Best Dog Backpacks (Review & Buying Guide) in 2018

Dog backpacks are amazing pieces of pet accessories that not only give your pet the right tool to feel good about itself, but also allow your canine friend to join you in your outdoor adventures wherever that may be. These dog saddlebags are designed specifically to be worn by your pet without necessarily burdening them needlessly. However, it is important to choose wisely as the market can be unforgiving especially for pet parents who are not really trained to look for the best dog backpack for hiking and any other outdoor activity. That’s why our team came up with this list of the best dog hiking gear to get for your canine friend.

Best Dog Backpacks Buying Guide and FAQ

If you go to a pet supplies store you’d be greeted with a number of display cases featuring dog backpacks. These dog hiking gears are becoming as important as dog bowls and toys. The problem is that there are way too many products to choose from. Just looking at them can easily give you a headache. This buying guide should help you navigate through the many issues and concerns that pet parents face whenever they have to pick a backpack for their canine friends.

Dog Backpack Features to Consider

In picking the right backpack for your pet, there are several things that need to be considered. Here are some of them.

  • Capacity

If you are going to go on an outdoor adventure for several days, you will need a doggy backpack that has a larger capacity than usual. If you’re only looking at a day’s worth of hiking, getting a lighter weight saddlebag is the perfect choice.

  • Load dispersion

You need to look for a system with at least 5 adjustment points to help secure the load squarely on the back of your dog. You don’t want the backpack to be shifting or rotating on its own as you and your hound are hiking. It is also important to look for a canine bag that will not put the load directly onto its spine.

  • Waterproofing

While the fabric panel should be made of waterproof material, you should also pay particular attention to the closure systems such as the zipper. This should be able to keep water out so that your dog’s items inside the bag will be kept safe and dry. Some high-end bags come with drain holes to help facilitate the faster removal of interior moisture in cases of accidents.

  • Removable saddlebags

Putting a doggie backpack can be quite challenging as it does require some amount of work. But if you don’t remove the bag when your dog is supposed to be resting, you’re essentially putting undue strain on your dog. It is a lot better to choose one with removable saddlebags so you can retain the harness on your dog’s body while only removing the load off of its body. This also gives you versatility in the use of the dog backpack as it can be used as a regular dog harness for everyday use.

  • Compression system

This will help draw the bag closer to your dog’s body, preventing saddlebag flopping and giving your pet a much narrower horizontal clearance. This should allow your hound to move safely across bushes and other similar natural features that may snag the bag.

  • Leash and gear attachment points

Unless you can be 100% certain that your dog’s attention will be on you 100% of the time, then there’s no need for a leash attachment. However, there will be instances when a few other gears can be attached onto the dog backpack.

  • Built-in hydration system

Don’t forget your dog’s drinking water. Most dog backpacks come with water bottle holders, although some high-end ones come with a built-in water bladder system complete with a hose. If not, you can always go for a dog saddlebag that is large enough to accommodate your pet’s bowl.

  • Front-loaded saddlebag

The strongest part of the dog is in its torso. As such, it is best to choose a dog backpack that is designed as a front-loaded bag.

  • Reflective surfaces

Whether it is an entire bag panel or a simple strip or trim on the bag, having reflective surfaces will help increase safety especially in low-light conditions.

  • Washable fabric material

Whenever you head outdoors, it is inevitable that dirt, dust, and rain will require you to clean your doggie backpack. It is, thus important to look for a bag that’s made of washable materials. Additionally, you may want something that is abrasion-, dirt-, and UV- resistant.

Measuring Your Dog for a Dog Backpack

There is one very important measurement when choosing a backpack for your pet – its girth or circumference. Depending on the backpack you’re going to buy, you may need to measure its neck, chest, and belly circumference. To do this, you’ll need a cloth tape measure.

dog backpacks

Wrap the tape measure around the base of your dog’s neck and take the measurement. For the chest circumference, position the tape measure over the area of your dog’s chest that is the widest when seen from the side. Wrap your tape measure all around this area to get the chest circumference. Do the same with the abdominal region of your pet, although most dog backpacks will already have this covered once you obtain the chest circumference of your hound.

Basic Dog Backpack Safety

Just like any other contraption we put on our dogs it is always best to adhere to a few basic principles of safety even though these are just backpacks. Here are a few safety reminders whenever putting a backpack on your dog.

  • Make sure to choose a dog backpack that is of the right size for your pet. Don’t rely so much on your dog’s weight as the principal indicator of the bag’s fit. It is best to measure your dog properly to get the most appropriate size of doggie backpack.
  • Always consult your vet as to the additional weight that your dog can carry. Your vet will determine if there are any preexisting health conditions that might require adjusting the maximum load that your pet can carry. A good starting point is 10 to 12 percent of your pet’s weight. Again other factors have to be considered.
  • Always weigh the things that you intend to put in your dog’s backpack. Don’t guess. Make sure that the cumulative weight of these items is not more than the maximum allowable carrying capability of your pet.
  • Be mindful of the things you put in your dog’s backpack. While it is normal for pet parents to put their personal items into the multitude of pockets in the canine bag, you will have to factor in their weight. Moreover, you’re not supposed to put any sharp or pointy objects into the bag.
  • Adjust the length of the walk. If your dog is accustomed to walking for a full 30 minutes nonstop, with the bag on its back this 30-minute walk should be reduced to about 20 or even 15 minutes. This is especially true if your pet is only starting with its new backpack. Once it’s accustomed to the presence of the bag, you can gradually increase the length of the walk. Again, gradual.
  • Take your time training your pet to like the bag on its back. It may take a while. Don’t rush it.
  • Secure all straps and make sure that the backpack fits snugly into your pet’s body. All pockets and gear attachments should be secured before taking your dog for a walk.

dog wearing backpack

FAQ

Q:  What is a dog backpack?

A:  A dog backpack is just that – a piece of bag that is especially designed to be carried on a dog’s back. The design is similar to a horse’s saddle with two bags attached to both sides. The bags are intended to carry the dog’s items as well as a few other things.

Q:  Why does my dog need a backpack?

A:  There are many reasons why you may want to buy your dog its very own pet backpack. For starters, it gives your canine friend a sense of purpose. There’s no denying that a great majority of dogs were bred specifically to do work. Long before they were domesticated by man, dogs have been working for survival – looking for food, looking after the young, defending the territory, and even engaging with other dogs. These may not look like work but at least they don’t do these things sitting down. Today, while many pet dogs have become the quintessential lap dogs, they still need to work for the simple fact that it is in their genes. The same is true with humans who need to work to fulfill their fundamental reasons for living. Giving your canine friend the best dog backpack for hiking gives your pet the chance to live out what’s naturally bred to do – to work. In this sense, it will carry the things that you want it to carry.

That being said, dog saddlebags are important when hiking as your pet gets to carry a variety of items that you would otherwise have to carry. Things like your dog’s water bottle, doggie treats, and even dog food can all be placed inside these canine backpacks so your hound will be the one to carry them.

Hiking is a great way to bond with your pet. You get to bring your hound wherever you want to go. It doesn’t have to be left at home since it can now carry its own gear right in its own bag. This also means you have more space to put your own stuff and gear into your own backpack. It’s a win-win situation wherein both of you will be carrying your respective gears as you go hiking, trekking, and camping as well as any other outdoor adventure you can think of.

Hiking with a bag strapped to your dog’s bag is also a more efficient way to exercise. While walking several miles at a time before resting can already be a strenuous form of exercise for some dogs, the addition of weights on your pet’s back increases the resistance upon which pets have to work against. This helps strengthen their muscles and allows them to boost their cardiovascular endurance. They will also feel more relaxed and calmer afterwards, leading to better sleep and reaping the full benefits of having a good night’s sleep.

Q:  What can I pack in a dog backpack?

A:  The things you can put inside a dog backpack depends on its capacity, or more specifically, the capacity of its storage compartments. It also depends on the maximum weight that your dog can safely carry. Generally, however, you can put your dog’s treats, water bottles and bowls, collars, muzzles, favorite toys, dog food, and even emergency pet medications. Some may even have a neatly-folded pet bed. The most important thing here is to weigh everything before putting them inside the bag. Make sure they don’t exceed the recommended weight capability of your dog.

Q:  What is the appropriate weight my dog can carry?

A:  The general recommendation is to never go beyond 20 percent of your dog’s weight, although sticking at 10 to 12 percent its weight is always a safe idea. So, if you have a pet that weighs 20 pounds, 20 percent of this is 4 pounds. This is the maximum. But then again, you also have to consider other things such as the presence of a medical or health condition that may put your pet at a disadvantage. For instance, if your hound happens to have canine arthritis, even the maximum of 4 pounds is way too much for your pet. The same is true for dogs in their senior years. They are typically not as strong as they once were.

Another factor will be the length of the hike. Carrying 4 pounds may not look like much, but if your dog is going to carry the load for the whole day, then you’re pushing it. You may have to schedule more frequent rests in between.

As always we’d recommend having a chat with your vet so you’ll have an idea of the maximum weight your dog can carry. Your vet will have to consider the health condition of your pet for him to give you an appropriate weight limit for your dog.

Our Top Pick

Personally, we love the vintage styling of the OneTigris plus its exceptional use of high-density cotton canvas. Unfortunately, quite a number of pet parents lamented about the questionable durability of its design with some claiming the dog hiking gear simply was unusable after going only several miles. Ruffwear’s Approach is quite exceptional especially in terms of its fashionable styling and thoughtful weight-forward saddlebag design. We also found very few negative comments, if any at all. Unfortunately, we find its price to be way prohibitive for a dog rucksack. If you don’t mind the price tag, we’d really recommend the Ruffwear Approach.

This is one of the more compelling reasons why we chose the Kyjen Outward Hound as the dog backpack for hiking and any other outdoor activity. This is not to mention that there were no issues with the Kyjen. However, since these were more related to the uneven distribution of the placement of items in the bag which was also emphasized by the positive commenters of the product, we deemed these concerns were immaterial to the actual quality of the product. The Kyjen’s removable pack, high-visibility color, reflective accents, and nifty pockets all make it a great pet backpack to have on your dog.

Dog backpacks are excellent tools for allowing our dogs to join us in our outdoor adventures. It’s also a great way for them to exercise and a more meaningful way to let them live out their being dogs. However, since there are also serious safety implications, it is imperative that you be mindful of the product that you’ll eventually choose. Hopefully these best dog backpacks we’ve shared will point you in the right direction.

backpacks for canine

10 Reasons to Buy a Dog Backpack

Dogs have come a long way from being mere instruments of man’s pursuits such as hunting and herding to becoming truly modern man’s best friend. Look at the various items on display at your local pet shop and you’d get this feeling that you’re actually entering an abode that is especially for little people. From dog clothes to fashion accessories and the more usual dog food, grooming, and healthcare products, there’s technically a canine version of almost everything that we humans have. Take our backpacks, for example. The backpack is the go-to of many adventurers, travelers, and even a few fun-loving businessmen. It is no wonder that dogs have their own backpacks, too. But why should you buy your pet hound its own backpack? We’ve found 10 reasons why.

1. A great Way to Give Your Pet a Sense of Purpose

All dogs have a purpose in life. They are not born into this world designed specifically to do nothing. They are, first and foremost, hunters. While their hunting instincts may have already been tamed or even made dormant because of aggressive domestication by man, their drive is still pretty much hidden somewhere in their system just waiting to be awakened. This is the very basic principle why dog trainers exist and why many dogs seem very happy performing.

Giving your pet a dog backpack gives it a meaningful existence. It knows that it has a job to perform. And that job is to carry its items or even some of your gear inside its backpack. Whether it is its dry food, water bottle, doggie treats, bowl, or any other item that easily fits inside its backpack, these contents are meaningful for your pet. And while the most obvious effect of working is spending physical energy, it can also provide adequate mental stimulation. This helps them become better-rounded hounds with very few behavioral issues if none at all.

2. More Efficient Way to Exercise

We mentioned above that the most obvious effect of work is the use of physical energy. This can also be equated to a form of exercise. The good news is that when you put a bag on your pet’s back and fill it with just the right quantity of items that your pet can carry, you are essentially putting resistance to your dog’s work.

For example, an ordinary walk in the park can burn about 100 calories per hour. Give your pet a backpack filled with some of its essential gear and this ordinary walk can immediately see an increase in the number of calories utilized. Not only is there an increase in energy expenditure, but your dog also accomplishes this calorie-spent goal in a much shorter period of time. In our example of 100 calories burned per hour, this same 100 calories can be burned within the first 30 to 45 minutes with the addition of weights on your dog’s back. This makes dog backpacking a more efficient way to exercise and reach your pet’s fitness goals especially if it’s already turning into Garfield.

3. Builds and Tones Muscles

If you’re familiar with resistance training, then you know the benefits of having a backpack on your dog. The weight of its contents – dog water bottler, treats, dry food, dog bowl, and the like – is what gives it resistance. This is what your dog will have to work against. Since your dog will be technically pushing on the ground under its feet to lift the weight on its back, this will tense its muscles, especially in the legs. The muscles of the back will also be worked out.

Building your dog’s muscles can help in many ways. It can facilitate better movement which translates into more fun for your pet. The muscles of the heart also tend to get stronger, allowing for the more efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the different cells of the dog’s body. This helps improve overall stamina or endurance, making your pet go to greater distances.

4. Provides Mental Stimulation

One of the effects of working is getting your mind stimulated. This is the same thing with dogs. When they are given the chance to carry their own things, you are essentially giving them mental challenges. This helps reduce if not eliminate a variety of undesirable canine behavior such as nuisance barking, destructive chewing, and inappropriate elimination, among others.

Work shifts the focus of dogs on the task at hand. They know that if they don’t think about the way they carry the load on their backs, they will not be able to fulfill their very purpose. Animal behaviorists say that having a focused mind is the key to avoiding canine boredom. It is a well-established fact that boredom in dogs is the root of many canine behavioral problems. When a dog is bored, it tries to get rid of this boredom by doing some of the things that you may not like it to do. As such, when you do give it a backpack it will look at it as its purpose and will do everything it can to serve this purpose.

5. Carries Your Pet’s Own Gear or Items

You are definitely not your pet’s mule, are you? We all love our pets that we are prepared to take every conceivable accessory that they may have whenever we travel. From water bottles to food bowls to doggie treats and even their several days’ supply of dry food, we can actually pack all of these things into their bag. This also teaches our pets to work for their needs. They need to drink, so they have to carry their own water bottle. They need to eat so they will carry their own dry food. You might even want to include in their backpack their own portable travel pet sleeping bag for instant comfort wherever you may decide to stop and rest.

As a general rule, however, you should not put too much into the backpack that is more than 10 to 20 percent of your pet’s weight. For instance, if your dog weighs 20 pounds, it should not carry more than 4 pounds of items or gear. You will also need to consider your dog’s age, body size, and any existing medical condition. Elderly dogs, for example, will often have reduced strength. As such, you might want to give it a load limit of about 10 percent its weight.

6. Carries Some of Your Gear or Items, too

If you’ve got a really large working dog, you can get a dog backpack that is larger than usual but still appropriate for your pet. You know what this means. You can actually use some of the storage space in the dog backpack to put in some of your things. Remember, you’re not supposed to allow your dog to carry load that weighs more than 20 percent of its body weight; lest you risk harming your pet.

For some pet parents, this might seem a very cruel idea. But we all have to remember that dogs are happiest if they are able to serve a purpose. And while carrying some of our stuff can be interpreted as being selfish and cruel, our dogs actually love the mental challenge as well as the ability to showcase what they can do. They love the attention. They know that we’re giving them work because we believe in their capabilities. Dogs are crazy for human attention. As long as we observe the limits of what their bodies can accomplish, letting them carry some of our things should be perfectly alright.

7. A Good Workout Means Better Sleep

Have you ever tried working out before? Perhaps going on a 10-mile jogging before calling it a day? Did that made you sleep better? Exercise actually improves blood circulation and relaxes the muscles. This is in addition to the surge of natural endorphins released by the brain, giving you a sense of contentment, of happiness. Overall, you’re more at peace and getting that much-needed sleep to recharge both your body and your mind for the grueling day ahead.

The same is true with dogs. Whenever you give them something to work on, they will feel much better. Their muscles are more relaxed and endorphins in their brain are increased. These give them a sense of calm and an overall relaxed feeling. This helps provide for a more restful sleep. As you know, a dog that sleeps well means you’ll be sleeping better, too. A well-rested dog can also bring about other positive things in its existence such as better temperament and a more relaxed, friendlier demeanor.

8. Carries its Poop Bags

It is inadvertent that during one of your adventures with your hound, it will have to go and relieve itself. While you may be outdoors, you are still expected to observe your responsibility as a pet parent and as a member of society. That being said, you’re expected to carry with you your dog’s poop bags upon which to temporarily manage its wastes. Our dogs’ feces aren’t actually sterile. They contain germs that can be transmitted to other dogs when they sniff, lick, or even eat these turds. In the likely event that other adventurers pass by the same path as you and your dog did, they might step onto the fecal matter and they’d be cursing whoever allowed their pets to poop in such areas.

Dog poop, as we’ve mentioned, contains bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be transmitted to other dogs, animals, and even other individuals who may pass through the area. If not, these microorganisms can spread by other means and even contaminate the soil. Chemicals and substances from dog poop can reach the waterbed underground and contaminate the water source for communities nearby. As such, you must do your share in controlling the spread of dangerous microorganisms found in your dog’s poop by bringing with you its own dog poop bags. And unless you don’t mind putting them in your pocket or your own backpack, you’re better off putting them in your pet’s backpack for proper disposal when you get home.

9. Allows Your Pet to go With you on More Trips

Not everyone loves backpacking or even camping in the woods. But for those who do, nothing is more enjoyable and more meaningful than bringing your hound along. Having a dog backpack lets your dog tag along in many of your trips for the simple fact that the things they are going to use will be placed in their backpack, not yours. Just imagine, if you already have a lot of stuff in your own bag and you’ll still cram your dog’s things in, you will most probably opt for your dog to stay behind.

Traveling and going on adventures with your pet can do a lot of things to strengthen the bond between you and your hound. It draws you closer to one another. More importantly, you get to learn more about your pet including its capabilities and overall temperament.

10. Increases Your Dog’s Visibility

Have you ever tried spotting your dog through tall grass? How about a dark-colored pooch deep in the woods? It really isn’t that easy to spot our dogs whenever they’re outdoors as the color of their coats can be masked by their surroundings. They’re not chameleons, but it sure will take substantial effort on our part to keep an eye on them. As soon as the sun sets, their visibility also decreases.

Dog backpacks typically come with reflective strips or bands that increase your pet’s visibility even in low-light conditions. Many are also designed with really bright colors to attract attention. Even if your dog is several hundreds of yards away, it is still very easy to spot a bright orange speck amidst a sea of green or brown.

Dog backpacks are a great way to enjoy your adventures with your dog as it gets to carry its own gear and things. And while some pet parents may opt for backpack carriers, most would rather have dog backpacks since they provide many benefits to their dogs. It gives the work, exercise, fun, and a sense of purpose in their lives.

Sources

  1. 10 Reasons to Buy a Dog Backpack, That Mutt
  2. Dog Backpack Do’s and Don’ts, Cesar’s Way
  3. Hiking or Backpacking with Your Dog, Peace Bone Pet
  4. 4 Reasons to Consider a Backpack for Your Big Dog, My Brown Newfies
  5. 5 Reasons Your Pup Needs a Dog Backpack, Kurgo