If you’ve been researching backpacks for your cat, chances are you’ve come across The Navigator Backpack from the brand Travel Cat. This is one of the few pet backpacks designed with cats in mind, marketed towards hikers and outdoor lovers. However, it does come with a premium price tag. So is the Navigator Backpack worth it?
Where to buy
The Navigator backpack is available directly from the TravelCat website and they ship internationally. They are also available on Amazon Canada and Amazon USA.
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- Holds up to 25 lbs of cat
- Breathable & sturdy mesh windows on all three sides
- Water reservoir pocket, zippered pocket with 3 inside pockets, two Flexible side pockets for water bottles and supplies
- Two interior tethers inside to attach harnesses or leashes
- Zipper clips on all zippers
- Can be used as a backpack or “traditional” carrier
- Detachable shoulder strap
- Size: This backpack is one of the largest you will find on the market. This is good if you have a cat on the larger side, or if you have two smaller cats you want to carry together. The larger size gives your cat more space to move around, if they are inside for longer periods of time. My cat is able to curl up inside the backpack and look very comfy, and he can get in and out with ease as well.
- Storage Pockets: The storage pockets is what sold me and why I use this backpack as my main cat backpack. There are two bottle holders (which I use to carry items such as water bottles, tripods, snacks, extra leashes and clothing), and a closed zipper space for storing more valuable items (such as a phone, wallet, or keys). Although it is no where near enough for bringing everything I would usually bring while hiking, for short walks it is plenty enough storage.
- Quality: The construction of this backpack feels very sturdy. The materials used for the mesh and fabric feel high quality and does not show any signs of wear and tear even after using it for two years. If you are concerned about your cat’s claws ripping through the mesh, you should not have any issues with this backpack.
- Boxy design: Most pet backpacks seem to be a form of a box on shoulder straps, and this backpack is also inspired by the boxy design. The boxy-ness allows the backpack to hold its shape, which means getting in and out, and moving around inside, is easy for your cat. If your cat likes to ride on your shoulder or the top of a backpack, this is a good choice for them. The backpack does not stay perfectly perpendicular, and more on that later, but close enough.
- Weight Distribution / Comfort: Where this backpack falls short is how uncomfortable it feels on my back. The base of the backpack is not stiff enough and tends to slant downwards with a heavier cat inside. This means it is pulling the center of gravity further away from my body and I have to lean forwards to compensate. Additionally, the base of the backpack feels uncomfortable on my lower back. I can tolerate it for 1-2 hours, but any more than that, and my back really hurts.
- Sagginess: Although sturdy, this backpack does tend to sag or slant when the cat is inside. This means that the base of the backpack is not parallel to the ground. Why this is important, is because of the center of gravity issue mentioned above, and also the backpack is not a great platform if you are hoping for your cat to sit on top. My cat is still able to perch on it, but it doesn’t look very comfy and he sometimes uses his claws to hold on.
- Not airline compliant: The dimensions of this backpack is too large to be allowed on a plane. This is unfortunate as I had to purchase a separate backpack just for trips which require a plane ride.
- Difficult to set up: If you need to fold up the backpack regularly for storage, you will be frustrated with this backpack as the disassembly takes some effort. The padded base and sides are velcro and takes effort to pull apart. When setting up, the velcro panels can sometimes get attached at the wrong places, making it a little more time consuming to put back together.
- Interior tether straps are too short: I typically would never use these backpack tethers for my cat, as he has strangled himself on it before while trying to turn around. But sometimes I would like to tether him for a few seconds while I need to grab something from the car, for example. However the tether straps are much too short while he is laying down in the backpack, and therefore kind of useless.
Do I recommend this backpack?
There is no “perfect” cat backpack on the market today, and this one comes with pros and cons. For me personally the pros outweighed the cons and it is the backpack I have primarily been using for the past two years. (Disclaimer, I was sent the backpack as a gift but came with no strings attached and everything here are my personal thoughts).
Although this backpack is marketed towards hikers, I don’t personally think its particularly good for hikes over the alternatives. Not particularly comfy on my back, and not particularly more storage space. If you hike with others who can carry your hiking essentials, this may not be as much of an issue.
The other major drawback of this backpack is the premium price tag. It is twice as expensive as the other options you can get from Amazon. If you use a cat backpack regularly and plan to for several years, I do think it is worth it to invest in a higher quality product that will last you that long. If you are new to cat adventures and are unsure if your cat will even use it, I would suggest getting a cheaper option to test it out (check the local second hand market!).
If you can live with those two issues mentioned, then I do think this backpack is a good choice. Cat-ergonomics-wise, this backpack is very well designed. It has everything a cat could want in a backpack, including a comfy bed, space for snacks, and mesh windows to look out of. It’s not a bad choice – it has been my go-to backpack of two years after all!
However, if this backpack doesn’t seem quite right to you, have a look through 12 other backpack options reviewed by various cat adventurers – 12 Cat Backpack Reviews