Best Dog Backpacks: Reviewed for 2021

Published: November 6, 2021


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If your dog is your best buddy, you want to take him everywhere with you. Many dogs enjoy camping or hiking trips, and a dog backpack can make it fun for both of you. The best dog backpacks allow dogs to walk hands-free, as it were, carrying what they need for the trail.

There are many styles of dog backpacks available. The best one for your dog will depend on the material, harness type, and overall features.

Our Hands-On Experience

We tested these backpacks with people whose dogs have enjoyed outdoor adventures. These dogs ranged in size and age, but they all responded well to these packs. Our testers kept the packs light, using only water, snacks, and other essentials, for their first runs.

Some of the features they liked best included a handle that could double as a dog carrier and a leash attachment.

Each of our top three choices had features that stood out. Our reviewers liked the Elite Spanker for cold weather, but they preferred the OneTigris for hot weather and rugged hiking trips. All the reviewers were impressed with the Ruffwear pack’s quality of construction and comfort. This is an excellent pack for small dogs and everyday trips.

We chose the OneTigris overall because of its size options, ease of use, and quality materials. This pack was easy to put on, and its stylish design was hard to ignore.

Best Dog Backpacks: Our Top 3 Choices

What are the top choices for dog backpacks? These choices all stand out for their construction, fit and ease of use. Use these dog carriers to enjoy the great outdoors with your furry friend.

OneTigris Dog Pack Hound Travel Camping Hiking Backpack Saddle Bag Rucksack for Medium & Large Dog (Brown, Large)
  • 【OneTigris HOPPY CAMPER Doggy Backpack 2.0】Size Large: 21"-31.5"/53-80cm (neck), 29"-36"/74-91cm (chest), 9.8"/25cm (back); Net weight: 19.7oz/560g; 2 adjustable straps fits for medium & large dog
  • 【Dog Backpacks for Dogs to Wear】Two 3L main zipper side compartments with semi-open pockets for carrying dog food holder, water, snacks, wast disposal bags, etc.
  • 【NOTE for Dog Hiking Pack】 The handle is not used for lifting up your dog; Dog expert: For most dogs, 10% to 12% of their body weight is a good starting point. This would be 5 to 6 pounds for a 50 pound dog, or 2.5 to 3.0 kilos for a 25 kilogram dog, for example. Of course, the right amount depends on a number of factors, such as your dog's breed, physical fitness, and energy level.
  • 【Multi-functional Dog Harness Backpack】Ideal for dog training, hiking, camping, long trail walks, backpacking trips, traveling or everyday use
  • 【Dog Saddle Bag】High density cotton canvas provide a better holding for your beloved pet and do not hurt fur

This great-looking backpack features a vintage design that will turn your camping or hiking trip into an adventure. Made from sturdy cotton canvas, it has an adjustable harness and three straps you can use to fit almost any dog.

Although its cotton construction is ideal for hot weather, this backpack will also work on winter hikes. It comes in a medium-size for dogs with a neck girth of 17 to 23 inches, and a size for large dogs with a neck girth of 21 to 31 inches. Two zippered compartments keep your dog’s items secure, and it has semi-open pockets for holding snacks and food.

  • For medium or large dogs.
  • Cotton canvas material in a vintage style.
  • Two pockets must be evenly weighted.
  • Includes a D-ring to attach a leash.
  • Padded mesh underside.

Click here to check out OneTigris Hoppy Camper Dog Backpack on amazon.com.

RUFFWEAR, Switchbak Dog Harness, Pack & Harness Hybrid for Day Trips & Everyday Use, Red Sumac, Small
  • Harness meets pack: The Switchbak combines the comfort and control of a harness with the functionality of a pack; It features 2 low-profile, zippered pockets to carry small everyday essentials
  • Lift and assist: Features a low-profile padded handle to help your dog over obstacles; The stowable, padded belly straps provide comfort and stability for lifting and while carrying weight
  • Comfortable fit: This harness is foam padded for comfortable extended wear; The 5 points of adjustment allow you to find the right fit for your dog
  • 2 leash points: Attach a leash to the aluminum V-ring on the back for more relaxed adventures or to the reinforced webbing loop on the chest to help redirect dogs that pull
  • Visibility & safety: The Switchbak features tonal reflective accents for greater visibility in low-light conditions; There’s also an integrated light loop for attaching The Beacon (sold separately)

Ruffwear is a trusted name in outdoor gear for dogs, and this little backpack has all the high-quality features you could want. This is not a pack for heavy-duty camping. It is perfect for small dogs, and it’s designed to carry everyday essentials for your pup. A low-profile padded handle helps you lift your dog over obstacles, and the padded straps are comfortable for any dog.

This nylon backpack comes in three stylish colors and includes reflective patches for greater visibility. The harness and straps can be adjusted in five ways to ensure the perfect fit for any small dog.

  • Comes in Granite Gray, Red Sumac or Blue Moon.
  • Rugged nylon construction.
  • Lightweight and comfortably padded.
  • Includes two leash attachments.
  • Can be used daily instead of a leash.

Click here to check out Ruffwear Switchbak Dog Harness on amazon.com.

EXCELLENT ELITE SPANKER Dog Pack Hound Dog Saddle Bag Backpack for Travel Camping Hiking Medium & Large Dog with 2 Capacious Side Pockets(COB)
  • This dog saddle bag backpack is made of high quality1000D Nylon and zippers material with neat stitching and soft padded lining to prevent chafing for your dog's skin and hair with a comfortable fit. Dog hiking pack suitable for medium & large Dog.
  • Dog backpacks for hiking the front straps can adjustable dogs neck and adjustable belly straps with UTX-Duraflex quick release buckle; molle system on the backside can add more items you want; The hiking dog backpack magic sticker ID panel can change patches according to your favor.
  • Dog camping backpack capacious side pockets: Suitable for carrying water, dog food, treats, toys, and you can put your phone, keys, Each side pouch comes with an exterior horizontal umbrella pocket with cross-bungee cords for strapping on extra gear.
  • Camper dog pack have top handle will redirect the dog forward motion and allow you to control the puller with few effort and training your dog to walk beside you. And the top of this dog saddle backpack harness has an aluminum V-ring, can be attached a dog leash to keep your partner close to you and have more control.
  • 100% Quality Warranty: Your satisfaction with saddle bag for dogs is our first priority, we take care of all quality-related issues with a REPLACEMENT OR FULL REFUND with 90days; If you encounter any problem while using, never hesitate to send email to us and we will make it all right for you.

This backpack for larger dogs is made of nylon. It has a tactical, military-style, and rugged construction. It is lightweight and breathable, with comfortable padding and two large bags.

The pockets seal quickly with Velcro fasteners, and each holds an inner strap to keep the items inside from falling out. This sturdy but lightweight backpack has an adjustable harness.

Nylon is a good choice for cold weather or rain because it’s resistant to water and mold. This backpack shared many similarities with our overall top pick.

  • Designed for large dogs.
  • Comes with optional “Do Not Pet” patches.
  • Stylish tactical look.
  • Includes a V-ring to attach a leash.
  • Hands-free design for your dog.

Click here to check out Elite Spanker Dog Backpack on amazon.com.

How To Use a Dog Backpack

Get your dog ready for camping

If you’re using a lightweight pack for everyday use, your dog will probably take to it easily. If you’re planning a full day of hiking or a weekend of camping, you’ll need to get your dog in shape.

Your dog should be in good physical health and strong enough for camping and hiking in the rough. Start by taking short hikes with your pup, and don’t expect your furred friend to hike more than a few miles at first.

The dog’s size isn’t as important as her health and conditioning. Even small dogs can be excellent hikers, but you may have to give them a hand on rough or high terrain.

Find out where you can go

Research the trail or campsite before you go. Some national parks don’t accept dogs at all, and others only accept them in designated areas. Many national forest areas and state parks allow dogs, however. A quick check of the park’s website will give you the information you need.

Hit the trail

Hiking with a dog is a lot of fun. Be ready for hot weather by bringing plenty of water. You can even buy collapsible dog bowls that are perfect for hydrating on the road.

Don’t forget snacks. You probably carry trail mix and nutritious snacks when you hike, so don’t forget your dog. The best trail snacks for dogs are high-protein, grain-free dog treats designed to give your pup a boost of calories and nutrition. Keep your dog’s snacks in a bear-proof container. Even if there are no bears around, it will protect the food from mice and other rodents.

Play it safe. Carry snacks and water, stay in shaded areas, and avoid areas where you’re likely to encounter dangerous wildlife.

Camp out

If you’re using your backpacks for camping trips, always plan. Be sure the campsite accepts dogs, and find out where the dog park or doggy relief station is.

Make room in the tent for your dog. You should consider the dog as a separate person when choosing your tent size. If it’s just you and the pup, bring a two-person tent. If there are two people and a dog, bring a three-person tent. This gives everyone room to relax and sleep well.

For cold-weather trips, bring a small blanket to protect your dog from the icy ground. You’ll all feel refreshed and ready for the next day’s activities.

Protect your dog

It’s best to keep your dog on a leash, especially on tricky, narrow hiking paths. If you want your dog to run free, be sure he responds to your commands first. Your dog should obey without fail when you call. Prepare for any emergency with updated dog i.d. tags and a microchip.

Hands-Free Hiking for Your Dog

A dog backpack can make any hiking or camping trip more fun. Your dog carrier allows your pup to tote snacks and other essentials while you’re both enjoying the great outdoors.

Last update on 2021-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Dog Backpacks: Reviewed for 2021 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Do dogs like backpack carriers?

Most dogs enjoy wearing their backpacks. It’s important to use a backpack that fits securely and is comfortable. Don’t expect your dog to carry too much, especially at the beginning.

Some dogs are experienced hikers and campers. These dogs are ready for tactical outdoor adventures, and a backpack is a great way to keep their essentials at hand.

What do you do with dog poop while backpacking?

The best way to manage dog poop out in the wilderness is also the most natural one. When your dog defecates, dig a hole at least 6 inches deep in the ground, and bury your dog’s poop in it. Be sure the hole is at least 200 feet from any body of water to avoid contamination.

How much weight can a dog carry in a backpack?

It all depends on the size of the dog, its health and conditioning, and its breed.

Why does breed matter? Some dog breeds are better suited to carrying weights when they hike.

How much weight can a 50-pound dog carry?

To figure out how much your dog can carry hands-free, start by calculating 25% of your dog’s weight. That percentage is only suitable for a fit, healthy dog who’s in her prime.

For a dog that’s older or has never hiked with any weight, lower that amount. You should start with 2 pounds on a short hike and work up to 5 or 10 pounds. For most dogs, this is the highest weight they can handle.

Not all dogs are suited to carrying weights. Some dog breeds are prone to musculoskeletal problems. These dogs should never carry any weight, even if they are willing and eager to do it.

How much weight can a 100-pound dog carry?

For large dogs, the same weight rules apply. A strong, healthy, 100-pound dog of a breed suited for carrying weights can carry up to 25 pounds in his backpack.

If your dog is not young and not used to hiking or carrying weights, start with smaller weights of 5 or 10 pounds. Work up to 12 or 15 pounds if your dog seems able to manage that.

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