Table of Contents
- Which backpacks for hiking for which dog?
- An absolute necessary adaptation phase
- What to load in a dog backpack for hiking: weight, accessories, food?
- Outward Hound Daypak
- Dog Backpack for Hiking Commuter from Ruffwear
- Ruffwear’s Approach Pack
- Ruffwear Palisades Multi-Day Backcountry Pack for Dogs
- The Dog Scout pack from Ferplast
Which backpacks for hiking for which dog?
Before you buy this accessory for your dog, there are a few things you should check.
Is your dog in good health? If not, don't make him carry something on his back; he'll have enough of his bodyweight to move!
Is he a puppy? If he is still in a growing stage, banish this thought from your mind quickly.
Let him finish his growth before you put anything on his back.
If you have the slightest doubt, remember to ask your veterinarian for advice. He knows your dog well, he'll be of good advice.
An absolute necessary adaptation phase
Of course, if you are planning on going hiking with your dog, do not order a dog backpack for hiking 3 days before departure.
You need several weeks of adaptation phase.
First of all, it is essential to make him test the backpack on short walks completely empty.
Even when empty, it already weighs a little and your dog will have to get used to its presence before filling the side pockets.
If they put a 30-pound bag on your back when you usually don't carry anything on a hike, it will make you feel weird... for your dog, it's the same thing.
Start with short walks and then longer walks and start filling the bag gradually.
And make sure your dog always feels comfortable.
What to load in a dog backpack for hiking: weight, accessories, food?
Generally, it is said that the dog can carry up to a third of his weight.
Personally, I think it's huge. So that would mean an 80-pound dog could carry up to 26 pounds!
In the beginning, limit the load to half this weight. The goal is to let him get used to it and build up his back for this weight and we'll see if we need him to help us more on future trips.
Before loading the backpack, remember to take into account its empty weight.
For example, you could make him wear his leash, his bowl, a SportDog beacon lamp for the night, his towel or carpet.
As you can see, I didn't include things that a dog consumes during the day or the trek. You'll soon understand why I didn't add his drinking water for example.
A dog backpack for hiking has usually 2 side pockets. If you fill the left pocket more than the right one, the pack will slide on your dog's back.
You must, therefore, take care to balance the weight of each pocket.
If your dog carries his own water, every time you serve him a ration, the balance of the backpack is no longer ideal.
It can become a real brain-teaser.
That's why, once you've found the right balance, each pocket will always contain the same things!
But that doesn't prevent us from experimenting with other loads.
On top of that, you'll find out soon enough, if your dog has a natural attraction towards any puddle of water, like Labradors, that the bags are not waterproof.
If you put his kibbles in there, be careful it doesn't turn into mush!
To avoid this, in case of rain, Ruffwear has created a cover for some of its dog backpacks.
It can be adapted to Approach Pack and Palisades Pack to protect their contents from the elements.
- MADE FOR ADVENTURE: The Hi & Dry Saddlebag Cover is a waterproof rain cover with taped seams that protects the contents of your dog's pack from the elements.
- GEAR UP AND GO: The design is straightforward, streamlined, easy to put on, and stays in place during activity. Spend less time gearing up and more time on the trail!
- COMPATIBILITY: The Hi & Dry Saddlebag Cover fits Ruffwear's Approach, Palisades, and Commuter Packs. It's designed to allow access to the pack's handle and leash attachment points.
Last update on 2023-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
One last piece of advice on how to fill up your dog pack: make sure that everything is folded properly inside.
If your dog likes to roll over on the ground. Bag or no bag, he'll have a field day.
If you put hard objects in the bag, he might get hurt rolling over.
Like for us, when we have a water bottle or a camera that sinks in our back because it is badly wedged in the backpack.
Be careful of that too.
As the name suggests, the DayPak dog backpack from Outward Hound is designed for a short walk around town or a daytime adventure at your local park.
Ideally, the DayPak dog backpack is suitable for street walks, parks and beaches.
This is not a rugged bag for traveling over rough back-country terrain.
The most notable feature is the breathable mesh body, which keeps your dog cool even when it's hot outside.
The pack includes two saddlebags with pockets to carry the essentials for your dog and yourself.
The design is lightweight with small zippers, small buckles and minimal padding.
There is a handle to carry your dog and a single D-ring for a leash.
- Cooling mesh fabric
- Reflective stripes
- Adjustable straps
- Expandable saddle bags
- Very lightweight
- Ergonomic and excellent functionality
I didn't like:
- It might be difficult to choose the right size
Dog Backpack for Hiking Commuter from Ruffwear
Following the test of the first dog pack, we have here another pack made of more solid material, easily adjustable, well reinforced so as not to injure the dog and practical.
The Ruffwear brand has many fans and so naturally I turned to their dog hiking backpacks. When comparing their products (and prices!), my initial choice was Ruffwear's Commuter dog backpack.
- color: grey (also available in purple)
- a pocket on each side of the dog with a zipper closure
- In each pocket, there is a handy little pocket for small items. On each pocket, there is another practical zippered compartment also for slipping in items that need to be retrieved quickly.
- reflective stitching on side pockets and the dog's chest
- 3 leash attachments: 2 on the dog's back and one on the chest (little trick, you can use the buckle on the chest to attach your dog's tag and bell)
- 1 handle on the dog's back, well-padded, it allows hoisting the dog if needed.
- harness attachment with 2 underbelly straps, both reinforced to prevent the strap from rubbing against the dog's skin. It slips through the dog's head.
- It is easy to put on and each strap is padded so as not to hurt the dog.
- the chest is well protected with a special reinforcement
- the bag attachment is well thought so that it doesn't slip on the dog's back: balancing is much easier to do!
- it doesn't slide from the back to the tail, either, it stays in place.
- it has a great capacity (be careful not to overload it)
- the fabric and the finish of the bag are very nice! the quality is there!
I didn't like:
- its empty weight...
- that it is not waterproof (like most bags by the way...)
My final opinion: I recommend this bag for walks, hikes and treks. Your dog should feel comfortable with the Commuter Ruffwear dog backpack. Ideal for 2-day hikes with bivouac in a tent and total autonomy.
Your dog will easily be able to carry this bag for the entire hike. Plus he won't go unnoticed with that dog backpack on his back.
At Ruffwear, there is also another extremely popular dog pack. It might make you hesitate between the previous one and this one. Even if they have a different look and different finishes. It's the Ruffwear Approach Pack.
Here is a quick description of the different elements of the Approach dog backpack.
- color: meadow green (comes also in orange!)
- a pocket on each side of the dog with a zipper
- in each pocket, there is a net to divide the space in two
- the volume of each cover allows you to put a lot of things. Be careful, however, to respect your dog's carrying capacity
- reflective stripes on the side pockets of the bag
- at the back, there's a handle for catching the dog
- harness attachment with 2 attachments on the dog's back
- it's easy to put on
- it is perfectly adjusted to the dog's morphology. It rests on his shoulders and not in the middle of his back.
- A small clip-on strap secures the side pockets to prevent them from jumping up and down when your dog runs.
- it is adjustable thanks to 5 adjustment points: which allows you to find the perfect fit for your dog's morphology.
- its color: orange is perfect for dogs who tend to move away from you. Even if the light orange gets dirty quickly, the bag is easily machine washable so no problem.
I didn't like:
- that the side pockets are not waterproof. It's hard to ask a dog who loves water not to jump into any puddles in its path.
- that the bindings are in direct contact with the dog's body without further protection. There is protection under the two straps that pass under the belly of the dog but no reinforcement at the chest, unlike the Ruffwear Commuter bag.
My final opinion: I recommend this dog hiking backpack. He will be well equipped with this pack!
The weight of the bags rests well on the dog's shoulders and not in the middle of his back. Thus, with each jump of the dog, the weight does not fall on the hollow of his back.
Another hiking backpack for dogs, the Ruffwear Palisades Pack is a comfortable and practical dog pack designed for multi-day hikes.
Easy to use thanks to the adjustment straps allowing optimal fitting whatever the morphology of your dog, its removable bags can be attached and removed very easily, thus relieving the dog during breaks.
The large capacity and technicality of the Palisades Ruffwear Backpack make it the ideal product for multi-day hikes.
Main features :
- 2 products in 1: removable saddlebags via 4 clips on the harness, making it easy to relieve the dog during breaks.
- the 2 hydration bottles of 1 L each allow to quench the dog's thirst and to balance its load.
- 5 adjustment points for a perfect fit with the morphology of each dog
- load compression system to reduce the volume of the bag when it is not full
- design adapted to the dog's anatomy, allowing most of the load to be carried forward at shoulder level
- side accessory loops for hanging additional equipment (mattresses, etc.)
- 2 attachment points for the leash
- Aluminum and Hypalon fastening system for a solid and secure connection.
What makes the Palisades model different from other dog saddle bag?
The big difference between the Palisades pack and the other models of the brand or those of competitors is that the bags can be mounted and dismounted from the harness with simple clips.
- The main advantage of this pack is undoubtedly the possibility to remove the bags without removing the harness. Whether it is to relieve your four-legged companion when he is tired, to have easier access to the contents of the pockets or simply to avoid encumbering him during outings that do not require his help for carrying.
- The soft water bottles supplied are perfectly adapted to the dimensions of the bags in the pack, preventing them from swinging when the dog moves.
- Compression straps allow the pockets to be pressed against the sides of the dog and reduce volume.
- Pockets of different sizes organized in 3 compartments. It's very convenient so that every element of the dog's EveryDay Carry (EDC) has its place.
- The harness itself. Easy to put on thanks to its clips, all the straps are adjustable, back handle.
- The bag is well balanced and hardly moves even at a slow trot.
- The harness and saddlebags do not restrict the dog's movements.
I didn’t like:
In the end, there are very few negative aspects of this bag except:
- On a personal note, I would have preferred the back handle not to be on its length but like on working dog harnesses where the grip is better and firmer when you have a dog who pulls hard.
- The compression straps at the front of the pack make it a little too easy for the dog to grab it, and when he is not used to wearing the bag, he can go after it.
My final opinion: I have a very positive opinion of this dog backpack for hiking.
It is versatile thanks to its removable saddlebags that allow you to enjoy a well-made harness.
The volume of the saddlebags even when compressed limits the use of the pack to long hikes but has the advantage of being easy to adjust and balance.
On the market of dog saddle bag, there is something for every taste and every budget.
Before you make a big investment, you might want to test an entry-level pack to see if your dog would be willing to carry it on his back while out for a walk.
That's why I have chosen the "Dog Scout" pack from Ferplast.
- color: orange and grey
- a pocket on each side of the dog with zipper
- in each pocket, there is a net to divide the space in two and a small hook to attach something in one of the pockets
- reflective stripes on the side pockets and the top of the pack
- on the top of the pack, at the level of the dog back, there is also a net: can’t understand its use, perhaps a place for a map.
- harness attachment with 2 underbellies and one chest attachment, fully adjustable and protected by anti-friction reinforcements
- it's easy to put on
- it's not too big, so we can't overload it.
I didn't like:
- that the side pockets may jump on your dog's flanks when he runs and therefore hit him on the flanks when they are full
- that it slides very easily despite being balanced
- that the fasteners easily get loose during the ride
- that the fasteners are in direct contact with the dog's body without further protection
My final opinion: I recommend this bag for walks. Your dog will be able to carry his favorite ball and bowl. I don't find it suitable for long hikes and trekking.
It's a bit like carrying a simple backpack: your back will soon become very painful.
Now you should be looking forward to going on an adventure with your dog and sharing new experiences along your favorite treks!
But remember the trekking is not accessible to everyone and not all dogs. It requires a good physical condition and above all a lot of equipment. But it's a damn fine experience to share with your dog!