Dog backpacks are a practical and comfortable way for your pup to literally help carry their weight (well…at least their water, treats, and toys) during adventures—whether that’s to the local park for a round of fetch, or for a “short” 12-hour hike in the backcountry.
In this guide we’ll help answer your burning questions about getting your pooch set up for success with some hiking gear.
- What is a dog backpack?
- What are some of the benefits of dog backpacks?
- Is it safe for my pup to wear a dog backpack?
- What features should I look for when I’m shopping for a dog backpack?
- What are some of the most popular dog backpacks on the market?
- What if I want to carry my dog in my backpack?
What is a dog backpack?
A dog backpack is essentially a day pack or rucksack that’s specifically designed for dogs to wear themselves.
Dog backpacks feature one or two saddlebags, typically mounted on either side of the dog’s back, that can carry their own essentials such as:
- Food and treats
- Extra collar and leash
- Collapsible water bowl
- Poop bags (bonus points if they’re biodegradable)
The purpose is to distribute the load evenly and ensure that the pup is comfortable while carrying their stuff.
What are some of the benefits of dog backpacks?
Dog backpacks offer many advantages for both canine companions and their human parents.
|Benefits for Dogs||Bonuses for Pet Parents|
|Can be great physical exercise, especially for pups who have extra energy to burn||Frees up space in your pack, and lightens your load|
|Offers mental stimulation and a sense of purpose—dogs love to have a job!||Working together by sharing the load can strengthen the bond between you and your dog|
|Can have a soothing and grounding effect—especially on anxious dogs—similar to the effect of a weighted blanket for humans||Having all your pup’s essentials in one place can make it easier to keep track of your dog’s gear during outings|
Is it safe for my pooch to wear a dog backpack?
Yes, dog backpacks are generally safe, as long as you follow a few guidelines:
- Check the size chart to ensure a proper fit, and never overload the pack
- Make sure the weight is evenly distributed on both sides of the backpack to avoid straining one side of your dog’s body
- As a rule of thumb, a healthy dog can carry about 10-12% of their body weight
- Some stronger breeds may be able to carry up to 25% of their body weight, but consult with your vet before trying to reach this limit
- Monitor your dog’s behavior when they’re carrying their backpack. If they seem uncomfortable or fatigued, you might need to reduce the weight
- Allow for regular breaks to give your dog a rest, especially during longer walks or hikes, or on hot days—as a backpack could cause them to overheat more quickly
How much weight can my dog carry on their back?
Determining how much weight your dog can safely carry on their backpack involves several factors, including:
- Age: It’s not recommended for young puppies and older dogs to carry heavy loads
- Size: Larger, more muscular dog breeds can generally carry more weight. (Even if you have the most fit Chihuahua, small dogs shouldn’t take on heavy loads.)
- Overall health: If your dog has any existing health conditions, especially related to their joints, spine, or heart, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian before expecting them to lug a backpack around
It’s essential to remember that overburdening a dog with excessive weight can lead to injuries or health complications. If your dog is new to wearing a backpack, start with a light load and gradually increase the weight as they get accustomed to it.
What features should I look for when I’m shopping for a dog backpack?
When looking for the best hiking backpack for your four legged adventure companion, consider features like:
- Breathable, lightweight, and water-resistant materials—like breathable mesh
- Padded, adjustable shoulder straps
- Chest strap
- Dog harness
- Vibrant colors and reflective strips to enhance visibility—especially for those foggy summits
- Removable saddlebags
- Heavy duty zippers or fastenings
- Hands-free leash attachment points
- A hydration system—like a water bottle holder
- Side pockets for easy access to essentials
What are some of the best dog backpacks on the market?
A solid choice for adventurous dogs is the Outward Hound DayPak for Dogs, which can range from about $19 to $45 depending on the size and color.
Other reputable brands that carry high quality dog packs include Kurgo, EzyDog, and Mountainsmith.
Before you checkout, remember that no matter the pack you choose, always prioritize your dog’s comfort and safety.
What if I want to carry my dog in my backpack?
There’s a pack for that too! Sometimes dog backpacks can refer to a pet carrier backpack, like the K9 Sport Sack. Humans can wear these packs like a regular backpack, but with a furry friend sitting comfortably inside.
These dog and cat carriers (or a bunny bag, turtle tote, ferret fanny…if that’s more your style) can be especially convenient during long outings where your pet may not be able to walk the entire way or for traveling.
These backpacks often come with features like:
- Breathable mesh for ventilation
- Zipper pockets for storage
- Airline approved design
Before you take a hike…
Helping prepare your pooch for the road ahead doesn’t have to stop with their hiking gear. Did you know that you can cover your dog from nose to tail with a Lemonade pet insurance policy?
A base policy can help take a bite out of medical expenses for diagnostics and treatments related to accidents and illnesses (provided those occur after your policy’s waiting period has ended). And you can easily customize your pup’s policy with our preventative care packages and optional add-ons to meet the unique needs of your pup, all with your budget in mind.
Click below to get your quote started. Happy trails!
A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage may not be available in all states.