There’s the saying that goes, “A tired dog is a cheerful dog.” So, whether your fuzzy canine friend is small or large, some are more energetic than others and need a little extra help to get them to burn some energy.
While on walks, runs, or whatever form of beneficial exercise you take them on, these backpacks can add an extra amount of weight that will make them work a little harder to achieve that goal to not only make a happy dog but a happy owner too.
Buying a backpack will help make that job more manageable and make for that happy pup to have a fun time doing it. Having one will give them a purpose, a task, and something to focus on, so they’re not only burning energy but doing something that most dogs want to do. Work.
A backpack will also help distribute the weight of supplies between yourself and your dog, so there’s less for you to carry. You’ll still want to evaluate how your dog is with energy levels, health, and other factors before getting into any strenuous activity.
Top 10 Dog Backpacks You’ll Love
All the backpacks on this list are ones that are saddlebags. Saddlebags sit on the dog’s back and are not like carrier bags made for smaller dogs and meant to be on your back carrying the dog. There are saddlebag backpacks made for smaller dogs; however, most of the ones on this list are mostly for those that are medium to large in size.
This backpack has many features that will be a boon to those who like to go out in the weather or hikes. It’s lightweight, durable, and water-resistant, and is made of nylon and has a padded interior for added comfort. Both saddlebags have zippers that are protected from the elements. It has a waste bag holder already built-in, and a ring for leash attachment and an ID window for your pup should they get lost.
Pro’s and Con’s
Leash attachment Straps are not padded.
Lightweight Does not have a handle.
Underside padded for comfort
Ruffwear is a brand name that is well known among dog owners, from backpacks to harnesses, you name it, and dog owners have likely seen it on the shelves. In particular, this backpack is built for those long hikes and is made from single-piece construction, making it super durable.
The straps are padded, which makes it extra comfortable for your dog and prevents chaffing and hotspots. It’s made from nylon to be water-resistant, and its pockets have zippers that are well protected from the weather. Its handle is sewn extremely secure into the pack, making this a solid choice for those that need to lift their dogs over terrain.
Durable single-piece construction Not as adjustable as other packs
Padded straps for added comfort Cannot adjust the height of the saddlebags
Metal ring for leash attachment Rear strap sits a little too far back
While this backpack is still lightweight and durable, it’s made more for those looking for something to walk around town rather than go hiking. It’s not rugged like some of its counterparts on this list, though it has its uses for those that prefer more laid back trips with their dog.
This is a lightweight pack that is breathable with its mesh body that keeps your dog cool in the summer months so that they don’t overheat on your walks. It boasts two bags with zippers, buckles and has minimal padding to keep it lightweight.
Single D-ring for leash attachment Not rugged enough for hikes
Made for lighter activities
Cool and breathable
Another known name brand among dog accessories, this pack is on this list for some impressive features such as being able to remove the saddlebags so you can use the harness on it’s lonesome. It has increased visibility not only in its colors but by a reflective liner that makes it easy for you to spot your dog both in the day and nighttime hours.
It has two attachments for a leash, one on the front and one on the back, and its handle is reinforced to make it a breeze for lifting your dog over terrain. One feature about this pack is that you can adjust the saddlebags to make it more comfortable for your pup and so that it helps it fit a wider variety of dogs.
Lots of space for storing supplies Straps and buckles can cause hotspots
Loops for attaching gear Straps are not padded
Easy to take off and put on
This is a high-quality yet simple backpack that makes going on a hike a breeze. It has a mesh lining that makes the pack breathable for those that overheat in the warmer months or are especially fuzzy. The straps are easily adjustable and make it easy to take it on and off of your pup.
It comes in green and yellow, which makes for excellent visibility, and has plenty of room in its saddlebags for everything you need in terms of supplies. This backpack is also reasonably priced and very lightweight, making it great for all seasons.
Washable, lightweight material Backstrap may be too long for some dogs
Handle with D-ring for leash
Great for all seasons
Straps are easily adjustable
They gear this backpack more towards smaller dogs that want to hike or burn some energy on street walks. It’s designed for dogs that are about 15-20 pounds and is easily put on and removed with adjustable straps for added comfort. You can also remove the saddle bats independently while leaving the harness to relieve your dog of the weight if it’s too much for them.
There is plenty of space, even for a pack this small, to carry anything you need from toys to treats to waste bags, and there is an interior water bottle holder for those pups that can take the weight. This pack also has reflective strips along its exterior for added visibility at night.
Lightweight for smaller dogs Designed with smaller dogs in mind
Reflective strips and bright colors Can be long for some dogs
Built-in water bottle holder
A lightweight option from Ruffwear that doesn’t disappoint, this pack weighs about 2 pounds and has removable saddlebags if your dog gets too tired. Ruffwear has a webmaster harness built into their backpacks, which helps make sure that there is fair weight distribution and comfort for your pup.
Coming with a padded handle for extra comfort, secure leash attachments, and compression straps, this backpack is extremely capable of going on anything from extreme multi-day hikes to shorter walks.
Webmaster harness frame Webbing is not padded
Saddlebags can be removed Buckles are small
Water bottles included
With a durable rubber handle to lift your dog over terrain with, this weather-resistant pack, like most on this list, is made with comfort in mind. It has adjustable and padded straps and boasts abrasion-resistant zippers on the saddlebags.
There is a D-ring for leash attachment, and it has a mesh-design made for comfort and lightweight construction. It comes in four different color options to help your dog be visible and three different sizes to fit all dog types. Despite the backpack only weighing one pound, it has plenty of room for any supplies that you might need to take with you.
Waterproof Limited storage space
This is an excellent harness for those who need something quickly slipped over the head and buckled to secure it. The pack is adjustable in so many ways that your dog will barely know they’re wearing it, even being able to adjust the chest straps for those dogs that have a broad or deep chest.
The straps are padded for comfort, and all the buckles and loops that have contact with your dog’s skin have a fabric lining to keep them from chafing or causing hotspots. The saddlebags are adjustable to fit your dog correctly and have durable zippers and a handle with secure stitching to make sure it holds well when lifting.
Large pockets D-Loops Hard to fit for more toned dogs
Straps don’t slip with weight
Adjustable chest strap
They make this backpack for medium to large dogs with a no-chafe design. It has a breathable mesh lining that helps with comfort and keeping your pooch cool in the heat and is water-resistant, easy to clean, and features an EPE inner liner for buoyancy in water should your dog decide to take a swim.
It features a D-ring for leash attachment, a strong buckle for the neck and chest to stay secure, and comes with a water bottle to fit into its water bottle holder so you can go hands-free. Reflector strips make this a great backpack for those that are out at night and has durable pockets for carrying supplies.
Holder & water bottle included Lightweight use only
Mesh lining to keep cool Medium and large breeds only
Easy to clean
EPE inner liner for buoyancy
Saddle Bags vs. Carrier Bags
There are two different backpacks we have to consider here when looking at the various ones out there. No matter what kind you’re looking at, most of them have the capability of being able to carry supplies, which is essential depending on the activity that you’re doing.
The difference between these two types of bags is that saddlebags are much like the bags you see on horses in that it’s split into two different pockets on either side for items to be carried. A carrier bag is typically one that you see much like a human backpack and is meant to be carrying a dog, not supplies.
Hiking with supplies is extremely important, as carrying things such as water, collapsable bowls, first aid kits, and other stuff is vital to a safe hike. REI says most dogs can carry up to 25% of their body weight to burn energy. This ensures that they’re not overtaxed but are burning enough energy to be effective throughout the hike or walk that you’re taking.
Measurements and Size
Most of the time, you’ll want to be careful of the measurements of saddlebags that go on your dog, as too loose can cause slippage, and too tight can cause chaffing and hotspots. These usually occur around the chest and under the legs in the armpit area.
Most manufacturers will have sizing charts you can use to go off of. However, you know your dog best as not every dog fits the mold.
Some dogs, such as dachshunds, greyhounds or other longer backed breeds or deep-chested breeds, may not fit well into standard sized saddlebags and need a smaller or larger size.
If your dog falls in-between sizes, the advice is usually to size up rather than down, as you’ll usually be able to adjust the straps to accommodate.
You’ll want your backpack to be two things, and that’s weatherproofed and durable. You’ll also want to pay attention to where the leash hooks are and if it has a handle on the top or front. Most backpacks are made out of nylon or polyester with double stitching to hold it together so it’s made for rougher use.
The best way to test this is to put it on your pup and lift them by the handle to see if it holds them properly and the straps don’t slip from how you’ve adjusted them.
For weatherproofed backpacks, make sure you’re getting something with zippers covered from the rain or other elements. Water-resistant materials are also recommended if you plan on being out in the weather a lot while balancing out the ability to carry supplies, the weight of the supplies, and the features it gives.
There are a ton of features on backpacks that makes it hard to choose from. However, in particular, you’ll want to pay attention to is the color, especially if you’re going on hikes. This will make your dog easier to spot for yourself and anyone else that might be out and about, especially if you’re in an area known for having hunters.
If your dog is carrying a heavy load, you’re going to want something with padded straps to make them more comfortable while carrying it. This will also help them in regards to less chaffing and getting hotspots.
Loops and handles are great features as this gives you a place to hook on accessories and other things such as waste bags, leashes, and anything else that you can think of that might be able to be hooked on the outside. The handle is excellent for helping your dog over anything that might be difficult for them to get over. Look for backpacks with padded handles as these will be easier on your hands, especially if you have a larger dog.
Can I Backpack With My Dog?
You certainly can! When taking your dog out on a hike or walk and using a backpack, be mindful of the weight you’re asking them to carry, their energy level, and their health. Most dogs can carry up to 25% of their body weight, and while it may tempt you to skip having them bring water as it can be on the heavier side, this isn’t recommended. Keeping your dog well hydrated on hikes and walks is vital to making sure they don’t overheat or get dehydrated.
When getting your dog used to a backpack, try the pack out at home first and have them wear it for a while so you can observe their behavior. Ensure that you treat it as a fun activity and give them lots of praise and treats for wearing it. Do the same while taking them on a hike or walk, so they associate the pack with having a great time outdoors.
Ensure that you’re distributing the weight evenly on the pack so that it’s not uncomfortable for your dog. A pack that isn’t well distributed will cause your dog to be uncomfortable, slow them down, and possibly cause chaffing or hotspots and slipping of the straps.
Items To Carry On Hikes and Walks
There are several items that you should have your dog carry with them on an outing. Hikes especially are times when there should be many supplies on hand. While you’re walking around the city, some of these might not be needed, but others might just be handy to have.
- Bug spray
- Swiss knife w/scissors
- Small flashlight
- Waste bags
- Waterproof matches
These are just a few items that would be considered essential to carry with you on hikes especially. Just keep in mind that anything that would be regarded as heavy, like clothing, tarps, heavier items, or food items, might be best for you to carry instead of your dog.
Ensuring that you buy a backpack that is of excellent quality, durability, and has features that will be useful to you will make sure that your dog is comfortable wearing it. This is vital to ensuring that you have a walk that is enjoyed by all.
Choosing between these can be daunting, however knowing your pup the way you do, choose one that fits your needs, the situations you go into, and your pup’s capabilities. In doing this, you’ll ensure that not only will you be happy, but your dog will be a tired, happy dog as well.
Get one of these backpacks, and you won’t regret the fun that you and your dog will have with it over the years!