Dog backpacks provide a comfortable and convenient way of carrying your dog’s accessories during outdoor adventures.
Hiking is one of the best ways of enjoying the outdoors. Whether it’s just a stroll, short walk, long hike, or strenuous workout, exploring the outdoors is a fantastic way to spend your day. What makes it even more fun is enjoying it alongside your furry friend.
However, the main challenge that comes with adventuring with a four-legged friend is carrying their supplies. It can be quite challenging when planning how to carry the extra gear your dog needs, as well as your supplies for the hike. This is where a good dog backpack comes into play.
Dog backpacks provide a comfortable and convenient way of carrying your dog’s accessories during outdoor adventures. Also, if you wish to share and spend time with your canine but are limited by their old injuries or stamina, you’ll want to consider a dog carrier to offload some of the weight.
Hiking experts recommend that a dog only carries a carries a maximum of 25% of its body weight for their health’s sake. It’s best to consult your vet to know if that applies to your pet before loading them with any weight.
If your dog is carrying the backpack for the first time, you may want to start with an empty one for training till they get used to it.
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Tips And Factors To Consider
There are many backpacks to choose from, which means you have to be keen to get the best.
Here are tips and factors to consider when choosing the best dog backpack carrier.
Size is one of the significant features to consider when getting a backpack. Be sure to get a bag pack that perfectly fits your dog to avoid slipping or rubbing off. Most backpacks have specific sizes depending on the manufacturer’s guide, so it’s important to note the guidelines provided on their websites.
To measure your dog’s circumference, place a measuring tape around the chest area behind the front legs. Then, measure the neck to ensure the straps fit perfectly on the shoulder region. Lastly, depending on the pack you want, measure your dog’s length and weight.
It’s much better to buy a big backpack rather than a small one. You can always adjust a big pack, but a small one may squeeze the dog, which isn’t comfortable.
#2. Load and Efficiency
You don’t want to overload your canine with too many supplies. While shopping for a dog backpack, be sure to get one that can distribute the load proportionately. Also, only put essential items into the dog’s backpack, such as a water bottle and snacks, to avoid straining them.
When hiking or around new places, your dog may run off into the woods or wander far from where you’re. Get a pack that can easily be noticed, which means choosing a bright color. That way, it’s easier to find the dog, even among other pets.
Dog carriers or backpacks should have a durable handle and leash hooks made of polyester or nylon. You can test out the durability of the carrier before buying it by letting your canine wear it. Then pick him up to check if the straps’ handle feels secure. If it doesn’t, your pet may fall off and get injured.
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Here are some more tips and factors for you to consider when choosing your dog back carrier.
#5. Water Resistance
You can never be too sure of the weather. Get a pack that’s water-resistant to keep the pack contents safe even during a rainy day. Find one with zippers covered by a flap, and in case of heavy rainfall, it’s recommended to have waterproof liners or a plastic bag.
Get a pack that has unique features depending on how you will be using it. It’s the small design details that make one dog pack different from the other. If, for example, you’ll be bringing your dog to a technical terrain that will require a helping hand, you should get one with a sturdy handle. But if it’s just a stroll, a minimalist pack with simple panniers will work just fine.
Most packs are available in different sizes, which means you can get even one for a multi-day hike. If you’re going for a one-day walk, a bag that can hold at least 10 liters is good but if it’s a multi-day hike, consider getting one with a bigger capacity, let’s say 25 liters at the minimum.
Note that most dog packs come in one size but are adjustable to fit more than one day’s essentials.
Keep in mind that as much as dog training is your responsibility as its owner, you need to consult your vet before using any backpack. That way, you get to know the weight you can load on the dog without causing them harm or health issues, especially senior dogs.
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Recommended For You – The Best Dog Backpacks and Dog Backpack Carriers
With that said, here are some of the best dog backpacks and dog backpack carriers to buy.
1. Ruffwear Approach
Ruffwear Approach is a dog backpack carrier you’ll hardly regret buying. It’s an efficient load carrier thanks to the integrated harness built for pack stability. It’s perfect for carrying your dog and all the day’s essentials.
This pack offers simplicity and comfort in that you can easily access your pet’s gear. There’re small pockets to put small items and larger side pockets to carry items like water bottles. With this pack, there’s even room for strapping larger items like dog beds and a paddle handle that lets you grab the canine without fear of it slipping off.
The pack is roomy and easily adjustable. It’s also very durable due to the fabric loop and metal ring near the handle. The only disadvantage is that it has no padding on the chest, but you can do without it.
2. Kurgo Baxter
The Kurgo Baxter is a pack with all the necessary features you need in a dog carrier but without all the extras. It has front-facing clips that make it easy to put on your dog. Plus, if your dog needs to get over a sketchy terrain, you can use the padded handle to help them cross the obstacle.
Details like reflective strips and breathable mesh are some of the fantastic features of this pack. Unlike other bags, its straps are not padded, which can irritate the dog’s skin if you’re not careful or if the carrier is too small.
Additionally, it has two panniers, each with a small and a large pocket to fit all the items needed for the hike. You can easily adjust the panniers to fit a wide range of dogs.
3. One Tigris Blaze Tracker
This is not your usual dog pack. It’s rugged and has a military design that makes it look professional, and it’s mainly used by working dogs. It’s designed with a loop panel and slot for a dog ID, which means it’s primarily for service dogs.
It has a zipper compartment to store small items such as food, bowls, water, and panniers to hold keys, dog snacks, and waste bags. Also, it has an in-built drain hole to protect the pack’s contents in case there’s water leakage. Note that it has a top handle ideal for controlling and holding your dog, but you should not use it to lift the dog.
Despite being one of the cheapest packs, it’s made of canvas material, making it one of the most durable backpacks on the market.
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4. Outward Hound
Outward Hound is a reliable dog pack if you’re only taking short walks or visiting a local park. In most cases, it’s used when at the beach or in the streets. It’s not rugged and thus not ideal for rough terrain.
The pack has a breathable mesh to keep your dog cool, even on a hot day. It has small zippers and pockets to carry enough essentials for a day. Also, it comes with reflective accents, making it easy to spot
5. Mountainsmith K-9
It’s one of the best and efficient packs in the market, designed with a veterinarian’s help to ensure the ultimate pet safety was put into consideration.
It’s a comfortable pack to use. You throw it over the dog’s head and then buckle it by lifting the sides. It has an air mesh panel for ventilation during a hot day and adjustable straps for a better fit.
The dog pack also comes with a D-ring attachment, unlike other packs.
6. Petroad Dog Pack
It’s an adjustable saddlebag designed for traveling and hiking. It comes with expandable panniers where you can store snacks and puppy treats.
The packets used to carry the accessories exert weight on the dog’s shoulders, which is a perfect way of calming an active dog and keeping it focused on the hike or walk.
There are three straps to keep the pack balanced, and thanks to its color, pedestrians and cars can easily spot the dog from far. It also has a breathable mesh material, which makes the dog comfortable regardless of the weather.
7. Other Dog Backpack Carriers
Other backpacks you can buy include a Wellver saddlebag, Lifeunion saddle bag, and Pawaboo dog pack, among more.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Top Dog Backpacks and Dog Backpack Carriers
Now to the FAQs harvested from Google’s People Also Asked (PAA) boxes. These represent the questions most commonly asked by dog parents about dog backpacks and dog backpack carriers.
To assist us in providing expert advice and insight in this Q&A section, we approached a group of experts who agreed to share the insight, experience and expertise.
Question #1. What is the best dog backpack you’ve ever used?
#1. Ruffwear backpacks – Nickala Squire
The Ruffwear backpacks are by far the best I’ve ever used. I have one that is 15 years old with minimal wear, despite the dog who used it having rolled on his back with it on, it going through the laundry machine, etc. Other brands are not as durable and don’t stay in place as well.Nickala Squire, CTC and a Fear Free certified dog trainer. Founder, carefree canine
#2. Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack – Meg Marrs
Remy and I have tried the Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack. He found the pack comfy and I was impressed by the durable materials that could withstand many a hike. I was put at ease to see an easy to grasp handle on the pack that I could grab if I needed to help him up any obstacles on our hikes. I let Remy carry his treats, dog baggies, collapsible water bowl, and his favorite toy, and some first aid supplies freeing up space in my own pack. Remy seemed to understand how to use the pack right away, but has had experience wearing dog sweaters and coats in the past so the saddle was not all that different for him.Meg Marrs, proud dog mom of Remy, a rescue pitbull mix. Founder, K9 of Mine
#3. EZ-Dog – Andrew Horan
EZ-Dog makes a great vest/back pack system. The biggest problem with dog backpacks is finding the right size and fit for your dog. A backpack that is too large will slide around and become lopsided if you add any weight to it. EZ-dog vests come in different adjustable sizes. The backpacks are sold in different sizes as well, they attach to the vests very securely. The vests and backpacks also have velcro patches that you could use for a variety of messages, whether it is the dogs name, or a label stating the dog is a service dog, therapy dog, or not safe to pet.Andrew Horan, Certified Canine Training and Behavior Modification Specialist, Citizen K9 LLC
#4. One Tigris – Jeff Carbridge
The best dog backpack I have ever used is actually this model from One Tigris. It fits the dog comfortably with easy clips that keep the pack secure at all times. Additionally, it was lightweight and adjustable to keep pressure off the dog’s back, and there were plenty of storage compartments for our travels. It doesn’t restrict movement either, so they can keep running and playing as normal.Jeff Carbridge, qualified animal behaviourist specializing in canines. consultant for Dog owner
Question #2. Why did you start using a dog backpack?
#1. To get around at a dog show – Michael Koole
I live in Australia so our options for dog accessories is a bit more limited than other countries. How our journey to get a dog backpack started is actually because of Instagram. My partner and I have an Aussie Bulldog and over the course of a few years he got over 25k followers on Instagram. With the exposure he had we were able to get invited to dog events to feature at them for people to pat and meet the Insta famous dog.
One of the event is called Dog Lovers Show which is massive. It’s a 2 day event and the grounds are absolutely full of wall to wall people. After our first Dog Lovers Show we realized it was difficult to carry around everything we needed for the dog and ourselves in crowds. This is when we found out about the backpacks and thought it might help us keep all the dog supplies with the dog.
A brand called EZYDOG in Australia sells them and it was just big enough to fit the dog water, a few toys, blanket and treats of course to pose for the camera. The second time we did the Dog Lovers Show we used the back pack and it worked great. We could go through dense crowds with our hands free because we wore a backpack with our items and our dog taco (@tacos_frenchies) has his items in his backpack.
A key thing to note is we didn’t leave the back pack on for too long and we made sure to keep it relatively light. Always checking the dog is comfortable and able to carry the backpack. Given the contents of the bag were less than a kilogram or so it was no problem for our 24kg Aussie Bulldog.Michael Koole, Swanky Paws
#2. Several reasons especially when hiking and camping – Jeff Carbridge
I use a dog pack for several different reasons. It’s great when hiking and camping because it means I can pack some quick essentials in my dog’s pack (first aid, snacks, some dog food) just in case something happens to mine. It gives my dog a job as well, and dogs love to feel as though they are doing something constructive – they love to work. Plus, if he gets lost I have both the tags on his collar and information in the pack so that I am covered in the case that one of the items gets lost.JEFF CARBRIDGE, QUALIFIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST SPECIALIZING IN CANINES. CONSULTANT FOR DOG OWNER
#3. To help in carrying food on longer hiking trips – Erin Maloney
We use a dog backpack to help with carrying food and water on longer hiking trips. We pack higher-calorie kibble while hiking to keep weight lower to ensure our dog gets enough calories every day. We bring a small water bottle for her to carry in her backpack to help balance the weight as needed as she eats her meals. Keeping the backpack weight evenly distributed is important to help the dog balance and apply even pressure across the joints.Erin Maloney, pet parent, Freshman at The Academy for Dog Trainers
Question #3. At what age can a dog wear a backpack?
This is definitely a question for a Vet and we’ve got the right expert in Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CJV.
I recommend that you wait until a dog is at least six months of age to start training him to wear a backpack. If your dog is used for special work and needs to start younger, it’s fine to start younger, just make sure the backpack isn’t loaded or putting weight on a growing skeleton.Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ. VET EXPERT WITH OVER 16 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN SMALL ANIMAL VETERINARY PRACTICE. vet expert at Pumpkin Pet Insurance
More FAQs from Our Amazing Experts
Question #4. Are dog backpacks cruel?
In general, no. My dog doesn’t mind wearing her backpack at all. If the backpack is too heavy, chafes the skin, or the dog really doesn’t like wearing a backpack then making your dog wear a backpack is probably not nice or necessary.DR. SARAH WOOTEN, DVM, CVJ. VET EXPERT WITH OVER 16 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN SMALL ANIMAL VETERINARY PRACTICE. VET EXPERT AT PUMPKIN PET INSURANCE
No, dog backpacks are not cruel. The important thing is that you remember to keep the load light so that you don’t add too much pressure to their spine. Put in some treats, or their food, poo bags, a couple of toys, and some emergency first aid/snacks for yourself. If you overload the pack and the dog, that’s when it becomes cruel.JEFF CARBRIDGE, QUALIFIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST SPECIALIZING IN CANINES. CONSULTANT FOR DOG OWNER
That depends on how they’re introduced, and the specific dog in question. If you’re weighing a shitzu down with 30lbs – yes! If you’re putting that same weight on a Bernese mountain dog? No. Like any tool it can be misused, but proper use can help high energy dogs like huskies get more out of their walks.ALi SMITH, PROFESSIONAL DOG TRAINER, REBARKABLE
Question #5. Are dog backpacks good for dogs?
#1. Good for keeping them from danger – Ales Wilk
Dog backpacks are definitely good for dogs especially if you’re trying to keep them away from danger. They’re quite helpful for small dogs, as they can get attacked or in a rut with big dogs if they walk into their territory. The same is the case for large or giant dogs; it is easier to control them and their anger. When on a leash they can get out of hand, especially if you’re out doing your chores and tasks. Having these big dogs in a backpack lets you keep them away from creating any such problems.ALES WILK, Dog Trainer, Dog Walker, and a pet lover. founder, animal fate
#2. Gives the dog a job to do – Jeff Carbridge
They are good in the sense that they help give them a job and work to do while you are out and about. Not to mention the importance of having those emergency supplies if something goes wrong. It’s a great way to adventure safely together.JEFF CARBRIDGE, QUALIFIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST SPECIALIZING IN CANINES. CONSULTANT FOR DOG OWNER
#3. Good, as long as the backpack is not overloaded – Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM
As long as you don’t overload the backpack, dog backpacks are fine. Just like people, dogs have to be conditioned to carry weight over time, so start lighter, and slowly increase the weight so that your dog has a chance to build fitness. In general, it’s like wearing a weighted vest when you work out, which builds muscle and cardio even faster for healthy dogs! If your dog is excessively panting, dragging behind on a walk, or sitting down a lot during the walk, then the backpack is likely too heavy and needs to be unloaded.DR. SARAH WOOTEN, DVM, CVJ. VET EXPERT WITH OVER 16 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN SMALL ANIMAL VETERINARY PRACTICE. VET EXPERT AT PUMPKIN PET INSURANCE
Question #6. How do you teach a dog to wear a pack?
#1. Start with the empty pack – Jeff Carbridge
You start with the empty pack, have them wear it for ten minutes a day and increase the time by ten minutes every week until they are used to it. While putting it on and while they are wearing it, make sure to praise them and offer treats so that the pack becomes a positive association. Never yell at them or leave it on if they become distressed as this can cause them to see the pack in a negative light and rui your training.JEFF CARBRIDGE, QUALIFIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST SPECIALIZING IN CANINES. CONSULTANT FOR DOG OWNER
#2. Use positive reinforcement – Ales Wilk
Training your dog to wear a backpack is not that difficult. All you need to do is make use of positive reinforcement. I’d suggest bringing the pack near your dog and let them sniff it completely at first, so that the dog becomes aware of the backpack. Now, place the backpack on your dog’s back like a blanket and see if they stand still. In case they do, give them a treat to appreciate the good behavior. Don’t attach the pack yet. Now, repeat the same pattern of putting the pack on and taking it off, giving a treat every time. This will make them get used to the pack being laid upon them.
Now move towards attaching the pack and give them a treat for acting good. In case the pack requires you to slide the pack over their head, do it slowly and give the dog lots of treats or other rewards once the pack is slid through. This will help to make them feel comfortable and appreciated.ALES WILK, Dog Trainer, Dog Walker, and a pet lover. founder, animal fate
#3. Condition your dog to be excited to wear it – Erin Maloney
You teach a dog to wear a backpack by conditioning them to be excited to wear it while it is empty. This involves using food or toy rewards to teach the dog to stick it’s head through the opening and rewarding every time the dog feels the weight on their back. You start with only having the pack on for one second and rewarding, then slowly and incrementally increasing to a minute, then up to an hour or more of wearing the backpack. The dog should learn to wear the backpack in their home before practicing on walks.
You can slowly start adding a little bit of weight evenly distributed between the saddle bags on short walks, then increase over weeks of time to ensure the dog is building muscle to carry the extra weight. A dog should not be introduced to a backpack on a hiking trip. It takes a lot of preparation at home first to ensure the dog feels comfortable wearing it and they do not injure themselves by suddenly carrying extra weight.Erin Maloney, pet parent, Freshman at The Academy for Dog Trainers
#4. Leave the dog backpack out and let the dog sniff it – Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM
1. Leave the backpack out and let the dog sniff it for a day or two.
2. Put it on your dog, and speak kindly to your dog while you fasten the backpack. You can even distract your dog with treats while you put the backpack on.
3. Immediately take your dog for a short walk on a leash and use treats during the walk to reward your dog for walking so nicely with the backpack on. Repeat this for a couple of days, then then you can start putting some items in the backpack to slowly increase the weight.
4. Don’t let your dog wear the backpack unattended or around the house – he is more likely to chew on it, rip it, or get caught on something. Teach your dog to associate the backpack with walks or hikes only, and when you are done, the backpack comes off.DR. SARAH WOOTEN, DVM, CVJ. VET EXPERT WITH OVER 16 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN SMALL ANIMAL VETERINARY PRACTICE. VET EXPERT AT PUMPKIN PET INSURANCE
#5. Create positive associations using food and fun – Nickala Squire
Similar to how we should be teaching our dogs to enjoy many aspects of their life! Create positive associations using food and fun. Start by showing the dog the backpack, then start a steady stream of small treats while using praise. Put the backpack away, then stop the treats. Do this a few times until the dog gets really excited about the backpack coming out! Then take it a step further by luring their head through the neck loop before starting the flow of treats. Make sure they are a willing participant, go slow rather than forcing or catching them to shove it on. Force begets fear.
Once again, do this a few times until they’re eager to help get their head in the loop. Then move to fully strapping it on before starting the treats. This time, scatter treats around the floor so the dog has to move around and get used to the feel of the backpack in motion. Play some tug, short distance fetch or flirt pole if they like, too. Once they’re excited to have the backpack put on, the reward can become the adventure or walk itself. Build up weight in it slowly over multiple weeks! This is what trainers call a lumpy plan, for dogs who are not generally real anxious about objects or handling.
We want to see dogs moving with loose bodies and perky ears, readily taking treats. If a dog is hesitant to move, eat, lowers their head and/or puts their ears back, they’re not feeling good about the situation and need more time, plus potentially a more incremental training plan to feel comfy in a backpack.NICKALA SQUIRE, CTC AND A FEAR FREE CERTIFIED DOG TRAINER. FOUNDER, CAREFREE CANINE
#6. It needs to be done in increments – Ali Smith
This needs to be done in increments. So, you’ll work out what 10-15% of your dog’s weight is – this should be their maximum capacity (15% should only be used for stronger breeds bred for pulling and with good sturdy bones and hip/elbow scoring). Allow your dog to adjust to an empty pack for a few walks, and add in a little weight and allow your dog to adjust. (Indie’s maximum weight was 4-6kg? So we moved in 500g increments, i.e. 250g in each side) this allows your dog to not only get used to the weight, but the sway and extra motion that it adds in.Ali Smith, professional dog trainer, rebarkable
The Bottom Line
There’s nothing as fun as exploring the outdoors with your fluffy friend, and that fun is compounded when they can actively participate in the activity by carrying their supplies. That’s why a dog back is essential, but each dog has their unique needs, meaning they require hiking gear that is safe and comfortable depending on their needs.
There are many dog packs on the market to choose from, meaning the chances of finding the ideal one for your canine are high. Please consider all the listed factors to consider and contact us if you need any further assistance.
The Best Dog Backpacks – Your Turn
At Pet Connection Worldwide TM, we’ve got all your pet needs covered. We have experts to guide you on the best pack to buy and answer any other questions you may have. Feel free to contact us anytime.
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