Dog backpacks are exceptional accessories as they instill a sense of pride in our canine companions and enable them to actively participate in a wide range of outdoor adventures alongside us. These functional accessories boost self-esteem and provide a practical means for them to carry essentials during our excursions.
While it may appear that dog backpacks could potentially weigh down our four-legged friends and impede their movements, the best dog backpacks for hiking are specifically designed to address this concern. These well-crafted accessories prioritize even weight distribution, ensuring that the load is balanced and does not encumber the animal.
In our guide to the most reliable and comfortable options, we’ve put these backpacks through their paces on the trails, ensuring they meet the rigorous demands of outdoor exploration.
Best Dog Backpacks for Hiking in 2024
Our selection is carefully curated, drawing from practical experience, customer ratings, adherence to quality standards, and, of course, our comprehensive test reports.
- 1. Outward Hound 22003 Day Backpack – Best Overall
- 2. EXCELLENT ELITE SPANKER Dog Backpack – Editor’s Choice
- 3. Cesar Millan Hiking Dog Backpack – Best Medium Dog Backpack
- 4. Ruffwear Orange Poppy Approach – Full-Day Hiking Pack for Dogs
- 5. OneTigris Dog Backpack – Best Option for Medium & Large Dog
- 6. Kurgo Baxter Dog Saddlebag for Hiking – Best Value for the Money
Best Dog backpacks for hiking reviews…
1. Outward Hound 22003 Day Backpack – Best Overall
- Good value for the money
- Four expandable storage pockets
- Reflective accents for high visibility
- Available in different colors
- Padded grab handle
- No front clip
- Be careful to keep the weight balanced
The Outward is our preferred dog backpack for day hikes. It allows you to pack all your dog supplies, including your first aid kit! It can insert weights or objects and allows your pup to comfortably carry extra gear and essentials while on the go! This model is available in medium and large sizes, allowing you to choose the one that best fits your dog’s unique dimensions.
Outward DayPak doggy backpack is thoughtfully constructed with breathable mesh fabric, which keeps your pet warm and comfortable. This Hound backpack is widely adjustable on the dog’s back by using straps. It is removable from the harness, so it can be removed for a break.
It is equipped with 2 saddlebags (one on each side), reflective strips, and a hand handle on the top. The color is highly visible, so you can stay worry-free day or night. It is lightweight, convenient, and designed with two storage compartments on each side for even weight distribution. This model also has plenty of room for food, water, training accessories, and more.
2. EXCELLENT ELITE SPANKER Dog Backpack for Hiking
- Capacious side pockets
- Dual adjustment and fixation
- Left-right Symmetric Design
- Aluminum V-ring is not good enough
This nylon dog backpack has been padded for comfort and it is one of the best dog backpacks for hiking. This model consists of several pockets to have all the items you need at hand when hiking. For this purpose, the backpack was equipped with magnets to be able to carry other objects.
It is made of high quality and durable nylon material with neat stitching and soft padded lining to protect your dog’s skin and hair. The EXCELLENT ELITE SPANKER could be ideal for your dog to carry their own things when hiking, and you can put your phone, keys, or small EDC items in the zip pockets.
The front straps are adjustable and equipped with a magical sticker to add patches you like. The adjustable belly straps with UTX Duraflex quick-release buckle make it convenient. The molle system on the back helps you add more elements you want. The strap features a metal V-ring to attach a dog leash for better control and to keep your partner close during your adventures.
3. Cesar Millan Medium Dog Backpack for Hiking
- Convenient size for medium dogs
- Easy to get on (just slip it over the dog’s head)
- Good craftsmanship quality
- Breathable and compact
- Strap is a bit short and tight for large dogs
Cesar Millan, a renowned authority on dog behavior, supports the use of his effective accessories designed specifically for small dog breeds. This dog backpack features two large side pockets that are attached to the dog with buckles. All straps are elastic and adapt to the dog’s movements. The main strap attaches to the chest. Cesar’s medium size dog backpack for hiking is recommended for dogs between 20-40 lbs (9-18 kg).
It is made from strong and durable material to keep up with your active dog. Its breathable mesh padding keeps your dog’s skin cool and comfortable. This saddle bag can hold your personal items, such as keys, mobile phones, or weighted elements for a tougher challenge.
It is also waterproof for extra protection against unfavorable weather. The reflective strips ensure better visibility in low light hours or at night. A center buckle ensures additional stability for the contents of the bag. The strap is adjustable and features double stitch re-enforcement and elastic to adjust to your dog’s movements.
4. Ruffwear Poppy Approach Hiking Pack for Dogs
- Durable and comfortable
- Efficient load carrying
- Non-slip straps and sheltered buckles
- Excellent harness and reflective trim
- Sturdy handle and metal D-ring
- Large side pockets
- A bit expensive
- The bottom material is pretty rugged
The Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack features a weight-forward saddlebag design that provides your dog with a comfortable way to carry the essentials for your trip. This item is suitable for large and heavy dogs. And it serves as an emergency backpack, allowing dogs to be transported if you are injured along the way.
It is made of lightweight materials and components that allow comfortable fit and long-term durability. The padded and comfortable handle offers an optimal balance point with good load dispersion for controlled and comfortable lifting. This model is convenient to carry, and easy-access stash pockets are perfect for often-used items. The capacity is ideal for overnight adventures.
Its integrated harness features provide for leash walking, lifting, and pulling. The harness can be adjusted according to the weight and size of the dog. The reflective trim allows you to keep an eye on your dog, even when the visibility is poor. Before settling on this model, we experimented with three other models from the same brand, which tended to slide and didn’t exhibit the durability we were looking for.
5. OneTigris Dog Backpack for Medium & Large Dog
- Multifunctional dog harness backpack
- Easy to adjust for different size dogs
- Upgraded no-slide, snug-fit structure
- Breathable and very comfortable
- Durable pockets
- D ring isn’t available on the back
- No handle on the top
Thanks to its comfortable design and fully adjustable hooks, the OneTigris dog backpack fuses attractive design with the functionality and safety of a professional trekking backpack. It is structured to fit like a jacket on the dog and hugs it softly preventing the weight from falling to one side.
The side bags are spacious and equipped with internal and external pockets. The lightweight and waterproof fabric with reflective parts, and above all, the numerous padded parts with a breathable structure make it an outstanding choice at an affordable price.
It has two side pockets with semi-open compartments for dog food, water, snacks, etc. It has 2 adjustable straps, making it suitable for medium and large dogs. However, it is not lightweight, weighing 1560 grams.
This model is available in different sizes. Each size can also be adjusted with Velcro fasteners so that the wearing comfort is increased. The carrying strap is buckled around the chest. Overall, its cotton canvas with high density provides your beloved dog with a better grip and does not hurt the fur.
6. Kurgo Baxter Dog Saddlebag for Hiking & Camping
- Back handle for easy control
- Front and rear leash attachments
- Total eight adjustment point
- Tiny zip pockets on each bag
- Solid built quality
- Sizing is way small
Kurgo Baxter is our ultimate choice for the best dog backpack for hiking. It is very comfortable to wear for a dog. This model is designed to distribute the weight closer to the dog’s shoulders where the force is strongest. It is a beautiful deep red dog bag with many reflective details in lightweight waterproof material.
It has an integrated harness and a top handle that allows you to grab the dog at any time with ease. Kurgo Baxter dog backpack is equipped with a rear hook which can be used with a leash. This also acts as a bottle opener. This medium-sized dog pack is available in 3 colors and is fully adjustable.
It is made of strong and durable material to keep up with your active dog. The breathable mesh padding ensures a comfortable fit. The reflective stitching will increase visibility in the dark. In the side pockets, there is enough space for personal items such as keys, cell phones, or other items. However, the saddlebags aren’t removable.
Best Dog Backpacks for Hiking Buyer’s Guide
Before choosing a dog backpack for hiking, it is essential to know in detail about the product and its characteristics. The market is saturated with more or less attractive models but not all of them are adequate. Here we are going to what needs to be considered when buying the best dog backpacks for hiking:
Size and Dimension
Ensure the backpack is appropriately sized for your dog’s breed and weight. A snug and comfortable fit is essential to prevent discomfort and ensure stability during the hike. Each dog has its unique needs, which is why various categories exist to cater to different models and sizes.
- Dog backpack for small dogs
- Backpacks for medium-sized dogs
- Dog backpack for large dogs
- Backpack up to six kilograms
However, it is important that the dog feels comfortable and has enough cushioning. Models where the dog only has its legs free should only be used for a short time.
Referring to the carrying capacity of the dog hiking backpack, it’s crucial to consider the primary purpose of the backpack. For longer vacations spanning several days, opting for a model with a larger capacity is advisable. Conversely, a smaller and lighter backpack proves more than sufficient for a day hike.
It is essential to verify that the product features five adjustment points to effectively distribute the weight inside the dog backpack. This will prevent the harness from shifting or overturning during the entire journey.
Selecting a hiking backpack for dogs that doesn’t place the weight directly on the animal’s spine is crucial for ensuring the dog’s comfort and well-being. These considerations contribute to a secure and balanced load distribution and enhance the overall hiking experience for both the dog and its owner.
Even if the fabric is waterproof, make sure to inspect closure points, including zippers. A high-quality backpack for dogs should feature water-resistant fabric and provide effective protection for items stored inside the side bags against water and atmospheric elements. Look for backpacks equipped with reliable protection systems to prevent water infiltration. This will ensure that your dog’s belongings and essentials stay dry and secure during outdoor adventures.
- You may also be interested in: Essential Tips & Equipment for Hiking with Dog
Removable Side Bags
Dog backpacks are based on the harness principle and placing them on the dog can require some effort as we will have to adjust them to his body. So we recommend you choose models that have removable side bags to detach them when the dog is at rest and leave him free to lie down without encumbrance and avoid overloading him with weight.
Models without removable panniers may require frequent removal and reattachment of the harness, which can be tiring for both owner and dog. This process becomes particularly risky in steep or potentially hazardous outdoor areas, where the dog may be left unhooked.
It is used to keep the side bags well attached to the body, preventing them from dangling downwards and becoming uncomfortable for the dog. In this way, our companion will be able to move freely in a completely natural way, even in the wildest nature.
Let’s not forget that a dog backpack can be used as a normal harness attached to a leash even in normal everyday walks, not just on exceptional occasions.
Attachment Points for the Leash
The dog backpack should have at least one attachment point for the leash and possibly other attachment points in different positions. This is useful either for moving the leash or for attaching important accessories.
Integrated Water Connections
Needless to say, it will be essential to bring water with us to water our dog. A proper backpack for dogs will have spaces prepared in which to put one or two bottles of water. In case our dog backpack is not equipped with these accessories, make sure to carry a light and possibly foldable water bowl that can be attached to the backpack.
Front Loading Bag
The dog’s torso is the area with the greatest strength of the body therefore it is absolutely safe and advisable to choose a dog backpack for hiking with a front load.
- You may also be interested in: 17 Best Camping Gear for Dogs
Opting for a dog backpack with a reflective surface is a crucial consideration for the safety of our pets. In situations where visibility is reduced, either due to darkness or the dog hiding in foliage, reflective parts enhance visibility, making it easier to locate them. For extended hikes in the wilderness, you might also want to consider a GPS tracking system as an additional safety measure to prevent the risk of your pet getting lost.
Material and Weight
A dog backpack must be robust and at the same time offer good ventilation. Therefore, the sides are often made of mesh to ensure perfect air circulation. The rest of the dog backpack is often made of nylon, polyester, and other water-repellent materials.
It is essential to choose a dog backpack that can be easily washed. It is a tool that will come into direct contact with all the elements of nature. Besides this, for ease of cleaning, it would be better to choose a tear-resistant material, with UV filter, waterproof and dirt repellent.
The weight is largely negligible because a dog backpack usually weighs a maximum of two kilograms.
The dog backpack is an essential accessory for hiking with your dog. Whether it’s a backpack, a dog belly bag or a shoulder bag, there are dozens and dozens of models of dog backpacks you can find online. Hope this guide helped you find the right dog hiking backpack for hiking.
Our dedicated research and comprehensive reviews have sought to simplify the selection process for you. Have any questions? Feel free to ask us in the comments.
Are dog backpacks good for dogs for hiking?
Yes, dog backpacks are beneficial for hiking with dogs. They allow your canine companion to share the load and provide mental and physical stimulation. When appropriately designed, these backpacks distribute weight evenly, ensuring comfort and preventing strain. Additionally, they enable dogs to carry essentials and foster a sense of purpose during outdoor adventures.
Are dog backpacks safe for hiking?
Dog backpacks for hiking are safe products for our pets, and in most cases, dogs will soon get used to wearing them, greatly appreciating them. However, make sure to avoid overloading the panniers with weight.
How does wearing a backpack help my dog?
Carrying a backpack helps build muscle mass and thus leads to a healthier life. They also help build confidence and positivity in the dog who will feel proud of himself. The feeling of “embrace” generated by the harness will also serve the dog to soothe it in case of anxiety.
From what age can the dog wear a backpack?
For small or medium-sized dogs, we expect them to reach at least 18 months of age. For larger breeds of dogs on the other hand expect them to be at least 2 years old. When you start introducing the dog backpack to the animal, remember that it will always be necessary to consider a first training period.
Do dogs like to wear a backpack?
Backpacks are not just an element of practicality. Most dogs like to wear a backpack when walking, hiking, or vacationing with their owner. There are very few dogs who cannot accept that they have something on, and despite training, they will not be able to overcome the mistrust.
How much does a good dog backpack cost?
The price of a dog backpack depends on the variant. If the dog is to be carried while hiking, the price for the backpack is between 30 and 150 dollars. A backpack carried by the dog costs 50 dollars on average.