Updated April 28, 2018 by Jeff Newburgh

The 10 Best Dog Backpacks

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This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in April of 2015. When trekking through the great outdoors with a furry friend, it seems only logical that he should be able to carry his own gear during the trip. Regardless of whether you explore uncharted wilderness or go hiking on the local trail, these dog packs will afford Fido the comfort and security of multiple adjustment points, sturdy leash attachments, and plenty of storage for treats and water bottles. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best dog backpack on Amazon.

10. FrontPet Explorer

9. Ruff Armour Rucksack

8. Kurgo Baxter

7. RC Canine Ultimate

6. Mountainsmith K-9

5. EzyDog Summit

4. Outward Hound Denver

3. Doggles Extreme

2. Pettom Saddlebag

1. Ruffwear Palisades

Companions With A Purpose

One possible theory for the evolution of this relationship suggests that wild wolves wandered into human encampments thousands of years ago.

Dogs have been considered companion animals for centuries. One possible theory for the evolution of this relationship suggests that wild wolves wandered into human encampments thousands of years ago. By doing this and remaining bold, yet friendly, an emotional connection was forged between humans and wolves, leading to the eventual domestication of the animal that would spur the species on to branch off into many of the common breeds we recognize today. This connection between dog and human shows no signs of changing anytime soon. As dogs are pack animals, they appreciate having a job to do. This can involve herding, chasing a toy, acting as a service animal, or simply tagging along on a camping trip. For that reason, it makes sense that a dog should be equipped with his own backpack to carry his own gear (and yours) when following you on the trail or going for a walk.

The majority of backpacks geared for pooches are designed for almost any size or type of dog and easily fit over their bodies in the same way a saddle is placed over a horse. Aside from the obvious need to store extra gear on an adventure with Fido, backpacks made specifically for him serve several unique purposes. First, let's begin with the idea of training. If you've ever owned a dog, you've probably noticed that through repetition of certain behaviors, or using particular objects over time in your dog's presence, this will condition him to associate those objects with specific emotions or follow-up actions like a reward. I know, for example, that when I take out a ball (or even say the word ball) around my dog, he goes crazy and gets very excited. Why? Because he knows that playtime is coming. The same can be said for the backpack. Not only will it put the dog into working mode, but he'll learn to associate it with an upcoming adventure or the desire to go for a walk. For that reason, it can be a valuable training tool. On the same note, using the backpack as a tool will improve your pet's ability to focus by giving them a job to do. This level of focus carries over into leash training should a dog have a tendency to become aggressive or pull when on leash, further establishing the backpack as a means to calm the animal.

Secondly, adding a backpack into your pup's exercise routine provides a release of excess energy. Loading the pockets with things like soup cans, books, or even his own toys and food will add some healthy weight and intensity to his workout. The amount of weight inside the backpack should be equivalent to a fraction of the dog's total weight, so that he's not burdened with too heavy a load.

Thirdly, a backpack makes your pet mobile. By mobile, I mean that because the dog can carry both your things as well as his own, it's easier for him to go on trips in the same way a hiker can trek through the wilderness during a camping trip with a sleeping bag and other objects in tow.

Finally, the backpack will call the right kind of attention to your dog, making him easy to spot and preventing him from getting lost on the trail. Many packs are equipped with reflective strips, which come in handy when walking on dark streets at night.

It's All About The Dog And Your Circumstances

Before you decide to invest in a backpack for your furry friend, be aware that comfort, safety, durability, and ample storage space should all be among your main considerations. Remember that your pet is just as vulnerable to the outdoors as you are, so consider a backpack with extra padding to minimize impacts and with breathable mesh to keep him cool when exercising. Some of the best backpacks are made from sturdy cotton and nylon materials to prevent rips or tears.

Depending on their size and bone structure, some breeds can carry up to 25% of their own weight, while others have more difficulty.

When going camping or hiking together, additional features to keep in mind include built-in hydration systems and deep side storage pockets that allow Fido to carry his own food and water. When feeding and watering him on the trail, this can free up additional space, while simultaneously lightening the load he's forced to carry. You must decide how many dividers the pack will need to store and keep food, water, and other objects separated.

If you plan to travel in the rain, snow, or darkness, ensuring that your choice is brightly-colored, waterproof, and equipped with some type of reflective striping is beneficial for keeping your dog from getting wet or lost.

Discuss weight issues with your vet before fitting your dog with a backpack. Depending on their size and bone structure, some breeds can carry up to 25% of their own weight, while others have more difficulty. Long-legged breeds tend to have an easier time carrying larger loads and absorbing impacts than those with short legs. Always measure the deepest part of your dog's chest to ensure a proper fit from a backpack's straps and fastening buckles. After all, his comfort and ease of mobility should remain two of your top concerns.

If you want to maintain reliable control over your pooch, definitely look for an option with an available leash attachment and a built-in top handle, which allows you to hold onto your pet if you're crossing shallow rivers and need to grab hold of the dog quickly.

A Brief History Of The Dog Backpack

The history of the modern backpack itself is a difficult one to pinpoint, mainly because so many different types and styles have popped up at different times within a variety of cultures. For centuries, man has employed sacks, baskets, or bags carried on his back, with the earliest reference dating back to 3,300 BCE and belonging to Ozti The Iceman. Unfortunately, Otzi's backpack was not very well preserved.

Unfortunately, Otzi's backpack was not very well preserved.

By contrast, the first well-preserved backpack, called Sekk Med Meis, came from Norway in the 1880s and translates to bag with a frame. It was a wooden frame to which a rudimentary sack was tied and used to store personal goods for travel. It wasn't exactly the same style as today's modern backpacks, with multiple zippers and reflective striping, but this object marked the evolution of the modern applications for the backpack.

The militarization and mechanization of World War I at the turn of the 20th century afforded the backpack the more common functions for which it is still known and used today.

In 1922, Lloyd F. Nelson patented the Trapper Nelson backpack, which was based on early Native American pack designs and built for hunting purposes.

By 1952, a husband and wife duo named Dick and Nena Kelty began to manufacture backpacks out of their California home. Their design was characterized by an external aluminum frame that ran the entire length of the backpack with an integrated hip belt for improved weight distribution.

The dog backpack became more prominent by the beginning of the 21st century with the same basic idea of using heavy cottons, breathable mesh materials, and sturdy side pockets to allow one's furry friend to carry some of the load while accompanying his owner on any number of adventures.

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Jeff Newburgh
Last updated on April 28, 2018 by Jeff Newburgh

Jeff is a dedicated writer and communications professional from San Francisco with a bachelor of arts in anthropology from UC Berkeley. He began his career in computer consulting and later branched out into customer service. Jeff focuses on making complex topics easy to understand. With over 10 years' experience in research, his relentless curiosity fuels a love of writing and learning how things work, and has helped to build expertise in categories such as heavy-duty power tools and computer equipment. Jeff's passion for animals affords him a strong understanding of pet products, including dog houses, beds, and grain-free foods. When he's not writing, he prefers spending time with his family and three dogs, while kicking back and relaxing with a nice glass of red wine.

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