Best Dog Backpacks

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
161 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best dog backpacks

Last Updated November 2019

Hiking with your dog is a great way to spend time with your pup and get him some much-needed exercise. When you’re hiking, there’s plenty of gear and supplies you need to bring along — and it’s not always possible to carry it all in your own pack.

A dog backpack allows your dog to carry some essential items like water bottles, treats, tennis balls, and even poop pick-up bags, so you both are prepared for your outdoor adventure. You can also use a dog backpack to add weight to your dog’s regular exercise routine to help him build muscle and lose weight.

There are plenty of dog backpacks to choose from, and finding the right one isn’t always easy. You have to decide between a traditional-style backpack or a saddlebag design. You must also choose the appropriate pack weight for your dog and determine what other features would best suit your hiking style.

Our shopping guide has all the tips you need to choose the best dog backpack for your next hike with Fido. We’ve also included some specific product recommendations.

Wearing a backpack can often help your dog focus on hikes or walks so he’s not distracted by every squirrel he sees.

Key considerations

Type

Dog backpacks are available in two main types: the traditional backpack style and the saddlebag style.

  • A traditional-style dog backpack sits on your dog’s back, which can sometimes cause issues with your pet’s balance. To combat the balance issue, most traditional dog backpacks are on the small side, so your dog’s weight doesn’t become unbalanced. They usually feature a single large compartment rather than multiple compartments.
     

  • A saddlebag-style dog backpack features compartments that sit on your dog’s sides like a saddlebag for a horse. The design allows for at least two storage compartments, so it typically offers a greater capacity than a traditional-style dog backpack.

    Sizing is key with a saddlebag. The bag shouldn’t extend any further than one inch above your dog’s elbow. It’s also best to choose a bag that tapers near your dog’s rear to keep most of the weight on your dog’s shoulders rather than his spine.

Weight

You don’t want to weigh your dog down too much with a backpack, so it’s important to consider how much the bag weighs when empty. If the pack is too heavy for your dog, he could wind up injured or tire more quickly. A backpack will obviously increase in weight once you pack it, which means you want the lightest possible bag to start with.

A good backpack should never weigh more than 25% of your dog’s body weight when packed. For example, a 50-pound dog should never carry more than 12 1/2 pounds in a pack, so if you travel with a great deal of gear, you’ll probably want a bag that weighs no more than one to two pounds empty.

When you’re trying to get your dog used to wearing a backpack, reward him with praise and treats after each training session to create a positive association for him with the pack.

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BestReviews

Features

Comfortable design

It may seem like all dog backpacks are roughly the same in terms of comfort for your dog, but there are key attributes that can help keep your pooch as comfortable as possible. Avoid any packs with rough edges or seams, which can cause irritation when in prolonged contact with your dog’s coat and skin. If a pack features metal buckles or other hardware, check that they’re padded so you don’t have to worry about the metal heating up in the sun and burning your dog.

Adjustability

Dog backpacks usually come in sizes to fit small, medium, and large dogs. However, to make sure you get the best fit possible, opt for a backpack with adjustable straps that you can tighten or loosen based on your dog’s size.

Removable compartments

Some dog backpacks, particularly saddlebag-style models, offer removable compartments or bags. They allow you to remove a compartment to take some weight off your dog without removing the entire backpack when you’re stopping to rest, crossing a stream, or encountering rough terrain.

Leash attachment

To allow your dog backpack to double as a harness, many models feature a leash attachment. Opt for a backpack with a durable metal D-ring that you can connect your leash to so you don’t have to worry about your dog getting loose on a hike.

Waterproof

If you’re going hiking with your dog, chances are good you’ll get caught in the occasional rain shower or want to trek through a stream or creek. Opt for a waterproof pack so you can be sure that all the items you have inside aren’t damaged by moisture. Most dog backpacks are water-resistant to a certain degree, but not all bags are fully waterproof.

Ventilation

You don’t want your dog to get uncomfortable when hiking in warm weather, so a backpack with proper ventilation can be a lifesaver. Opt for a model with a breathable mesh panel at the back that can help keep your dog cool during hikes.

Reflective trim

If you ever hike or walk your dog in low-lighting situations, you’ll definitely want a backpack with reflective trim. It reflects the light, so you and your furry friend are more visible on the road at dusk or dawn to keep you both safe.

EXPERT TIP

Have a scale handy when you’re packing your dog’s backpack, so you’re not guessing about the weight and accidentally overloading it.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

In addition to not overloading your dog’s backpack, make sure that the weight is evenly distributed to avoid any muscle strain.


Staff  | BestReviews

Dog backpack prices

Dog backpacks can vary in price based on their size and feature set. Most models cost between $15 and $85.

Inexpensive: The most affordable dog backpacks are typically traditional-style rucksacks that sit on a dog’s back, so they tend to be smaller. They have limited special features, but they usually have a cooling mesh back, adjustable straps, and a leash clip. You’ll generally pay between $15 and $35.

Mid-range: Middle-price dog backpacks are usually medium in size and may be either a traditional backpack style or a saddlebag design. They can have some special features, including a cooling mesh back, adjustable straps, a leash clip, reflective trim, and a water-resistant design. You will usually spend between $35 and $55.

Expensive: The most expensive dog backpacks are usually medium or large in size and feature a saddlebag design. They have an array of special features such as a cooling mesh back, adjustable straps, a leash clip, reflective trim, and a fully waterproof design. You’ll typically pay between $55 and $85 for a high-end dog backpack.

Tips

  • Take Fido on a dry run. Get your dog comfortable wearing a backpack when it’s empty. Put it on him without loading in any gear on walks around your neighborhood so he becomes used to the feel of it.

  • Keep things light initially. Once your dog is acclimated to wearing a backpack, you can start adding items — but keep it light for your first few hikes. Stick to a load that weighs no more than 10% of your dog’s body weight, and gradually increase it as necessary.

  • Go for shorter walks with a full load. Because the added weight will tire your dog more quickly than usual, stick to hikes or walks that are approximately half the length of his normal walks. For example, if your pooch can comfortably handle a four-mile hike, stick to a two-mile route when he’s wearing a backpack.

Other products we considered

With so many dog backpacks to choose from, you should be able to find a bag that’s perfect for you and your dog’s hiking trips. The Kurgo Dog Backpack is an ideal choice if you’re looking for a model that can be used as a harness thanks to its mounted leash hook. It also features a padded handle to help you assist your pooch in moving over water or other obstacles, as well as reflective trim so he’s more visible at dawn and dusk. For a waterproof option, we love the Pettom Dog Backpack Saddle Bag. The polyester outer layer is scratch-resistant too, making it a highly durable bag.

A backpack can help prevent your dog from pulling at his leash because the added weight should slow him down.

FAQ

Q. Is it safe for my dog to wear a backpack?

A. If your dog is healthy and not suffering from any type of injury, a backpack is usually perfectly safe as long as you don’t overpack it. Keep the weight of the pack to no more than 25% of your dog’s body weight. If you’re still not sure whether your dog can handle a backpack while hiking, you may want to check with your veterinarian to be safe.

Q. What items should I place in a dog backpack?

A. You’ll likely have an easier time keeping track of where all your gear is if you have your dog carry his supplies in the backpack. You can place your dog’s water bottle, treats, poop bags, toys, and any other items he might need on a hike in the bag.

Q. What’s the best way to clean a dog backpack?

A. It depends on the backpack’s materials and design. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper cleaning procedure for your particular backpack. Some backpacks are machine-washable, which makes cleanup extremely easy.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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