Best Dog Backpacks
Dog backpacks can help service dogs and family pets contribute to their family’s daily activities, carry their own gear, and give dogs a sense of purpose. Finding the right pack for your dog breed and activity will ensure a comfortable fit and lasting durability. If you want to determine the best dog backpack for your needs, be sure to take the dog’s size, gait, and activity level into consideration. Then make sure those needs are coupled with load expectation and gear needs of you and your dog. But finding the best dog backpack for you and your canine friend can be difficult. Don’t worry, though, we’ve looked through the options and are happy to present a few of our favorites.
- Ruffwear Approach
- Onetigris Dog Pack
- Mountainsmith K-9
- Kurgo Baxter
- Ruffwear Palisades
- Outward Hound
- Outward Hound Denver
- Kurgo Wander
- Lifeunion Saddle Bag
- Alfheim Cotton Canvas
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Ruffwear Approach
- Forward weight design for comfortable carry
- Saddle bag for great weight distribution
- Easy to adjust
- Could be made from tougher material
If you’re looking for a dog backpack that keeps both your pet’s comfort and your peace of mind in the forefront of the design, then look no further than the Ruffwear Approach Full Day Hiking Pack for Dogs. This pack not only features a design that allows your dog to move relatively freely, but it also provides a secure way for your dog to carry essential items.Read more
The Ruffwear Approach Full Day Hiking Pack for dogs is available in sizes ranging from double extra-small to extra-large, and can easily fit around the girth of most dogs.
This dog backpack is made from relatively lightweight material, and has been known to show wear, especially around the strap area and along the pockets themselves. It’s certainly not as tough as we would have hoped to see.
This dog backpack offers one of the best forms of adjustability that we’ve seen in a long time. The straps themselves are non-slip, and the buckles are sheltered so that they won’t become entangled in your dog’s fur. Plus, the harness features five different points for adjustment.
The dog backpack is made from relatively lightweight materials and has a forward leaning design, so the weight is carried on the dog’s shoulders and front legs rather than the dog’s back. Prior to filling, the dog backpack weighs approximately 12 ounces.
While the actual capacity of the two saddle bags is dependent on the size of the dog backpack that you have, most people found them to be quite roomy and able to easily hold the dog’s water, treats, and a few odds and ends for the human companion.
While we would have liked to see the dog backpack made from a tougher material. Overall, we were impressed by the forward leaning design and great adjustability. Whether your canine companion is a Great Dane or a toy poodle, this is one dog backpack that will be a joy to use.
2. Onetigris Dog Pack
- Made of comfortable yet tough cotton canvas
- Good capacity
- Easy to put on and take off
- Designed for larger breeds only
If you have a medium to large breed of dog, and you want a durable and comfortable dog backpack for them, you might want to consider this second option from OneTigris. Not only is it made from a tough cotton material, but it’s also very comfortable to wear.Read more
While this dog backpack does fit well, it is truly only designed for medium or large breed dogs. Even on the smallest setting, a small or miniature breed dog would simply swim in it. The range of girths that it will fit range from 30 inches to 45 inches, and the dog needs to have a neck diameter of less than 28 inches. However if you do own a larger breed, the cotton canvas material and secure buckles and straps provide for an over great fit.
When it comes to durability, it’s hard to beat this example from OneTigris. Not only is the material strong and tough, easily resisting tears and punctures, but the zippers and fasteners hold up to even a dog’s tugs and bites.
Overall this dog backpack is fairly adjustable, up to a certain point. The bag itself is designed to act as a saddle bag, with buckles and fasteners located underneath that can be adjusted to better fit the dog’s girth.
The pack weighs a hefty 13 ounces unloaded, so it does have a bit of weight to it, even empty. This dog backpack is a great choice for active dogs that are healthy. If your dog has back or hip problems, other options probably should be considered.
This dog backpack features four pouches in total. The two main zippered pouches measure seven inches by 9.6 inches by 2 inches each, and the front pockets measure 7.7 by 5.3 by 1 inch in size. There is plenty of room to carry the smaller essentials, extra food, water, and a collapsible dog bowl as well.
If you’re looking for a dog backpack for a larger breed dog that is durable enough to withstand the wilderness during the winter months, this example from OneTigris is a great one to consider. While we would have loved to see a slightly larger size range, overall this is one tough dog backpack.
3. Mountainsmith K-9
- Ergonomically designed for a dog
- Made from tough rip-stop material
- Great sizing options
- Could use more adjustment options
If you have an active dog that goes with you everywhere, having a dog backpack that moves with them can be a great asset. Designed with the help of a veterinarian, this dog back is specifically designed to allow your dog a free range of motion no matter where he travels.Read more
This dog backpack comes in three main sizes: small, medium and large. Each of these sizes fit a girth range from 20 inches to a total of 44 inches, and are designed for dogs weighing between 20 and 120 pounds. So chances are you’ll be able to find a size that fits your dog the best. In addition, the mesh panels against the dog’s body certainly added to the overall comfort.
Since it is made from tough rip-stop nylon material, this dog backpack is fairly durable and there weren’t too many complaints about tearing or punctures. In addition, the material helps to repel rain and snow, so you won’t have to worry about your supplies getting damaged by the weather.
Truth be told, one of the drawbacks we found with this particular dog backpack was the level of adjustability. There really was only one way to adjust the backpack, which lessened its true versatility. While the simple construction and design was nice, we would have liked to see a bit more flexibility.
This dog backpack is relatively lightweight, weighing just under a pound prior to loading.
Depending on the size of the pack, a dog can carry up to fifteen pounds of materials or supplies in this dog backpack. The weight is fairly evenly distributed, and the straps help to prevent too much chaffing or undue pressure when used correctly.
While we were a bit disappointed with the limited methods of adjustability, we did enjoy the fact that this particular dog backpack came in a wide range of sizes and was ergonomically designed for a dog’s body. If you have an active dog that wants to go everywhere with you, this is a great choice for them.
4. Kurgo Baxter
- Great overall capacity
- Ergonomically designed for comfort
- Built in harness
- Adjusting it could be easier
- Minor issues with durability
If you’re looking for a dog backpack that offers great overall versatility and distribution of weight for your pet, the Kurgo Baxter Dog Backpack is certainly one to consider. It’s a backpack that is at home in both the wilderness and urban settings.Read more
If you’re dog ranges in weight between 30 and about 100 pounds, then this dog backpack provides a great overall fit. While there were some complaints overall about the ease of adjustment, most people found that their dogs were comfortable and were able to move well.
Although it was made to withstand harsh conditions and inclement weather, quite a few customers found the dog backpack to be less than durable. Problems were most often encountered in the quality of the zippers and where the straps were sewn onto the backpack itself.
While the built in harness was a nice added feature to the dog backpack, quite a few customers found that it made accessing the adjustment buckles somewhat awkward.
The overall weight of the dog backpack is about 13.6 ounces, so it is relatively lightweight, and adds little to what your dog is carrying on its back.
Depending on the size purchased, this dog backpack can hold a maximum of 3.75 liters or 7.5 liters of material.
While there were some issues with adjustability and minor issues with zipper and seam failure, overall this dog backpack provides a comfortable way for your dog to be part of the team, on the trail or off. If you’re looking for a fairly versatile dog backpack with a built in harness, this is one to get.
5. Ruffwear Palisades
- Can remove the saddle bags easily
- Includes a hydration bladder
- Fairly durable
- A bit on the heavy side
- Hydration bladder takes up some of the capacity
If a multi-day hiking adventure is in the future for you and your canine friend, the Ruffwear Palisades Backcountry Pack for Dogs is a great overall choice. It is designed with features that help keep both you and your dog on the move over the long haul.Read more
Most people found that the overall fit for small and medium dogs were good overall, but that the large and extra-large were a little bit tight around the girth for dogs over 40 inches. However, the weight distribution of the pack was fairly even across the back of the dog, and avoided the hip area nearly completely.
Overall, this dog backpack is one of the toughest we’ve seen. The material is fairly lightweight, tough, and water resistance. Unless your dog has a habit of chewing on its toys and equipment, this dog backpack should last you quite a while.
Generally speaking, most people found this dog backpack to be easily adjusted, provided that the dog was well behaved.
Depending on the size selected, this bag can weigh anywhere from 1.75 lbs to 2.15 lbs, so it is fairly heavy overall. However, the weight distribution is fairly good across the animal’s back, and most dogs found it to be relatively easy to carry. It addition, the removable load bearing bags made it easy to lighten the load when necessary.
This dog backpack features a set of hydration bladders. While this feature certainly comes in handy on the long hot hikes, it does decrease the amount of available capacity. However, it should be noted that in most cases there is more than enough room for the necessities of traveling with a dog overall a few days.
While the overall dog backpack is a bit on the heavy side, we found the Palisades Backcountry Pack from Ruffwear to be both durable and versatile. The added features such as removable saddle bags and hydration bladders make it a great overall choice for the longer trails.
6. Outward Hound
- Quick release straps
- Poorly sized
- Snaps pop easily
- No padding
If you’re looking for a relatively lightweight dog backpack that is a great choice for those quick day hikes or a trip to the corner store, this dog daypack is certainly worth considering.Read more
Depending on the size ordered, this dog backpack can fit dogs ranging in size between twenty and seventy pounds overall. Most found that the weight distribution to be even across the dog’s back, and the straps were well placed to provide a great range of movement overall.
While the overall fit was found to be adequate, this dog backpack is certainly not the most durable we’ve seen. There were quite a few reports of dogs easily chewing through straps, or the removable bags being removed by tree branches. However, if your dog is out of the chewing stage, and you’re not planning on going into a forest with low hanging branches, this dog backpack should last for quite a while.
Overall most people found this particular dog backpack to be easily adjustable. The adjustment buckles are easy to access and use. Sizing can be an issue if your dog is between sizes. While ordering the next size up is recommended, the backpack may seem a bit loose, even tightened all the way.
Considered lightweight, this pack is practical and will not add any undue weight to your dog, thus giving you more versatility when packing your dog’s backpack. Although it does wick up some moisture, it does not soak up volumes of water and become heavy either.
This is more of a casual, day pack for your dog, rather than a rugged hikers pack. It is large enough to carry a drink bladder, snacks, and even the mail; but not big enough to carry supplies for an extended trip. The secondary zippered compartments do extend storage capacity quite a bit.
The lightweight nature of the this saddle bag makes this a good choice for short walks, mail runs, neighborhood strolls, and short strips. The lightweight, breathable design is great for short trips on hot summer days.
7. Outward Hound Denver
- Streamlined fit
- Wide range of adjustability
- Lightweight and breathable
- Strong perfume smell
- Minimal storage
If you are looking for a casual backpack for your dog the Outward Hound Denver Urban Pack is the best balance between storage and lightweight streamlined fit. The two pockets are just right for carrying keys, cell phones, mail, waste bags, or leads.Read more
Depending on the size of the pack you choose, this backpack fits dogs between 25 and 100 pounds, with girths between 16 and 44 inches. The minimalism of this backpack assured a comfortable fit without any bulkiness to get caught on things. It fights tightly, like a human backpack, and does not wiggle or shift, when properly sized.
Compared to its counterparts, this dog backpack has more positive durability reviews than others. Users boasted its rugged nature and resistance to snagging on branches. The synthetic canvas is resistant to fraying and tearing.
The wide ranges of dog sizes the two backpack sizes cover make it for a versatile pack. All of the straps are adjustable, giving this pack a streamlined fit and comfortable sizing. Placement of the straps enables full range of motion by your dog, ensuring no rubbing or discomfort will be experienced on long hikes.
Weighing in at under 3 pounds, this dog backpack won't weight down your animal. Although the material is quite absorbent, it will not hold much water or become water-heavy in wet conditions. It was made for lightweight loads.
Compared to its counterparts, this backpack does not hold much. It’s perfect for carrying just the essentials, such as keys, mail, waste bags, and other lightweight, small items. Its still surprisingly roomie, despite shallow, narrow compartments. It may hold small water bottles and collapsible water bowls.
The Outward Bound Denver Urban dog backpack is made for lightweight carrying and not extended hiking trips. Its durable enough for rugged day-hikes, yet lightweight and streamlined for active daily use. The mesh panels make it a great choice for warm weather when breathability is vital to your pet's comfort.
8. Kurgo Wander
- Light weight
- Fully adjustable
- Detachable packs
- Limited pack capacity
- Straps may not be ideal for all dog builds
- Secondary lead harness necessary
Designed with the working-class dog breeds in mind, this backpack is made for both comfort and functionality. The four reflective strips provide additional safety and visibility. The Kurgo Wander Dog Backpack is worth considering for rugged trips that put a strain on your dog.Read more
The Kurgo has an ergonomic padded spine support that helps evenly distribute the two saddlebags weight on the dog’s spine comfortably. The rear lead hook and breast strap placement also minimize discomfort for long trips.
Most customers reported that the durability is quite rugged with normal use. Only two customers reported any tearing. As with most dog backpacks, it might be a good idea to attach the lead to a collar or harness separately from the pack. With normal use the packets do seem to hold up well.
The sizing makes this pack perfect for working class breeds between 30 to 85 pounds. It is a one size fits most. Customers did report that the straps seemed to loosen during normal use and adjustments may be necessary, particularly with uneven loads.
Weighing in at under a pound, this dog backpack frees up your dogs load capacity and enables your dog to wear this pack for longer periods. Saddlebag placement is lower than most other bags, thus lowering your dogs center of gravity.
The large saddle bags provide room for essentials, like water bottles and waste bags, as well as items for longer trips, such as food, toys, and treats. Both bags are fully detachable without removing the saddle harness, thus enabling you to reduce the workload temporarily, without fussing with the entire gear setup.
The Kurgo Wander dog Backpack is considered a rugged outdoor pack for long trips and working-class medium-sized dogs. Its construction is a little more versatile than other comparable packs. A warranty is offered with this pack.
9. Lifeunion Saddle Bag
- Extra padding
- Sizable storage
- Range of sizes
- Zippers not durable
- Not breathable
- Not waterproof
Less of a harness, more of a backpack, the Lifeunion Saddle Bag backpack is made for comfort and long trips. Not exactly a lead-harness-type backpack, it is built more like a human backpack with padded straps and larger saddlebag capacity.Read more
With 3 main sizes available, this camping pack fits girths from 21 to 50 inches. The straps are adjustable, to accommodate individual needs without sacrificing comfort. Sizes do run a bit large.
The material and construction are fairly durable for rugged use. At least one customer was dissatisfied with the zipper, but the overall construction has held up under normal, active, conditions.
The backpack only comes in medium, large, and extra-large. Sized do run large, and therefore most dogs, on the small side of medium, will have trouble with the fit. Be sure to measure your pooch before deciding on the size that rights for your breed.
This pack weighs between 7 and 13 ounces, depending on the size needed. Despite the bulky packs and padding, this dog backpack is fairly lightweight and shouldn’t tire out your pet.
Each pouch holds up to two small kittens. Which means your water bottles, waste bags, and pet food containers should fit in the bag nicely. Caution should be used in overfilling the pouches, both for your pets comfort and the zippers durability.
Overall the Lifeunion Saddlebag dog backpack is a bargain for what it offers. This pack offers durability for other indoor and outdoor use and is designed for long hikes and camping excursions. It will also work nicely for daily working-dog activities.
10. Alfheim Cotton Canvas
- Fully adjustable
- Cotton construction
- Minimal design
- Small capacity
- Only comes in large
If you are looking for a lightweight, light activity backpack for your dog, the Alfheim Cotton Canvas dog pack may be right for your needs. Unlike the all-plastic counterparts, this pack is cotton canvas, which makes it breathable. It is multifunctional, for daily or travel usage.Read more
This pack is one-size-fits-most and will fit most large breeds. It is built for dogs larger than 50 pounds and a 20 inch girth. Its is even large enough for some small pony and horse miniatures.
Overall it is not very durable and is slated for lightweight use. While it may not hold up under the weight of water bottles, it is great for currier duties and light pack trips.
Fitting sizes medium to extra-large, this dog backpack is quite adjustable. However, its harness straps leave a bit to be desired in the animals comfort. Most customers reported that it worked well for hard-to-fit dog sizes.
At just under 13 ounces, this pack is lightweight, despite its heavy cotton canvas construction. The minimalistic design reduces weight by eliminating unnecessary parts.
With 4 pockets in total, this dog saddle bag backpack holds quite a bit. While it won’t fit anything too large, it will fit basic necessities, such as waste bags, small bottles of water, treats, and mail.
If you want to make your dog feel like a useful member of the family all day at home, or want a little extra storage on a hike or walk, this bag is decent for most light daily use. The Alfheim Cotton Canvas Dog Pack is the active dog’s companion and large enough for small horses or hard-to-fit large dog breeds. It won’t haul heavy military gear, but it will help service dogs and family pets with light tasks.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
As a general rule, dogs should carry about 10 to 15 percent of their overall weight when traveling through the wild, if they are using a dog backpack. This weight also includes the overall weight of the pack prior to filling it with items for them to carry. Therefore, looking at the overall weight of the dog backpack can be important. In most cases, these backpacks for your dog are relatively lightweight, and easy for them to manage, weighing only a few pounds or less. So with these particular dog backpacks, you won’t have to worry about them becoming too heavy if you use them correctly.
As you and your dog enjoy the great outdoors, chances are both of you are going to get into better shape. In the case of your dog, that means that having a pack that can be easily adjusted may come in handy sooner than you think. Therefore, we took a close look at how easy the dog backpack was to adjust. Are the straps easy to get to? Are the buckles or fasteners strong, yet easy to release? Are the areas around your dog’s legs and chest padded and adjustable? There were quite a few questions we asked, and thankfully, for the most part, these particular dog backpacks answered them admirably.
Let’s face it; you and your dog are an unbeatable team, and you’ve faced a lot of tough situations together. You’ve hiked through rivers, scrambled up muddy slopes, and shared more than a few sunny days. Knowing this, it’s little wonder that you need your dog backpack to be just as tough as the two of you. After all, your companion is going to be carrying some pretty important stuff, right? It’s best to make sure that the dog backpack is durable enough to handle things.
Thankfully the dog backpacks presented here are tough, and remarkably so. The materials used to make them not only resist tears, but also can withstand quite a bit of outdoor life, including weather, staining, and the occasional tumble down a hill.
And finally, we took a look at how much each of these packs can actually carry, and carry safely depending on the dog using them. How easy are they to fill to capacity, overall? Can they only handle a few of the most common items used on the hiking trail, or is the capacity of the dog backpack more pragmatic? In most cases, these dog backpacks proved to be able to carry their own in many different outdoor situations, making them a huge help instead of a hindrance. Dogs love having something to do. They want to feel needed and be part of the group. So having your canine companion carry something for you is a great way to keep them relatively well behaved and alert. However, they do need to be trained well in order to wear a dog backpack. If your dog understands and obeys simple commands, such as “stay”, “come”, “leave it” or “sit” and “heel” chances are they’re ready to join you in the great outdoors while wearing a dog backpack to keep their gear in line.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you enjoy taking your dog with you while you enjoy the great outdoors, and you wish to use a dog backpack, it is important to make sure that it fits correctly. In most cases, dog packs are divided between small, medium, large, and sometimes extra-large sizes that correspond to the overall size of the dog. In most cases, for example, a smaller dog, such as a miniature pincher or a toy poodle would fit into a small size, while a slightly larger dog such as a cocker spaniel would fit into a medium one. Larger dogs, such as huskies or even Great Danes would most likely need a large or extra-large size. However, the size alone isn’t the only thing to consider when looking at the overall fit. In order to work well with your dog, the dog backpack has to be able to move with your dog as well. That means that the bag needs to be designed in such a way as to not hinder the movement of their joints, their head and neck, and especially their hips. In the examples presented here, the dog backpacks were clearly designed with this concept in mind.
Other Factors to Consider
Another thing to consider when it comes to using a dog backpack is where you will be hiking or traveling. Some packs are designed for a more urban type of setting. They are usually smaller and more compact, with easy to reach pockets and handles. Other dog backpacks are designed for a more robust environment, with a greater overall capacity and tougher material. Simply put, a dog backpack that is designed for a city environment probably won’t fare as well in the wilderness and vice-versa.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is really very few limitations on what kind of items your dog can carry in the dog backpack. Generally speaking, you want to make sure your pet isn’t carrying anything sharp, or too heavy. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Most people choose to let their dog carry such things as extra water, their treats or food, collapsible water or food bowls, maps, or even a change of clothes or an extra pair of doggie boots.
This is one question that you definitely should talk to your veterinarian about. However, in most cases, a healthy dog can carry about 10 to 15% of its own body weight. So a dog that weighs 50 lbs should be able to carry about 5 to 7.5 pounds of extra weight without too much of a problem. It is important to remember, though, that each dog is different and does after different abilities. So be sure to check with your vet to get a more accurate determination of the weight your dog should be able to handle.
First, it allows you to lighten your load. Second, it gives your dog something to do. Most dogs when they’re in the great outdoors are easily distracted by the many smells, sights, and sounds, and having something to focus on makes it easier for them overall. While you still may have to worry about the occasional rabbit crossing your path, chances are if your dog is well trained, carrying a dog backpack and being immediately useful to a situation will help keep their focus on you.
The suggestion is that overuse of a back-pack and the possibility of too much weight can cause future physical problems for dogs. The challenge is to define what is overuse? Nature has a design for every creature and some creatures are not designed to constantly place different demands on the body, especially carrying weight on a part of the body where nature/evolution did not intend. The shape of a dog makes it a good runner and certain dogs such as Huskies can pull weight if that weight is on skis on a snow surface. Though it may not be immediately obvious, most natural dog breeds are streamlined for speed and this helps when out hunting as the majority of dog ancestors did but dogs were never in situations during their evolution where they had to carry additional weight on their backs or shoulders. Moderation seems to be the best advice here.
Like it or not, your dog will change as he grows, and he or she might develop some physical limitations that make using certain dog backpacks unfeasible. For example, if your dog has suffered from back problems or hip dysplasia, using a saddle bag that is designed to sit low on the back or the near the hip area is probably not a good idea. Also, if your dog has recently lost a good deal of weight and muscle mass, a dog backpack that is lighter and has a smaller overall capacity may be a better choice overall.