This is our review of the best backpacks for dogs to wear when hiking.
Hiking is great exercise and a fantastic way to spend quality time with your furry pal, but there’s always a lot to carry what with water bottles, first aid supplies, bowls etc. Wouldn’t it be great if your dog could take their share of the load?
This article is about dog packs that dogs carry themselves, if you want carriers where the owners carries the dog then check out our dog carrier backpack reviews here.
Well, they can. A dog backpack is an excellent accessory for longer walks and camping trips. Not only can they carry their own gear, but it is also a great way to build muscle mass and gives them a job to do, which many dogs love.
We have tested these packs on a large Golden Retriever and a smaller Frenchie and like all our reviews, we consider the best features, quality and price before choosing the top pick. We also read the reviews to see what other customers like and dislike. So if you are considering a hiking harness with a backpack for your pup, check out the ones below
The RUFFWEAR Hiking Pack is our top choice; it’s hardwearing and long-lasting, so although it’s not the cheapest on our list, it’s still an excellent investment. The two large saddlebags are designed for equal weight distribution and it’s jam-packed with handy features like the reflective trim and extra loops.
In this guide, we will be reviewing:
- Ruffwear Hiking Pack for Dogs – (best dog backpack overall)
- Kurgo Dog Backpack – (top lightweight rucksack for dogs)
- Companet Dog Backpack – (best 2-in-1 dog backpacks for hiking)
- Lifeunion Service Dog Backpack – (best dog backpacks for service dogs)
- Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack – (most comfortable dog backpack carrier for hiking)
- OneTigris Dog Harness Backpack – (top dog carrier backpack for hiking with small dogs)
- Outward Hound Backpack – (top-rated large dog backpack carrier)
Our Best Backpacks for Dogs to Wear
In this post, you’ll find out about the best dog backpacks available online right now and see how they measure up. By the end of this article, you’ll have a feel for how to choose a dog carrier backpack so your best friend can carry his share as he hikes by your side.
Keep reading to see which backpack for dogs ticks all the boxes.
Ruffwear is known for its superb range of harnesses, dog hiking boots, reliable leashes, travel accessories and rugged backpacks and this one is no exception.
It boasts two large panniers with two smaller pockets, so your pet will have no trouble carrying all their gear. It has no less than ten external gear loops for carrying things like the excellent Beacon safety light, another Ruffwear hiking essential.
There are two lead attachment points and a grab handle, which could be a lifesaver if your dog gets into difficulty. Another safety feature is the highly visible reflective trim, so Fido is visible even in the dark.
Constructed from lightweight, water-resistant material, the strong woven straps have been adapted from mountaineering technology to ensure a secure hold. Unlike some other dog carrier backpacks, it has a large capacity of 13.5-litres.
This is the best value of Ruffwear’s backpack range, including the Palisades Pet Carrier backpack, The Heavy Duty backpack, and the Hydration pack, all of which are fantastic choices for dog owners who enjoy camping and hiking with their canine companions.
The Baxter backpack by Kurgo is a lightweight, durable pack that combines value for money with functionality. It has all the basic features you could want, including two panniers with plenty of space for water, collapsible bowls and towels. Each also has a pocket for smaller items such as poop bags. The bags are adjustable so they can be moved to suit all sizes of dogs.
The regular Baxter dog carrier backpack is designed for dogs between 30 to 85 pounds with an impressive 3.75L of storage, whilst the larger option holds up to 7.5L of dog gear and fits dogs up to 110lbs, making it ideal for big breeds like Labradors and Rottweillers.
The harness is lightly padded and contoured to fit comfortably across your dog’s back and it boasts two leash attachment points; the handle is handy for assisting your pup over obstacles and there’s even a bottle opener on the front chest strap; there are also two loops on the top for attaching extra gear like a torch.
The harness slips easily over your dog’s head and the breathable mesh ventilation keeps Fido cool even on long hikes.
This pet carrier backpack is made of ultra-tough oxford fabric, and it only weighs 14oz’s so it is not too heavy for your dog to carry even on longer hikes.
Four large expanding pockets can accommodate all your dog’s essentials, including a small towel, first aid kit, travel bowls, waste bags, etc. Just make sure the load is less than 25% of your dog’s body weight and the weight is distributed evenly on either side.
The panniers are detachable, so you can also use this as a regular harness for daily walks. It has a handle on top for helping your pooch over rough terrain; the reflective trim is a fantastic safety feature, especially in low light.
Adjustable straps are straightforward to adjust, meaning you can distribute the load evenly and ensure a comfortable fit.
This excellent dog carrier backpack comes in two sizes and is fantastic value for money compared to some dog carrier options in our round-up
The Lifeunion Saddle Bag is designed the same as the Ruffwear Approach pack, with fixed panniers sewn into the body of the dog carrier; they have sturdy zips and room to carry all of your best friend’s travel essentials such as treats, food, travel bowls and first-aid supplies.
This is a high-quality piece of kit constructed from water-resistant 600D Oxford fabric. The padded straps and pack themselves are lined with breathable mesh for ventilation and there is a handy grab handle made of rubber to ensure a secure grip.
It comes in a range of colours and three sizes, with the largest option being suitable for breeds like Golden Retrievers, Dobermans and German Shepherds; this size can accommodate loads up to 3.5lbs in weight.
This heavy-duty pet carrier backpack is ideal for serious hikers and is used for both working and service dogs. The only downside is that it is shipped from the US, so you might need to wait a couple of weeks for delivery.
Another US import, The Mountainsmith K9, ticks all the boxes when looking for the best dog hiking backpack. A lot of thought was put into the design with input from vets and it shows, this pack is adjustable in every which way and you can also raise or lower the saddlebags for extra comfort for your pooch.
Not only are all the straps adjustable, but they are also padded and even the buckles have a fabric backing to prevent them from chafing your dog’s skin.
The K9 has four pockets to store all your dog’s gear, the two larger ones are able to hold up to 2 litres of food and water, whilst the smaller ones are perfect for doggy treats and poo bags. The construction is robust with a combination of 420D and 630D nylon fabric finished off with sturdy zips and heavy-duty stitching on the leash attachment point and top handle.
It gets fantastic reviews with dog lovers liking the snug fit and how hard-wearing this high-quality backpack is, perfect for long hikes with your best friend.
If you are looking for a dog carrier to fit small dogs, this one’s for you! Using 1000D nylon fabric that’s incredibly durable and easy to clean, it’s the ideal accessory for little dogs on either long hikes or everyday walks.
The x-shaped piece that fits across the dog’s chest hugs the torso for a comfortable fit, and the breathable mesh lining maintains good airflow during outdoor adventures. The shoulder straps are fully adjustable with UTX-duraflex quick-release buckles and there is a rugged stainless steel D-ring for you to attach the leash.
The main compartment holds 1-6 litres and opens with a clever quick-pull design, and it even has a handy poop bag dispenser at the bottom. There are also two webbing straps at the front if you want to attach some small MOLLE pouches.
OneTigris are renowned for their heavy-duty dog packs often used by military and service dogs and this little addition is perfect for tiny dogs on big adventures.
Outward Hound does a fantastic range of high-quality hiking pet gear, including everything from collapsable bowls to lifejackets and this lightweight backpack is one of their bestsellers. The standout feature is the breathable mesh fabric that keeps your dog cool when hiking in the summer months.
The pack has two expandable saddlebags with built-in pockets to carry all those doggy essentials such as training accessories, water and first aid supplies while ensuring even weight distribution. There is a handle should you need to help your pup over stiles or across water and a sturdy leash hook.
The Outward Hound Daypak dog backpack comes in two sizes, medium and large, suitable for dogs weighing up to 80lbs. The adjustable straps ensure a comfortable fit around your dog’s body and the bright colours allow high visibility in bad weather conditions.
All in all, this is a fantastic backpack carrier for your furry friend at a reasonable price.
What is a Dog Carrier Backpack?
A dog backpack carrier is basically a harness with panniers attached so your pooch can carry small items when you go on longer walks, such as food, first aid essentials and water. They can also be used on daily walks as a training aid or to give your pup more of a workout.
4 Reasons Why you Should Consider a Dog Backpack
- It’s excellent for conditioning – Choosing to add weight to a dog hiking backpack carrier can be a great way to increase strength and muscle mass to a fit and healthy adult dog. Good muscle mass is essential for healthy joints. A backpack with the weight evenly distributed will build and tone muscle safely.
- Your pooch can carry their own stuff –There’s a lot of gear to carry when you go hiking or camping, so having your best friend take some of the load can be a real help even if it is only their food bowls and a first aid kit.
- Helps them focus – Most dogs love a job and wearing a dog carrier backpack instead of just clipping the lead to your dog’s collar can put them into work mode, making them more focused and less inclined to charge off after a squirrel
- They may lose a few pounds – If your dog’s weight is an issue; carrying a weighted dog pack on short walks can help them shed a few pounds.
What to Look for When Buying Dog Hiking Packs
- Lightweight –You don’t want a heavy dog carrier hiking backpack, especially if you have a small dog; the best dog backpack should be constructed from lightweight fabric and usually weighs less than 2lbs.
- Weight distribution – Possibly the most important consideration. You don’t want your canine hiking buddy to be uncomfortable or suffer from chafing, so look for a backpack that has two panniers on either side. Also, check how far the pack sits on your dog’s back. You really want the pack to sit close to the dog’s shoulders, so there is no strain on their back or rear end.
- Adjustability – Some packs have saddlebags that are sewn into the actual body of the dog carrier. These have limited adjustability, so be sure to choose the correct size. Others have panniers that can be moved using adjustable straps and can accommodate dogs of all shapes and sizes.
- Waterproof – A weather-resistant back for dogs is essential as you don’t want them weighed down and saturated with water should you need to cross water or get caught in a downpour.
- Features – some doggy rucksacks have extra features, loops where you can attach additional MOLLE pouches, reflective stitching, even attached bottle openers, so look out for ones that may come in useful.
What to Can a Dog Carry in a Backpack
Most canines, even small dogs, are plenty strong enough to carry their provisions when hiking; below are some things you can pop into a carrier backpack.
Most dog carrier backpacks are not very large, so large items like clothing and bedding need to be carried by the owner.
How Much Weight Can a Dog Carry?
How much weight a dog can carry safely depends on several factors, but the most important things to consider are your four-legged friend’s breed, fitness, and age.
Most adult dogs can happily carry around 15% of their body weight. Some larger breeds like a Bernese Mountain dog or Newfoundland can carry up to 30%, whilst smaller dogs can only carry about 10%
Older dogs obviously can’t carry as much; check your dog regularly for signs of fatigue during the hike and adjust the weight if needed.
Tips for Getting Your Dog Used to Wearing Backpacks
Start by letting your pooch get used to wearing the backpack in the house or garden with little or no weight in the panniers, then begin going on short walks with them wearing the pack.
As your furry friend gets stronger, you can gradually increase the weight in the dog carrier backpack and distance; before you know it, Fido will be adept at carrying his gear on the trail.
Are Doggy Backpacks Safe?
A dog carrier backpack is perfectly safe when used correctly; always make sure they are securely adjusted to fit and anything hanging loose isn’t going to get caught on loose branches etc. The panniers should never be filled with anything too heavy and the weight should be distributed evenly on both sides.
At what age can a dog wear a backpack?
You can start getting a puppy used to a dog backpack for hiking from an early age; however, we would not recommend taking a dog on a hike with a fully loaded pack until they are fully developed at around 18 months and start with short walks to begin with
How far can dogs hike in a day?
It depends on the fitness and breed of your dog, as well as the climate and terrain; energetic dogs like a Rhodesian Ridgeback, Border Collie or Siberian Husky can manage upwards of 10 miles. However, most dogs can easily tackle 5 miles if they are relatively fit and it’s not too hot.
Do dog carriers for hiking hurt dogs?
Not at all; as long as they are fitted correctly, also look for padded straps so they do not rub or chafe your pet’s skin, and breathable mesh is recommended to keep your dog comfortable.
Last Word & Top Pick
So, there you have it, everything you need to know when choosing the best dog backpack carrier. Our top pick was the Ruffwear Hiking Pack, which has fantastic reviews and is one of the bestsellers in the Ruffwear hiking collection.
Hiking with your dog is one of the greatest pleasures in life and they will really feel like part of the pack carrying their own provisions, so why not invest in a backpack carrier today and hit the trail with your best friend.
Note -You may come across a few “doggy backpacks” that look like a typical human rucksack. These are not for dogs to wear but instead are designed for carrying small dogs; we have another guide on these here.