We picked best dog backpack carriers after testing 36+ backpacks for hiking, camping, cycling, and running.
If you go hiking or camp out with your pup, you have to carry gear for your own self and even that for your canine companion. You can sort out this problem by getting your pooch to lend a helping hand. Get a dog backpack so that the dog can at least carry his own provisions and reduce some of your load.
We analyzed scores of doggie backpacks to identify the ten best dog backpacks. Comfort, durability, and adjustability are some factors based on which we have tried to narrow down the search. The convertibility of the pack into a harness has also been given due importance.
The 10 Best Dog Backpack of 2023 (Hiking & Camping)
The Kurgo Dog Backpack is the best because it is lightweight, has a breathable design and multiple adjustment points for a customized fit. It is available in bright colors for visibility and comes with reflective strips to be easily spotted in low-light. The pack’s ability to withstand rough handling is also a reason for becoming the favorite of so many dog owners.
It is very time-consuming to list the different products that one is shopping for and research each one on their own to select the right one. This section makes product selection an easy task because we have reviewed ten products that we believe are great options and discussed the benefits and drawbacks of each one of them.
1. Kurgo Dog Backpack for Hiking and Camping
The Kurgo dog hiking backpack has a design that can withstand rough use and is still lightweight. There are eight adjustment points in the backpack so that you get a customized fit.
For additional control, there is a large padded handle mounted on the back of this backpack. The saddle-bags are low-profile and are situated in a way that the weight will shift to the dog’s shoulders.
The interior of this pack has been lined with mesh that will make the backpack breathable. The backpack also has a reflective material that makes it easy to locate your dog. It is available in bright, bold colors making it easy to find your dog’s trail. The zippers on the saddlebags are made for rough handling and durability.
The top of the backpack has been reinforced to support the dog’s spine and mold according to his body. This reinforcement also allows for distributing the weight between the saddlebags.
- Spinal support that molds according to your dog’s back
- Mesh-lined material imparts breathability
- Has eight adjustment points to make it custom fit
- Side pockets provided
- Not possible to remove the saddlebags from the pack
- The handle may not be strong enough
- Not available in small or extra-small sizes
2. RUFFWEAR Approach Pack Backpack for Dogs
This backpack from Ruffwear offers a great fit and a saddle-bag style design. Made from high-quality fabric, it comes in four color combinations. Reflective trims enhance visibility in insufficient light.
It is available in four sizes XX-small to Large/X-Large and can be determined by measuring around the widest part of the dog’s rib-cage. The incredible part is that the saddle-bag like backpack can hold 8 cups of dog food plus other items in its pouches. Because of effective burden distribution over the shoulders and sufficient padding, so much weight does not hamper the dog’s movement.
This backpack can be easily put on and off because of the adjustable nature of the straps. The Y-shaped straps are designed so as not to chafe or slip or hurt the neck. The 5-point adjustment will help with a perfect fit for your dog’s particular built.
When hiking or backpacking a long distance with a load, this feature is extremely important because it makes the dog feel responsible for his provisions without hurting or causing much discomfort.
Some buyers who hold negative views feel that the straps need more padding to prevent discomfort or injury, while some feel that the backpack is more suited for larger breeds.
- 5-point adjustment straps
- Available in four colors
- Reflective trim for low-light visibility
- Sizes range from XX-small to XL that makes it suitable for both; puppies & large dog
- Straps probably need more padding
- Probably suited for larger breeds
3. Outward Hound DayPak Dog Backpack Carrier Hiking Gear
This is a great backpack for brief outdoor adventures or quick errands to the supermarket with the dog. A breathable mesh harness allows cooling comfort and makes for a great fit using adjustable velcro straps for safe and secure attachment.
Though smaller in size than other backpacks, it has four expandable pockets for storing food, water bottle, and other knick-knacks. It has a D-ring with which to attach the leash, is available in bright colors, and has reflective trims for more visibility.
Although small, this dog backpack can hold 16 ounces of bottled water on each side. But there is still sufficient space for other lightweight travel essentials to fit into the remaining pockets.
This Outward Hound Dog Backpack is just right for activities of a shorter duration. It grants greater mobility to the dog while he carries just enough provisions for a day.
However, not all users were too happy with the smaller size. A few other users have raised questions over its durability, while a few were unhappy with the improper fitting claiming that the backpack tilts to either one side or the other.
- Mesh harness imparts breathability
- Adjustable velcro straps for safe and secure attachment
- Lighter because of smaller size
- Reflective patch for greater visibility
- D-ring to attach the leash
- Suitable for pet & service dogs
- Small size may not appeal to all buyers
- Users claim that product is not durable at all
- Improper fitting makes it tilt towards one side or the other
4. Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Backpack Carrier
This backpack will make your next road-trip or walk with your canine companion more exciting because it is both convenient and great fun.
The Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Backpack has all the qualities that you would look for in a dog backpack. The zip pockets are spacious, the straps are padded to provide comfort, and can be adjusted for a perfect fit.
As if this much isn’t enough, the pockets are joined to the top section by straps, rather than by fabric, so that they lie naturally and allow free movement to your doggie. He can even lie down to enjoy a snooze with the backpack on if he feels like it.
There’s mesh lining for great ventilation and the bag is available in two colors: in Azure blue and Heritage Red, both having black details.
- Padded straps for greater comfort
- Allows free movement
- Comes in colors that make visibility easier
- Weak zippers
- Stitches aren’t among the toughest
5. Wellver Dog Backpack Saddle Backpack for Hiking, Walking, & Camping
Being made of breathable mesh, your dog shouldn’t overheat while wearing the new camping accessory. The backpack is lightweight as well and should not place an undue burden on your pet while wearing it. The soft lining of the backpack is gentle on the dog’s skin.
This colorful backpack is held in place with the help of adjustable straps without making the dog feel any discomfort. The buckles, which are strong, will click into place and remain there throughout the period you are hiking.
The two pockets are very spacious and will enable you to get extra provisions to the campsite with ease. Allowing your dog to help you will help build his confidence and increase his self-esteem. The backpack can be washed so cleaning is nice and easy.
Make your dog carry only smaller weights. Do not burden him or make him work harder than he actually should.
- Comparatively modern appearance
- Not for rough use
- Storage space is limited
6. Smartelf Hiking Gear 2 in 1 Saddle Backpack
The Smartelf Hiking Gear is made from sturdy Oxford Material and lined with mesh. Oxford material is made from synthetic polyester fibers because of which it is water-resistant and tough.
The mesh lining ensures breathability and comfort. So if you have plans to go out in hot weather, the mesh-lining will prevent the dog from overheating.
Though available in three different sizes, small, medium and large, this backpack is suited for traditionally large breeds.
The backpack comprises a harness and two detachable saddlebags giving you options. If you want to go just for a quick walk, you may use just the harness. However, you may attach the saddlebags if you are going on longer trips, hikes, and adventures.
This product uses plastic buckles to join everything, including the buckles that join the saddlebags to the harness and the buckles used to fasten the straps. Plastic buckles are stronger than velcro but weak compared to metal buckles.
There is a rubber carry handle if you want to control the dog and take him out of harm’s way. Each saddlebag has two pockets, allowing you enough space to accommodate all that your dog would need.
- Comfortable because this backpack will perfectly fit the dog
- Straps are adjustable and you will be able to use the backpack for a long time for a dog in the growth phase
- The zippers are poor quality, though this flaw is easily fixable
7. Lifeunion Saddle Backpack for Dogs
The Lifeunion Saddle Backpack is made from polyester material, making it water-resistant. The other material used is ‘sandwich air net’ which is another name for net-like polyester material. This material makes the backpack breathable and prevents the dog from overheating during hot climates.
Moreover, this product is available in bright colors and has four reflective stripes, to be spotted easily in low-light conditions.
The backpack has a handle and two straps. The handle will allow you to control your dog in situations when you want to move him out of danger or to dissuade him from chasing squirrels.
There are two straps: the first is a cross-chest and the second that runs across the under-belly. The cross-chest strap will ensure weight distribution and the under-belly strap will prevent the backpack from slipping.
- Because of the design of the straps, there is maximum room for adjustability
- Adds visibility because of the bright colors and reflective strips
- Not for hard-core hiking/camping trips because space is limited in the bags
- The bag keeps sliding towards the side that has greater load
8. 2PET Compact Saddlebag Dog Backpack for Hiking
The 2Pet Dog Saddlebags, unlike any other dog backpacks, includes a soft, easily adjustable harness to perfectly fit on the dog’s body and make the experience of wearing it a comfortable one.
The saddles of the dog backpack can be easily attached/detached from the harness with the help of velcro stripes.
This product has zippered mesh pockets and elastic water bottle holders to allow your dog to carry provisions such as a small water bottle, its own poop bags, or toys when joining you on a walk, trek or a hike.
The 2Pet Dog backpack is suitable only for medium-sized dogs. You will need to check the relevant size measures for your pet dog carefully before placing an order.
- The adjustable harness makes the backpack fit perfectly
- Saddlebags can be attached/detached with the help of velcro stripes
- Suitable only for medium-sized dogs
9. Outward Hound Denver Urban Pack Lightweight Hiking Backpack for Dogs
If you don’t go camping or on multi-day hikes, then you may not need the capacity of some of the options on this list. This product is meant for day-hikes because of the lesser space somewhat compensated to a certain extent by the availability of four separate compartments.
It will allow your dog to carry only a few treats, some water, and a couple of other small necessities.
A few reviewers have complained that it’s difficult to put the backpack on and take it off but one can easily get used to doing that if one is regularly using a harness.
- Four pockets for stuffing provisions
- Two leash attachment points
- Mesh to keep your dog cool
- Lower capacity
- Could be difficult to put on/take off
10. OSPet Saddle Bag Backpack for Large Dogs
The OSPet Saddle Bag Backpack is built from a lightweight, breathable material to keep your canine companion cool and the straps are padded for a comfortable experience.
The zip pockets are spacious and allow you to carry food, water and other essentials such as your dog’s favorite toy. These can be removed and used just as a harness.
There’s a comfortable rubber handle at the top to hold on to keep your doggie under control. The bag is bright red with reflective strips to allow you to spot the dog even on long hikes through the wilderness.
- Material is lightweight, breathable
- Easily visible in the wilderness
- Detachable pockets that are roomy
- Rubber handle
- Side Pockets provided
- A bit floppy
- The middle strap can slide out of place
Our Buyer’s Guide on Dog Backpacks
This is going to be a section that buyers will find useful to identify the factors that need to be carefully considered while selecting a dog backpack. To satisfy the curiosity of some shoppers, we are also including answers to a few FAQs at the end.
Why do you Need a Dog Backpack?
When your canine buddy is accompanying you on your hiking vacation, you have to carry the hiking kit not only for yourself but also for your pup. It would be great if the pup could at least carry his own gear and reduce your load. The primary objective behind a dog backpack is to make the dog carry equipment for himself when he is out hiking/trekking with you. Besides this prime objective, some other reasons owners use backpacks for their dogs are as follows:
To Build Muscle
Dogs do get a fair bit of exercise running and walking but there needs to be a carefully chalked out workout plan. Carrying a backpack can help them build muscle, which can result in a longer and healthier lifespan.
Dogs Want a Job
A dog backpack can make your dog feel that his life has a purpose. While wearing a backpack, the dog knows that he is helping in a meaningful way and will generally behave better and feel cheerful. Even if your dog is still small or is an aging senior, you can still put an empty backpack on so that they still feel as if they are helping.
Make Them Focussed
If your dog is a cat or squirrel chaser, carrying the backpack keeps them in working mode and hopefully get less distracted.
Allow them to help by carrying things
If you’ve begun a long walk or hike together, it is always good if the dog can help to carry some of the things and lighten your burden by at least carrying their own items.
Dog will Sleep Well and so you Will
A long walk with an appropriately loaded backpack will act as a great workout for the dog. It is highly possible that the dog could fall asleep in the car itself on the way back home, and sleep soundly through the night. You can derive comfort from the fact that your dog has had some great exercise and a lot of fresh air.
Important features to consider while buying a dog backpack
There is an abundance of good dog backpacks on the market, but not all of them can serve the same purpose. Some of the important factors that need to be considered carefully are fit, carrying capacity and durability to evaluate a dog backpack. Below are listed a few factors that a buyer should consider before buying a dog backpack.
The backpack must be of the right size. Be correct with the measurements of your dog and also check the sizing charts before purchasing. A backpack of the wrong size may hurt the dog or slip off sideways. Try and purchase a backpack with adjustable straps that have the option to customize the fitting.
How much cargo do you want the dog to carry? If you are looking for a daypack for trips within the city, then probably a smaller pack will probably work. Larger backpacks would be needed for activities like camping. Regardless of the size of the backpack, it must always be borne in mind not to make your dog carry too much weight.
What kind of weather is your dog going to wear the backpack is another important factor that needs to be considered. If the dog is going to wear the backpack in hot weather, it must be lined with mesh. This will allow the air to circulate very close to the dog’s body and keep him cool even in the hot climate.
The padding on a backpack’s harness will prevent the dog from getting chafed and make him feel comfortable.
Reflective patches make it easy for you to spot the dog even in insufficient light. A bag with bright colors can make it easier for you to track the dog in the woods and make it easier to locate him in case he ever happens to get lost.
The importance of being able to attach and detach the compartments cannot be understood fully until you have tried it. Whether it is about quick access to belongings or offering the pooch a break, it can be a good solution. Look for a dog backpack with removable bags.
FAQs About Dog Backpacks
Active dogs bred for a specific purpose such as herding are particularly suited to wear backpacks, though other types of breeds may also benefit from wearing a backpack. Herding and sports breeds have stronger shoulders and sturdier frames which makes it easy for them to wear a backpack.
Backpacks aren’t just for working breeds though. Any dog may like to wear a backpack on his daily walks, while hiking, or on visits to the dog park. Some other dogs may never adjust to the idea of having anything on their backs, regardless of how gradually you introduce them to the backpack. In such cases, there is no point forcing the dog to have something on the back that he/she hates so much.
It is important to consider your dog’s health before giving him a backpack. If the dog is arthritic, has a joint condition, heart problem, or any other health problem, it is best to consult a vet before using a backpack. Adding extra burden on your dog’s back may exacerbate or lead to health issues in some dogs.
As with most things pet-related, dog backpacks need to strike a balance between good fit, durability and aesthetics. The cost of dog backpacks may vary between $20 and $200, though you may choose to spend higher sums if you want. Within the price range that we have prescribed, there are many excellent products that will serve you and the dog for years if used properly.
The weight a dog can carry in a backpack depends on the size of the dog. The rule of thumb is that the dog should not carry more than 40% his weight in the backpack. To begin with, you may start by placing very smaller loads on the dog’s back and gradually allow him to build his capacity before introducing something quite heavy. Besides, it must be ensured that the weight is uniformly distributed between both sides of the dog’s backpack.
Just as different people have different capacities to exercise, different dogs can hike different distances. ‘Active hiking dogs’ can hike long distances on a regular basis. Expect them to hike 15-20 miles in a day. The other group of dogs are not used to long hikes. These dogs can hike only about 10 miles in a day.
There are four steps to teach your dog to wear a backpack. The first step involves introducing the backpack to the dog with treats. In the second step, place the backpack on the dog’s back but leave it unbuckled. In the third step, put the empty backpack on the back and click the straps and leave the backpack on the back for 4-5 minutes and gradually increase the time. The last step includes adding weights in the backpack and increasing them slowly so that your dog can build up his capacity.
Do not underestimate the need to instill a sense of purpose in your canine companion. A sense of purpose will help to increase his self-esteem and will make him stay focused. The dog backpack is a great accessory to realize these objectives.
We hope that this article of ours dedicated to dog backpacks has made our readers understand the importance of dog backpacks and hope that they will get one for their canine companion without further delay.