Soft dog crates are often lightweight, comfortable and easy to store - but that doesn't mean all of these crates are equal. In this article, we've listed five of the best soft dog crates to help you make the right choice for your pet.
The Bottom Line...
My top recommendation for a soft-sided dog crate is the Noz2Noz Sof-Krate. It's an outstanding crate with three doors, durable mesh construction and a steel frame. The Noz2Noz is also collapsible and lightweight, so it's great for travel - plus it's available in a wide range of sizes.
Are you struggling to choose a dog crate for your pet? If so, you're not alone. With a huge range of crates on the market, it's difficult to know which is the right option.
The three most common materials for a crate are wire, plastic and soft fabric (such as nylon). All three have advantages, but soft-sided crates are a popular choice - especially for smaller dogs and those that are fully house trained - due to their lightweight design. Many soft crates are also collapsible, so they are easy to store.
The problem is there are hundreds of soft-sided crates on the market. Nearly all of them claim to be "durable" or "comfortable for a dog" - but the quality varies greatly. How can you tell which provide value for money? And which are likely to fall apart on your first trip?
That's why I've researched the best soft dog crates to help you make the right choice. Each of these crates is strong, comfortable for your dog and provides great value for money. Before we get to the recommendations though, what are the advantages of a soft-sided crate?
Why Buy a Soft Dog Crate?
Wire, plastic and soft crates all have advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the main reasons for buying a soft-sided crate:
- Extra Comfort. Soft crates are usually more comfortable than wire or plastic alternatives. Most soft crates also have plenty of ventilation to keep your pet cool (although wire crates are the best in this regard).
- Lightweight Design. A fabric dog crate weighs much less than a wire or plastic alternative of the same size. This makes them less tiring to carry and easier to transport.
- Greater Visibility. Soft dog crates often have mesh windows on at least three sides. This doesn't just provide ventilation. It allows your dog better vision of his surroundings, while still making the crate feel like a "den."
- Collapsible. Many soft crates are collapsible. This makes them easy to store in cupboards, drawers or under stairs.
- Convenient for Travel. Soft-sided dog crates are great if you need a portable kennel when travelling. A folding or collapsible crate can save luggage space, while the lightweight design makes them easier to carry. Keep in mind that not all soft crates are suitable for car or air travel. Take a look at our list of the top-rated dog crates for cars for more information.
Of course, whether a crate provides these benefits depends on its design and quality. The best soft-sided crates are durable, easy to fold and provide lots of ventilation for your dog's comfort. Many are also water-resistant and have pockets that are useful for travelling.
Keep in mind that there's a difference between a soft-sided crate and a soft-sided carrier. The two terms are often confused, but crates are usually bigger, have a stronger frame and are designed for daily living. Carriers often have less space as they are meant for transportation. For this reason, most of the crates listed below are too bulky to be used as a carrier - although many have a handle or strap for quick trips.
Additionally, strong and determined chewers probably need a heavy-duty kennel, as these dogs can often rip through fabric. We have a page about this type of crate here.
When to Avoid a Soft Crate
Not all dogs or puppies are suitable for a soft crate though. They are less durable than wire or heavy-duty plastic crates, so aren't the best choice for strong chewers or diggers. Fabric crates are also more difficult to clean, so I don't recommend them for dogs that aren't fully house trained.
Clever dogs may also work out how to undo the zip. So, if your dog is an escape artist, go for a wire or plastic crate with a dog-proof door lock.
Keep in mind that most soft crates - in fact, most crates of any type - are not safe for use in cars. In an accident, the fabric is too weak which can cause failure. There are some exceptions, but I recommend using either a car harness or crate that's been crash-tested and approved by the Center for Pet Safety.
5 of the Best Soft Crates for Dogs
If you're struggling to find the best soft crate for your dog or puppy, you've come to the right place! I've done the research for you and listed five of the best options below. Make sure you read each mini-review to ensure you get the right option for your pet though.
1. Noz2Noz Sof-Krate
My top recommendation for a soft-sided crate is the Noz2Noz Sof-Krate. Despite sounding like a video game sports car, this is a high-quality crate that's durable, available in a range of sizes and has three doors for easy access. It's not cheap, but if you want the best soft crate I recommend getting this one.
As you can probably tell from the photo, the Sof-Krate is designed to be durable and "no-frills." There aren't many extras, such as pockets or even bedding included with the crate. Instead, you get a tough and sturdy product made from tight-weave mesh fabric and steel frame tubes.
The rubber base is one of my favorite features of this crate. This is water-resistant, so it'll help protect your floors if your dog has an accident. It also provides extra grip to make your dog feel more secure. I also like the rounded corners, as this improves the safety of the crate - especially if your household has small children that might bang their heads on a sharp corner.
As I mentioned, there are no pockets included with the Noz2Noz. While this probably isn't an issue for home-use, it makes the crate less convenient for travelling (you might want to check out the EliteField below as an alternative). There's also a noticeable "plastic" smell when you first open it - so I recommend airing it for a day or two.
Despite the lack of pockets, the Noz2Noz is still easy to take with you when travelling. It has push button tabs, allowing you to collapse it quickly. It's also relatively lightweight, so you won't have trouble carrying it. The entire cover is machine washable and the sides are mesh for extra ventilation.
The three access doors also increase the convenience of the crate. While the top door probably isn't practical unless you have a small dog, the side and front doors allow you to place it against any wall or corner without blocking access. The door zippers also have a security latch, which is important to prevent an inquisitive dog from escaping.
One thing to note about the Noz2Noz - and soft crates in general - is that it's not designed for dogs that like to chew or scratch their crate. While it's durable enough to withstand light scratching, it's not going to last long against a strong and determined dog.
Overall, the Noz2Noz is an outstanding soft-sided dog crate that provides great value for money. It's durable, lightweight and collapsible - plus the water-resistant base and machine-washable cover make it easy to maintain. There are also five sizes, with the largest being suitable for dogs up to 90lbs.
Quick Summary: The Noz2Noz Sof-Krate is an outstanding soft crate that can be used both indoors and outdoors. It has three doors, a sturdy frame and a water-resistant base for easy cleaning. It's more expensive than most soft-sided crates, but in this case you get what you pay for.
- Material: Tight weave mesh & steel frame
- Sizes Available (Length): 21", 26", 30", 36", 42"
- Price Range: $$$
- 3-door design
- Comfortable base that's also water resistant
- Easy to collapse and carry
- No pockets
2. EliteField 3-Door Soft Crate
Another of my top recommendations for a soft-sided dog crate is the EliteField 3-Door. It's an excellent crate that's available in a wide range of sizes and colors, so there's almost certainly a version suitable for your pet. If you want the best soft crate but don't want to get the Noz2Noz (perhaps because of the lack of pockets), this is the one to get.
What makes this such a high-quality crate though? Firstly, it's made from durable 600D fabric along with steel tubing. This means it's highly durable (although for excessive digging and chewing go for a wire crate instead). EliteField has also included two pockets on the side and top, which are useful when travelling.
The three mesh doors are probably the best features of this crate (side, end and top). Having multiple doors means you'll always be able to access your pet, regardless of the orientation of the crate in relation to the wall. The mesh also provides excellent ventilation which is essential - especially in hot weather. I would have liked a thicker base like the one found on the Noz2Noz, but a washable bed is included for added comfort.
Like most soft crates, the EliteField is also built with a folding design. You can collapse the crate for storage or travel very quickly, and you don't need any tools to do so. Once folded, there's a carrying bag with a shoulder strap and handle. There's also a handle on the crate itself, although not a shoulder strap.
There are some drawbacks to the crate though. While the handles are useful for small breeds, they seem unnecessary on the larger versions. You're unlikely to want to carry an 90lb German Shepherd in a soft crate, for example, so the handles and straps just get in the way. The steel frame also doesn't feel as solid as the Noz2Noz, although the tension of the fabric keeps it together.
It's still an excellent soft folding dog crate though. Additionally, EliteField offers a 2-year warranty for the crate. This includes a 100% money-back guarantee, customer satisfaction guarantee and product quality guarantee (always read the warranty before buying though).
Quick Summary: The EliteField is an excellent soft crate. It's made from durable material, has three doors and is easy to fold down. The Noz2Noz edged it to my #1 spot, however, due to its thicker base and sturdier frame.
- Material: 600D fabric & steel frame
- Sizes Available (Length): 20", 24", 30", 36", 42"
- Price Range: $$$
- 3 doors for easy access
- Durable design (for a soft crate)
- Easy to fold
- Relatively thin base
3. 2PET Foldable Dog Crate
If the Noz2Noz and EliteField are a tad too expensive, the 2Pet Foldable Crate is a great alternative. It's a relatively strong and durable crate that comes with a comfortable fabric cover - plus it's available for a very reasonable price.
Like the EliteField, the 2Pet is made from strong 600D fabric and a steel frame. The frame, in particular, gives it a solid feel that's lacking from lower-quality crates. While the fabric won't withstand determined scratching or digging, it can handle the daily wear-and-tear of housing a dog. The cover is also water-resistant, so it's great for travelling or using outside.
One of the differences between this and the Noz2Noz is that there are only two doors, with one located at the front and the other on-top. There's still plenty of ventilation - all four sides have a mesh window - but it's not quite as convenient as a three door design.
Other features include a lightweight design, machine-washable cover and a full-frontal zipper. The latter feature is useful for preventing dogs chewing the zip. As you probably guessed from the name, the 2Pet Foldable also has a collapsible design that doesn't require any tools.
The 2Pet isn't as strong as the Noz2Noz and it only has two doors. Considering the lower price, however, these are acceptable trade-offs if you need something cheaper than the first two crates on this list.
Quick Summary: The 2Pet provides a middle-ground between the expensive Noz2Noz and cheaper crates. While it only has two doors, it's made with durable nylon and lightweight stainless steel tubes. Most importantly, it provides excellent value for money.
- Material: 600D nylon fabric & steel frame
- Sizes Available (Length): 24", 28"
- Price Range: $$
- Great value for money
- Sturdy and foldable design
- Mesh windows on all four sides
- Only two doors
4. Petnation Port-A-Crate E2
One of the best budget soft-sided dog crates is the Petnation Port-A-Crate E2. It's a lightweight crate that's available in a range of sizes - and is made with surprisingly high-quality materials considering the low price.
The cover is made with tight-weave mesh fabric which is held in place by a steel frame. There are windows on all sides, although these are much smaller than most other soft-sided crates. This might be a good thing for dogs that like to feel enclosed and secure, but reduces ventilation and could cause some dogs to overheat in hot weather.
As with most soft-sided crates for dogs, the Petnation has a folding design. You don't need any tools for this, and the process doesn't take much time. There are also two doors - one at the front and the other on-top - although the E2 doesn't have a side door.
A useful feature of the cover is that it's water resistant. This makes it easy to clean up any accidents. You can also put it in the washing machine for a more thorough wash. The corners of the crate are also rounded to protect both your dog and the environment around the crate.
In summary, the Petnation E2 is an excellent soft dog crate considering the low cost. If you only need a crate for short trips for a well-behaved dog, then it's one to consider.
Quick Summary: The Petnation Port-A-Crate E2 is a low-budget soft crate that's built with a tough mesh and steel frame. It only has two doors, and the windows are relatively small. But for short trips or dogs that like a more enclosed environment, it's a great choice.
- Material: Tight weave mesh & steel frame
- Sizes Available (Length): 16", 20", 24", 28", 32", 36"
- Price Range: $$
- Excellent price
- Windows on all four sides
- Folding design
- Windows are relatively small
- Only 2 doors
5. Arf Pets Soft Dog Crate
Another excellent 3-door travel crate is the Arf Pets Soft Kennel. Like the Noz2Noz, it has doors on the top, front and side, which provide easy access to your dog at all times. There's also a back window for extra ventilation - along with a carry strap and water-resistant base.
The Arf Pets is constructed with a soft mesh crate and heavy-duty steel frame. This provides excellent stability, while being easy to collapse via the retractable springs. Once folded, there are buckles to keep it that way - although a case isn't included.
It's a durable crate that's designed to be regularly collapsed and re-assembled without breaking. Arf Pets even claims the fabric can withstand chewing - although for destructive dogs a soft crate probably isn't the best choice.
One of the biggest downsides to the Arf is that it's only available in two sizes - 26" and 36". The largest size is suitable for dogs of up to 70lbs. While theoretically these two sizes cover a wide range of breeds, for many dogs the crate will either be too small or much too big. It also doesn't come with bedding or padding, so you'll need to add a crate bed for improved comfort.
Even so, the Arf Pets is a great alternative to the Noz2Noz or EliteField. With rounded corners, carry handles, plenty of ventilation and three doors, it has pretty much everything you could want from a soft-sided crate.
Quick Summary: The Arf Pets isn't a cheap soft-sided crate, but it's worth considering if you need a durable option with three doors. It has carry handles (unlike the Noz2Noz) along with plenty of ventilation to keep your pet comfortable and secure. I wish it was available in more sizes though.
- Material: Soft mesh & steel frame
- Sizes Available (Length): 26", 36"
- Price Range: $$
- 3-door design
- Made with durable fabric
- Carry handles
- Only two sizes available
A soft dog crate can be a great alternative to bulky and heavy wire crates - especially if your dog isn't destructive and already house trained. It's important to get a high-quality crate though, as there are plenty of weak and inconvenient options out there.
My top recommendation for a soft-sided crate is the Noz2Noz Sof-Krate. It's a high-quality crate with three doors, water-resistant base and collapsible design. For a cheaper alternative, check out the 2Pet Foldable Crate.
Do you have any questions about choosing the best soft dog crate for your pet? Or is there a crate you think I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments!