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Pack Up, Pup! A Guide to Choosing and Using Dog Backpacks for Hiking

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Hello, Adventurous Pup Parents! The other day we wrote about dog boots for hiking which got us thinking about the other piece of hiking gear our dog sometimes wears. Believe it or not our best boy has his very own hiking pack which he happily tolerates because it means we are going hiking. We were skeptical at first but he doesn’t seem to mind it at all.

We think a lot of the reason for that is because we did a lot of research which we are going to share with you here. Everything from listing the benefits to how to choose the right pack, to weight limits, and training info. As we usually do we went a bit overboard reading about dog packs which is a good thing for you. Let’s jump in.

TL;DR What we use

As we said, we did too much research and talked to several of our friends and the consensus led us to pick the Ruffwear pack below. We really liked how sturdy the harness is, how the packs fit close to the body, and how lightweight it is. We also sometimes hike in areas where there hunting is legal so the bright orange was very important to us. They do have other colors available if day-glo orange isn’t your thing.

product image from Amazon

Ruffwear, Approach Dog Backpack, Lightweight Pack for Hiking and Camping Features an integrated harness with 5 points of adjustment for just the right fit; A padded handle and supportive straps allow for controlled and comfortable lifting over tough terrain

Why Use a Dog Backpack?

When you first consider a backpack for your dog, it might seem like just an extra piece of gear. But the truth is, it can significantly enhance your hiking adventures together. Here’s why:

Choosing the Right Backpack

Selecting the right backpack for your dog is crucial for ensuring their comfort and safety during hikes. Here’s what to consider when shopping for the perfect pack:

Fit and Comfort

Material and Durability

Safety Features

Practicality and Storage

Training Your Dog to Wear a Backpack

Introducing your dog to a backpack requires patience and the right approach to ensure they’re comfortable and happy carrying their new gear. Start by letting your dog get familiar with the backpack at home, where they can inspect and sniff it in a stress-free environment. Gradually add weight, beginning with light items and increasing only when your dog seems ready. Remember, the goal is to make the experience positive and rewarding.

We aren’t dog trainers so we are going to include a video that helped us out.

Training Tip Tuesday - Out & About with Your Dog - Dog backpacks by Sante Fe Animal Shelter

Before You Go …

Now you have all the information you need to pick out the perfect dog backpack. We hope that you do anyhow. Before you take off we would like to recommend checking out our short guide on hiking with your dog. It covers everything you might ever need to know to make every hike magical with your best buddy. Ok, maybe it’s not that good but we think you will find it helpful.

In Conclusion

Equipping your furry friend with a backpack for your hiking adventures isn’t just about sharing the load; it’s about enhancing the entire experience for both of you. From improving fitness and mental stimulation to ensuring safety and convenience, a dog backpack can transform your hikes into more fulfilling excursions. Remember, choosing the right backpack is crucial—it should fit well, be made of durable materials, and include safety features that protect your pup in various environments.

As you start this journey, take the time to train your dog gradually and positively, ensuring they are comfortable and confident with their new gear. We’ve seen firsthand how Drax has embraced his role on our hikes, and we’re excited for you to share similar experiences. Whether you’re tackling a rugged trail or a gentle hill, a dog backpack can make your adventures together even more rewarding.

We’d love to hear about your experiences! Have you tried a dog backpack with your pup? What tips can you share? Find us on social media and share, we’re always eager to learn more from our community of adventurous pet owners. Happy hiking!

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By Summer and Bill

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Summer and Bill are the dynamic duo behind, a blog dedicated to inspiring others to explore the great outdoors. With a combined lifetime of experience traveling and adventuring across America, they have a wealth of knowledge to share. From hiking to camping, kayaking to travel, Summer and Bill are passionate about helping others discover the beauty of the natural world.

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