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The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024

Get your furry friend ready to hit the trail with the best dog backpacks. From big gear haulers to sleek saddlebags, there's something for every pup.

The Best Dog Backpacks of 2023
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It’s hard to beat the fun of adventuring with your four-legged friend. But the extra gear requirements can add up. This is where a good dog backpack comes into play. Backpacks for dogs are more than cute accessories — they allow your pooch to haul necessities like food and water.

From dog saddlebags to dog backpack harnesses, there is a plethora of dog hiking gear out there for people who like to hike with dogs. We looked through the options to find the best dog backpacks on the market and came up with the following list. Our lead tester Meghan LaHatte put these packs through the wringer with the help of her pup, Opa. The pair frolicked through miles of Colorado backcountry, carefully assessing the comfort functionality, and durability of numerous dog pack styles.

At the end of our list of recommendations, we also put together some tips for finding the right fit and how to pack it for your furry friend. Scroll through to see all of our favorite dog backpacks. And if you’re new to dog packs, take a look at our in-depth comparison chart and helpful FAQ sections.

Editor’s Note: We updated our Dog Backpack guide on March 27, 2024, by adding the Ruffwear Front Range Day Pack to our stellar lineup. We also ensured our product list was up-to-date with current models, colors, and designs.

The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024

Best Overall Dog Backpack

Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack


  • Volume 6 L, 12.5 L, 14.5 L, 24 L
  • Weight 12.8 oz., 1 lb. 1 oz., 1 lb. 2 oz., 1 lb. 5 oz.
  • Chest girth 17" – 42"
  • Number of pockets Four
Product Badge The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024


  • Roomy
  • Reflective trim
  • Easily adjustable
  • Small top pockets for easy access


  • Minimal padding on the chest strap
Best Budget Dog Pack

OneTigris Hoppy Camper Dog Pack 2.0


  • Volume Unavailable
  • Weight 1 lb., 1 lb. 5 oz.
  • Chest girth 25" – 36"
  • Number of pockets Four
The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024


  • Front and rear leash attachment options
  • Secure fit
  • Cotton canvas material


  • Handle not designed for carrying a dog
  • No reflective material
Runner-Up Best Dog Pack

Ruffwear Front Range Day Pack


  • Volume 4.5 L, 8 L, 10.5 L, 18.5 L
  • Weight 11.2 oz., 15.2 oz., 1 lb. 0.8 oz.,1 lb. 5.6 oz.
  • Chest girth 17"-42”
  • Number of pockets 2
The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024


  • Easy fit with 5 points of adjustment
  • Three leash attachment points
  • Plenty of room for necessary supplies


  • Limited color schemes in new design
  • A bit large for a day pack
Best Ultralight Dog Pack

Ultimate Direction Dog Vest


  • Volume 5.8 L, 8.6 L, 10.3 L
  • Weight 11 oz.
  • Chest girth 22" – 42"
  • Number of pockets Four
The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024


  • Lightweight
  • Bowl included
  • Can hold up to 2 L of water


  • No padding on straps
Best Tactical Dog Pack

OneTigris Mammoth Dog Backpack


  • Volume 6 L
  • Weight S: 14.6 oz. / L: 16 oz.
  • Chest girth 20” – 36”
  • Number of pockets 2 interior and 2 exterior bungee pockets
The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024


  • Durable material
  • Large straps and buckles are easy to maneuver
  • Decent capacity with outer bungee pockets and velcro attachments


  • Exterior bungees can get caught on branches or fences
  • Design may be too cumbersome for smaller dogs
Best of the Rest

Kurgo Baxter Pack


  • Volume 3.75 L, 7.5 L
  • Weight 14 oz., 1 lb. 4 oz.
  • Chest girth 27" – 40"
  • Number of pockets Two
The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024


  • Padded spine
  • Roomy saddlebags


  • Not waterproof
  • Straps need extra cinching for narrow-chested dogs

Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack


  • Volume 7 L, 12 L, 16 L
  • Weight 15 oz., 1 lb., 1 lb. 3 oz.
  • Chest girth fit 20" – 40"
  • Number of pockets Two
The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024


  • Tons of pack space
  • Padded sternum
  • Lots of adjustments


  • Water-resistant, not waterproof

Outward Hound Day Pack Dog Backpack


  • Volume Not listed
  • Weight 10.8 oz.
  • Chest girth 21" – 32"
  • Number of pockets Four
The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024


  • Price
  • Multiple sizing options


  • No chest padding
  • Open stash pockets

Ruffwear Palisades Dog Pack


  • Volume 12.5 L, 17.5 L, 24 L
  • Weight 1 lb. 12 oz., 1 lb. 14 oz., 2 lb. 2 oz.
  • Chest girth 22" – 42"
  • Number of pockets Four
The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024


  • Collapsible water pouches included
  • Third belly strap
  • Removable saddlebags


  • Pricey

Lifeunion Adjustable Service Dog Supply Backpack


  • Volume Unavailable
  • Weight 12 oz. (small)
  • Chest girth 22.8" – 35"
  • Number of pockets Two
The Best Dog Backpacks of 2024


  • Durable yet lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Good quality zippers


  • Not ideal for use as a harness
  • Only two pockets

Dog Backpacks Comparison Chart

Dog BackpackVolumeWeightChest GirthNumber of Pockets
Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack6 L, 12.5 L,
14.5 L, 24 L
12.8 oz., 1 lb. 1 oz.,
1 lb. 2 oz., 1 lb. 5 oz.
OnTigris Hoppy Camper
Dog Pack 2.0
Unavailable1 lb., 1 lb. 5 oz.25-36″Four
Kurgo Baxter Pack3.75 L, 7.5 L14 oz., 1 lb. 4 oz.27-40″Two
Ultimate Direction Dog Vest5.8 L, 8.6 L,
10.3 L
11 oz.22-42″Four
OneTigris Mammoth Dog Pack6 LS: 14.6 oz. / L: 16 oz.20-36”Two interior and two exterior bungee pockets
Ruffwear Front Range Day Pack 4.5 L, 8 L, 10.5 L, 18.5 L11.2 oz., 15.2 oz., 1 lb. 0.8 oz.,1 lb. 5.6 oz.17- 42”Two
Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack7 L, 12 L,
16 L
15 oz., 1 lb., 1 lb. 3 oz.20-40″Two
Outward Hound Day 
Pack Dog Backpack
Unavailable10.8 oz.21-32″Four
Ruffwear Palisades Dog Pack12.5 L, 17.5 L,
24 L
1 lb. 12 oz., 1 lb. 14 oz., 
2 lb. 2 oz.
Lifeunion Adjustable Service
Dog Supply Backpack
Unavailable12 oz. (small)22.8-35″Two
Tester dog Opa styling the Front Range Day Pack on a snowy trail in western Colorado; (photo/Meghan LaHatte)

How We Tested Dog Backpacks

We love our pups here at GearJunkie. And there’s nothing more we love than bringing them along on our excursions — which is why we’ve put good effort into finding the perfect dog backpacks so they can carry a bit of their own kit on the go. No dog is the same as the next, which is why we’ve tested dog packs from across the spectrum to find a pup backpack that’ll work for any furry best friend.

While testing these packs, we paid special attention to how they carried a load, knowing that an uneven carry can be an uncomfortable way to spend a day for your dog. We also noted overall capacity, padding, and comfort, as well as the trustworthiness of the leash attachments, which can all make or break a good dog backpack.

Much of our testing took place while hiking and climbing in Colorado. After miles of trail (and a good number of treats), we’ve assembled our list of the best dog backpacks available today. As new packs hit the market, we’ll saddle up our pups for testing and update our list with the latest and greatest to hit the trails.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dog Backpack

There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a pack for your best buddy. Read on for comprehensive advice on pack size, fit, value, and much more.


The whole point of buying a backpack for your dog is so it can carry gear. So, getting a pack that can’t hold much more than a few poop bags doesn’t make sense.

For day hikes or short walks, a small dog backpack with a 1-2L capacity will do. But for longer hikes or runs, you’ll want more room for water, snacks, and anything else you two might need on your trek.

A backpack with a 3-5L capacity usually does the trick here. If you’ve got a beefy dog and you’re going on a multi-day backpacking trip, consider a larger pack. We’ve got packs on this list that can go up to 25 L in capacity. This should be enough to carry everything your dog needs.

Load Dispersion

Your dog is not going to enjoy carrying an uneven load. If their pack carries weight unevenly in any direction, your dog will at best be uncomfortable. At worst, this can cause an injury. Look for a pack that carries its load evenly on both sides.

Also, make sure the weight is carried well from front to back. Any good dog backpack has even capacity on both sides and carries the weight closer to the shoulders for solid support.


As a general rule of thumb, a dog should carry no more than 25% of its body weight. Keep in mind, that number is the maximum amount. Depending on your dog’s age and fitness level, this number can vary from 10% up to 25%.

Some breeds are better at carrying more weight. Puppies and senior dogs are going to need lighter loads. Keep an eye on your dog while you hike. If it looks like he’s flagging or uncomfortable, be ready to take some of his load and carry it in your pack.

The OneTigris Mammoth Dog Pack is durable and highly customizable; (photo/Meghan LaHatte)

Leash Attachment Points

Whether or not you let your four-legged buddy run free on the trail, there will be times when you need to put a leash on. Ensure the pack you buy for your dog has at least one attachment point. Many have two points of attachment — one near the shoulder blades and one on the back near the tail.

Many people prefer to use the leash attachment on the front because some dogs tend to pull more when the leash is closer to the dog’s tail. For shorter walks and day trips, consider the simplicity of a dog harness.

Value & Price

Of course, shop for a dog backpack that fits within your budget. In general, more expensive packs tend to have more features. But there are many quality packs in the mid-to-low price range.

Expect to spend from $75 to $100 for a comfortable, durable pack that sports some solid features. Larger, more feature-rich packs can cost closer to $150.

If you’re not sure what kind of pack to get for your dog, take a look at the budget options listed above. You can always start with an inexpensive pack and upgrade when you know what features you want.

Fit & Comfort

Testing dog packs on a stretch of dirt road in Colorado; (photo/Meghan LaHatte)

Your first concern when shopping for a pack is making sure your dog is comfortable. Look for features like padded straps and mesh material. The padded straps help reduce chafing and irritation during longer hikes. The mesh or sweat-wicking material helps protect your dog from overheating.

Make sure the load is distributed evenly so your dog doesn’t have to compensate for it on the hike. The biggest factor in preventing discomfort is making sure the pack fits your dog.

How to Measure Your Dog for a Backpack

Most websites list the varying sizes and associate them with a dog’s weight. However, dogs come in all shapes and sizes. The best way to fit your dog is to get the proper measurements.

Use a piece of string or a flexible tape measure to find the circumference of your dog’s upper neck, lower neck, and chest. After that, measure your dog’s length from the tail to the chest.

Compare those measurements to the dog pack you’re considering to find the right size. Keep in mind some packs won’t work for certain dogs, like those with small necks and deep chests. Also take into consideration your dog’s coat thickness, as that can affect the fit and comfort of a dog pack. 

When you get the pack, try it on your dog and adjust as necessary to make sure it fits. When fitting the pack, follow the two-finger rule. If the straps are snug but leave room for two fingers between the gear and your dog, it’s a good fit. Be sure to keep any fur out of the zippers or buckles to prevent any pinches or itchiness for your pooch.

Tips for Using Dog Backpacks

Start With Short Hikes & Low Weight

No matter how fit your dog is, carrying a lot of weight over a long distance right away will come as a shock. Just like training for a long run, it’s good to ease your dog into carrying a pack. If you find your dog is weary or skittish of putting the backpack on, try giving it treats and positive reinforcement when pulling the pack out for use. 

Once on, start with short walks with an empty backpack at first. This lets your dog get used to wearing a pack. Then, add weight and distance as you go.

If you’re planning a specific trip, it’s a good idea to work your way up to distances and weights close to what your dog will carry on the trip. As the date of the trip gets closer, keep adding distance and weight. This can go a long way toward ensuring that your furry friend enjoys his time outside.

Keep It Snug & Secure

Nothing can ruin your hike like chafing and irritation. The same goes for your dog. Make sure the pack fits properly and securely, following the two-finger rule above.

Straps can loosen as you hike. Make sure you check your dog’s straps occasionally and adjust them as necessary.

Pick the Right Size Pack

A huge part of avoiding chafing and hot spots is ensuring your dog’s pack is the right size. Most websites offer different sizes according to weight. This is a good start.

Compare the specs listed on the pack’s website to make sure it’s a good fit. When you get the pack, check its fit before you go out.

Adjust the straps so you can fit two fingers between your dog and the strap. This ensures a snug fit that isn’t too tight.

Know Your Dog

Weight and size are only two factors when deciding the right pack for your dog. Consider factors like age and health when shopping around.

Puppies and senior dogs need to carry less weight. Consider a smaller pack that can hold around 10-15% of your dog’s weight. The same goes for if your dog is out of shape or recovering from sickness or injury.

Also, disposition is a factor. If you have a more rambunctious dog, consider a burlier harness and a sturdy top handle. This helps you keep control of your dog if you encounter other animals on the trail.

Tester dog Opa was able to run freely without any discomfort while wearing the Front Range pack; (photo/Meghan LaHatte)


What is the best dog backpack?

First and foremost, the best backpack is the one that fits each dog well. A good-fitting pack helps keep your dog comfortable on the trail. After that, make sure it can carry the right amount of weight for your dog’s ability.

A pack that won’t carry what you need for your pup won’t be very useful. Also, the best dog backpacks provide you with plenty of ways to control and secure your dog when the need arises.

Are backpacks safe for dogs?

Absolutely, but an ill-fitting or overweight pack can harm your dog. Make sure the weight and fit are right for your pooch before you head out.

The proper weight your dog can carry varies from 10% to 25% of your dog’s body weight. The variance depends mainly on your dog’s size, age, and fitness level. With the correct measurements, a little research, and a good fitting when you get your pack, you can ensure the right fit.

What should I put in my dog’s backpack for hiking?

It varies, depending on how much your dog can carry. Waste bags and treats are some items even the smallest dog hiking backpack can hold.

If you have the room, extra food, water, and bowls are a great idea as well. You can even strap a rolled-up dog bed to some of the bigger packs.

How much weight can a dog carry in a backpack?

The general rule is to never let your dog carry more than 25% of its weight. Depending on the dog, this can be as low as 10%. Senior dogs and puppies are going to be on the lower end of the spectrum.

As you hike, keep a close eye on your pooch. If he’s looking fatigued or is laboring under the weight, remove some gear and put it in your pack.

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