Many of us take our dogs out hiking and whilst we all enjoy the company of our four legged friend, it often means we are carrying an extra load. Thankfully some companies have started to introduce dog packs to ease the burden. This means your dog can not only carry his own supplies but quite possibly carry some of yours too (depending on your dogs size). There are several dog backpacks for hiking on the market, however it is important that you choose the right one for your particular dog. Also you want to make sure that you introduce your dog to the concept of carrying items on his back slowly.
Here are some tips from REI on how to fit and load a dog pack.
Fitting and Loading Dog Backpacks for Hiking
How Much Weight is OK?
As mentioned above, your dog can help carry the load. In general, young and healthy dogs can carry up to 25% of their weight. Some breeds can carry 10% to 15% more, while other breeds aren’t cut out to carry much at all. The amount you should pack also changes with age. Once again, this is a good topic to discuss with your vet.
How to Fit a Pack
Your first step is to measure the circumference of your dog’s chest. Most packs have a specific size so you can find the corresponding measurement. Then place the middle of the pack on your dog’s back. Straps usually fasten around the waist, chest and/or around the neck. Adjust all straps to tighten the pack to fit your dog’s body. Don’t pull too tight, as you’re not going anywhere if your dog can’t breathe. Be aware that a too-loose pack can slip off.
Types of Packs
Dog packs made specifically for mobile hydration hold a few items that are great for trail runs or shorter day hikes. Other packs are made specifically fortraining and exercise. Packs that work best for backpacking will have more volume and extra padding to provide comfort on your dog’s frame.
All packs are designed to provide adequate weight distribution for your pet. Other common features:
- Dividers: So that you can keep food and water separate from any other supplies.
- Collapsible food dish: Fits perfectly inside the pack or sometimes zips on the outside.
- Pocket for a cooling insert: You keep the cold pack in your freezer and insert it into the pack before heading out; great for hot climates.
- Top handle: Makes it easy to hang onto your dog if you’re crossing a shallow river or up on a small ledge.
You should also consider a waterproof pack if there’s a chance you’ll be in a lot of rain or snow. Also, the pack I use with Kiwi when I run is reflective and even has a spot to place a light. This really helps out with visibility, as many mornings in the Northwest are pretty foggy or sunless.
For a selection of canine backpacks for hiking or backpacking and customer reviews, click here. Please like us and share with your friends. You might also like our article on tips for backpacking with a dog.