How to Select a Backpack For Your Dog

Ready for the ultimate backpacking adventure with your dog? There are so many backpacks out there that it’s hard to pick just one. This post breaks down how to select a backpack for your dog.

Finding a backpack

Before purchasing a backpack, consider: what will you use it for? Running, day hikes, backpacking, or as a daily pocket?

   For Running

You’ll want something more streamlined so the bags don’t get tossed around while your dog jogs (dog jogs! New phrase!), a la the Ruffwear Singletrack backpack. This pack comes with two 20 oz (0.6 liter) soft bottles that go right in the pack to keep you both hydrated on long runs.


   For Hiking

You’ll want a slightly larger capacity for bringing along things like treats, a jacket, a light, and booties, depending on where you’re hiking. Look for larger pockets and daisy-chain webbing to easily clip on items like lights and bear bells. A nice all-around bag is the Ruffwear Approach pack.


   For Backpacking

First, think about what your dog is realistically able to carry before considering a larger bag than the Approach pack.

Your dog can carry a maximum 25% of their body weight (1/4th), so if your dog only weighs 20 lbs, they will be able to carry about 5 lbs of gear. On the other hand, if you have a much larger 120lb dog, they can bring along up to 30 lbs of gear (and they’ll have to, to bring along all their food!).

If you have a larger dog, consider a larger pack like the Ruffwear Palisades pack. It not only has larger pockets, it comes with two 1-liter hydration bottles and the bag portion can be lifted off the harness so you get two in one – a backpack and a harness!


     For Everyday

If your dog is a service dog or your carry-all for small items, consider an all-around pack like the Ruffwear Commuter Rucksack. It’s a more city-slicker version of the other packs but still contains helpful pockets, a handle, three leash attachment points, and reflective piping on the sides.

If you’re looking for a very low-profile “pack” with very small pockets for a service dog, the Ruffwear Web Master Pro harness would be a good bet. The pockets are only large enough for a card, keys, or a bar, but that might be all you need. The extra-large padded handle is perfect for using your dog for assistance (or for assisting your dog over obstacles).

Once you settle on one you like (let’s face it – it’s for you!), make sure to properly measure your dog so you can get the best fit for them.



Learn how to train your dog to wear a backpack!

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