” lesser quality kennels by chewing or pulling at the doors and frames. This collapsible, durable aluminum option is above and beyond any standard plastic crate you’d find at your local Petco or Petsmart. When you consider the climate comfort, protection, and durability for long-term dog ownership, I have no hesitation recommending it to you.

Most Affordable Airline Approved Canine Crate

The Petmate Vari Kennel squeeze lock series are the Honda Civics of dog crates. Molded plastic with easy form and function. Travel ready and light weight.

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When it comes to proven market share, this kennel takes the cake. You’ll find their standard models at all local retailers who sell dog world goods. Each crate is comprised of 3 pieces (bottom, top, door) and held together with small carriage bolts and nuts. The lock on the door is squeezed from the outside to gain access.

As far as function, these crates are easy to assemble, disassemble, and store. The top of the crate can easily be flipped over and nested inside the bottom part, then tossed in your trunk if you need extra room while traveling and want to take your pup our of the kennel for part of the adventure.

Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel easily fits in most vehicle’s back seats

The Petmate Vari Kennel comes come in a variety of sizes and will fit in the back seat most vehicles. They’re suited fine for air line travel and are airline approved, however, I strongly recommend the Sky Mate (next recommendation on this list) if you intend to take lots of trips by plane, because of its more robust locking system that’ll keep your dog safer while in transit.

The molded plastic is easy to clean and resistant to messes. There is a reason these crates are so popular: along with a reasonable price point; parts can be bought separately, and found at local pet shops, they have an ease of use that isn’t rivaled much elsewhere.

If you have a dog that is destructive in enclosures you should pass on this crate. Dogs that are calm while in the kennel are much more suitable for the standard Petmate Vari Kennel, the doors can be bent and the plastic can be chewed through by powerful or determined animals.

Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel Review Summary

An all-purpose kennel, the Petmate Ultra Vari is what we use most here at Hayes Haus. It’s roomy enough for most adult dogs to stretch their legs out, durable enough to last the entire lifetime of a dog, an affordable enough for any canine owner. Certainly the best value on this list.

Safest Crate for Canines Traveling by Plane

The Petmate Sky Kennel: ideal for easy airline travel. Airports have stringent guidelines for pet travel; if you don’t use a pre-approved crate set-up you risk being turned away at the terminal.

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Sometimes these Sky Kennel crates are hard to find at retailers, but if your dog doesn’t like being in their kennel, we recommend this Petmate model over the Vari kennel because of it’s more complex locking system. It’s a simple feature, sure, but if you don’t want to be stress-free while your in the cabin waiting for take-off, it’s worth a few extra dollars to purchase this model that’ll keep your pup more secure.

Dimensions and specifications of Petmate’s Sky Kennel are approved by all major airlines

Like the Petmate Vari kennels, are all comprised of 3 pieces (bottom, top, door) and held together with small carriage bolts and nuts. The door lock on the Sky Kennels are much more robust; they are comprised of a turning lock with two additional horizontal rods for door stability. This crate holds up to destructive canines better than the Petmate Vari Kennel with the squeeze lock, because the door system (most frequently targeted by escaping dogs) is a much harder “nut to crack” so to speak. There are, however, much better ones for brutish animals.

As far as function, these crates are easy to assemble and disassemble, they come in a variety of sizes and will fit in most vehicles. The molded plastic is easy to clean and resistant to messes. There is a reason Petmate canine products are so popular; along with a reasonable price point; parts can be bought separately, they have an ease of use that isn’t rivaled much elsewhere.

Not the most sporty or fashionable option out there, they’re best suited for air-line travel and the best dog crate for international travel. We recommend the Sky Mate for flying because its more robust locking system proves safer for dogs on flights.

Petmate Sky Kennel Review Summary

A tad more expensive than the Ultra Vari, Petmate’s Sky Kennel is my recommended alternative if your dog is an escape artist or if you plan to bring your dog on a plane with you at least once in his or her lifetime.

Best Folding Wire Kennel for Car Travel

If the Petmate Vari Kennels are the Honda Civics of the dog crate world the MidWest Wire Dog Crates are the Toyota Camrys. They are open air and fold-able; pets that don’t mind being enclosed tend to enjoy they open air concept.

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As far as folding metal dog crates go, these have everything a dog owner could want with the exception of airline travel ability.

This style crate is the best decision if you want a kennel that folds flat because the foldable wire construction makes it not only easy to store, but also easy to pack up and move.

Not a stylish choice, but convenient and low-cost

These metal wire crates are a favorite amongst dog owners world wide and have a very reasonable price point. They’re one of the most affordable travel dog kennels out there! When speed, ease of use, and efficiency are your top concerns, the MidWest Metal Wire dog crate is a excellent option for you; especially if you’re planning most of your trips by car, truck, or SUV and not a plane. Not the most heavy duty product on the market, but it’s also a favorite amongst RV travelers due to it’s flexibility and ease of storage inside any standard camper.

A downside of this type is that metal wire crates are the easiest kennels for dogs to destroy…

Even good quality wire kennels like this MidWest product will not stand up to a determined dog. Dog’s can mangle wire kennels from the inside, so I suggest you steer clear of this option of your dog is an escape artist.

Midwest Homes for Pets Wire Kennel Review Summary

Midwest’s wire kennel is hard to miss on Amazon as it’s a very popular choice amongst dog owners because of it’s affordability. It’s not the most durable or comfortable crate on this list (and I’d recommend buying a Petmate model before it), but if you need an affordable wire model that folds then this choice if for you.

Best Soft Foldable Crate for Medium Size Pups

2Pet foldable dog crate is a travel ready collapsible fabric dog crate that is super lightweight and easy to use. It has a lightweight steel frame for rigidity.

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If you are looking for a lightweight travel crate for your pet, look no further. The 2Pet foldable fabric dog crate with its removable foldable lightweight steel frame is the choice for you.

The construction of this crate is incredibly breathable and portable. The fully ventilated side panels mean your pooch will be able to feel the cool breeze if you have the windows down in your car or truck. And in general, these types of kennels are ideal for people and pets that are “one the go” because there are no heavy or unwieldy parts or pieces. It’s very easy to handle and quickly transport.

The 2Pet foldable crate’s mesh is lightweight and simple to wash

Additionally, the fabric panels on this kennel are 100% machine washable, which many owners with messy pets find to be a very helpful feature. On a similar note, the folding crate is also water resistant which makes it one of the more easily washable kennels on this list. The zipper enclosures are carefully constructed to stand up to puppies looking to mess with the door flap, so even though it isn’t the most sturdy kennel you can buy, it’s a good choice for semi-active puppies. However, “semi-active” is key here…

In general, soft fabric crates made from mesh-like material should be avoided by owners with rambunctious “bull in a China shop” animals. The structural integrity of a mesh or canvas paneled crate does not have the same dependability of a kennel made from metal or plastic. So if you’re on the move and worried about your puppy going crazy inside their kennel, soft fabric crates should be avoided. No matter how great some of the reviews are, it’s not an attractive purchase for your because it’ll be too easy for your puppy to rip through the canvas panels.

2pet Foldable Crate Review Summary

Fabric kennels have their ups and downs in terms of durability and washability, but they’re decent choices if you have a dog who isn’t destructive and doesn’t habitually make a big mess when left alone. This model by 2pet is certainly a more attractive foldable than the Midwest model mentioned above, and is one of the better soft crates available online.

Best Back Seat Dog Kennel for Long-Distance

This in no ordinary crate, in fact it’s not really a crate at all; this is a collapsible pet tube. This is ideal for those pets that enjoy riding in the car but can get a bit bouncy in the seat.

car kennel for back seat by petego

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The collapsible pet tube by Petego isn’t necessarily a crate, kennel, or carrier. It’s a unique alternative that can only be described as a “pet tube.”

Petego’s pet tube is a safer alternative for owners who generally give their dog free reign of the back seat while they travel because it still gives the dog freedom to move around. In the even of a minor accident, the dog won’t be launched into the front seat because they’re contained inside the expandable pet tube.

Petego’s pet tube is like a luxury kennel on the move

Light weight and collapsible, it can be easily stored and traveled with but is not built for stand-alone use as it rolls when placed on a flat surface. When you arrive at your destination, it’s more likely you’ll use this product as a toy for your puppy than a crate to keep him contained in one place.

But back in the car, the tube is incredibly breathable and allows your dog to see out of it at almost any angle. So for dogs who are scared of the car, this tube may alleviate their feat. Keeping your canine in a safe position will help you as the driver keep your eyes on the road because you’ll be confident your pup is safely contained. There won’t be any need to turn away from the steering wheel to address a dog that’s getting out of hand.

Petego Pet Tube Review Summary

A unique car kennel that many dogs find fun to ride in, the Petego pet tube shouldn’t be ignored if you’re planning a long cross-country trip and have extra room in the back seat for a crate that takes up lots of space. However, a notable downside is that the Petego tube’s fabris makes it tough to clean if your dog has an accident in the car.

Top Small Dog Carrier for Carry-On Luggage

No dog crate list would be complete without an option for out tiny fury friends. This small pet carrier is good for all traveling with small dog breeds in the toy group.

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The best crate for traveling with small dogs like Pomeranians, Maltese, and even small bigger-breed puppies.

The Pawfect Pets Pet Travel Carrier offers superior use and comfort both for the people carrying the crate as well as the animals being transported inside of it. It’s one of the small dog carriers that’s approved by most major airlines like Delta, American, and United. This carrier is the largest approved by all airlines, giving you the ability to travel with your dog in the passenger section of the plane. This being opposed to shipping dogs in big crates which go the route of cargo.

If you have a small dog (or even a cat), they’ll love the padded bottom which allows excellent comfort and superior breathability.​ And because many little pups can get scared while they travel, these are two critical features.

A versatile yet comfortable small pet carrier

There’s two distinct ways to transport this carrier:

Hand holds help you carry the crate like a duffel bag, or you can use the shoulder strap for when your hands are occupied with other luggage.

BTW: if your dog does get scared on longer trips, it’s recommended that you start with quick so there’s a minimal chance for accidents and trauma. In these cases, always bring your little pup to a fun place once they exit the vehicle because once they start viewing these car trips as fun and attractive, they’ll be more likely to enjoy a longer trip or adventure. Rewarding the little one after a successful trip will teach them that vehicles are their friend, not their enemy.

This particular carrier also has three distinct access points for easy removal of your pooch. So even in the close quarters of a plane’s cabin, it’s easy for you to retrieve your dog from one of the three enclosure at any angle.

The one important note to make when bringing a dog to fly with you is to make sure that the crate is of the appropriate size. Just because your dog can fit inside the carrier doesn’t mean it’s a good fit. Make your dog can stand up, turn around and lie down inside your carrier or the airline will designate your crate too small for the animal and they WILL NOT let your dog fly. And once you get to the airport, getting denied with your dog at the gate will be a nightmare.

Pawfect Pets Pet Travel Carrier Review Summary

If you need a small carrier for bringing your toy-sized dog or large breed puppy into the cabin with you, then this is our recommendation. A cheap price-point makes it a no-brainer for tiny dog owners.

Deciding on the Best Kennel for Your Pup

Traveling with your dog will be what you make of it. What some may consider an exciting experience, others will view with frustration…

But no matter which camp you’re in, having the right kennel makes the adventure much easier. Use the comparison table at the top of this page to explore the pros, cons, and reviews, then when you’re ready, check the pricing on Amazon and make your decision.

Fun awaits!

Review Disclaimer

Hayes Haus Kennels LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc or its affiliates. sometimes gains a commission from products purchased through these links at no additional cost to you. And with this being said, it’s my promise to never recommend a dog product on that I either have not used or would not personally use at our West Newbury kennel. My aim is to provide resources that make being a dog owner easier and recommending products is one way to do so.

About the Author Brandon Hayes

Founder of Hayes Haus Kennels, Brandon Hayes grew up in Massachusetts and is no stranger to the dog world. He's been working as a dog trainer for 15+ years and breeding German Shepherd Dogs since 2009. In his free time, he enjoys coaching wresting at Triton High School.

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