10 Best Dog Backpacks for Hiking in 2020

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Plan to take your furry friend on a hike this weekend?

And you are looking for a dog backpack to let them carry their own hiking necessities, but unsure which pack is the best on the market?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Below you will find the 10 best dog backpacks for hiking (2020 reviews).

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1. Editor’s Choice - Kurgo Baxter Dog Saddlebag Backpack

Kurgo Dog Saddlebag Backpack
Photo Credit : Kurgo

There are a few reasons that make the Kurgo Baxter BackPack our pick. Not only the brand is reliable, but it also offers lots of great features.

This pack has an ergonomic padded spine support to keep your pooch comfortable, with 4 pockets in total, 2 on each side to let them share the load when out on a trail. It also features the 8 adjustable points to achieve a snug fit, yet the padded top handle gives you the ability to help your dog over obstacles. Plus, the reflective trim for visibility in the dark.

Additionally, it comes with 2 leash attachments points, one on the chest and the other on the back. And guess what? The front D-ring is a bottle opener, making this a perfect pack for those who would love to enjoy beer post-hikes.

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2. Best Value - Outward Hound Crest Stone Explore Dog Backpack

Outward Hound Crest Stone Explore Dog Backpack
Photo Credit : Outward Hound

The Outward Hound Crest Stone Backpack is another saddle-style backpack for adventurous dogs.

It features 2 large saddle pockets with zip closure for storing your dog essentials such as treats, poop bags, and water. It is lightweight, adjustable, and breathable, made of compression mesh webbing material to help keep your dog cool and balanced on the trail.

Also, it has 2 D-rings for attaching the leash and a top handle that allows you to secure your furry friend in case of an emergency. Though it doesn’t have any reflective materials, the bright green color can surely keep them visible.

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3. Best Overall Performance - Outward Hound Kyjen Dog Backpack

Outward Hound Kyjen Dog Backpack
Photo Credit : Outward Hound

Another great product that allows your pup to share some load while on a hike is the Outward Hound Kyjen Backpack.

It has roomy saddlebag compartments with interior mesh pockets and an elastic water bottle to carry food and water. The straps are adjustable, meaning you can easily adjust it to fit your dog. It also has reflective accents on the sides to help keep your dog visible in a low light environment.

Not to mention, the pack is removable without having to completely take off the whole harness, making it easier for you if you need to take some weight off your dog while at rest.

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4. Runner-Up Overall Performance - Smartelf Dog Saddlebag Backpack

Smartelf Dog Backpack
Photo Credit : Smartelf

The next best dog backpack that made it to our list is the Smartelf Saddlebag Backpack.

Thanks to the plastic buckles on top, you can easily remove the pack and take the load off your four-legged friend, allowing them to rest when they are tired. And that also means you can turn it into a vest for everyday use. It has 4 pockets to hold food and water, and comes with a stainless steel alloy D-ring on the back for attaching the leash, plus a unique adjustable design that can fit most dog sizes.

This pack is waterproof, breathable, and sturdy, made of super-tough oxford mesh material. Also built with your dog’s safety in mind, it has a rubber carry handle on top for better control and reflective trim for added visibility.

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5. Most Comfortable - Ruffwear Approach Pack

Ruffwear Approach Pack
Photo Credit : Ruffwear

Are you seeking a comfortable backpack for your pup? Then, you would probably want to consider the Ruffwear Approach Pack.

It features an integrated harness with 5 points of adjustment for a snug fit, yet a weight-forward design that helps stabilize the contents for easy and comfortable carrying. Also, it has a durable aluminum V-ring on the back and reinforced webbing loop on the chest that allows you to clip your dog’s leash.

Additionally, this pack has a padded handle and supportive straps for comfortable lifting over obstacles. It also comes with reflective trim and a light loop for attaching beacon light, making it a lot easier to spot your pooch at night.

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6. Best for Extended Hikes - Ruffwear Palisades Pack

Ruffwear Palisades Pack
Photo Credit : Ruffwear

Love extended hikes and want to take your four-legged friend along? Then, look no further than the Ruffwear Palisades Pack.

It offers high-volume saddlebags that can stash extra trail necessities, and external gear loops for easy access to the items. And what’s more, it includes 2 1-liter collapsible, BPA-free hydration bladders to quench your dog’s thirst on the trail. Not to mention, you can remove the saddlebags and convert it into the Web Master Harness, which is also one of the top-rated dog harnesses on the market.

Like the Ruffwear Approach Pack, it features the compression system for easy carrying, and has 5 adjustment points to ensure it fits well, along with a padded top handle to assist your pooch over rough terrain. There is also a durable aluminum V-ring and reinforced webbing loop to attach the leash, plus reflective trim, and a light loop for attaching beacon light to provide added visibility.

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7. Most Durable - OneTigris Hoppy Camper Dog Pack

OneTigris Dog Pack
Photo Credit : OneTigris

If you are an avid hiker, picking a heavy-duty backpack like the OneTigris Hoppy Camper Dog Pack may be a smarter option as it can last longer.

It is incredibly durable, made of high-density cotton canvas material to ensure it can stand up to wear and tear, with reinforced stitching on all stress points for a higher level of strength. It also has an anti-slip mesh lining for optimized breathability and prevents slippage, plus the padded mesh undersides to keep your canine comfortable.

Apart from that, both the neck and chest straps are adjustable, which allows you to customize it for a snug fit. It also includes a zipper compartment on each side of the pack for carrying hiking necessities, combined with 2 stainless steel D-rings to attach the leash.

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8. Best for Quick Getaways - Outward Hound DayPak

Outward Hound DayPak
Photo Credit : Outward Hound

One glance at the Outward Hound DayPak, you know it is very lightweight and has excellent airflow, and that’s something that you would want for quick getaways or everyday errands as it won’t weigh your pooch down too much.

This pack has breathable mesh material that encompasses the base so that your dog won’t get too hot and remain fresh at all times. With the 4 expandable pockets, you can stow extra supplies if needed.

The straps are also adjustable for a proper fit. And there is a D-ring on the back to secure the leash and reflective piping to keep your pup visible in a low light situation.

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9. Best for Budget - Wellver Dog Backpack

Wellver Dog Backpack
Photo Credit : Wellver

The Wellver Backpack is slightly cheaper than most products on this list, a budget option that works well overall.

It is lightweight and has excellent air ventilation thanks to the soft and breathable mesh used for construction. There are also 2 roomy zippered saddlebags on the sides, which are spacious enough to carry all your dog essentials.

Like most dog backpacks, it comes with the features that you need to keep your furry friend safe and comfortable on the trail, such as adjustable straps, metal D-ring, and top handle. 

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10. Best Trendy - Outward Hound Denver Urban Pack

Outward Hound Denver Urban Pack
Photo Credit : Outward Hound

The Outward Hound Denver Urban Pack may be right for you if you want a trendy dog hiking backpack that your fido can also wear for casual city outings.

Not only does the pack look good, but it also has many great features. Like the Outward Hound DayPak, it is equipped with 4 expandable pockets, adjustable straps, and has a breathable mesh top for a comfortable carrying.

And just like what you will expect, there is a top handle and leash attachment point on the back. A great option that allows your furkid to walk in style without compromising on comfort or safety.

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Why Should You Buy a Dog Backpack for Hiking?

Outward Hound Denver Urban Pack
Photo Credit : Ruffwear
  • It helps to build your dog’s strength and muscles. Similar to humans going to the gym, lifting extra weight to boost stamina and gain muscles. Dogs carrying extra load on their shoulders are pretty much the same as they will have to work against the force that pushes them down. Over time, this will tense their muscles and help them to get stronger.
  • It sets your pooch up for a good sleep. Carrying extra load will, for sure, require your dog to work harder against the resistance. That means it can burn more energy given the same amount of workout time, hence more tired your pup, and that results in a sound sleep.
  • It gives your furry friend a sense of purpose. No different to humans, dogs would love to have a purpose, and not just sit around and do nothing. Giving them responsibilities and knowing that they have a job to do can stimulate their mind, and as a result, happier and less likely to develop undesirable behavior.
  • It helps your dog to concentrate. A dog hiking backpack can also help your pooch to stay focused. The reason is that your fido will need to balance themselves while carrying the supplies to ensure that they don’t fall over, which also means they are unlikely to stray off the trail to go after the native wildlife.
  • It takes the pressure off your shoulder. Using a dog backpack also means less stress on your shoulder as you can stash your dog’s hiking necessities and gear such as food, hiking boots, portable water bottle, and life jacket inside the saddlebags.

Important Features & Things to Take into Considerations When Buying the Best Dog Backpack for Hiking

With so many different dog backpacks on the market, how do you know which one to pick? There are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help narrow down your search.

  • Are you a light or heavy user?
  • What do you want to keep in the pack?
  • Do you like multi-day hikes?
  • How big is your dog?

And you should be able to get an idea of which one is best for you once you have answered those questions. Also, below are some of the things that you need to consider when picking a dog backpack.

1. Know Your Dog

First, you need to know if your four-legged friend is fit enough to carry the essentials. If you have a senior dog or a puppy, the backpack is probably not a good idea as they might not have the strength to carry the load. Not to mention, putting extra weight on their joints can potentially injure them at that vulnerable age. And if you are unsure your dog is healthy enough to carry the supplies, we suggest you speak to your veterinarian for advice.

2. Comfort

Next, consider how comfortable the pack is as you don’t want it to rub against your dog’s skin and cause pain and blisters. It is always safer to choose the ones with padded straps, the wider the straps, the better as they can distribute the pressure across more evenly. If you want something very comfortable for your dog to put, check out the Ruffwear Approach Pack, Ruffwear Palisades Pack, and Kurgo Baxter BackPack.

3. Size and Adjustability

Choosing the right size backpack is also crucial as this can prevent the bags from flopping around and get your dog beaten up. One thing to note is that all sizes are different from brands to brands, always make sure to take a look at their sizing chart. Having adjustable straps is an advantage as that can help to achieve a proper fit, hence more comfortable.

Dog Hiking Backpack Size Comparison Table

Product Grith Neck Length
Kurgo Baxter Dog Saddlebag Backpack (M) 27" - 40"
(L) 30" - 48"
(M) 17" - 24"
(L) 21" - 33"
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Outward Hound Crest Stone Explore Dog Backpack (M) 16" - 27"
(L/XL) 28" - 44"
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Outward Hound Kyjen Dog Backpack (S) 12"- 25" (S) 13"- 17" (S) 11"
Smartelf Dog Saddlebag Backpack (M) 19" - 28.5"
(L) 25" - 33"
(M) 18" - 22.5"
(L) 24" - 33"
(M) 8.5"
(L) 10.5"
Ruffwear Approach Pack (XS) 17" - 22"
(S) 22" - 27"
(M) 27" - 32"
(L/XL) 32" - 42"
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Ruffwear Palisades Pack (S) 22" - 27"
(M) 27" - 32"
(L/XL) 32" - 42"
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OneTigris Hoppy Camper Dog Pack (M) 25" - 31"
(L) 29" - 36"
(M) 17" - 23.5"
(L) 21" - 31.5"
(M) 9.8"
(L) 9.8"
Outward Hound DayPak (M) 21" - 27"
(L) 28" - 32"
(M) 10" - 14"
(L) 14" - 18"
(M) 12.5+"
(L) 14.5+"
Wellver Dog Backpack (S) 22.83" - 25.59"
(M) 26.38" - 30.71"
(L/XL) 32.28" - 38.58"
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Outward Hound Denver Urban Pack (S/M) 16" - 27"
(L/XL) 28" - 44"
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4. Carrying Capacity

The size and shape of the pockets will determine what you can load in. Try to get a pack that can at least fit in a standard water bottle as this is important when you go hiking. It is also imperative to note that putting too much weight on your dog can hurt them. As a good rule of thumb, you should keep the total weight of the pack under 25% of your dog’s body weight.

5. Top Handle

The best dog hiking backpack should also have a top handle to give you better control over your furkid. That allows you to lift your pooch over big rocks and other obstacles or pull them back to your side in case of an emergency.

6. Waterproof

While this is not a must, you may want to consider a waterproof pack like the Smartelf Saddlebag Backpack to protect the essentials inside the pouch if you get caught in an unexpected rain shower. It is also worth noting that a non-waterproof backpack will get heavier once it absorbs moisture, and that means it will make it uncomfortable for your dog and affect their movement. 

7. Visibility

It certainly is fun to hang out with your dog. But remember, safety always comes first, which is why you should also consider the ones with either reflective trim or at least bright in color. That way, you can easily see them in the dark, hence ensuring their safety.

Tips for Using a Dog Backpack

  • Be mindful of sharp objects.
    Our advice is to never stash any pointy or sharp items inside the compartments as this will poke them and cause discomfort.
  • Don’t push your furry friend too hard.
    Give your dog some time to familiarize themselves with walking with the weighted backpack, especially if this is new to them. Start with 10% of their weight, or less, depending on if they can handle it, and gradually increase the load once they are accustomed to it.
  • Even weight distribution is crucial.
    Having an uneven weight on each side can cause the backpack to shift over on your pooch’s back and make it difficult for them to walk. That’s why it is crucial to keep the load balanced and always weigh the pack so that it doesn’t go over the limit your dog can handle, don’t guess!
  • Reduce the walking duration.
    As you can imagine, carrying extra weight on the back will make the walk harder. So, ensure to adjust the workout time accordingly and slowly build up your pooch’s strength before going on extended walks or hikes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Weight Can My Dog Carry in a Dog Backpack?

As a good rule of thumb, dogs should never carry more than 25% of their body’s weight. For instance, if your pup is 60 pounds, the pack can’t weigh over 15 pounds. Putting too much weight on their back and shoulders can cause overexertion and potentially lead to health problems.

Can Puppies Wear a Dog Backpack?

Letting puppies wear a backpack is not a good idea. The reason is that they may not have enough strength to carry the load at all, and most importantly, their bones are still developing. Weighing them down too much before their growth plates are closed can lead to deformity of the bone, which will negatively affect them for the rest of their life.

Are Dog Backpacks Good for Dogs?

As mentioned earlier, dog backpacks are incredibly beneficial for dogs, if not overfilled. The pack can help your furry friend stay focused, build their strength and muscles, set them up for a good sleep, and give them a sense of purpose.