Updated: July 2018
You are your dog’s first love!
The second thing your dog loves is having a job.
And more than anything, they love working for you.
So what better way to keep your pooch happy than by giving them a job to do on a good old hiking or camping trip?
They’re a working animals, after all. It’s one of the reasons they have evolved alongside us for thousands of years.
There are a bunch of ways you can stimulate your dog’s desire to work for you.
- Mental and physical games.
- And physical challenges.
But you already know this. That’s why you’re here…
You’re looking for the best rated dog backpacks for your next hiking or camping trip.
Here at German Shepherd Corner, I’ve reviewed the best rated dog backpacks on the market. I’ll share with you what to look for. The good and the bad. There’s a handy buyers guide and a comparison table too.
So, by the end of it all, you’ll be able to make the best choice for you and your dog.
Okay, so no more blah, blah! Let’s get to what you need to know…
Use the links below and be magically transported to any section you’re interested in.
Quick Navigation Menu
- Best Rated Dog Backpacks Comparison Table
- Best Rated Dog Backpacks Reviews
- My Recommendation for the Best Rates Dog Backpacks
- My Least Favorite Dog Backpack
- How to Choose the Best Backpack for Dog: Buyers Guide
- About the Manufacturers of the Best Rated Dog Backpacks
Best Rated Dog Backpacks Comparison Table
OneTigris Dog Backpack
Ruffwear Approach Hiking Pack
Outward Hound DayPak
Ruffwear Palisades Hiking Pack
Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack
|See on Amazon||See on Amazon||See on Amazon||See on Amazon||See on Amazon|
|Design||Short Hiking Trips||Full-day Hiking Trips||One Day Hiking Trips||Multi Day Hiking Trips||Full-day Hiking Trip|
|Load Compression System||None||Yes||None||Yes||None|
|Weight||1 lbs 1 oz||Varies by Size||Varies by Size||Varies by Size||Varies by Size|
|Sizes||M and L||XXS to XL||S to L||S to XL||S to L|
|Material||Cotton Canvas||Unspecified Synthetic||Lightweight Nylon||Unspecified Synthetic||Ripstop & Duramax Nylon|
|Color||Brown||4 Colors||2 Colors||Dark Red||2 Colors|
|Removable Saddle Bags||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Extras||None||None||Expandable Pockets||Removable Saddle Bags||None|
|Read My Full Review||OneTigris Full Review||Ruffwear Approach Full Review||Outward Hound DayPak Full Review||Ruffwear Palisades Multi-Day Backpack Full Review||Read My Full Review|
Best Rated Dog Backpacks Reviews
OneTigris Cotton Canvas Dog Backpack
I’m a vintage fan. So I like the look of the OneTigris.
The design has a major flaw though – it only has two straps. One fastens around your dog’s neck, and the other around your dog’s chest.
There is no underlying harness structure to stabilize the bag. And some dog owners complain that the backpack shifts on their dog while walking, running, and jumping.
The straps have ample length that you might have to cut down after fitting your dog.
The OneTigris is a heavy high density cotton canvas. I’m not convinced about it’s breathability compared to other backpacks. And some dog owners have noted that the material can smell when it gets wet.
It’s the only pack reviewed that is not water resistant. You could always spray it with a water resistant coating. But it’s best to carry your electronic equipment in your own pack.
From my research the major durability complaint is shoddy stitching. And a handle that rips off easily. Not exactly safe when you’re hiking or taking long walks.
The OneTigris backpack is only available in one size, for medium to large dogs, up to about 100 pounds. So if you have a petite pooch, you can cross this one of your list of best rated dog backpacks right now.
“You can have any color as long as it’s brown!”
Okay, that’s a spin-off of Henry Ford’s 1909 quote about the Ford T Model.
But this backpack only comes in brown. Brown is great if you and your dog need some camouflage. But in regular circumstances, spotting your dog out in nature is going to be tricky. And it’s got no reflective strips. Another serious drawback. These 2 flaws are absolute deal breakers for. me.
Breathability is important. Especially in hot, humid conditions. This backpack is made from canvas cotton. And if your dog has a double coat like my German Shepherds do, breathability is important. Although the backpack is reasonably breathable, there are packs out there more geared towards breathability.
The lack of a harness structure bothers me when it comes to comfort for your pooch. Some dog owners report shifting during movement. This gives me some serious doubts about the comfort and stability of this bag.
The care instructions are straightforward. Hand wash in cold water and air dry. Although, I suspect some shrinkage on the first wash due to the canvas cotton material.
On the positive side, the straps are long, making fitting easy. Especially for big dogs that this pack is suitable for.
For smaller dogs, the straps can be cut and sealed with a match (to prevent fraying) if they dangle.
The side pockets are generously sized at 9” x 9.6” and each can accommodate about 2 water bottles.
The warranty is a standard 12 months for manufacturing defects.
There are plenty complaints of poor design and shoddy stitching. One pet parent reported the handle ripping clean off while grabbing it to slow their dog down.
Also, being canvas, it’s going to take ages to dry. The last thing you want is your dog hiking with a damp backpack.
The OneTigris is by far one of the best looking backpacks I’ve reviewed. But definitely the weakest. and personally, I would not use it for my dogs.
Ruffwear Approach Full-Day Hiking Pack for Dogs
This backpack is good looking and functional.
This pack is designed weight forward. Meaning the weight load close to your dog’s shoulders. The integrated harness snugly fits your dog, and the strong handle is optimally placed for safe controlled lifting of your dog.
The design of the packs allows for passive weight compression. This means the load is stabilize so there’s no shifting when your dog moves.
Unspecified synthetic lightweight material.
The Ruffwear approach is strong and lightweight. This is essential for hiking and long walking trips. From my research other pooch parents have reported good wear from this pack.
There are 5 sizes available. And the approach can fit dogs petite pooches too – with chests as small as 13 inches. And big dogs with chests up to 42 inches.
Because the sizes are so well thought out, the pouches are proportional to the size of your dog. This means you can’t accidentally pack more than your dog can carry.
Tip: Your dog should not carry more than 25% of their body weight in their pack.
Bright colors and reflective strips are essential for finding your dog out in nature. And I love the fact that this backpack comes in four bright colors with reflective strips.
With a customizable fit, five points of adjustment, and an integrated harness, all-round comfort has been taken care of. The padded straps that adjust to fit snugly, and a well placed handle, gives your dog your dog full range of motion.
Keeping the backpack clean is as simple as a hand wash with mild detergent, and air dry. Because of the synthetic material there’s no risk of the pack becoming smelly like the OneTigris.
The handle is placed toward the rear of the pack, so your dog to stay horizontal while being lifted. This is an important safety feature. And this alone makes it one of the best rated dog backpacks.
I love the integrated harness. This means you’re not lugging along an extra accessory. And since one rule of hiking is to carry as little as possible, I find this a super design.
Ruffwear also offers a warranty against manufacturer’s defects and craftsmanship.
The only thing missing with the Ruffwear Approach is a water proof feature. It is water resistant though.
But that’s not going to protect your phone from a quick swim or when crossing a river or stream.
Although in all honesty, I think that dog should only carry their own food and bowls in their packs. And maybe water, if it’s not too heavy.
There’s very little NOT to love about the Approach dog backpack.
The carry handles are super strong. One owner reports using the handle to lift a 90 pound dog with no problem. And I love the non-slip straps too.
Even distributing of your dog’s weight is a great plus point. And it has ample weight capacity relative to your dog. One pooch was able to carry 4 days of his own food supply on a 4 day hike.
Outward Hound DayPak Dog Backpack
A breathable mesh harness makes this backpack the most comfortable one so far. And it has some other great features!
With an adjustable straps and a mesh harness, this backpack is sure to be comfortable and cool for your dog.
The saddlebag design has 4 pockets with a reasonable amount of space. It also doubles up as a walking harness, featuring a “D” clip to attach your dog’s leash.
The Outward Hound DayPak is made with lightweight nylon material.
This is a lighter weight pack, not meant for extended trips. Some users reported heavy wear with little use.
Although little use is relative. For you it might mean a 20 mile round trip. For me it might mean a 7 mile round trip.
The Outward Hound DayPak comes 3 sizes. Safely fitting dogs from a chest range of 16 inches to 32 inches.
Outward Hound offers their DayPak in 2 vibey colors and essential reflective strips.
The adjustable straps allow for a snug fit and no movement for the pack. The mesh harness will keep your pup nice and cool, even on longer walks in hot weather.
Although there are no specific care instructions, nylon is easy to to keep clean. Either wipe down with a damp cloth or hand wash in cold water and air dry.
This is the most breathable model that I’ve looked at in this review. And I especially love the nylon mesh harness.
It’s cooler for your dog, especially important if you live in a hot climate or your dog has a double coat.
I also like the padding on this backpack. It’s primarily on the sides. So, it keeps the backpack comfortably in place without slipping. But not too much to hinder your dog’s movement.
Again, one downside is the lack of waterproofing. But on the flip side, it’s amazing breathability is a redeeming feature here.
Just don’t pack your phone or GPS unit in it. And if you plan on having your best friend tote his own food, make sure it’s in a sealed waterproof bag or container.
One thing that does put me off is that one dog owner reports that the saddle bags wore through in about three uses. Just from carrying water bottles. But if the bottle sizes are too large for the saddle bags this is bound to happen.
When Outward Hound describes this model as a “day pack,” they mean it.
If you’re most likely to use a dog backpack for short outings or a day trip, this may be the backpack for you.
The saddle bag capacity is not as great as with several other models. And if you are planning on camping, the pack will not carry several days of food, water, bowls and poop bags.
But as a pack for day trips, I think it’s definitely one of the best rated dog backpacks. And one you should consider.
Ruffwear Palisades Multi-Day Pack for Dogs
The Ruffwear Palisades is at the top end of it’s class. And it’s by far the most advanced too.
The Ruffwear Palisades is designed for longer outings than any of the other packs. It’s designed with removable saddle bags. And comes with two collapsible water bottles.
It also features mesh harness. This means added breathability for your dog. And a handy walking harness too.
Ruffwear designs all their backpacks with lightweight synthetic materials. This ensures comfort with a serious understanding of structural support.
The Ruffwear is sturdy to say the least. It should be! Because it’s designed for a multi-day hiking or camping trip.
The Palisades comes in 3 sizes. And will fit dogs with a chest size anywhere from 22 inches to 42 inches. So even if you have a smaller pooch, this backpack will work just fine.
Ruffwear has decided to design the Palisades backpack in only 1 color – Dark Red. And of course it comes with must-have reflective strips.
Designed for maximum comfort and movement. The mesh harness keeps your dog cool. This is especially important as users of this backpack are more likely to have their dogs carry several days worth of food and supplies.
Hand wash with mild detergent, air dry. Water bottles can also be hand washed.
Tip: Store the bottles with their caps off to keep them from going smelly.
The first feature I love are the hydration bottles included. This is a great space saving feature because there’s space designed especially for them.
I’m also really impressed with the removable saddlebags. This is great if your dog needs a break from carrying their hiking gear and more control at water crossings.
Load compression ensures the most comfort and movement. And the 4 attachment points means even weight distribution and security.
Here again, the Palisade is water resistant rather than waterproof. But in my opinion this is not a drawback. Because breathability is more important than waterproofing.
Also the clips for removing the saddle bags are a little on the small side and can be tricky to unclasp. But with a lightweight design in mind this shouldn’t matter in the greater scheme of things.
The Palisade is in a category of it’s own and by far one of the best rated dog backpacks.
It’s a little on the pricey side but considering it’s design, features and functionality it’s worth it.
So if you and your pooch are planning a multi-day hiking or camping trip, I recommend that the Ruffwear Palisades backpack be at the top of your list.
Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack
In a nutshell, this is a great dog backpack at a very reasonable price tag.
The company worked hand-in-hand with a sled dog vet to design a dog backpack that tapers at the torso.
Meaning this pack is ergonomically suited for your dog’s body.
The more adjustment points you have on a backpack, the more comfortable the fit. This is one of the reasons I think this K-9 Dog Pack from Mountainsmith is worth a look.
The chest harness of this pack is adjustable in 4 places. It also has an adjustable back harness for more fitting options.
And there is also a single adjustable belly strap which is a game changer if you’ve been struggling to find a pack that fits.
The side pannier bags are some of the roomiest on the market today. So those lightweight, bulky items like throws or towels are easy to store and carry.
There’s also a metal D ring for a leash and a helper handle. Both which are standard with most quality dog backpacks.
Since Mountainsmith has been around for almost 40 years, they know a thing or two about materials fit for the outdoors!
This dog backpack is crafted from 420D Duramax™ Nylon.
This type of nylon has outstanding strength capabilities and does well in the outdoors.
Also, from my own research, I’ve found that other pooch parents are very pleased with the performance of the backpack on hikes ranging from a few hours to a day.
Here are some helpful stats about sizes and capacity…
The large pack is 15.5 x 11 x 11 inches and can hold up to 32 litres. The medium pack is 13 x 11 9 inches and holds 24 litres. While the small pack is 10 x 7.75 x 8.25 inches and holds 14 litres.
Although there are only 2 pannier bags, one on each side, there’s a lot of space for storage.
When picking a size the manufacturer recommends erring on the smaller side.
But their sizing guide which you can find on the product page also has a handy fitting guide.
Although, you can check out this short video that’ll show you exactly how to measure your dog for the perfect fit.
This pack has great visibility and comes in two bright colors – blue and red.
And it also has 3M™ reflective trim on the sides, front and rear panels.
Like I mentioned before, there is a ton of room for adjustments on this backpack. This gives you control over even the slightest adjustments and ultimately comfort for your best friend.
Also, the placement of the buckles makes this pack easy to put on and take off.
Speaking of buckles…
They have padding too, which makes rubbing and chaffing less likely.
As long as they are secured correctly and the pannier bags are balanced, there should be no shifting while your dog is moving.
A damp cloth and mild detergent will keep this pack looking and smelling fresh.
One of the main features I like about this pack is the roominess of the pannier bags.
I also like the variety of adjustment points which make it super easy to get the perfect fit for your pooch.
And if you consider the quality of this backpack the price is more than reasonable.
Of course, nothing is perfect. Some folks complained of buckles snapping. Which is a problem, especially when you’re out in the wild.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if this was due to the pack being overloaded or not adjusted properly.
But thankfully Mountainsmith has great customer service. And you can get in touch with them if you have any issues.
There’s a lot ot like about this dog backpack from Mountainsmith. I like the fact that the latches have padding, making it super comfortable.
The ergonomic design of this bag is a major feature which I like. And as long as the bags as packed in a balanced way your dog shouldn’t experience any shifting.
When it comes to price and quality, this dog backpack is up there with the best. So I highly recommend keeping it on a short list.
My Recommendation for the Best Rates Dog Backpacks
2 picks 3 picks for the best rated dog backpacks.
From my research they hold up well under everyday use, light exercise and moderate hiking.
I love the Ruffwear Approach’s weight forward design which provides excellent, even distribution. And the integrated load compression system protects the muscular and skeletal structure of your dog.
And the ‘helper hand’ is placed at the lower end of your dog’s rib cage. This ensures maximum comfort when lifting. Which is important, especially for bigger dogs.
And it comes in 5 sizes catering for most dogs. I mean why should your petite pooch not enjoy the fun and challenges of a hiking trail?
The vibrant colors with reflective trim is another plus. Looking good and being safe is cool, even for your dog.
The Outward Hound DayPak is the lightest of all the backpacks I reviewed. The golden rule for hiking is the lighter the better. So the Outward Hound backpack takes first prize here.
The adjustable mesh harness is a great feature. Making it a particularly good choice if you take your dog on challenging hikes.
And yes, bright colors and high visibility reflective trim is a must. And the Outward Hound backpack offers both.
The Ruffwear Palisades has some awesome features. So it gets a special mention here.
The detachable saddlebags are a good feature for really rough terrain (or to give your dog a break).
The mesh liner will help keep your pooch cool under strenuous conditions.
And the compression system is really important to keep the pack stable. But I only recommend it if you and your pooch are serious multi-day hikers. Or you’re planning longer hikes.
I’ve included the Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack in my favorite picks.
Considering its design and quality, it’s great value for money. It’s got all the nice-to-haves of a more expensive pack without breaking the bank.
I love the roominess of the pannier bags and the level of comfort it gives your dog is definitely a major plus for this dog backpack.
Although, I don’t think it’s a pack that will do well for a multi-day hike, it’s most certainly one to consider for shorter hikes and day trips.
My Least Favorite Dog Backpack
The OneTigris Cotton Canvas Dog Pack is far and away the best looking dog backpack that I have seen.
It is also the only pack of this group that I would not recommend.
The deciding factors are the lack of a harness integrated into the design. And only 2 straps for fitting.
I think this makes a less stable pack and the most likely to injure your dog. Or at the very least, be annoying when it comes to movement.
Other features that are a drawback are the color, lack of reflective materials. It’s almost like camo for your dog, which is not a great idea when you’re out in the wilderness.
It’s one-size-fits-some is also a drawback, especially if you have a very small or a very large dog.
How to Choose the Best Backpack for Dog: Buyers Guide
The design of the backpack is the most important aspect of whatever you buy. A saddlebag design is what you’re looking for.
And one that rides close to your dog’s shoulders. This evenly distributes the weight in the backpack.
An integrated load compression system offered by the Ruffwear range is something to consider. Especially for long hikes or strenuous climbing.
That’s when your dog’s body is under it’s most strain so protecting them from injury is essential. You do not want to put weight on your dog’s lower back, past the rear of their rib cage, because this will bend their spine.
Dog backpacks are usually made of high density cotton canvas, nylon or polyester. Going for something breathable is the best move for your dog.
And the synthetic materials are easier to wash and dry much quicker. So in my opinion, I’d avoid cotton canvas which takes longer to dry. And cotton canvas holds water making it heavier when wet. This will cause a lot of strain on your dog’s body.
Sturdy clasps are must. For safety, comfort and to prevent injury. And, if a clasp breaks while out on a hike, guess who will be carrying the dog’s pack? You!
High definition reflective strips and bright colors make sense when you’re out in nature. The brighter the pack, the easier it’ll be to spot your pooch among trees, shrubs, rocks and tall grass.
Make sure that the stitching is good and that the fabric is strong enough to last. Also attachments should be either metal or solid plastic.
Most of the best rated dog backpacks have a “D” ring (some have a “V” ring) to attach your dog’s leash. It should be a good, strong steel ring – you don’t want this crucial part to break.
A well-known manufacturer will give you a high quality backpack. You’re spending hard earned green backs so you want something that’ll last.
And more importantly, the safety of your best friend is at stake! The last thingyou want is to injure your dog.
Any of the best rated dog backpacks will come with instructions on how to measure your dog properly.
I recommend that your dog should not carry more than 25% of their body weight in their bacpack.
Most of the backpacks come in either 3 or 5 different sizes. The manufacturer will give you the best advice on how to size if your pooch is on the cusp of 2 sizes.
All manufacturers in this review have toll free numbers or email addresses if you need more advice.
Comfort is as important as design. All the parts of the pack that come in contact with your dog’s body are properly padded.
This includes the chest straps and the underside of the backpack. The straps should sit nice and snug.
If the backpack shifts while your dog is wearing it, they could chafe. And you definitely don’t want a chafed pup!
Usually hand wash, air dry. Again, make sure that you understand the care instructions so that you don’t destroy your investment the first time it gets dirty!
I always check out the warranty on any products that I buy. If the warranty is good, chances are that the product is as well.
About the Manufacturers of the Best Rated Dog Backpacks
OneTigris is not a pet supply company. They are a manufacturer of outdoor gear, primarily for humans. Although, some of their products are made for canines.
From the OneTigris Website: “Our only motivation is to provide our customers with quality gear at fair prices and continue to design and manufacture cutting edge products that you can trust for your outdoor equipment needs.”
In addition to dog backpacks, harnesses, and training leashes, OneTigris also manufactures backpacks for people, gear kits, camping gear, and pouches to carry specialized outdoor gear.
Ruffwear’s mission is to “build dog gear to enhance and inspire exploration for outdoor adventurers and their human companions.”
With this mission in mind, Ruffwear strives to produce items that allow us to bring our dogs on all sorts of outdoor adventures providing a level of safety and comfort.
Their products are designed and rigorously tested by dog lovers, and their feedback on the products is instrumental in making product improvements.
Ruffwear is also committed to animal welfare and to protecting open lands and waterways. They’ve partnered with the Best Friends Animal Society which runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals.
And The Conservation Alliance too. It’s a group of outdoor businesses who work together to protect wild places throughout North America.
The consortium members pay annual dues, 100% of which go to organizations working to protect wild forests, rivers, deserts, mountains and other fragile landscapes.
About Outward Hound
Outward Hound was founded to improve the lives of pet parents with meaningful innovations. Outward hound designs their products to make life with your dog happier, healthier, and more fun.
Their products are designed to contribute to a healthy life for your pet and to be durable. Outward Hound’s product lines include backpacks and hiking gear, life jackets, auto harnesses and seat protectors, bowls and toys.
Outward Hound also shares in the culture of giving back by partnering with Colorado animal shelters and Freedom Service Dogs, a not for profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by rescuing shelter dogs and training them to cater to their new human’s needs.