5 Best Dog Backpacks for Hiking [Feb 2020 Reviews]
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5 Best Dog Backpacks for Hiking [Feb 2020 Reviews]

  • Last Updated On: February 25, 2020
  • / Supplies & Accessories
  • / By Drew & Gunnar

Dogs love having a job to do. And what better job is there than spending time outdoors with their person?

Taking your dog hiking is a wonderful activity - both physically and mentally - for all parties involved!

And when you know you’re going to be going on a long hike or spending the weekend (or longer) camping, a dog backpack is a great way to have your pup help with carrying the load of supplies.

Along with this job at hand, a backpack harness will keep your furry friend comfortable and secure with multiple adjustment points, sturdy leash attachments, and plenty of storage for treats and water bottles.

Bulldog wearing a backpack

Don't let this be your dog on a hike!

Golden Retriever wearing a proper dog backpack

This is the type of dogpack your pup deserves!

But with an overwhelming amount of options, how to you pick the best one for your dog?

Here’s a look at our top 5 best dog backpacks for hiking, along with extra info on what to pack in these workhorses, and how to ensure a good fit.


Gunnar's Favorite Hiking Backpack is the Ruffwear Approach

Ruffwear Approach

The 5 Best Dog Hiking Backpacks






Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack

1. Ruffwear Approach

- 2 Leash Attachment Points

- Padded Handle

- Large Pockets

- Available in 4 Sizes

on Amazon

OneTigris Blaze Tracker Pack

2. OneTigris Blaze Tracker

- Metal V-ring Leash Attachment

- Roomy Side Pockets

- Bottom Drainage Hole

- Fits Medium & Large Dogs Best

on Amazon

OutwardHound DayPak

3. OutwardHound DayPak

- Breathable Cooling Mesh Fabric

- Adjustable Straps

- 4 Expandable Pockets

- Available in 3 Sizes

on Amazon

Mountainsmith Gear K-9 Pack

4. Mountainsmith K-9 Pack

- Tear & Rip Resistant Material

- Adjustable Chest, Back & Belly Harness

- Zippered Side Pockets

- Available in 3 Sizes

on Amazon

Ruffwear Palisades

5. Ruffwear Palisades

- 5 Points of Adjustment for Custom Fit

- Durable & Lightweight

- 2 Detachable & Spacious Saddlebags

- Available in 3 Sizes

on Amazon

Why Should I Use a Backpack for My Dog?

As mentioned above, dogs love having a job to do! And carrying their supplies makes them feel useful and happy. It also just helps lighten the load for yourself.

You and your dog need supplies when going on a long and/or overnight hiking journey.

It would be extra tiresome to carry everything on your own back – so why not have your friend help you?

What Size Dog Can Carry a Pack?

Whether your dog will be able to – and enjoy – carrying a harness backpack is more up to your dog’s temperament and training than his size. There are backpacks to fit all shapes and sizes.

It is best to start with shorter walks and progress to longer hikes to get your pup acquainted with his backpack before trekking on the longer journeys where health and safety will come into play.

You will be able to test out what type of pack works best for your dog and what changes – if any need to be made.

To keep his growing bones healthy, it’s best to keep your pup to shorter treks until he is full-grown, so probably at least 12-18 months of age.

And, be sure to keep your dog’s total pack weight to 10–15% of his weight.

How Should the Harness Backpack Fit Your Dog?

Your dog’s pack should fit snugly, but comfortable as well. This is another reason why going on shorter treks is best until you’re sure you have the right fit and adjustments for your dog.

Either too tight or too loose can cause uncomfortable chaffing and pain for your furry friend. And that won’t make for a happy journey for either of you!

To find the right size, measure your dog’s girth – or the widest part around your dog’s ribcage.

Most brands will have a sizing guide based off this measurement, and detailed manufacturer will tell you if it’s best to size up or down if in between sizes.

How Long Will You Be Hiking?

Depending on how often you hike, and what your usual hikes look like, it might be best to have multiple packs and the best dog hiking harness (click that link to discover our top 5 choices) for your journeys.

If you’re going to be gone several hours, then a lighter pack with small pouches to fit a little water, snacks, and doggie bags will suffice.

Or, if you’re going on an overnight camping excursion, then you might look into multi-day packs with space for more gear, including food and water and bowls for both, your dog’s sleeping blanket, booties, etc.

What Should I Pack in My Dog's Backpack?

You want to carry the essentials, without going overboard, so a lot will depend on how long your hike will be.

With that said, here’s some of the top items you might want your dog to carry:

  • Water – probably the most essential no matter how long you’ll be gone
  • Food – bring your dog’s usual food he’s used to eating
  • Collapsible Food & Water Bowls - these will make the above two easier for your dog to enjoy, and their extra convenient for packing and you can't go wrong with this one from COMSUN
  • Snacks – treats are always fun! We love these whole-food rabbit-flavored ones from Zuke's
  • Paw Protection Wax - to protect your pup’s paws from rough terrain by acting as an invisible boot use this best-seller from Musher's Secret
  • Flashlight and/or clip-on lights if you’ll be gone after sunset or overnight
  • Pet First Aid Kit - unfortunately we never know when accidents will happen, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and this one from RC Pet Products includes a carabiner to easily attach to your belt, leash or harness
  • Waste Bags – no matter how long you’ll be gone, these are an absolute must to have with you at all times – you do not want to be that person!
  • Toys – if you’re planning on staying overnight, pack a tennis ball or a floppy frisbee for play time once you've setup camp

Gunnar's 5 Top Rated Hiking Backpacks for Dogs

1. Ruffwear Approach

Made for adventure from a high-quality brand, this lightweight, streamlined Ruffwear Approach Pack is comfortable and lets your pup efficiently carry a load so you can share more adventures.

The five points of adjustment offer a customized fit and a full range of motion.

And the saddlebags are designed to be stable and form-fitting to create a passive compression system for better load carrying.

For the excellent performance, pack stability, fit, functionality, and the rest of the features it offers, this pack is well worth the money and gets our top nod.


  • 1
    2 leash attachment points constructed from aluminum V-rings and secured with a durable webbing loop
  • 2
    A padded handle and non-slip strip straps offer proper load distribution for relaxed and controlled lifting
  • 3
    Large pockets with a lot of room to spare let you stash all the necessities, and external loops make attaching gear, including Ruffwear Beacon lights (sold separately), super easy
  • 4
    Extremely durable, long-lasting materials with a reflective trim to extend your ventures into the night with utmost safety
  • 5
    Available in 4 sizes to ensure a good fit, and offered in 2 bright colors, this pack is great for day hikes and overnight journeys


- It is not advisable to use on hot weather
- The buckles are not strength-rated for high-angle rope works

Watch the video below to learn more about the Ruffwear Approach...

2. OneTigris Blaze Tracker

The OneTigris BLAZE TRACKER Dog Pack is a lightweight, multi-functional dog backpack ideal for hiking, camping, long trail walks, backpacking trips, traveling or everyday use.

It’s made from water-resistant nylon with a padded underside to offer a durable and comfortable solution for your hiking adventure.

Two main zipper side compartments with hook-and-loop closured pockets are perfect for carrying dog food, a first aid kit, dog toys, doggie bags, etc.

One pocket is even designed with a built-in holder for quick access to waste bags!


  • 1
    Comfortable and durable construction, including sturdy metal V-ring attachments for dog leash and breathable material
  • 2
    Roomy side pockets with plenty of room for your dog’s stuff, and a top zippered pocket with ID card window perfect for your phone, keys, etc.
  • 3
    1 neck strap, and 2 adjustable belly straps with quick-release buckles to keep two sides of the pack from flapping
  • 4
    Loop panels on two sides, perfect for attaching additional reflective patches; and a bottom drainage hole to allow any water to drain freely
  • 5
    Fits medium and large dogs the best and comes in 4 styles/colors


- The stitching can get weak from humidity
- The straps can be too long

Watch the video below to learn more about the OneTigris Blaze Tracker dog pack...

3. Outward Hound DayPak

This adjustable, light-capacity DayPak is our most cost-efficient choice and offers the security of a harness and the convenience of a small backpack all in one.

It’s perfect for any trailblazing pup that don’t mind carrying a lightweight pack – whether a beginner or a weekend warrior.

And when you’re ready to roll, simply attach your dog’s leash to the sturdy D-ring clip.


  • 1
    Breathable, cooling mesh that provides airflow and keeps your dog cool on the go; material is also water-resistant and easy to clean
  • 2
    2 bright colors that both have reflective piping to ensure high visibility at all times
  • 3
    Comfortable adjustable straps to enable full range of motion and keep the pack in place
  • 4
    4 expandable pockets are perfect to store essentials like keys, ID cards, phones and doggie bags
  • 5
    3 different sizes to ensure the best fit


- Saddlebag design may take some getting used to at first

4. Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack

The Mountainsmith K-9 is one of the most efficient all-purpose dog packs in the industry.

Designed in close collaboration with a sled dog veterinarian, this pack features an ergonomically tapered torso for accommodating dogs from 25 to 120 pounds.

Its strong metal D-ring makes attaching a leash a breeze when extra control is needed, making this pack equally great for routine walks or long days on the trail.


  • 1
    Tear- and rip-resistant material is both durable and lightweight, with mesh panels to keep your dog cool and comfortable
  • 2
    Adjustable chest harness, back harness, and belly strap let you customize the backpack’s fit for your dog
  • 3
    2 roomy zippered side pockets provide plenty of space for all your dog’s supplies
  • 4
    Security features include a single-haul handle at the top of the pack and a metal D-ring attachment for your dog’s leash
  • 5
    Offered in 3 sizes and 2 colors with reflective trim for best fit, style and safety


- Straps need to be tightened often

Watch the video below to learn more about the Mountainsmith's K9 products...

5. Ruffwear Palisades

The Ruffwear Palisades is our top choice for high-end dog backpacks when nothing but the absolute best will do!

It comes with all the bells and whistles from a trusted brand.

The Palisades is made for canine companions who were born for the trail and designed for all-day comfort throughout a multi-day hiking/camping trek.

Prepare your furry friend for those extended jaunts through the backcountry with this heavy-duty harness that has four dedicated attachment points for both an even load distribution and superior stability on any outdoor terrain.


  • 1
    Customizable fit and full range of motion with 5 points of adjustment, including a padded handle and non-slip girth straps for load balance and safe lifting
  • 2
    Durable construction for a high-performance, lightweight feel for year-round use
  • 3
    2 detachable and spacious saddlebags are perfect for a multi-day trek; includes 2 collapsible 1-liter hydration bottles
  • 4
    2 sturdy leash connection points with an anodized aluminum V-ring and a webbing loop
  • 5
    Bright, easily visible fabric with reflective trim for safety at any time of the day, and a safety light loop for added gear


- It is the most expensive option on this list

Watch the video below to learn more about the Ruffwear Palisades...

Wrapping It Pup...

Whether you like short hikes or longer journeys complete with overnight camping, your dog will be happy and safe with his own backpack harness.

Carrying his own supplies will be just the job he needs to truly enjoy the trek with you by his side.

Whatever style or brand you choose, be sure to measure your dog properly to ensure a good fit. Also, when loading the supplies, be sure to distribute the weight evenly to keep your furry friend in balance.

Happy trails!

About the Author Drew & Gunnar

As you can see, Gunnar makes Drew do all the work but heading outdoors with your best friend is never really work! Drew buys the products and Gunnar does the testing so you can rest assured you are reading the most up to date information to make the best decision for your dog's health and well-being! Make sure to visit our YouTube channel :)

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