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The Best Dog Hiking Backpacks

Nothing is better than hitting the trails and enjoying nature with man’s best friend. A day in the fresh air and sunshine requires the right gear to hold snacks, water, sunscreen, and most importantly—enough dog treats to keep furry hikers energized and ready to see what’s just over the next hill.

Related: Best dog hiking gear

There are plenty of dog hiking backpacks to choose from that hold everything that four-legged and two-legged hikers need for their next big trek through the great outdoors. But first, some background on how to choose a backpack and ensure a safe, comfortable hike for humans and canines alike.

What to consider when looking for a dog hiking backpack

Since dogs come in a wide range of shapes, weights, and sizes, their backpacks should too. Look for a backpack with adjustable leg and head openings to protect circulation but stay snug enough that the pack isn’t slipping around and causing skin irritation.

A good dog hiking pack should also be breathable and weather-resistant to allow airflow on hot days and to protect the dog from the elements when unexpected storms roll in. On a pragmatic note, choose a pack with plenty of pockets of different sizes for easy access to supplies without removing the whole pack to look for one thing.

How much can a dog carry in a backpack?

In general, dogs that are healthy enough to hike are healthy enough to help carry supplies. Most dogs can carry up to 25% of their body weight. Smaller dogs may only be able to carry 10-15% of their body weight comfortably.

As dogs get older, stiff joints and lower energy levels impact how much they can tote in their backpack. Consult a veterinarian to discuss how much weight is safe and what signs to look for when a dog’s pack becomes too heavy for them to manage.

How far can dogs hike in a day?

The answer depends largely on the size and breed of the dog. Some breeds are considered “active hikers†and can easily tackle a hike of 15 or 20 miles. Others are not natural hikers and will only be able to manage ten miles or less per hike.

Again, it’s a good idea to consult a veterinarian about the overall health condition, age, and physical limitations of each dog before taking them on a long-distance hike.

With any breed, increase the distance over time to allow the dog to adjust to both the hike and backpack gradually. If a dog starts panting excessively or seems especially fatigued, take a water break and rest in the shade to prevent heat exhaustion or injury.

Now that the basics of hiking with a dog are covered, it’s time to talk dog hiking packs. Here are six of the best packs for canine hikers.

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Outward Hound Kyjen Dog Backpack

This backpack from Kyjen is made from sturdy, heavyweight nylon and reflective material to ensure a safe hike and high visibility, no matter the time of day. It comes in two sizes to fit both small and medium breeds with a custom, comfortable fit.

Dog owners love the spacious saddlebag compartments, strong zippers, and plentiful mesh pockets. An elastic water bottle holder makes it easy to stay hydrated, and the adjustable harness slides easily to create the perfect fit.

Some users caution that the pack isn’t made to carry more than a few pounds on each side, or the harness can slip. Others report that the pack runs on the small side and may not be suitable for some dogs that fall in the “medium†size category.

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RUFFWEAR Palisades Dog Backpack and Harness for Hiking and Camping

This full-featured dog hiking pack from RUFFWEAR has everything a hiker needs. With removable saddlebags, a unique load compression system, and two water bottles (that collapse for easy storage), it’s the perfect pack for a multi-day hike or camping trip.

The modified harness makes sure the weight is distributed evenly to protect the dog’s balance and back. Reviewers love the padded handle to help their pups over obstacles, and the numerous pockets to stash snacks and gear.

Users report that the clips on the harness can come unclipped, allowing the pack to slip off of the dog. Others advise frequent breaks to check the fit of the harness and pack to avoid chafing of the dog’s skin.

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Smartelf Dog Backpack Hiking Gear 2-in-1 Detachable Saddle Bag

With detachable saddlebags that turn this pack into a vest, dogs can move easily from a hike to the dog park or for work as a service dog. Its heavy-duty mesh fabric breathes to keep dogs comfortable, no matter the weather.

This backpack from smartelf is designed for medium to large breed dogs. It has plenty of pockets to stash gear, as well as collapsible water bowls to keep furry friends well hydrated on long hikes. Several users have experienced issues with the straps breaking and slipping and recommend contacting the seller for a replacement if needed.

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OneTigris Dog Backpack

Made from stylish cotton canvas, the OneTigris pack is a multifunction backpack for trail walks, camping, hiking, and even everyday trips to the park. It has two zippered compartments with semi-open pockets to keep treats, snacks, and waste bags within reach.

The harness is adjustable and designed to fit medium to large breed dogs. While users love the sturdy canvas and excellent load balancing for dogs, there have also been complaints of the straps breaking when dogs get too excited and pull too hard on their leash.

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GrayCell Dog Hiking Backpack

With a variety of colors and decorative patches to choose from, owners can customize the GrayCell pack to suit their dog’s unique personality. The pack features wide reflective strips to keep dogs safe on nighttime hikes. With a strong D-leash attachment and sturdy, Oxford cloth construction, the pack is meant to last through plenty of adventures.

While users love the design and well-crafted zippers and pockets, many caution that the harness runs small and may not be suitable for breeds that weigh over thirty pounds.

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Kurgo Dog Saddlebag Backpack

Last, but not least on the list is the Kurgo backpack. Dog owners love its lightweight construction and breathability, as well as its ample saddlebag space and various pockets. It comes in two sizes to comfortably fit dogs from 30 to 110 pounds. Thanks to its reflective trim, it’s perfect for both nighttime and daytime hikes.

While users love the simple design and lifetime warranty, they also wish that the harness was easier to adjust for a customized fit for each dog.

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