Packing Your Dog’s Backpack for Hiking [What to Put in?]

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Are you ready for your next hike with your furry hiking buddy?

Whether it’s a day trip or an extended journey, it is critical to ensure your canine companion has what they need on the trail!

However, packing your dog’s backpack for hiking can be tricky. What are the things you should put in there, and how much weight should you allow your pup to carry so that you don’t overburden them and injure their back?

This blog post will help answer those questions, providing you with a list of your dog’s gear and necessities that you need to keep in your doggie’s backpack. And you’ll also learn how to pack them, so they are easy for your dog to carry while exploring the rugged terrain!

Table of Contents

Picking the Right Dog Pack

Dog Saddle Bag
Caption: A pitbull is carrying a dog backpack during a hike

There are many different types of dog packs and sizes available. Like how you would pick your own backpack, your dog’s pack should have extra support and padding so it won’t dig into their shoulders. Plus, it needs to be lightweight, sturdy, and have a handle on top so you can easily pick up your pup if they need help over big rocks and boulders.

And obviously, the backpack needs to fit your dog correctly, meaning you’ll have to find a pack that has multiple adjustment points and is suitable for the size of your canine companion. That is to prevent it from slipping off their back or sliding down under their stomach, ensuring they are comfortable while they wear it.

How Much Weight Can Your Dog Carry in a Backpack?

Just like you, your canine can only carry so much weight. Sure, you can try fitting everything in your dog’s pack, but your pup could end up with muscle or joint pain and back injuries.

The general rule of thumb is that your dog should be able to carry up to 25% of its body weight comfortably. So if your dog weighs 50 pounds, they should only have 12.5 pounds in their pack at most. However, this can vary depending on many factors like your dog’s age, size, and fitness level.

For instance, small dogs can’t carry as much weight as large hiking dogs. In fact, small dog breeds can only carry 8 to 10% of their weight. Or, if you have an old or senior dog, you might want to limit the pack’s weight to 10% to 15% of their body weight or less.

And if your furry friend has never worn a backpack before, loading in 10% of their body weight is a good start, then slowly add more over time. This way, they can get used to wearing that weighted pack and won’t hurt their back from carrying too much weight all at once.

You will also need to consider how long of a journey the hike is and what kind of climate you’ll be hiking in, then make a judgment call. For example, if it’s blistering hot out there, it’s probably not a good idea to weigh your pup down with extra gear and necessities.

How to Pack Your Dog's Backpack for Hiking?

When packing your dog’s backpack, you want to make sure to keep the weight of the items evenly distributed, meaning you will need to weigh the load on each side of your dog’s pack before heading out. And it’s also crucial to make constant adjustments to your dog’s pack while on the trail.

That is to make sure your fur friend won’t struggle with one shoulder being weighed down more than the other. And more importantly, preventing or minimizing the shifting of the backpack to ensure your pup won’t lose balance while on the trail, ultimately keeping your dog from slipping and injuring themselves.

What to Put in Your Dog's Travel Pack?

Caption: A dog is carrying its backpack

Now that you’ve understood how to pick your dog’s pack and the weight limitations, let’s get into what essential items you should include in their backpack.

Here is a list of typical items your furry best friend needs, regardless if it’s a short or long hike.

1. Food

It goes without saying that you’ll need to pack extra food in your dog’s backpack and that it should be enough for the entire hike. And if you plan for a multi-month trip like thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, you would want to pack calorie- and protein-dense dehydrated food as they are lightweight.

2. Water

You should also carry extra water for your dog, even if the hike is short, since staying hydrated during intense physical activity is essential. And always bring a portable dog water bottle instead of letting your pooch drink from streams and rivers as these natural sources of water may be contaminated.

3. First Aid Supplies

It’s a must to have a first aid kit for your pup because you never know when they might get injured, cut, or scraped while exploring in the wilderness with you.

Read More: 3 Ways to Carry an Injured Dog on a Trail

4. Tools for Removing Ticks

Hiking means prolonged outdoor time, and even if you’re in the woods with your canine pal for only a short while, there is still a chance they will pick up some nasty hitchhikers on their fur. That also means you’ll need to bring tools designed explicitly to get rid of those pesky parasites to prevent Lyme disease and other illnesses.

Read More: How to Protect Your Dog From Ticks While Hiking

5. Waste Bags

It’s vital to clean up after your dog and dispose of their poops properly to keep the environment safe for the local wildlife and other hikers’ pets. So, whether it’s taking them out for a short hike or set out on a multi-day trek, you should always bring waste bags with you.

6. Toys, Treats, and Chewies

It’s also a good idea to have your furkid’s favorite toy or two in their pack, as that will help them burn off some of their pent-up energy. Plus, toys are great for occupying them if they’re getting bored, too!

7. Extra Leash

You obviously will need your dog’s leash for hiking, whether they can roam free or hike off-leash or not. And it’s always better to have an extra leash in case the first one breaks.

8. Dog Boots

Like humans, dogs’ paws can be susceptible to damage and injury from sharp objects on the trail. So always bring along doggie booties and let your canine friend wear them while hiking through rocky terrain.

Read More: 8 Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Paws While Hiking

9. Dog Coat or Jacket

You’ll also need to bring a doggie’s coat or jacket, especially if you’re going to hike with your fido during the winter months, so they don’t get too chilly out there.

Read More: 7 Things to Bring for Snowshoeing With Dogs


There’s no doubt that there are many things you need to put in your dog’s pack.

However, always consider how long the trip will be and the weather you’ll be hiking in when packing. And also, keep the maximum weight your dog can carry in mind to make sure your furry hiking buddy is safe and comfortable.

I hope you find this article helpful and that it has given you the idea of how to pack your dog’s backpack for hiking.

Thanks for reading!