Hiking is an excellent and invigorating exercise for the mind, body, and soul. And, who needs an unwilling company on a hike when you have your furry friend to accompany you? Hiking with dogs has proven to have health benefits for both the dog and the owner. Not only does it allow you to experience the beauty of nature, but its also an excellent bonding time with your beloved pet pooch. Hiking backpacks for dogs are, thus, indispensable to dog-owning hikers. For one, pets have proven to be better behaved when wearing a backpack. It also makes the pet feel useful and responsible. Plus, dog owners can avoid having to carry a separate hiking backpack dog carrier, apart from lugging their own stuff. To top it all, hikers can cut weight from their own pack too. Dog hiking packs also help them burn more energy at the same time.
If you’re taking your dog along for a hike, choosing the best dog hiking backpacks is as important as choosing the best waterproof hiking shoes or the best backpacking sleeping bags. So, without further ado, here are the 11 best hiking backpacks for dogs.
Choosing Dog Hiking Backpacks
Comfort and Fit
Most dog hiking backpacks feature saddlebags on both sides to enhance stability and comfort. Owners should select designs that aren’t so big that the gear within keeps rolling around. The ideal backpack design must have the pack sitting toward the dog’s front, with the maximum weight over the front legs. If it’s too much toward the rear, it could put a strain on the pet’s spine. It should fit snugly on your dog’s body and not restrict its movement at the same time.
Dog hiking packs usually come with manufacturer’s sizing details and are available in a wide range of sizes. So, dog owners need to measure their dogs to pick the correct-sized one. The straps particularly need to be wide and well-padded to distribute the weight across the dog’s skin. For those with small dogs, make sure that the panniers on both sides don’t hang too low.
The dog hiking pack’s material needs to not only be strong and durable but also abrasion-resistant. It’s best to choose packs made of water-resistant or synthetic waterproof material, as many hikes can involve a lot of wet walking. Plus, while choosing a backpack color, one needs to keep their dog’s safety in mind. For instance, going for eye-popping colors like fluorescent pink or orange might rank low in the fashion department, but it’s easily spottable on a trail.
Outward Hound Dog DayPak
With more than 1,500 positive reviews on Amazon, it’s easy to see why the Outward Hound Daypak Dog Backpack is so popular with dog-owning hikers. It is one of the best hiking backpacks for dogs due to its value-for-money cost and its vibrant range of colors, which make your pet pooch stand out easily.
The Outward Hound Daypak is not only easy to adjust and use, stylish, and sleek but also offers oodles of comfort, no matter the size and build of your dog. The pack is wrapped in a lightweight water-resistant and breathable mesh. It still has space within the twin saddlebags for water, snacks, and anything else your pooch might need. Each saddlebag features a small outer pocket and a larger zippered compartment, both of which are expandable and cinch-able. In fact, each saddlebag can accommodate about 16 ounces of water each. What’s more, the Daypak comes in two colors – green and blue – along with reflective trim for visibility. It’s also available in three different sizes, all of which are fully adjustable.
- Very lightweight and breathable.
- Adjustable straps.
- Expandable pockets.
- Choosing the right fit might be a bit difficult.
PAWABOO Dog Backpack
For dog-owning hikers looking for a lightweight pack for their furry friends, the Pawaboo Dog Backpack is the ideal thing out there. The nifty, lightweight backpack has a lot going for it – expendable pockets, breathable material, adjustable straps, and much more.
The dog backpack for Pawaboo is easy in function, design, and form. It boasts of an adjustable harness with five adjustment points and click-in straps that make it extremely super easy to put on, take off, and adjust. It even has an adjustable neck circumference which makes it easy for your dog to carry this one-size pack. Moreover, the backpack is made from breathable and very comfy 600D Oxford cloth. So even when it’s loaded with gear, your dog will find it easy to carry no matter how rough the terrain is. All in all, it’s a great backpack to use for walking, jogging, and hiking, as well as longer excursions.
- Breathable fabric.
- Easily adjustable.
- Pockets are expandable.
- Five attachment points distribute weight better.
- It doesn’t suit larger dog breeds well due to it being one-size only.
Lifeunion Dog Supply Backpack
The Lifeunion Service Dog Supply Backpack is an excellent all-round dog backpack option, no matter the level of your hike. Made from waterproof 600D double-layer polyester, the lightweight dog backpack is durable to the hilt.
What sets the dog backpack from Lifeunion apart is the washable and breathable mesh panel down the middle that cools your pooch’s body. It has adjustable back straps and chest straps on the sides for a great, comfy fit. Dual side zippered pockets can easily accommodate your pet’s treats, water, and food, while the rubble handle on the top makes it easy to lift the dog pack even in mid-hike. A nifty feature is the in-built soft runner handle allowing owners to assist dogs through and over obstacles.
Furthermore, there’s a D-ring stitched in at critical stress points which not only betters strength and durability but also allows for bearing more weight. Last but not the least, four wide reflective strips and a bright neon color make this dog pack remarkably visible even when the light is less.
- Solid waterproof construction.
- Breathable mesh layer on the back.
- Adjustable back and chest straps.
- Not very suitable for very heavy loads.
One Tigris Dog Pack
The dog pack from One Tigris is a bestseller on Amazon and one of the best hiking backpacks for dogs. This tactical, military-inspired dog backpack is built using 1000D water-resistant nylon and boasts of a bevy of features. It includes everything from I.D. cardholder and waste bag dispenser to dual loop-and-hook closure storage spaces.
Even though this backpack is made from cotton canvas that is sturdy and comfortable, it is quick-drying and durable to boot. Three adjustable straps ensure a snug fit for your pet pooch. Moreover, the pack design keeps the bag high on the pet’s shoulders. Each side of the bag expands enough to fit four small water bottles, while the handles are excellent for guiding your dog over and around hurdles. Plus, each saddle bag has a long velcro strip ideal for attaching extras like reflective patches or dog-specific instructions. Furthermore, the neutral-colored material camouflages any dirt leaving the pack always neat and prim.
Apart from the above, the dog pack also has a triangle-ring attachment for leash and a well-placed, crystal-clear top panel for the I.D. card.
- Fashionable and neutral colors.
- Comfortable fit.
- I.D. card slot.
- Built-in waste bag holder.
- Canvas, although quick-drying, could become heavy during rains or in wet conditions.
Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack
Dedicated canine hikers require dog packs that hold up well against wear and tear. The Ruffwear Approach fits this bill perfectly, complete with a five-point adjustable harness for security and safety.
Featuring a durable, water and tear-resistant nylon exterior, the versatile dog backpack has two aluminum leash attachment points, balanced saddlebags, and even a padded back. It’s perhaps one of the very few dog backpacks with different capacities, and that too generous ones, ranging from 5-12 liters. Sizes range from extra-small to medium, making this a great choice for mutts with chest girths of 17-32 inches. Plus, the design distributes weight evenly.
If that wasn’t enough, the bag has a bevy of other features including easy-access stash pockets, a non-slip handle for carrying/assistance, a V-ring leash attachment and even an integrated harness. Rounding up the offering is the in-built optional beacon attachment loop and the fact that the pack is reflective.
- Ergonomic design with many pockets and storage compartments.
- Leash attachment loops.
- Padded handles and straps.
- Saddlebags aren’t detachable.
Mountainsmith K-9 Backpack
A great one-size-fits-all dog backpack is the Mountainsmith K-9, which is one of the larger backpacks on this list. Clever wordplay aside, the K-9 boasts of a vet-approved design that is as comfortable as it is ergonomic.
The saddle-style dog backpack is built using 420D Duramax nylon and 210D ripstop nylon, which make it both durable and water-resistant. It has four different points for adjustability. Firstly, there’s a padded sternum and a chest harness for comfort, which also has a belly strap, chest, and back strap for further adjustability. Reflective trim throughout the harness makes it easy to spot your pooch on the trail even in low-light conditions. There’s even two zippered pannier pockets, an easy-grab haul handle on top, a D-ring for leash attachment, and air mesh side panels for better breathability. All this is offered in an ergonomic, veterinarian-approved torso shaped pack.
- Tough, breathable material.
- Expandable pockets.
- Ergonomic torso.
- Adjustable four-point straps.
- Buckles could be weak.
Kurgo Baxter Dog Backpack
The Kurgo Baxter Dog Backpack is one of the best hiking backpacks for dogs due to its excellent versatility for both everyday use as well as hiking adventures.
Built to withstand the rugged great outdoors, the backpack boasts of eight different adjustment points for allowing for customization of fit. Generally speaking, it is designed to fit dogs weighing 30-85 pounds. An ergonomic, padded saddle offers excellent spine support, contouring to your dog’s back. It also distributes the weight between the two saddlebags. The underside of the pack boasts of a nylon mesh allowing for better air circulation and ventilation. A rear-mounted leash hook is excellent for guiding your dogs over and around hurdles on the path. What’s more, the pack offers more than enough space to fit and arrange all your dog’s travel essentials like toys, treats, food, water, and even food bowls.
Designed from rugged 300D polyester fabric, the pack is known for the reflective safety panels along the center, making them thoroughly visible. If that wasn’t enough, it is available in a range of color combinations – Orange-Black, Coral-Sea Glass, Coastal Blue, and Barn Red.
- Eight different adjustment points for an excellent fit.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Lots of space.
- Buckles could hinder long-haired dogs as their hair could get caught in them.
Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack
The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack has it all, and then some. Its plethora of features makes multi-day backpacking across the country with your beloved pooch an absolute breeze.
The Palisades boasts of eight gear loops and six pockets for all of your dog’s carrying needs, right from water and food to dishes, poop bags, and even dog beds. It’s available in three sizes, a rarity for a dog backpack, with five adjustment harness points to figure out a beautifully customized fit. The easily washable and quick-drying pack also comes with two one-liter water bottles and a collapsible silicone dish, which is its big selling point.
Guiding or lifting your dogs around obstacles is made easy with the handle on the harness. Furthermore, the saddlebags are detachable, which is an essential feature for an energetic pup. Last but not the least, the money from the sales of these packs goes to The Conservation Alliance and the Best Friends Animal Society. Neat, isn’t it?
- Freebies like collapsible water bottles and a dish.
- Attachments are a bit tricky.
Outward Hound Kyjen Dog Backpack
For those who don’t want to lug their dogs around in a hiking backpack dog carrier, the Outward Hound Kyjen Dog Backpack is a real savior. With this one, Outward Hound proves yet again that they really do know their doggy bags.
The funky nylon Outward Bound Kyjen Dog Backpack is available in four vibrant colors, each of which boasts of reflective piping. This is extremely important for those with intrepid and adventurous pooches who tend to wander off along the trail. However, it’s the design of this backpack that really sets it apart. Two well-designed and well-balanced saddlebags are easily removable and attachable with velcro straps. So, one doesn’t need to remove the harness to remove the saddlebags. Also, this makes the bag and its contents easily accessible. The zippered, wide saddlebags are not only spacious but also have elastic interior mesh pockets for keeping water bottles in place.
What’s more, this dog backpack is available in a whopping four sizes. Fully adjustable straps make it absolutely comfortable to ensure a snug fit on every dog, no matter the size or the girth.
- Versatile and excellent design.
- High visibility colors and reflective trim.
- Not water-resistant.
Lifeunion Adjustable Dog Backpack
The Adjustable Dog Backpack from Lifeunion is another favorite with dog-owning hikers. This simple yet effective pack has everything a dog and its owner needs to make a hike enjoyable and comfortable.
Waterproof and durable to boot, this doggie backpack is made of 100% waterproof polyester. An airy mesh panel right down the middle acts as an excellent cooling vent and is easily washable too. A nifty set of adjustable back and chest straps make the pack customizable to any type and size of a dog. The pockets are roomy enough to accommodate everything from the dog’s treats and food to water and refreshments.
Apart from its basic offerings, this dog pack also has a lot of excellent extras. A soft, in-built runner handle is ideal for guiding your pooch over, and around obstacles and for up-close control. A tactically attached D-ring not only betters robustness and durability but also allows for bear heavier weights. Plus, the high-quality zips are smooth, durable, robust, and come with a lifetime guarantee.
- Highly durable.
- Choice of color schemes.
- Extremely comfy.
- Fit can be a little difficult to obtain.
Outward Hound Crest Stone Explore Pack
Rounding up the list is the extremely popular Crest Stone Explore pack from Outward Hound. This high-quality dog backpack is comfortable, breathable, and lightweight, making for an excellent all-rounder of a pack.
One of the absolute palpable highlights and advantages of this pack is the highly visible green color. It can help you spot your intrepid, wandering pooch even if it goes off-trail. A durable mesh top is ideal for keeping your dog cool during hot, humid hikes. Well-designed compression webbing keeps the weight equally distributed on both sides of the bag. The saddlebags have lots of internal storage, allowing for carrying all of your dog’s essentials. A highly adjustable belly strap keeps the pack in a snug fit around your pet’s body. A reinforced back handle is excellent for grabbing your pooch up quickly in case of danger.
If your pooch is new to hiking, the two D-Rings are perfect for leading or assisting them along the trail and for keeping a secure hold on them during exploration. So, for small dogs or dogs that have just begun hiking, the Outward Hound Crest Stone is ultimate.
- Extremely affordable.
- Compression webbing is excellent for distributing loads.
- Durability is a bit of an issue.