If you love discovering new trails with your canine hiking buddy, your dog can now also become a contributing members of your hiking team with their own dog backpack? (Not to be confused with a dog carrier backpack.)
Vets and dog trainers alike recommend it for hiking to create a sense of purpose and helpfulness for your canine hiking partner. It turns out that by carrying their own supplies like snacks and water, your dog feels much more part of the team and they absolutely love it!
Some low quality packs can fit poorly and cause discomfort for your dog.
This is why we set out on a journey to find the best one. To ensure your dog enjoys this awesome product, we have focused on comfort, adjust-ability and design. These are key in ensuring your dog’s backpack is balanced and fits perfectly. Adequate ventilation from breathable fabrics also avoids overheating keeping your dog happy and enjoying the experience. We reviewed the best options and have selected our top 5 favourites!
OneTigris Cotton Canvas Dog Backpack
For medium and large dogs, this beautiful looking and vintage styled dog backpack is perfect for the classic, style conscious pooch who loves the outdoors. It has 2 zipper pockets on each side and is ideal for anything from city strolls and traveling to creek beds, rocky hikes, thick brush and forest trails.
We just love the stylish, retro look of this Canvas product with added leash hook and handle for an extra hand getting onto trains, planes or over boulders or brush.
It may look all style and less function but is more than adequate to take on mild to wild outdoor adventures and turn a few heads in the process.
For those looking for a more classic design, this backpack is sturdy and well made. The canvas material and stitching is tough and durable but comfortable and light for medium to large sized dogs.
Ruffwear Approach Pack
The Ruffwear Approach has been designed with a weight forward structure, leaving most of the carry weight resting on your pets shoulders to ensure ease and comfort. This along with the Y-shaped chest strap leaves the backpack evenly weighted and very stable. It is available in campfire orange or pacific blue and the adjustable straps and full range of sizes, extra small to extra large guarantee a perfect fit.
The padded handle makes is super easy to aid your dog over more challenging obstacles. The pockets carry a large volume and the design cleverly includes external gear loops and a sturdy D-ring into to attach any extra bits and to convert the backpack into a harness.
The Ruffwear is not waterproof but this is easily remedied by storing any dry or delicate items in sealed plastic bags. If hiking in rain or making steam crossings, the lightweight material dries off quickly.
It’s ideal for longer hikes as it easily holds a few days rations of dog pellets or a 1 litre water bladder in each side. There is also an extra, easy access pocket on the back for extra treats.
Outward Hound Kyjen
This awesome pack comes in all sizes and in a selection of bright colours to ensure high visibility which is especially handy if your hiking buddy is a free spirited wonderer. The detachable pockets are attached with Velcro and should be equal weighted to ensure a balanced fit. The pockets easily carry water bottles or food and can be removed during rest stops for easy access to the contents.
We love that the design is tapered, focusing the weight of the carried items onto the shoulders of the dog. The backpack is sturdy and lightweight and comes in a four sizes, small, medium, large and extra large. The adjustable straps make it a perfect fit for almost any dog breed.
There is no harness attachment but there is a convenient handle on the back which makes helping your dog over minor obstacles a lot easier. The lightweight material will not endure heavy wear from tougher terrain but will ensure your dog keeps cool on hotter days.
It’s ideal for day hikes in moderate terrain and neighbourhood walks. For dog owners who have pups with unlimited energy.
Kurgo Wander Canine Rucksack
This sturdy, heavy-duty backpack is made of a durable Polyester, Polyurethane Coating material ideal for any outdoor adventure. The saddle bags are adjustable allowing for movement and therefore a fit that suits your dogs body shape. 4 reflective trim strips have been stitched into the backpack for safety and visibility.
To ensure maximum comfort, it has a padded spine support that moulds to the dogs back. We love that it is water resistant and the leash hook is perfectly positioned on the back of the harness to allow your dog to run without the leash getting in the way.
The Kurgo Wander only comes in one basic size for medium to large dogs but its adjustable straps will accommodate most dog types and ensure a comfy fit.
It’s for medium to large dogs and is ideal for smaller trail hikes or town walks, designed to handle rugged outdoor conditions with ease.
Yisibo gear with Detachable Pockets
The Yisibo Pack is made out of strong, hard wearing Nylon fabric. The pouches are detachable and the chest and belly straps are fully adjustable. It is designed to accommodate the addition of extra pouches as well as Velcro accessories to customise your the look and capacity.
We love the look of this rugged walking, hiking, hunting item, available in 6 great looking colours and prints.
It is not designed for small dogs. As the design is focused on use in more challenging terrain, it is best suited to medium and large dogs who can take on bigger challenges.
This is ideal for adventurous hikers who choose the tougher ground and want to blend in with their environment.
OneTigris Canine Rucksack
Outward Hound Backpack
Backpack for Dogs – Do’s and Don’ts
Here are a few basics tips that you should be aware of once you have bought a backpack for your dog.
- If your dog is new to hiking, it is a good idea to start with short walks while wearing an empty backpack. This allows them a little time to get used to the feel of it. You can gradually increase the load as their fitness increases.
- Ensure your dog is old enough or young enough for the activities you have planned. A strenuous hike can impact on your dogs joints so ensure if they are new to hiking and carrying a backpack that you ease them into it at a reasonable gradient.
- Never load the backpack with more than 25% of your dogs ideal weight. Even if your dog is a little overweight, do not increase the amount they carry as this can causes excess pressure and lead to injury..
- The majority of the backpack weight should rest on the shoulders of the dog. There should be no weight on the spine.
- Ensure the backpack is evenly weighted to ensure it stays in position and does not fall to one side. The straps should fit securely and not shift as this can case chaffing.
- A backpack gives your dog a sense of purpose and helps in to keep focused on what they are doing. This is one of the reasons we believe backpacks for dogs are becoming so popular. We have also noticed that the backpacks seem to calm the dog. The soft pressure of the fitted backpack on their bodies seems to comfort them.
- As contributing members of the team, dogs are less likely to run off or sniff at the base of every tree during hikes. The added benefit is that your dog gets to carry a good portion of his own supplies.
Awesome Water Bowl: To save on space, we recommend this lightweight, collapsible water bowl which fits easily into one of the backpack pouches.
10 Dog Breeds that Love to Hike
Your dog does not need to be a purebred to be the perfect hiking companion. If your dog displays adequate strength and energy and is obedient enough, then you will enjoy many adventures together. Some dogs even seem to have a better sense of direction that your trusty hiking watch.
Smaller dog breeds like the Jack Russell are proof that size alone is not an indicator of which dogs are best suited for hiking.
Some smaller dog breeds with shorter legs will struggle and find most hikes too challenging. In this case, hiking with your dog is not necessarily off the cards. You may consider getting a backpack carrier for your dog instead. This will definitely increase the challenge of your hike and give you the added enjoyment of their company at the final destination when they get to stretch their legs and run around.
The same would apply for breeds like pugs, bulldogs and boxers who are mostly nose breathers and find breathing difficult when exerted.
The below 10 dog breeds are known for their more predictable personalities, physical strengths and obedient behavior. Mixed breeds are not always as easy to predict but with a little practice and patience, they can be perfect hiking companions.
1. Australian Shepherd Dogs
The Australian Shepherd Dog has unlimited energy making it ideal for hiking long distances and carrying its own backpack. They handle a most climates well but avoid extreme weather. They perform better on more even terrain and love wide open spaces where they can have space to run.
2. Bernese Mountain Dogs
The Bernese Mountain Dog is the ideal hiking partner and is well suited to carrying his own pack with food and water supplies. They can easily manage longer hikes in cooler weather. Their thick fur coats will mean they battle in warmer weather so keep hikes shorter and if they are using a backpack, ensure it has adequate ventilation.
3. Border Collies
Border Collies love nothing more than to help and serve. These incredibly intelligent dogs live to play and please their owners. Believed to be one of the smartest dog species, they thrive from stimulation and make energetic and cooperative hiking companions.
Much like the Siberian Husky, the Dalmatian has been known for its loyal and playful personality but also its resistance to training. Dalmatians love human companionship and can be fiercely protective. They were originally bred a carriage dogs which ran along-side carriages to protect their owners from threats. With a little extra training, they will be great hiking buddies, providing an excellent outlet for that boundless energy.
5. German Short-haired Pointers
Originally bred to be hunting dogs, this beautiful breed will keep up with you even on a trail run. They have strong legs that keep them moving quickly and enable them to carry a pack with ease. If untrained, you may find it a little more difficult to keep them focused during a hike and their strong hunting instincts could have them sniffing out and chasing smaller creatures on the trail.
6. Jack Russells
The boundless energy of the Jack Russell confirms that they can take on pretty much anything. A backpack helps calm them down and adds a little focus to their mission. A sturdy handle on the back of their pack is advisable to help you lift them over larger obstacles. They can be loud which makes them excellent watchdogs but a little training may come in handy to help them keep their excitement at bay.
7. Labradors & Golden Retrievers
These strong, lovable and hard working dogs are hands down one of the best hiking companions you could have. With training, Labs and Retrievers alike cooperate extremely well and contribute to the hike by carrying a fair load in their backpacks.
The Ridgeback was originally bred to hunt lions and is known for displaying a fearless hunting instinct. They are strong, loyal and protective. The Ridgeback is more than equipped to take on hikes wearing his pack. Even hikes that last a few days are an easy task for these strong dogs. You are most likely to tire out long before they do.
9. Siberian Huskies
The thick coat of the Siberian Husky makes cooler weather the best climate for them, they have boundless energy and although they have a reputation for not being very trainable, Huskies are clever, loyal and very willing to take on responsibility. With their worker dog heritage, they willingly carry a load and make excellent hiking partners.
The Weimaraner has the strength and stature to keep up on any hike. Having originally being bred for hunting deer, bears and boar, you have a qualified guard at your side should you need any protection along the way.
The manufacturers of these 5 awesome canine backpacks have put in the extra effort and ensure super durable products be it with double stitching and waterproofing or focus on a perfect fit to have you hiking anything from basic day trails to more challenging terrain and canyons. Here are some extra items you can look and consider at to make it even more enjoyable for you and your dog. You can check out our dual dog leash review here.
Extra Comfort Strap
If your dog is shorthaired or has no hair on their belly and you are concerned they may chafe, we recommend getting an extra comfort strap cushion also, easily available on Amazon to avoid any discomfort on longer hikes.
If you have chosen a canine rucksack which is not waterproof, you can use a tent waterproofing spray to treat the bag and avoid contents getting wet if you plan to cross any creeks or hike on a rainy day.
What About Sleeping Arrangements?
After a long day out in the wild, you could also treat your friend to a comfortable, portable dog bed for camping in nature.
Paw Protection Wax
The outdoors can sometimes be rough on the paws of your domesticated friend. This natural wax shield creates a barrier between the harsh ground surface of hiking trails and rocky paths. Furthermore, it makes it much easier for your dogs to go out into the snow without the freezing cold on their paws.
We would love to hear your feedback regarding the best option you’ve found. Simply leave a comment below.