Any type of traveling with your dog will create fun memories, but traveling with dogs does require additional supplies. Instead of adding more weight to your hiking backpack, you can get your pup a cute backpack of their own.
These lightweight backpacks fit snugly and allow the dog to carry some of their own food, water, and gear. Like a lot of hiking gear, there are lots of low-quality options on the market that won’t offer what you need. The best dog hiking backpacks offer comfort, stability, and durability during your outdoor adventures.
This guide takes you through what to look for and lists the best dog backpacks for hiking currently available.
Our Top Choice: After hours of research and testing, we have concluded that the Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack is the best dog hiking backpack currently available. It features five adjustment points for a comfortable fit and is extremely durable and lightweight. The Ruffwear Approach costs a little bit more than its competitors but for the product you are getting, it is well worth it!
Comparison of the Best Hiking Backpacks for Dogs
Below is a list of the best dog backpacks for hiking. Click on the name to read reviews and check prices.
What to Look for in a Good Dog Hiking Backpack
Because your dog will be wearing the backpack, there’s a lot more to consider before purchasing as compared to the rest of your dog’s travel gear. Be sure you’re taking into mind your dog’s age and health when making this decision.
1. Size / Capacity
There are a variety of sizes to choose from, but the primary concern should be your dog’s comfort and carrying ability while wearing the backpack. The capacity of these backpacks can range from around five liters to more than 25 liters.
Also, think about what you will be doing while your dog is wearing the backpack. If it’s just for a walk through the park, then a smaller option may be suitable. If you’re heading out on a multi-day hike like Australia’s Great Ocean Walk then it needs to be able to hold more supplies.
There’s no universal size chart for these backpacks, so be mindful of the measurements. Usually, by measuring your dog’s girth, neck size, and weight, you can choose a backpack that will fit them well.
2. Stability / Adjustability
While hiking backpacks rest on our shoulders, and can only pull us backwards, the saddlebag style of dog backpacks means there’s a bag on each side. While they’re designed to enhance comfort and stability, you must make sure they don’t restrict your dog’s movement and that the weight is evenly distributed. If your dog’s movement is restricted, or the weight isn’t evenly balanced, then the bag won’t be as stable and you risk injuring your dog when they are pulled to one side or another trying to compensate.
To maximize stability, the fit needs to be snug enough that it doesn’t slide, but not so snug that it leads to chafing. One-piece dog backpacks aren’t the greatest for adjustability so if you choose this option, it’s important to pick a size that fits your dog well. They still have adjustable points, so don’t rule this style out, but adjustment options are limited. The more adjustable packs have material that runs along your dog’s back and include straps that can shorten or lengthen the fit depending on your dog’s size and comfort level.
Most dog hiking backpacks weigh two pounds or less. Consider the weight of the pack with everything you want to put in it. You want to have a little extra space, but don’t get a larger/heavier backpack if you don’t need it.
Some say dogs can carry up to 25% of their weight, while others argue that dogs should only carry around 11% of their body weight. Consider your dog’s age, health, and comfort level when making this decision and consider checking with a veterinarian first. However, if you’re hiking or backpacking, you probably want to keep their backpack just as light as your own.
The weight of the backpack will be influenced by some features like straps, zippers, compartments, and gear loops. Some options are more minimalist while others have a lot of bells and whistles. Make sure if you choose a backpack with a lot of extra features that you actually need those features, every additional item will add weight to your dog’s load. Extra compartments can be useful for things like portable dog water bottles and padded straps are beneficial for heavier loads, but make sure the benefits of these features are worth the extra weight for you and your dog.
While materials like canvas or cotton may be attractive, those materials tend to absorb moisture, which would not only increase the weight for your dog if it gets wet, but on a lengthy trip this could be a breeding ground for mildew and mold if the material doesn’t dry fully or isn’t cleaned properly.
The best hiking backpacks for dogs will be able to follow you through the wear and tear of your outdoor adventures. The backpack needs to have quality stitching, especially in high-stress areas. Also consider whether you can comfortably and securely pick your dog up while they’re wearing the backpack.
While you probably won’t have to pick your dog up if you’re just doing easy day hikes, if you’ll be hiking more technical terrain where you may have to help your dog navigate the path, then you don’t want the leash hook or handle to break easily.
No matter where your favorite hiking spots are, if you hike enough you’ll eventually get rained on. To make sure items in your dog’s backpack don’t get damaged, it’s best to have one made with durable and water-resistant materials like polyester or nylon. If you’ll be hiking somewhere where there’s a chance of heavy rain, then it’s wise to have a waterproof liner to protect the backpack. Also, zippers covered by flaps will help prevent water from seeping through the seams.
Best Dog Hiking Backpack Reviews
Now that you know what to look for, here are the best dog backpacks for hiking available.
Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack
When it comes to great backpacks for hiking with dogs, Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack is always at the top of the list. This backpack features an integrated harness with five adjustment points to help with a comfortable fit. The weight-forward saddlebags help to stabilize the contents and make it more comfortable for your dog to carry. The pack comes in orange and green and has a reflective trim so you can see your dog better when the sun starts to set. There are two leash points and a padded handle for convenience. Choose from a 7-liter, 12.5-liter, 14.5-liter, or 24-liter backpack. With the largest size weighing only around one pound, the Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack is a great option for long hikes and overnight trips.
OneTigris Dog Hiking Backpack
If your dog is over 50 pounds, consider the OneTigris Dog Hiking Backpack. The vintage design is fashionable and comes in black, brown, and ranger green. The 1.3 pound backpack is made of cotton canvas and has three adjustable straps to keep your dog comfortable. The two main compartments are secured with zippers and have semi-open pockets to carry water, food, treats, waste bags, etc. The two main compartments measure 9.6” x 7” while the semi-open pockets measure 7.7” x 5.3”. For leash security there’s a D-ring attachment. If you’re excited to go into the wild with your pup, check out the OneTigris Dog Hiking Backpack.
Kurgo Baxter Dog Saddlebag Backpack
The Kurgo Baxter Dog Saddlebag Backpack comes in two sizes and can fit most dogs between 30 and 110 pounds. The 3.75-liter and 7.5-liter backpacks come in four different colors and have reflective strips for increased visibility. The breathable mesh allows for increased ventilation and the chest pad includes a bottle opener. This backpack comes with several additional features – a handle to assist your dog over tricky terrain, storage pockets, adjustable straps, and an integrated harness with two leash attachments. There are eight different adjustment points which help with the fit, and the ergonomic padded spine support promotes comfort and weight distribution. For a functional harness with some extra convenience, you’ll love the Kurgo Baxter Dog Saddlebag Backpack.
Outward Hound Daypak Lightweight Dog Backpack
The sleekness of the Outward Hound Daypak Lightweight Dog Backpack is what makes it a winner. The design is functional but not bulky so your dog can walk comfortably and safely. It comes in three different sizes and has adjustable straps to make sure it fits your dog well. The high-visibility backpack features a cooling mesh that promotes airflow and keeps your dog cool. The four expandable pockets offer plenty of room for things like treats and even a small travel dog bowl. The weight of the Outward Hound Daypak Lightweight Dog Backpack is something you and your dog will appreciate.
Lifeunion Saddle Bag Backpack for Dog
The Lifeunion Saddle Bag Backpack has a waterproof and durable 600D double polyester construction. For extra control there’s a built-in rubber handle and a D-ring leash attachment. The zippers are high-quality, the mesh design is lightweight, and the buckle closure makes it easy to secure and adjust. You’ll have three different sizes and four different color options to customize the bag to your dog’s fit as well as your own color preference. The small bag can fit dogs between 19 and 38 pounds, the medium can fit dogs between 39 and 60 pounds, and the large can fit dogs between 61 and 100 pounds. The Lifeunion Saddle Bag Backpack itself weighs about one pound but has plenty of space to hold your dog’s travel essentials.
Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Backpack
Whether you’re going on a day trip or a multi-day hike, the Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Backpack is worth your attention. It has a veterinarian-approved ergonomically tapered torso shape and air mesh panels. The two pannier pockets have zippers, and there’s a metal D-ring attachment point for your dog’s leash. The backpack has a four-point adjustable chest harness with a padded sternum strap, an adjustable back harness, an adjustable belly strap, and a top haul handle. The front, rear, and side panels all have 3M reflective trim to increase visibility. The smallest size is designed for dogs from 25-45 pounds, the medium size is for dogs between 40-80 pounds, and the largest size is for dogs over 80 pounds. If you enjoy taking long hikes with your dog, the Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Backpack is a perfect option.
Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack
The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack is a fully-featured backpack designed for multi-day backcountry trips. The harness has four attachment points to promote load stability and comfortable weight distribution. There’s a leash attachment point as well as a padded assistance handled so you can help your dog through difficult terrain. The saddlebags are removable so you can lighten your dog’s load when you take a break or arrive at your campsite for the night. Also included are two one-liter collapsible, BPA-free hydration bottles. The smallest backpack has a capacity of 10 liters and weighs 1.75 pounds. The medium size has a 14-liter capacity and weighs 1.85 pounds. The largest size weighs 2.15 pounds and has a 19-liter capacity. If you want to make sure you have enough supplies for an extended trip, the Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack is what you need.
PAWABOO Dog Hiking Backpack
If you have a medium-size dog, check out the PAWABOO Dog Hiking Backpack. The 9.1 ounce backpack measures 11.9” x 9.8” x 1.9” and is specifically designed for dogs between 39-60 pounds. It’s made of a durable 600D oxford cloth and has a breathable harness. It includes a D-ring and a handle for additional control of your pooch. The straps are adjustable to help keep your dog comfortable while hiking. There are pockets but they are on the smaller side, so the PAWABOO Dog Hiking Backpack would suit you and your dog best on shorter hikes.
Wellver Dog Hiking Backpack
The Wellver Dog Hiking Backpack is a lightweight three-season backpack. It has a soft mesh lining and a breathable middle mesh to keep your dog cool and comfortable on the trails. The straps make it easy to adjust the fit, and the secure buckles make it simple to put on and take off. The pockets are roomy and offer plenty of space for food, treats, water, and toys. The backpack comes in green and yellow and there are three different sizes based on girth – small: 22.8”-25.6”, medium: 26.4”-30.1”, and large: 32.2”-38.6”. The Wellver Dog Hiking Backpack is a simple yet high-quality backpack you’re sure to be satisfied with.
Outward Hound Kyjen Dog Backpack
For those in the market for a removable pack for small dogs, the Outward Hound Kyjen Dog Backpack is your answer. It measures 7.5” x 14” x 9” and is designed for dogs between 15 and 19 pounds with a girth of 12” – 25”. Whether you’re stopping for a break, or for the night, you can easily remove the pack to take the weight off your dog. The pockets are large enough to carry food and toys, and there are also interior mesh pockets and an interior water bottle holder. The backpack has reflective accents so it’s easier to see your dog in the dark. It has an ergonomic fit and adjustable straps to enhance comfort. Whether you’re hiking or just strolling through the park, the Outward Hound Kyjen Dog Backpack is an ideal option for your dog to carry their supplies.
Having the right equipment when traveling with your dog makes everything much easier. It’s a relief not to have added weight in your hiking pack and allows your dog to have some of the responsibility. We’re confident you’ll find an option that’s perfect for you and your pup on this list.