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If you and your canine companion are fans of hiking and camping, there’s no need for you to schlep all of your pet’s supplies and accessories in addition to your own. To spare yourself from carrying extra cargo, it’s a good idea to get a nice, comfy backpack for your pup. Apart from providing you with extra space in your own bag, a dog backpack can also give your pet a sense of purpose – after all, by carrying their own water, food, dog treats and other things, your dog will indeed be helping you! But finding the best canine backpack can be quite challenging, as there are many models on the market to choose from. To help you in your search for the right one, we tried and tested more than 20 different products, detailing 10 of the best ones down below.
If you’re looking for a large, sturdy backpack for your pet that has a stylish vintage design, OneTigris is a fantastic choice. Unlike other doggie bags, the OneTigris is made of high-density cotton canvas to give it softer and more comfortable feel on your dog’s fur. The large storage compartments come with an interior sleeve pocket for storing some of your dog’s more important things. The integration of a top handle and dual D-rings for your pet’s leash allow for greater handling and control of your pet. Unfortunately, the model doesn’t come with reflective stitchings which should come in handy when the sun bids farewell in the evening.
That said, this is still a wonderful pet backpack as it’s incredibly durable and full of useful pockets and compartments. Equally important, it’s comfy for your four-legged buddy.
As the name implies, the Daypak is perfect for a whole day of trekking, hiking, or any other outdoorsy adventure you may want to share with your pet hound. Get the small dog backpack for your mini hiking hero and you’ll have the best time of your life together. It’s only available in blue and green colors, though, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The Daypak dog carrier backpack comes with twin spacious compartments complete with storage pockets for your dog’s trinkets and accessories. There are also adjustable chest straps, breathable mesh harness and a D-ring for a super-comfortable fit. And for fans of night camping and hiking, there is reflective piping for safety.
Roomy saddlebag storage compartments
4 expandable storage pockets and water bottle holder
Designed specifically for highly active pet parents whose idea of a great weekend is spending the rest of it in the great outdoors, the Mountainsmith K-9 dog hiking pack offers optimum comfort for your pet while carrying its stuff on its back. What is quite remarkable about the Mountainsmith is its unique vet-approved, ergonomically-tapered torso section, relieving stress points on your pet’s chest as it carries its load. The padded sternum strap further adds to the comfort.
There are mesh panels on the K-9 pack to afford breathable comfort and ventilation for your canine friend. Made of a combination of two types of nylon materials, the Mountainsmith K-9 is built to last many years of heading outdoors. There are reflective trims integrated into the design while its spacious cargo pockets are perfect for putting almost everything that your dog needs to feel comfy and safe during the hike.
Combination of 420D Duramax nylon and 210D nylon
2 zippered pannier storage compartments
Adjustable belly strap with safety reflective trim
You don’t need a large and bulky hiking backpack for your dog if you’ll only be out for less than a day. If you’ve got a small breed of dog then you can get the Ruffwear Approach Full-Day small dog hiking pack. Its stylish look plus vibrant colors are sure to stand out even in the wild. And if you happen to call it a day long after the sun has already set, you’d still have peace of mind for your pet’s safety because of the backpack’s reflective trims.
Of particular importance is the weight-forward design of the Ruffwear Approach dog bag, positioning it closer to the front of your pet and helping distribute the weight of its cargo squarely over its back. The saddlebag also comes with a more streamlined shape to showcase your pup’s unique profile and to help minimize the strain of putting too much weight for its small body to bear.
One of the best things about the Kurgo Baxter doggy bag is that it’s a hiking backpack and dog harness in one. Also, the zippered storage compartments are positioned well along the sides of your pet and not high on their back, allowing for better ventilation and greater comfort. True to its saddle-type design, the fully-padded back panel that forms the saddle of the Baxter serves as the attachment points for its two storage systems.
This model also comes with an integrated bottle opener so you can always well-hydrated on your hiking and trekking adventures. It has a well-padded chest strap to help provide for a more comfy carry while its 8 attachment points are perfect for ensuring the proper fit. The reflective trims are always welcome for the fans of evening hikes.
Fully adjustable saddlebag system with integrated harness
Featuring a rubberized haul handle instead of the usual padded fabric material, the Lifeunion large dog backpack comes as a reliably heavy-duty dog carriage system with 3 fully padded straps for the neck, chest, and belly. The bag only extends halfway into the dog’s back unlike other systems that are planted squarely on the length of the spine. The Lifeunion is made of Oxford fabric giving it dependability when it comes to sturdiness.
It’s got a breathable mesh top to bring comfort for your pet while going on a long trek. Its storage compartment may not look spacious, but it is. Two roomy side pockets are capable of accommodating all of your pup’s supplies, including food, treats, collapsible bowls, collars and other items and gizmos that you think are important for creating a memorable time outdoors.
Breathable and comfortable mesh saddle top Durable 600D Oxford fabric
Highly durable and great for a wide range of needs, this backpack for dogs has a range of features that made it ideal for any pet parent. Made with a nylon construction, the bag is able to withstand abrasions, dirt and scuffs, while also remaining water-repellent. This makes it a great choice for active dogs, who often find themselves in the dirt!
It has a 1.6l capacity, which is more than enough for most dog needs. It can hold poo bags, with an additional retrieval exit for quickly grabbing and utilizing your bags. At the same time, the interior mesh pocket and overall sturdiness of this option works for those whose dogs need to carry weights, in order to help them burn some fat, too.
The RUFFWEAR Palisades Pack is a dual-purpose canine hiking accessory – a nifty backpack and harness in one. The saddlebag design of the Palisades has enough storage space for your pet’s hiking supplies, including food, treats, toys, and feeding bowls. Conveniently, it also comes with a built-in grab handle that is perfect for assisting your pet when climbing an elevated platform.
If, during your hike you need a harness, simply remove the saddlebag and the backpack will turn into a standard dog harness. It comes with a V-shaped leash attachment point at the back, and both the back and chest panels feature ample padding. There is also the Web Master Harness frame technology that guarantees an equal distribution of weight, providing maximum comfort. As a bonus, the system comes with reflective trim to increase your pup’s safety in low visibility conditions.
This model features a sportier styling for super-active dogs, complete with a well-thought-out design. The extra-large zippered side pockets come fully integrated with a water bottle holder and a couple of interior mesh pockets for organizing all of your pet’s things.
The backpack is available in 4 sizes and bright colors that add to the visibility of its reflective trim. Like most of the dog saddlebags in this list, this model too comes with padded and adjustable secure straps. Of particular convenience are the removable storage packs so your pet can be weight-free during your rest stops.
The lightweight and washable Wellver Dog Backpack is ideal for traveling, walking, or hiking whatever the weather. The backpack comes complete with a breathable middle mesh and soft mesh lining to keep your dog cool and comfortable. It also has adjustable straps so that you can fit it to your dog’s specific size and needs.
The sturdy buckles make the pack easy to put on and take off and also reduce the risk of breakage. With two roomy pockets, are large enough to carry all your pet essentials, this is one convenient, comfortable canine backpack. It’s also quite affordable, which is always a welcome plus.
Available in three sizes – small, medium, and large
If you were to visit a pet supplies store right now, 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. And it’s no wonder why – they’re incredibly convenient for hiking and camping with your pet as they help hold all of your pooch’s essentials and accessories without overwhelming you or them. The only problem? There are way too many products to choose from. Luckily, you’re in the right place! This buying guide should help you navigate through the many issues and concerns that pet parents typically face when choosing a backpack for their canine friends.
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. Just look at the various items on display at your local pet shop – it’s like you’re actually entering an abode that is specifically created 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 now, dogs have their own backpacks, too. But why should you buy your pet hound its own backpack? We’ve found 10 excellent 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 and guardians. While their hunting instincts may have already been tamed or even made dormant because of 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 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, pet water bottle, doggie treats, bowl, or any other item that easily fits inside its backpack, these contents are meant for your pet. And while the most obvious effect of working is spending physical energy, it can also provide adequate mental stimulation. This helps dogs become better-rounded animals with very few behavioral issues if any 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. But 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.
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 – dry food, treats, bowl and bottle, 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.
Helping your dog build its 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, allowing your pet to 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 excessive barking, destructive chewing and more.
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 dullness by doing some of the things that you may not like it to do. As such, when you do give your pup a backpack, it will look at it as its job 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 so much that we are prepared to take every conceivable accessory and item that they may have or need 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 dog sleeping bag for instant comfort wherever you may decide to stop and rest.
As a general rule, however, you should not put too much items into the backpack: no 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 your pet’s bag to put in some of your things. Remember though, you’re not supposed to allow your dog to carry a load that weighs more than 20 percent of its body weight; lest you risk harming your pet.
For some pet parents, this might seem like a 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, our dogs actually love the mental challenge as well as the ability to showcase what they can do. They know that we’re giving them work because we believe in their capabilities. Our four-legged companions 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, or 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, which results in restful sleep. And 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 Dog Poop Bags
It is inadvertent that during one of your adventures with your pet, it will have to go and relieve itself. While you may be outdoors, you are still expected to carry out your responsibility as a pet parent and as a responsible member of society. In other words, you’re expected to carry with you your dog’s waste bags. Our dogs’ feces aren’t actually sterile. They contain germs that can be transmitted to other dogs and even humans. 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 than bringing their dogs along. Having a doggie backpack lets your pup 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.
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. But perhaps most importantly, by hiking and traveling with your pet, you get to learn more about their capabilities and overall temperament.
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 when they’re outdoors as the color of their coats can be masked by their surroundings. Sure, they’re not chameleons, but most of the time, it takes 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 outdoor adventures with your dog. And while some pet parents may opt for dog backpack carriers, many would rather have dog backpacks since they come with more benefits. These include giving dogs work, aiding in exercise, and providing them with a sense of purpose. And let’s not forget the simplest of reasons as well: they help us carry fewer things as they allow our pets to carry their own essentials!
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.
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 a perfect choice.
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 pup are hiking. It is also important to look for a canine bag that will not put the load directly onto the pet’s spine.
While the fabric panel should ideally be made of waterproof material, you should also pay 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 even come with drain holes to help facilitate the faster removal of interior moisture in cases of accidents.
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 them. It is, therefore, a good idea to choose a model with removable saddlebags so you can retain the harness on your dog’s body while only removing the cargo off of their 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.
A compression system 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 pup to move safely across bushes, shrubs and other terranean features that may snag the bag.
Leash and gear attachment points
Unless you can be certain that your dog’s attention will be on you 100% of the time, then there’s no need to look for bags with leash attachments. But since most dogs do like to wander and test the terrain, we suggest looking for backpacks with multiple attachment points, including one for the dog leash. You may also consider getting a hands free dog leash or a retractable dog leash, depending on your habits and needs.
Built-in hydration system
Don’t forget your dog’s drinking water. Most dog backpacks come with 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.
The strongest part of the dog is in its torso. As such, it is best to choose bag that is designed as a front-loaded backpack.
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. That said, if your own backpack comes with reflective trims, or alternatively, if you don’t hike in the evenings, a reflective doggie bag is not a must.
Washable fabric material
Whenever you head outdoors, it is inevitable that dirt, dust, and rain will require you to clean your pet’s 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.
How to Measure Your Dog
There is one very important measurement when choosing a backpack for your pet – their girth or circumference. Depending on the backpack you’re going to buy, you may need to measure your dog’s neck, chest, and belly circumference. To do this, you’ll need a cloth tape measure.
Wrap the tape measure around the base of your dog’s neck and write down the numbers. For the chest circumference, position the tape 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. You can 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 Safety Tips
To keep your pup safe and comfortable during your every outdoor trip, follow these basic safety tips on using canine backpacks.
Make sure to choose a dog bag 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 though. It is best to measure your dog properly to get the most appropriate size of 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 take. A good starting point is 10 to 12 percent of your pet’s weight.
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 recommended 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. Also, don’t put any sharp or pointy objects into the bag.
Adjust the length of the walk. If your dog is used to walking for full 30 minutes, with the bag on its back this 30-minute walk should be reduced to about 20 or even 15 minutes, depending on their age and health. This is especially true if your pet is only starting with its new backpack. Once they’re accustomed to the presence of the bag, you can gradually increase the length of the walk.
Take your time training your pet to like the bag on its back. Do keep in mind that this may take a while. Don’t rush it.
Secure all straps and make sure that the backpack fits snugly onto your pet’s body. All pockets and gear attachments should be secured before taking your dog for a walk.
Best Dog Backpacks FAQs:
Q: What is a dog backpack?
A: A pet backpack is just that – a bag that is specially 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. These pockets are intended to carry the dog’s items as well as a few other things.
Q: Why does my dog need a dog backpack?
A: There are many reasons why you may want to buy your dog its very own 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, defending the territory, and even engaging with other dogs. Today, many pet dogs have become nothing more than lapdogs, accessories even in some cases. But if you want the best for your dog, both in terms of their physical and mental health, it’s a good idea to give them some kind of a job or purpose.
Dog backpacks are also important while hiking, as your pet gets to carry a variety of items that otherwise you would have to carry. Things like your dog’s water bottle, treats, and even dog food can all be placed inside these canine backpacks, allowing for better organization of items you need on your outdoor trip.
Q: What can I pack in a dog backpack?
A: The things you can put inside a pet backpack depend on its capacity, or more specifically, the capacity of its storage compartments. This also depends on the maximum weight that your dog can safely carry. Generally, however, you can put your dog’s food, treats, water bottles and bowls, collars, muzzles, favorite dog toys, and emergency pet medications. Some may even have a neatly folded pet bed. The most important thing here is to weigh each thing before putting it inside the bag. Make sure the cargo doesn’t exceed the recommended weight capacity 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 arthritis, a maximum of 4 pounds will be way too much for your pet. The same is true for dogs in their senior years, as 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 recommend having a chat with your vet so you have an idea of the maximum weight your dog can carry. Your vet will have to consider the health condition of your pet to give you their appropriate weight limit.
Our Top Pick
We love the vintage styling of the OneTigris and its exceptional use of high-density cotton canvas. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a reflective trim, which makes it unsuitable for pet parents who like hiking in low-light conditions. Ruffwear’s Approach dog bag, on the other hand, comes not only with a stylish and thoughtful weight-forward saddlebag design, but also the reflective trim. On the other hand, the price of this model may be too much for some dog owners. For those on a tight budget, we recommend the Kyjen Outward Hound. It comes with a removable pack, high-visibility color, reflective accents, and nifty pockets, making it one of the best inexpensive models on the market.
A freelance writer and word nerd, Wendy is a content writer with a knack for getting into the nitty-gritty of pet ownership. For the past three years, she’s been researching and writing a huge range of different topics – but always comes back to her beloved pet articles. Lover of all things four-legged and owner of Harley, Pepper and Rush, Wendy is currently completing her MNSW at Edge Hill University.