Published on: 11/02/2019, updated on: 10/14/2021

The Best Dog Backpack for Hiking: Enjoy Outdoor Adventures With Your Pup

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Taking your dog on a hiking adventure? It’s only fair that he carries his own provisions. That was the thought I had before beginning my search for the best dog backpack for hiking.

Our Top Pick

After a lot of experiments, I finally found the perfect dog pack – the RUFFWEAR Palisades.

This dog backpack is built tough for the outdoors and comes with every necessary feature to keep your dog safe and comfortable while carrying supplies.

Of course, the RUFFWEAR Palisades isn’t the only top-rated hiking dog pack I came across during my search.

In the best dog hiking pack review below, we’ll be looking at the best dog packs on the market and why they’re special. By the end of the review, you’ll be able to decide which best one is for you and your pup’s needs.

Here are some other great options:

  1. RUFFWEAR Approach
  2. Mountainsmith K-9
  3. OneTigris Cotton Canvas
  4. PAWABOO Pet Carrier Backpack
  5. Kurgo Dog Backpack for Hiking, Walking, or Camping

The Top Dog Backpacks Reviewed

RUFFWEAR Palisades – Best Overall

RUFFWEAR - Palisades Dog Backpack and Harness for Hiking and Camping, 2 Detachable Saddlebags, 2 Collapsible Hydration Bladders (1 Liter Each), Medium

Do you and your best bud enjoy spending hours and days exploring the outdoors? If so, what you need is a dog pack that your buddy can wear for hours without discomfort. As the best dog backpack for hiking, that’s exactly what the RUFFWEAR Palisades is.

Key Features

  • Durable grip handle on the back
  • Two collapsible 1-liter capacity hydration bottles
  • Two leash connection points
  • Four-point harness
  • Anodized aluminum V-ring for leash attachment
  • Made with abrasion and chew-resistant rip-stop nylon
  • Available in sizes for small to extra-large dogs

My favorite thing about this bag is the collapsible hydration bottle. It isn’t something you normally see on a dog pack, and it's extremely useful for keeping your dog watered while out on your long outdoor adventure.

This is a multi-day hike-friendly pack that can double as a harness. It comes with load compression straps, removable saddlebags, collapsible hydration bags, a secure leash attachment, a grab handle, and more.

With this pack, your dog can comfortably and securely carry his share of provisions for a whole day without issues. And just as important, the pack looks fantastic.

All that wonderful does come with a premium price, though. This option might not be within the budget of many dog parents.

Pros

  • Durable pack made with tough materials
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Mesh lining for ventilation and to prevent chafing
  • Removable bags
  • Reflective trim for optimal visibility in low light
  • Comfortable for long or short outings
  • Can double as a harness

Cons

  • Expensive
  • May be too big for smaller dogs

The Verdict

This dog pack is ideal if you’re looking for comfort and functionality for both you and your dog. If you regularly spend a lot of time outdoors with your dog, the high price is a worthwhile investment.

Overall Rating - 4.8 stars out of 5

Ruffwear Palisades Pack - Key Features

RUFFWEAR Approach

RUFFWEAR Hiking Pack for Dogs, Medium Sized Breeds, Adjustable Fit, Size: Medium, Orange Poppy, Approach Pack, 50102-801M

Here’s another great option from RUFFWEAR. It’s just as stylish and effective as the Palisades but offers fewer functions at a lower price. For instance, it doesn’t have collapsible water packs.

Key Features

  • Durable and waterproof material
  • V-ring for leash attachment
  • Doubles as a harness
  • Padded handle
  • Weight-forward saddlebag design for efficient load carrying
  • Two points of leash connection
  • Reflective trim
  • Available in extra-small to extra-large sizes for all dog sizes

The first great thing about this dog pack is how good it looks. The second thing is how easy it is to put on and take off your dog. It has lots of storage space and can be worn for long hours without issues. It is also water-resistant and highly durable, making it a great choice for a rough and tumble adventure.

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On the downside, while it is cheaper than the Palisades, the Approach is still on the expensive side.

Pros

  • Ergonomic design with lots of pockets and storage bags
  • Made with high-quality lightweight yet durable materials that ensure you can use the bag for years
  • Padded for comfort and prolonged wear
  • Reflective trim for optimal visibility in low light conditions
  • Can double as a harness and has a handle on the back for direct control of your dog
  • Adjustable straps to customize its fit and ensure your dog has a full range of motion
  • Available in one of two colors to match your dog’s style

Cons

  • The bags are not detachable
  • Expensive

The Verdict

The Approach bag is a great pack that lets your dog comfortably carry provisions while out for a fun day outdoors.

Overall Rating - 4.7 stars out of 5

Mountainsmith K-9 – Best for Big Dogs

Mountainsmith K 9 Dog Pack

This dog pack comes highly recommended if your dog is a big fella or if you’ve got a lot of supplies to carry. The pack has big pockets that can hold a lot of stuff and is designed for comfort during extensive outings.

Key Features

  • Available in different sizes for small, medium, and large-sized dogs
  • Durable back handle
  • Reflective trim
  • Made with 420d HD Nylon Rip-Stop PU Carbonate
  • Metal D-ring attachment for a leash
  • Four-point adjustable harness with a padded sternum strap

This dog pack offers the same quality and functionality as the options from RUFFWEAR, but at half the price. It also has a vet-approved ergonomic design and well-placed mesh material to prevent chafing and keep your best bud cool on the go.

That it’s available in three colors and sizes is also a nice bonus, though that sizing doesn’t extend well to very small dogs—not that many Chihuahuas are off hiking mountains.

Pros

  • Works great as an all-purpose dog backpack for hiking
  • Made with durable, water-resistant materials to protect the pack’s contents
  • Padded straps and lightweight materials for comfortable wearing on long walks
  • Vet-approved ergonomic design
  • Mesh material prevents chafing and keeps your dog cool
  • Large expandable pouches on the sides can hold a lot of content
  • Available in three different colors

Cons

  • It’s not the most affordable backpack, but the price is worth it
  • Getting the perfect fit for a small dog can be difficult

The Verdict

This pack can double as an adjustable harness, which makes it ideal for long outdoor outings without discomfiting or restricting the mobility of your dog. It’s also a great alternative to Ruffwear Palisades and Approach if you want to save money.

Overall Rating - 4.7 stars out of 5

OneTigris Cotton Canvas – The Best-Looking Dog Pack

OneTigris Dog Pack Hound Travel Camping Hiking Backpack Saddle Bag Rucksack for Medium & Large Dog (Black Version 2.0, Large: (Neck: 22"-31.5", Chest: 29"-35.8"))

This is one of the best dog backpacks for hiking not just for its stylish design, but also its durable build and comfort features.

Key Features

  • Made with 1000D water-resistant nylon
  • Secure storage spaces
  • Velcro patches on the sides for adding attachments
  • Two large zipped side pockets to hold all your dog’s stuff
  • V-ring attachment for your leash
  • Three adjustable straps for a comfortable fit
  • Quick-release buckles for quick and easy wearing and taking off
  • ID cardholder at the top for the easy identification of your dog.

The OneTigris Canvas Bag has a lovely design that looks and works great. The built-in holder for waste bags is also a great feature that eliminates any excuses for littering. This option would be suitable for everyday use, not just outback adventures, which is a cost-effective touch. It’s also padded and available in multiple colors.

Related  The Best Dog Harnesses for Hiking: Keep Your Pup Safe During Outdoor Adventures

However, it doesn’t have the reflective stripping you’d want to see in an everyday harness, and it only comes in one size.

Pros

  • Fashionable and durable design
  • Suitable as a harness for everyday use, or as a pack for hiking, camping, and more
  • Water-resistant nylon material that protects the pack’s content
  • Padded underside for your dog’s comfort
  • Available in various colors to match your dog’s unique style

Cons

  • Available in just one size for dogs between 55 and 100 pounds
  • No reflective trimming

The Verdict

This is a great looking bag at a reasonable price, but if your dog is larger than 100 pounds or smaller than 55 pounds, getting this pack to fit becomes a problem.

Overall Rating - 4.7 stars out of 5

OneTigris Cotton Canvas Dog Pack

PAWABOO Pet Carrier Backpack - Best Dog Backpack Carrier for Hiking

PAWABOO Pet Carrier Backpack, Adjustable Pet Front Cat Dog Carrier Backpack Travel Bag, Legs Out, Easy-Fit for Traveling Hiking Camping, Medium Size, Black

If your dog is a little guy, a long hike may be more than his little legs can handle, but with the PAWABOO Pet Carrier Backpack, this isn’t a problem.

Key Features

  • Expandable elastic pockets for carrying supplies and/or your dog
  • Easily adjustable straps for the most comfortable fit
  • Made with breathable mesh and polyester fiber materials
  • Ensures ventilation and prevents chafing
  • Suitable for dogs that weigh less than 15 pounds
  • Legs-out and tail-out design keeps your dog comfortable

The PAWABOO Carrier is the best dog backpack carrier for hiking hands down. It lets you comfortably carry your little guy when he gets too tired or when crossing difficult terrain. The hands-free pack has an expandable pocket that can safely seat a small dog and let him enjoy the outdoor experience with you.

The pack carrier is comfortable for both humans and dogs, ensuring your little guy won’t be left out of the outdoor experience. Keep in mind, though, it’s only suitable for dogs that weigh less than 15 pounds

Pros

  • Made with breathable, durable and comfortable materials
  • Allows for maximum air circulation while your dog is in the pack
  • Designed to hold your dog securely while you are on the move
  • Very affordable price
  • You can wear the pack either on your back or on your front if you want to keep an eye on your little guy

Cons

  • Only dogs under 15 pounds can be carried in the pack

The Verdict

This carrier bag is super affordable and a great choice if you don’t want your little guy to miss out on an outdoor experience just because he has small legs.

Overall Rating - 4.5 stars out of 5

Kurgo Dog Backpack for Hiking, Walking, or Camping

Kurgo Dog Saddlebag Backpack | Back Pack Dog Harness | Hiking Pack for Dogs | Packs for Pets to Wear | Camping & Travel Vest Harness | Reflective | Lightweight | Baxter Pack (Black/Orange)

Last but not least on our list of best dog hiking packs is the Kurgo Dog Backpack. This lightweight pack is designed to not get in your dog’s way while he explores the outdoors and has fun.

Key Features

  • Eight adjustment points for customizing the fit
  • Available in one of two sizes for dogs weighing between 30 and 110 pounds
  • Comes with a saddlebag on each side
  • Designed to distribute weight evenly
  • Mesh lining and a padded chest for your dog’s comfort
  • Leash hook on the back also doubles as a bottle opener
  • Reflective trim for optimal visibility in low lighting

If you don't want your dog wandering too far from you, you'll be happy to know that this pack also doubles as a harness. Just attach a leash to the back, and your dog won't be able to wander into the great unknown.

That dual function leash hook on the back is cool, but my favorite thing is the lifetime warranty that comes with the pack. If at any time you notice a defect with the pack, you can return it for a refund.

Related  The 7 Best Dog Harnesses for Running – Keep Your Pup Fit & Healthy

As a small qualm, though, the straps connected to the adjustment points can become confusing.

Pros

  • Several color options are available
  • Doubles as a dog harness and backpack without making any adjustments
  • Has enough space in both saddlebags to hold a variety of provisions
  • Lightweight and comfortable material that will keep your dog comfortable during prolonged wearing
  • Hassle-free Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer defects
  • Available in various colors to match your dog’s style

The Verdict

The Kurgo Hiking Pack is one of the best dog carrier backpacks at a reasonable price. It also has various interesting features that give it an edge over most competing bags.

Overall Rating - 4.6 stars out of 5

Dog Backpack Buying Guide

Features the Best Dog Pack Must Have

If you want the best dog pack for hiking for your best friend, make sure it has the following features:

Fit

A dog pack must be the perfect size to fit your dog without issues. If it’s too loose, the pack might fall off or hamper your dog’s movements. If it’s too tight, it might injure your dog. Aside from being the right size, make sure the pack has adjustable straps so you can customize the fit to suit your dog’s needs.

Easy to Wear

Putting on the pack or taking it off should be straightforward and require as few steps as possible. The pack should also have padding for your dog’s comfort and prevent chafing during prolonged wearing.

Carrying Capacity

The bag should have enough storage space to carry the types of provisions you intend on taking on your adventure.

Durable Materials

If the pack is made with durable materials, you can expect to use it for years without issues.

Breathability

The material of the pack similar to the dog life jacket shouldn’t just be durable, but also breathable for your dog’s convenience. Mesh lining adds breathability to a pack, minimizing chafing and keeping your dog cool by allowing air to circulate close to your dog’s body.

Waterproof and Quick to Dry

This feature is especially important if you intend to take your dog to wet areas or if it might rain. The waterproofing of the pack will keep the provisions on the inside safe.

Visibility

If the entire pack isn’t made with reflective materials, it should at least have reflective trimming or patches. This will keep your dog visible in low lighting conditions, preventing accidents and other mishaps.

Are Dog Backpacks Safe for All Dogs?

Backpacks are only suitable for dogs who have the bodyweight to carry them or are fit enough to manage the extra weight.

Puppies still have a developing skeleton. Wearing a backpack on such a dog can cause injuries and stunt his growth. Senior dogs also shouldn’t be wearing backpacks because it puts too much stress on their already fragile joints and can cause injuries.

Also, avoid wearing a backpack on your dog if he has heart issues, breathing problems, arthritis, or similar health conditions.

Final Thoughts

There are a variety of dog packs to choose from for your best friend, but if you want a durable one that your dog can wear with ease, be sure to pick one from our above list of best dog backpacks for hiking.

Just remember that the best dog pack for your dog will depend on your dog’s size and what exactly you intend to carry in the pack. The RUFFWEAR Palisades is ideal for most dogs and dog parents, not just because it’s durable, but also because it’s pet-friendly, comfortable, and offers various storage options.

You can also check out our roundup post of the top winter jackets that are both comfy and durable.

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