Choosing a dog backpack

A backpack for a dog: where to start?

The first and most important tip for planning a dog backpack is: start early! If you are leaving in a week for the Bear Tour and your dog is not used to the load on his back, you can prepare to carry everything yourself. The dog's body must have enough time to strengthen the muscles and balance required to carry the backpack. It is safest to run first with an empty backpack and then gradually start adding weight to the backpack in the form of training trips. Because of this, renting or borrowing a dog backpack is also challenging, as the loan period should be at least a few weeks long.

Characteristics of a good dog backpack

So what is a good dog backpack? Here is a 10-point list of things to pay attention to when Choosing a backpack:

  • According to the structure of the sled dog harness, the most ergonomic backpacks are based on the Y-harness. The Y-type, i.e. the chest part that goes between the front legs, allows the dog's front legs to move freely - unlike the T-type, where the chest strap goes across the dog's chest. The majority of dog backpacks have a Y-shaped chest section.
  • The most important thing is that you choose a backpack that fits your dog. The same points apply to checking the fit of the backpack as for the harness. Read the Traildog article: How to fit a tow harness . Also check that the center of gravity of the backpack is on your dog's upper back, not on the middle back!
  • Do you want the backpack to also function as just a harness? Some of the backpacks have removable bags. In this case, the dog does not need a separate harness for hiking (or necessarily even for everyday life). The detachable backpack part is in the Ruffwear Palisades backpack.
  • Other benefits of detachable bags: It is convenient to detach the bags, e.g. during breaks or crossing waterways. During the hike, it is sometimes good to let the dog walk without a backpack, in which case separate bags can be tied on the owner's chest.
  • Durable materials. The dog travels low in the terrain, causing branches and twigs to scratch the backpack. If you don't want to tape the backpack after the first trip, pay attention to the quality of the materials.
  • Waterproof. High-quality backpacks have water- and mud-repellent fabrics and possibly also taped zippers. As far as we know, there are no fully waterproof dog backpacks on the market. A good way to protect the contents of the backpack is to pack everything in waterproof bags.
  • Backpack weight and volume. If a person acquires an unnecessarily large chest, it usually becomes very heavy. That is, if there is space, it will also be used. In particular, the weight of the dog's backpack should be moderate. As a general guideline, the weight of the backpack should be no more than 20-25% of the dog's own weight (Here you should use your own judgment according to the dog's physical condition, for many 20% can be a really big burden). An unnecessarily spacious backpack is therefore usually heavy, and you cannot necessarily pack equipment inside it so that the center of gravity stays as close as possible to the dog's body. If you mainly do day trips or one-night trips, for example. The volume of the Ruffwear Front Range Daypack backpack is quite sufficient.
  • Inner pockets and compression option. The more tightly you can pack the items close to the dog's body, the more stable the portable backpack is for the dog and the backpack swaying from side to side is reduced. Here, the pockets inside the backpack and the ability to adjust the volume of the bags are useful features. You should pay attention to them, especially if the backpack will be used more actively. The inner pockets and the bag compression system can be found in the Ruffwear Palisades Pack backpack .
  • The external fastening loops of the backpack? A sleeping pad often takes up a lot of space inside the trunk and is light enough for even a dog to carry. If you want to attach something to the outside of the dog backpack, check that the backpack has sufficient attachment options for your needs on the outside as well.
  • Color. Last but not least. Colorfulness is always a cheap way to increase the safety of those moving in the terrain. Choose a colorful backpack so that others (dog owners, cyclists, hunters, rescue personnel) notice your dog.