Jul 28, 2023
Best Dog Backpacks 2023
Nothing beats a day in the backcountry with your four-legged best friend, but if you’re tasked with schlepping all their gear (like a leash, food and even their favorite toy) for an untold number of
Nothing beats a day in the backcountry with your four-legged best friend, but if you’re tasked with schlepping all their gear (like a leash, food and even their favorite toy) for an untold number of miles, then it’s time you took advantage of the best dog backpacks. Styled like a saddlebag, a dog backpack lightens the load on your back and gives your pup a job to do that, according to the American Kennel Club, keeps them engaged and active—something many sporty breeds appreciate. But where to begin?
Going on an outdoor adventure is easier when everybody carries their own equipment—dogs included.
There are oodles of dog backpacks on the market designed to offer lightweight, durable, comfortable storage, though some are better than others. Luckily for you, we tested a number of options in search of the very best dog backpacks on the market to help you find the right one for you dog.
The Ruffwear Approach backpack was obviously designed with active dogs in mind—its functional design allows for maximum freedom of movement, and the saddlebags are just big enough for carrying treats, collapsible water bowls and other gear for a day hike (or possibly an overnight).
It features five points of adjustment and padded chest and belly panels to ensure a secure and comfortable fit for different sizes, shapes and breeds, which means it can be worn comfortably for extended periods without chafing or discomfort.
Considering it's designed with durable nylon and aluminum hardware, it should last for countless adventures. We appreciate the leash attachment point on the back, which delivers a better point of control than a collar, and the handle, which you can use to help lift your pup should they need a boost. It’s also equipped with reflective trim, ensuring your pup is visible to others, even in low-light conditions.
For those who aren't sure if their dog will enjoy hiking with a backpack and just want something simple and affordable, the OneTigris Dog Pack is a solid choice. It's made with durable, lightweight cotton canvas, two large compartments with semi-open pockets, two adjustable straps (one for the neck and one for the belly), a grab handle for mobility assistance and control and a single leash attachment point on the back.
It comes in four colors: black, brown, green and gray. It's worth noting that this bag only comes in medium and large, so double-check your dog’s measurements before setting them up with this pack.
This versatile backpack features two saddlebags, each with two pockets, allowing your dog to carry essentials like water, snacks and even their favorite toy. There's also a handy leash attachment point on the back, so you can easily maintain control when necessary, and a built-in doggy bag dispenser.
Constructed from rugged materials like water-resistant cotton/poly blend fabric and heavy-duty buckles, this backpack is designed to withstand the wear and tear of the great outdoors. Whether your dog trots through the woods, climbs over rocks or splashes through streams, this pack should hold up under pressure. Plus, the backpack's design doesn't hinder your dog's movements, allowing them to maintain their natural gait while exploring.
Typically, if you're going on a backpacking trip, you’ll have more gear than you might bring on, say, a day hike, which means if your four-legged companion is going to carry their own weight, they probably need a backpack with deeper pockets, like the Palisades pack from Ruffwear.
This backpack is engineered with padded, adjustable straps that are designed to distribute weight evenly across your dog's body so that they can still move freely, and an internal cross-load compression system helps stabilize the pack and contents to minimize bounce. It comes with two spacious compartments for essentials such as food, water, a first aid kit or waste bags.
Unlike other backpacks, the saddlebags on the Palisades pack are removable, allowing your dog to take breaks without having to remove the entire pack. It's also helpful if you're crossing challenging terrain that requires extra agility. The pack comes with two one-liter collapsible hydration bladders.
Yes, the most critical factors for buying a dog backpack are fit and functionality. But that doesn't mean you have to forgo style. Luckily, the Wolf Republic Ranger Pack serves up the trifecta your dog needs.
The adjustable straps and ergonomic design mean that weight is evenly distributed across your dog's back and shoulders. The four compartments help with organizing gear, and the cotton canvas outer layer, a nylon lining and a breathable mesh harness make it durable enough for everything from quick day hikes to overnights in the backcountry (though, notably, the saddlebags and straps don't have any padding, which might be a dealbreaker for some). And on the style front, genuine leather trim and a retro design help your dog stand out on the trail.
If you're primarily looking for a harness but would like the ability to carry some small essentials, like poop bags and treats, Ruffwear's Switchback Dog Harness is a good bet.
There are two leash attachment points on this harness: one aluminum V-ring on the back, which offers stability and control while walking or hiking; and a reinforced webbing loop on the chest, which is excellent for training as it discourages pulling and makes it easier to redirect your dog's attention.
Its chest and belly panels are padded to help distribute pressure evenly, and there are five adjustment points to customize the fit (helpful for dogs with irregular body proportions, like a Great Dane or a Newfoundland).
We called upon our own outdoor-loving dogs to help us independently test a number of packs on this list. And because we can only gain so much information from our dogs, we also pored over online reviews and weighed these against expert insights when selecting the best dog backpacks for your furry friend's outdoor adventures.
Each backpack included in this round-up is one we own ourselves, borrowed from friends and family or tested in collaboartion with the manufacturer. When testing each backpack, we weighed important specs and features, including size, comfort, storage space, durability, adjustability and even style. The bags found here represent the best of the best, and each one is worthy of wear for miles to come.
From size to storage space, no two dog backpacks are alike. For that reason, you’ll want to consider these variables that will help you pair your pup with the perfect pack.
A backpack that fits your dog's size and weight will make for a better on-trail experience. Measure your dog's length, girth and height to find a suitable pack, and check the weight capacity of the backpack. It should comfortably support your dog's weight without causing strain on your shoulders and back.
Look for packs with padded straps and a padded back panel to distribute weight evenly and deliver comfort during longer hikes. Adjustable straps allow you to customize the fit to your dog.
An active, energetic dog can overheat in a poorly ventilated pack, which is why you should opt for a backpack with breathable mesh panels that prevent overheating and allow proper airflow. This is particularly important in warmer climates.
A backpack made from durable materials will withstand outdoor activities and your dog's movements. Reinforced stitching and sturdy zippers are signs of a well-constructed backpack that’s fit for adventure.
Consider how easy it is to clean the pack, especially if your dog rolls in every mud puddle they see. Removable and machine-washable liners are convenient for keeping the backpack fresh, especially if your dog wears it over and over again.Best Dog Backpack Overall:Best Budget Dog Backpack:Best Dog Backpack For Hiking:Best Dog Backpack For Backpacking:Best Dog Backpack For Style:Best Dog Backpack-Harness Hybrid: