Hiking with Dogs: Choosing the Best Dog Backpack to Enhance the Experience

If you’ve ever been hiking or camping with your furry friend, you know that it can be an enjoyable experience for both of you. Not only does it allow for some quality bonding time, but it also provides an excellent opportunity for exercise and exploration.

But as fun as it can be, these adventures can become challenging when you have to carry all your gear and your pet’s essentials too. This is where finding the best dog backpack comes into play.

And no, it shouldn’t be an experience like the one below for your puppy.

Best Dog Backpack - Feature

The Low Down on Picking Up Best Dog Hiking Backpack

Dog backpacks have risen in popularity among outdoor enthusiasts who love to bring their canine companions along for the journey. These backpacks are specifically designed for dogs to carry their own supplies like water, food, and toys, making the adventure more enriching and manageable for you and your pooch.

One of the most critical factors to consider when choosing a dog backpack is the design. It should be able to:

  • withstand the elements
  • carry objects securely, and most importantly,
  • keep your dog comfortable and safe.

The best dog backpack you’ll find is going to be crafted with water-resistant, durable, and breathable materials. It will also offer proper padding to deal with the added weight, ensuring extra pressure doesn’t rest on your dog’s chest and the straps, thereby keeping your pet comfortable throughout the trip.

Best Dog Backpack - Hiking Dog

But, finding the best dog backpack isn’t just about picking the sturdiest one on the market. It’s about finding a pack that fits your dog perfectly.

Pro tip: Don’t rely solely on your dog’s weight for sizing. Instead, measure around your dog’s chest to get the correct fit, ensuring comfort and preventing injuries.

Considerations for Making Sure Your Dog Is Safe

Suitable Age

While having a dog backpack sounds like an excellent solution, you might wonder when it’s safe for your dog to start wearing one. It’s recommended that dogs only start wearing backpacks when their joints are fully developed, usually around 18 months to 2 years old.

Any earlier might put pressure on their underdeveloped joints, leading to potential injuries. This age range can vary depending on the breed and size of your dog, so it’s advisable to consult with your Veterinarian before introducing a backpack.

Suitable Weight

The weight a dog can safely carry in its backpack also varies. In general, most dogs can carry around 10-12% of their body weight, but this can depend on their breed, physical fitness, and energy levels.

Some dogs can handle a heavier load, while others might be better off with a lighter one.

However, never guess the weight of your backpack. After loading it, ensure you’ve not gone over the limit by using a scale to verify the load your dog will carry.

Best Dog Backpack - Orange Dog

Potential Load Types

When it comes to what your dog can carry, get creative! Your dog can carry his (or her) ball, water bottles, poop bags, or other items needed for the trip.

If carrying pointy objects, like keys, make sure they aren’t causing discomfort. And remember, the weight should be equally distributed on both sides of the backpack.

Introducing Your Dog to Hiking and Other Backpacks

Introducing your dog to a backpack should be done gradually. Start with an empty backpack, associating it with positive experiences such as feeding time or treats. Then, slowly add weight as your dog gets used to the backpack, keeping an eye open for any signs of discomfort.

Dog backpacks are a game-changer for camping or hiking with dogs. They can enrich your outdoor adventures, offering your dog a mental challenge and a sense of purpose, while also giving you some relief from carrying all the gear.

Best Dog Backpack - River Dog

Just remember that every dog is unique and may require a different approach, so always consider your dog’s individual needs, temperament, and physical condition when choosing the best dog backpack.


Where should a dog backpack sit?

A dog backpack should sit securely on your dog’s front end, primarily over the shoulders, and not in the middle of their back. The heaviest load should be positioned close to the body at the lowest point in the saddlebags.

This helps to distribute the weight evenly and ensure the dog’s comfort. It’s crucial to adjust the backpack correctly to keep it stable and prevent it from slipping to one side. Each side should be balanced in terms of weight, which can be checked by placing the pack on your arm or thigh.

Having the best dog backpack is essential, but how it’s worn is equally important for your dog’s health and comfort during your outdoor adventures.

Are dog backpacks OK for dogs?

Yes, dog backpacks are not only OK but can also be beneficial for dogs. They’re a practical solution for carrying essentials during outdoor adventures, and they can even aid in strengthening your dog’s muscles, particularly in the front area.

However, there are important considerations to ensure the backpack is safe and comfortable. Choose the best dog backpack that’s the correct size and adjust it to fit properly on your dog’s front end. Load it appropriately, with no more than 25% of your dog’s body weight.

Always start with an empty pack and gradually increase the load as your dog gets used to it. Backpacks should never be used on puppies or dogs that aren’t fully grown. Ensuring your dog’s comfort and monitoring them while they’re wearing a backpack is crucial for their wellbeing.

Are dog backpacks worth it?

Dog backpacks are certainly worth it, particularly for those who frequently take their dogs on hikes, trails, or camping trips. When your dog carries its own gear, it frees up space in your own pack and may lighten your load.

The act of carrying a backpack can provide mental stimulation for your dog, making them feel like they have a job to do. Choosing the best dog backpack can also help distribute weight evenly and potentially build your dog’s strength.

The key is ensuring the backpack fits properly and is not overloaded. Also, introducing the backpack gradually can make the experience a positive one. So, if you’re an active outdoor person with a fully-grown dog, investing in a well-designed, durable dog backpack could indeed be a valuable purchase.

Do dog backpacks help with anxiety?

Dog backpacks can potentially assist with anxiety in some dogs. This mainly depends on the nature of the anxiety and the individual dog’s temperament.

For some dogs, wearing a backpack can help distract them from anxiety-inducing stimuli. The added weight can also create a natural calming effect similar to the theory behind weighted blankets used by humans for anxiety and stress relief.

However, it’s essential to ensure that the backpack fits well and is not too heavy, as discomfort can exacerbate anxiety. Choosing the best dog backpack, introducing it gradually, and monitoring your dog’s reactions are vital steps.

It’s always wise to consult with a vet or a canine behaviorist if your dog struggles with anxiety, to determine the most suitable approaches for your specific dog.

How do you introduce a dog backpack?

Introducing a dog backpack should be a gradual and positive process. Start by allowing your dog to sniff and investigate the backpack, and reward them with treats or praise for showing curiosity.

Once they’re comfortable, put the backpack on without any weight in it. Make sure it fits properly, with the weight over their shoulders, not in the middle of their back.

Reward them for wearing the backpack during short, everyday activities, gradually increasing the time. When they’re used to wearing the backpack, start adding weight slowly, and always ensure that the weight is evenly distributed on both sides.

The best type of dog backpack will be one that fits your dog well and has adjustable straps for a custom fit.

Remember to monitor your dog’s behavior and comfort levels throughout the process, and never rush them into carrying a full load too quickly.

What do dogs sleep on when backpacking?

When backpacking with your dog, it’s important to ensure they have a comfortable and warm place to sleep.

Many outdoor enthusiasts opt for a lightweight, portable dog bed or mat. These are designed to provide cushioning and insulation from the ground, protecting your dog from cold and discomfort.

Alternatively, some dogs may be comfortable sleeping on your spare clothing or a backpacking quilt, as long as it provides sufficient insulation.

Ensure the sleep area is free of rocks, sticks, and other sharp objects that could cause discomfort.

Remember to consider your dog’s size, the weather conditions, and the nature of the trip when choosing their sleeping arrangements. With a little digging, you should be able to find the right combination of dog backpack and portable dog bed.

The best dog backpack for hiking in this case will have space to carry your dog’s sleeping gear without adding too much weight.

Always prioritize your dog’s comfort and safety when planning a backpacking trip.

What should you take on a hike with a dog?

When hiking with your dog, it’s crucial to take essentials to ensure safety and comfort.

These include a sturdy leash and a collar with updated ID tags. It’s also a good idea to carry a first-aid kit designed for dogs, including items like tweezers, gauze, and antiseptic.

Don’t forget poop bags for responsible waste disposal.

Always bring enough water for both you and your dog and a portable water dish.

Your dog will also need food and treats, especially for longer hikes.

Insect repellent and sunscreen designed for dogs can help protect your pup from environmental hazards.

Lastly, consider the best dog backpack to help distribute the carrying load between you and your dog.

The backpack should be correctly fitted and shouldn’t exceed 25% of your dog’s weight when fully loaded. Remember to adjust the weight gradually to give your dog time to adjust.

Is camping stressful for dogs?

Camping can be a fun, enriching experience for many dogs, but it can potentially be stressful for some, especially if they are not used to the outdoors or a change in routine.

Factors such as unfamiliar surroundings, new smells and sounds, and encounters with wildlife can be overwhelming. But with the right preparation, you can minimize stress and ensure a positive experience.

Start with small trips to get your dog accustomed to the outdoors. Create a comfortable sleeping space, perhaps even consider the best dog backpack to carry a familiar blanket or bed.

Ensure to stick as closely as possible to your usual feeding and walking routine.

Always keep your dog close, preferably on a leash, to prevent encounters with wildlife. With time and positive experiences, your dog may start to love camping as much as you do.


In conclusion, the addition of a dog backpack can add an enriching layer to your hiking or camping adventures with your furry friend. While the initial introduction may take some time and patience, the pay-off is well worth it. The sense of purpose it gives your dog, along with the physical exercise, can help keep your dog healthy and happy.

Remember, it’s not about burdening your dog with a task; it’s about enhancing their natural instincts and providing them with a stimulating and enriching experience.

So next time you plan a camping or hiking trip, consider investing in the best dog backpack for your pet. Not only will it make your life easier, but it will also make the journey more enjoyable for your loyal companion.

Remember to consult with your vet before making any decisions, and always monitor your dog for signs of fatigue or discomfort while hiking. Happy trails to you and your furry friend!