The bests dog backpack depends on your dog! Whether you’re planning multi-day camping adventures, day hikes, or walks around town with your pup, a dog backpack is a great addition to almost any dog’s gear. But with all of the options out there, which dog backpack is best for your travel buddy?

Cool Whip and Hercules worked hard testing six dog backpacks to give you a real-life view of the most popular dog backpacks on the market. After adjusting harnesses, filling saddlebags, readjusting harnesses, chasing Cool Whip around to finish clipping her in, zipping and unzipping saddlebags, we hope our feedback helps you!

Dog wearing a red backpack sitting on a hill with mountains in the background

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Start with Measurements

You’ll need to start by measuring your dog. And, because pictures can be deceiving, it may help you to know how Cool Whip and Herc’s measure up:

  • Cool Whip: 70 pounds, 23 inches at the shoulder, 30 inch chest circumference, 19 inch neck circumference
  • Hercules: 70 pounds, 20 inches at the shoulder, 29 inch chest circumference, 19 inch neck circumference
  • Open saddlebags contain a 1-quart bag of kibble

Choosing the Best Dog Backpack

Alcott – Adventure Backpack ($34)

Alcott’s Adventure Backpack is like the ever-so-perfect messenger bag you use for work, which also functions as a fantastic carry-on to fit underneath the plane seat. This pack can carry your dog’s essentials for the day without getting too bulky. Plus, it sneaks in a few extra perks.

The Good Stuff: Four harness buckles on this pack make it easy get on your dog. Cool Whip does not like gear going over her head, so this was the ideal setup: two clips at the neck, one under the chest, and one at the side. She didn’t even have to lift a paw for the lower chest strap!

Two of the four pockets also have bonus features. One large pocket is insulated to keep your dog’s water (or your beverage!) cool. And one small pocket has a metal grommet that makes an easy-access waste bag dispenser.

Room for Improvement:  This backpack does not have an attachment for leashes and is not meant to be used as a harness. You’ll need need to attach your dog’s leash to her collar.

Bay Dog – Saranac Pack ($76)

The Bay Dog Saranac Pack is a fantastic piece of gear for any type of adventure with your dog. It even stood up to Herc’s rambunctious hiking style – which means it survived the rough rocks and prickly plants of the desert without so much as a snag. Plus, with four buckles on the harness, it is one of the easiest packs to put on and take off.

Hercules the pitbull dogs posing in a Bay Dog backpack with mountains in the background

The Good Stuff: The saddlebags have all of my favorite features! I was tickled to find removable, well-sized, outer zipper pockets, internal zipper pockets, internal mesh pockets, outer loops to attach gear, a poop bag dispenser, and a neon fabric interior that made it easy to find things inside. Additionally, the wide, padded chest and belly panel wrapped perfectly around Herc’s underside. It’s comfortable and protective – especially if you have a dog who likes to run through the brush.

Room for Improvement: The elastic cords on the outer side of each saddlebag caught on branches during our adventure and are a potential nuisance. Also, the adjustment straps to position the saddlebags closer to the shoulders tend to slide and needed to be readjusted.

Hercules the pitbull dogs posing in a Bay Dog backpack with mountains in the background

Inside pockets of the Bay Dog Saranac dog backpack


EzyDog – Summit Backpack ($75)

The EzyDog Summit Backpack is thoughtfully designed and well constructed. It has two thoughtfully positioned leash connection points, a mesh top for great air flow, and a wide chest pad for comfort and control. The Summit is also customizable with a velcro patch on each saddlebag. EzyDog offers options such as “Adopt Me,” “Diva,” and “Deaf Dog.”

The Good Stuff: The saddlebags are the top feature here. The entire lid of each bag opens up to the outside of the pack, making it effortless to get gear in and out. This also makes it easy to see inside each bag. No more aimlessly fumbling around hoping to magically pull out the correct item, and one less opportunity for your dog to give you the stink eye for slowing things down!

Room for Improvement: Each bag has only one pocket; a second, smaller pocket would be convenient for organization. The second zipper at the top of each bag is a nice thought for a quick grab, but it’s a tad small to be able to efficiently retrieve items.

Hurtta – Trail Pack ($90)

Planning a multi-day adventure with your big pup? Trying to minimize the amount of extra gear your dog is collecting? This is the backpack for you! Hurtta’s Trail Pack sports the largest saddlebags of the group. Plus, they’re removable so you can go from backpack to harness in a few quick snaps. And, since you don’t have to pack a separate harness, you’ll have more room for snacks!

The Good Stuff: The removable bags are an obvious positive, but the harness itself deserves a shout out as well. The flexible material conforms perfectly to your dog without any stiff or thick areas causing discomfort. The mesh sides help with air flow and the wide chest pad wraps smoothly down the front of your dog.

Room for Improvement: The saddlebags may be oversized for some dogs. Size medium fit both Cool Whip and Hercules, but the saddlebags were a bit too bulky for Hercules with his shorter, more compact build. It would be nice to have a built-in zipper to reduce/expand the capacity of these bags.


Kurgo – Baxter Dog Backpack ($50)

Kurgo’s Baxter Dog Backpack is a pleasantly compact adventure system. This pack has multiple fit adjustments, not only for the harness but also for the saddlebags. You can move the bags higher or lower according to the build of your dog, which is a feature unique to this pack.

The Good Stuff: The little details are well thought out, with easy-to-grab zipper pulls, two conveniently sized pockets, and a bottle opener on the front chest pad. And the saddlebags are the perfect size for a day hike. There’s a lot here to love!

Room for Improvement: The saddle of the harness is pretty stiff, which provides opportunity for discomfort. It may not form to the shape of your dog as easily as the other options. Additionally, short hair quickly collects in the mesh underside.

Ruffwear – Approach Pack ($80)

You’ll never have to question what this pack can handle! Ruffwear’s Approach Pack is very well constructed and durable. If your dog barrels through the wilderness with little regard for the nice accessories you provide, this pack is for you! Hercules pays no attention to what he’s hustling past, so his gear gets a solid thrashing from rocks, trees, and cacti. This pack took it all and still looked nice when we got home.

The Good Stuff: The saddlebags are sized and shaped to accommodate enough gear for overnight, without being too excessive for a day hike. And the gear loops at the top of each bag are a nice addition for tying on lightweight items, like your dog’s sleeping pad.

Room for Improvement: The material is not breathable and the underside collects short hair quickly. The dimensions of this pack did not work for Cool Whip’s girlish figure and there was chafing at her “underarms” no matter how the straps were adjusted.

Wolf Republic – Ranger Pack ($92)

We’re giving a 10/10 for style on this one! But the canvas and leather of Wolf Republic’s Ranger Pack isn’t just for looks—it’s also durable enough to withstand any adventure. Each saddlebag has two zippered pockets covered by a top flap that secures with a magnetic button. Both the zippers and the magnetic buttons are easily maneuverable with one hand yet strong enough to withstand the abuse of a dog like Herc who barrels down the trail assuming the jagged boulders and thorny branches will just move out of his way.

Dog wearing a green dog backpack and a yellow bandana

The Good Stuff: Great size and shape of the saddlebags. Big enough to fit a few items for an overnight without feeling oversized for a day hike. Versatility is key! Also, one side has a pop bag dispenser, which has become an unexpectedly favorite feature on several packs.

Room for Improvement: We had a little trouble getting the belly straps to stay tightened in an optimal spot, especially the back one so that it stayed out of Herc’s line of pee.

View from above of dog wearing a dog backpack with the compartments open
Dog wearing a green dog backpack and a yellow bandana

Comparing Dog Backpacks

Overall, you can’t go wrong with any of these backpacks, as long as they fit your dog appropriately. Instead, consider which features matter most to you.

Will you be taking long walks in the city?  Do you want easy access saddlebags? Will you be backpacking for several nights? Do you need a compact day hiker? Does it have to withstand a lot wear and tear?

There is something out there for everyone … even a princess like Cool Whip!

Spreadsheet comparing dog backpacks

Do you have a dog backpack you’d recommend that wasn’t mentioned above? Let’s us know in the comments!

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  • Category: Travel Gear / Tagged with: Hiking, Reviews