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Best Backpacks
For Dogs

By Diane Spicer

Your dog is part of your pack, so gear her up with the best dog backpack with these tips from Hiking For Her. #hikingdog #dogshike #dogbackpacks #backpacksfordogs #caninebackpacks

Backpacks for dogs should have all of the high quality features that your own backpack has:

  • comfortable fit
  • durability
  • weatherproof materials
  • compartments for gear
  • easy on and off buckles,
  • multiple options for adjusting the fit

If you're in the market for backpacks for the dogs in your life, consider these tips on getting the right one.

Not sure about hiking with dogs?

Backpacks for dogs:
start here

Number one rule:

  • The dog pack must fit the dog, or the dog won't wear it.

Just like kids, right?

So be sure you're working with a reputable doggie backpack manufacturer, one which has invested some time and thought into the design of the dog pack.

Color does matter

Also consider the color of the pack you put on your dog, because it really matters - to you!

Pick the brightest colored pack you can find.

If your dog:

  • gets hung up in the underbrush,
  • sees a little critter to chase and takes off,
  • or simply lies down for a rest break,

you want to be able to spot him/her immediately.

Avoid the entire frantic "where are you??" drama by avoiding subtle colors in your "backpacks for dogs" quest.

Bright colors also give a heads up for oncoming hikers, which is a courtesy for those who aren't as fond of your dog as your are.

Trail tip
before you hit the trail

As a courtesy to your hiking dog, do a few trial runs with a gradually heavier pack, just to get her coordination and balance figured out before you hit the trail.

Most dogs love to have a job in the pack, and wearing a pack might be just the ticket to improved trail behaviors.

It's also good to get the fit just right, to prevent chafing or blisters which could act as a trail disincentive.

Which packs are the best
day packs for dogs?

To answer that question, let's consider one of the most bombproof doggie packs on the market.

Mountainsmith makes some of the most durable yet reasonably priced gear I've ever seen.

I use their packs for carrying expensive cameras, and have never had a malfunction in over ten years, so I have complete confidence in this brand.

Their bright K9 pack (usually I loathe cutesy names, but this one is apt) has features that your K9 trail buddy will enjoy:

  • adjustable chest and back harnesses so you can customize the fit to your dog - no flopping around or dragging,
  • one adjustable belly strap that doesn't restrict movements,
  • top strap for you to grab when needed, such as assisting over large obstacles or while meeting other hikers (or dogs) on the trail,
  • 2 spacious pockets with zippers,
  • correct torso shape,
  • reflective strips to enhance the eye-catching color,
  • ventilation panels so your pup stays cool even while hiking - really important because dogs don't sweat, only pant,
  • empty pack weight hovers around a pound.

This dog pack will take you on many day hikes, and keep your dog as comfortable on the trail as possible while taking some of the burden out of your own pack in terms of trail treats, water, a doggie sweater, or other trail necessities.

Note that if your dog isn't exactly a "small" or some other designated size (measured by girth), you'll have to rely upon the adjustable straps to get the best fit.

Watch carefully

Watch your dog for feedback about the fit, such as tugging or chewing.

And if your canine hiking buddy begins to avoid putting on the pack, spend some time figuring out why.

  • Is the load balanced?
  • Are the straps rubbing on the sensitive "pit" areas of the legs?
  • Does the pack make noises that are scary or irritating?

pack endorsement

My dog Cleo couldn't wait to get the pack on, because it meant she was going for a walk with a capital W!

But it did take some trial and error to get the fit just right, with monthly adjustments as she grew into her adult size and weight.

Boxer mix dog in the snowWhere's my backpack? Let's go!

More best backpacking packs
for dogs

To step things up a few notches for longer trips, you'll need to consider a pack with even more features.

The price, of course, will also step up.

The Ruffwear brand is well respected and has gotten rave reviews from dog owners who backpack for extended periods of time.

Their Palisades Dog Pack has some interesting features, including

  • removable saddle bags for water crossings,
  • a load compression system,
  • collapsible water bottles to reduce bulk,
  • multiple adjustment points so you can get the fit just right.

But don't expect this feature-loaded pack to do all of the work.

It's up to you to be sure the load is balanced and not flopping around inside, the straps are secure but not overly tight, and your dog feels confident about moving in it in any terrain.

Another dog worthy choice: Mountainsmith dog backpacks.

The chest harness is humanely padded at the sternum, and has four points of adjustment to get a customized fit on your hiking dog.

You can adjust the fit even more with the back harness and belly strap.

The two pannier pockets zip close to keep the contents secure.

The hardest part about
backpacks for dogs?

Keeping your dog from rolling in the mud, or worse yet, bear poop!

But that's a small price to pay for hiking with your dog, right?

For tips on how to get the best fit, as well as other useful hints on hiking with your dog(s), read this.

And now that you know how to find the best backpacks for dogs, what are you waiting for?

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Best Backpacks For Dogs