Do the two-legged members of your family find it necessary to spell out words like P-A-R-K or W-A-L-K to keep the four-legged members of your family from rocketing toward the front door at full speed?
You are not alone — most dogs are, as the saying goes, born under a green light.
Your dog won’t think twice about the items you’ll need to bring for your adventure (whether hiking a mountain or strolling through the dog park). Rather than lugging necessities yourself, you may want to consider dog saddlebags so that your pup can help share the burden!
Have Your Pooch Share the Load With A Dog Backpack
Clever canine parents keep a variety of items stored in a dedicated dog backpack or satchel. This eliminates time spent searching for scattered items and keeps the number of items lost to a minimum. But strangely, these doggie moms and dads often decide to lug this stuff around themselves.
While ferrying your dog’s treats and water bottle isn’t like dragging around a bag full of bowling balls, it is a pain in the butt. The question is: Why are you being such a sucker? Why are you hauling all this stuff that your dog would actually enjoy carrying?
Most dogs enjoy working for and pleasing their humans (some more so than others), and many require copious amounts of exercise. Saddling them with a sack stuffed with their own stuff is a great way to scratch both of these itches.
Saddling Up Your Supplies: What You Might Need For Your Journey
Fido may be ready to rock at the drop of a hat, but you can’t just run out the door. You have to take the time to collect (and ultimately carry) a variety of things that will help ensure the trip is fun for both and safe for all.
Minimally, this means gathering up a water bottle and dish, a leash and a few plastic baggies; buy you may also need things like:
- A favorite toy
- Training collars
And if your adventure will take you far from home or last a long time, you will also need things like:
- First aid supplies
- A portable dog bed for camping or a dog sleeping bag
With a hefty helping of supplies like these, the idea of having your dog pull his fair share will likely sound appealing. Your pup’s only request will be that you securely stow said gear in a well-made, well-fitted dog saddle bag.
Important Features & Considerations In Picking A Dog Backpack
While any dog backpack is probably better than no pack, there is a big difference between a bottom-of-the-barrel product and the cream-of-the-crop.
However – and this is key – the difference in price between the two is rarely significant enough to make the economy models cost effective. It’s usually wise to plunk down the extra ten or twenty bucks for a premium pack.
High-quality dog saddle bags are made with materials resilient enough to withstand some wear and tear, but they also feature padded straps and contact points engineered to be as comfortable as possible. High-end dog backpacks also feature rugged clasps, buckles, zippers and snaps, rather than cheaply made connectors and hardware.
That said, budgets are a fact of life. If you cannot afford one of the higher-priced models, try to select an economy canine backpack that is built to last. Generally speaking, this means opting for dog saddle bags without any bells and whistles; instead, you want the manufacturer spending money on things like quality materials and craftsmanship.
While it’s unlikely Spot knows, understands, or cares if his pack is ready for the red carpet, there’s nothing wrong with selecting dog saddle bags with pizazz – assuming, of course, that such fashionable wear remains functional and fits well.
Note that canine backpacks often calm nervous dogs in the same way swaddling blankets soothe newborn babies.
Accordingly, it can be helpful to consider the basic design of the saddle pack, with an eye toward selecting one that provides plenty of snug body contact.
Dog whisperer Cesar Milan discuss the benefits of dog backpacks, and how to choose a well-fitting dog saddle bag, in this video below:
Don’t Weigh Down Your Dog: Choose An Appropriate Load
Obviously, you don’t want to overburden your beloved bestie, even if he is a beast.
Putting too much weight on his hips, back and shoulders can lead to overexertion and health problems, so use discretion when adding stuff to his dog saddle bag.
Weight recommendations vary quite a bit from one authority to the next. Conservative guidelines hover in the 10% – 20% of bodyweight range, while more relaxed guidelines suggest that healthy dogs can carry a quarter of their body weight or more in a well-fitting dog backpack.
Also always make sure that, when loading your dog up with supplies, that the pack has weight evenly distributed on both sides. Uneven weight distribution can cause pain and harm to your pup.
Check out this handy image guide from Outward Hound, showing how to measure various parts of your dog’s body to ensure his pack fits:
Things like your pup’s breed, health and age all factor into deciding an optimal weight, as do things like the terrain and grade of the place you’re visiting.
As always, discuss the issue with your vet and err on the side of caution to ensure your pup’s continued good health.
1. Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack
No products found. About: The Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack is a great looking, quality canine saddlebag.
While it’s on the pricier side, it’s definitely durable and high-quality enough to justify the price tag.
This pack is completely customizable, with several points of adjustment to fit your dog’s body perfectly. The pockets are deep and offer reflective trim for visibility. Plus, the padded tubular handle is ideal for helping your dog up rocky areas that he might need a hand navigating.
- Available in three different sizes – small, medium, and large
- Padded tubular grab handle
- Adjustable back harness and adjustable belly strap
- Four-point adjustable chest harness with padded sternum strap
- Two pocket compartments with extra zippered accessory panels.
- Reflective trim for improved visibility
Owners were very impressed with the durability of this Mountainsmith K-9 pack, noting that the quality padding prevented sores or chaffing. Hikers comment that the level of adjustment makes this pack the best, with many noting that this was one of the few dog backpacks that stays secure and does not slide around.
One owner noted that their Goldendoodle’s curly hair got a bit matted after a long day of hiking, but this wasn’t often cited as an issue and is likely a problem with any dog saddlebag.
Mountainsmith actually sent us this pack to test out ourselves, which allows us to testify to the quality of this pack.
Remy is new to mountain hiking, but even he thought this pack was comfy. I myself loved the colors and quality- it’s clear that the pack is made from materials designed to withstand years of hard hiking. The pockets are impressively large and deep, allowing your pup to carry a variety of gear.
The handle is also comfortable for humans and easy to grasp, which I imagine will come in handy getting Remy up boulders and rocky surfaces – especially when him slipping or stumbling could be dangerous.
2. Cesar Millan Dog Backpack
About: The Cesar Millan Dog Backpack is a reliable, well-made canine saddle bag from the beloved Dog Whisperer!
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- FOR DOG OWNERS WITH LIMITED TIME: If you have limited time to take your dogs out for walks and...
- CONVENIENT SIZE FOR MEDIUM DOGS: This dog anxiety relief backpack is perfect for medium dogs between...
- GREAT FOR HIKING: This dog saddlebag for hiking makes the perfect addition to your hiking gear. This...
- Keeps weight towards your dog’s front shoulder, where he is the strongest
- Water-resistant, tough, and durable material
- Inner mesh cushioning keeps your dog cool while exercising, as well as comfortable
Owners note that this dog backpack is very high-quality and long lasting. It’s solid stuff!
This pack is a bit pricer than others. A few owners had some trouble with the sizing, as dogs with larger or smaller chests had a difficult time being properly fitted.
3. Lifeunion Dog Saddle Bag
About: The Lifeunion Dog Saddle Bag is a simple and effective pack that features two large side pockets and a handy carrying handle.
- Adjustable width straps allow for a secure, comfortable fit
- Straps feature reflective strips
- A selection of colors to choose from
- Made from durable, 100 percent waterproof nylon
Most owners love the color scheme and praise the exceptional durability of the bag. This model appears to be very comfortable for most dogs, and many appear to enjoy wearing it.
Some owners with smaller dogs (30 to 35 pounds) found that they had to tighten the straps as much as is possible to attain a good fit, so be sure to rely on your dog’s chest size, rather than weight, when selecting a size.
4. OneTigris Cotton Canvas Dog Pack
About: The OneTigris Cotton Canvas Dog Pack is a rugged saddlebag that features multiple pockets for carrying all of your pup’s gear.
- High-density cotton construction provides a comfortable fit for your pet
- Twin zippered pockets and easy-access pouches make retrieving items a breeze
- Vintage styling gives the pack a “classic” look
Most owners have found the pack to fit their dog well and few noted any comfort issues. Additionally, the durability of the OneTigris Dog Pack has drawn positive praise from most owners.
Owners with thin dogs have occasionally needed to use safety pins to keep the pack tight. Some have found the pockets to be too narrow, if relatively spacious.
5. Outward Hound DayPak
About: The Outward Hound DayPak is an affordable, yet high-quality saddlebag, available in two different colors and three different sizes.
- Fun color scheme with reflective accents for safety
- The breathable mesh harness helps ensure a comfortable fit
- Metal D-ring leash attachment
- Four expandable pockets provide plenty of room for your dog’s stuff
The relatively compact design of the bag works helps keep dogs cool and prevents the bag from impacting their movement.
Some owners experienced size- and fit-related problems, so be sure that you measure your dog’s body carefully to select the proper size.
Let us know about your experiences with saddlebags in the comments below. Did your dog enjoy his new pack, or was it a chore to get him to wear it? What types of features would you recommend that buyers look for in a saddlebag? What would you look for when selecting a new pack in the future?
January 16, 2020
I’d also add that the One Tigris goes stiff after a few wettings. That canvas doesn’t dry well, and it becomes uncomfortable for the dog to wear.
If you keep it dry and clean, it’s a good, solid pack that the dog seems to like too
August 5, 2019
Ben, I was wondering if you have a pack for your Rottie. We have a 5 month old female Rottweiler and I would like her to carry her own water and other things that are needed. I’m thinking I should wait until she gets a little bigger but I would like to start looking soon. Also, when you compiled this list, did you consider any of the tactile vests? Do you have any suggestions that would fit her best?
August 6, 2019
Hey, Sue. Thanks for asking about J.B. — she loves when she gets mentions online. 😉
I actually don’t have a pack for her at the moment. That said, I’ve got my eye on the Mountainsmith K9 Dog Pack. I wasn’t the one who got to test it out first hand, but it seems really well put together, and I like that the pockets are so deep. The handle on top is also a selling point for me. I think this would work perfectly for most Rotties.
We considered putting in a tactical option (and we may add one in the future), but they’re pricey and don’t offer a ton of extra value for dogs who aren’t parachuting into hostile territory or working with a SWAT team. The Velcro pocket system many use is pretty nifty though, so I definitely get their appeal.
If you want a tactical vest for your pooch, I’d probably recommend the OneTigris Tactical Vest. It’s pretty expensive, but it looks like it has all of the bells and whistles you could want, and it received great ratings from users.
Best of luck! Let us know which one you go with!
August 5, 2019
Does anyone make a dog back pack that can carry a toy breed dog in it
August 6, 2019
Sorry, Scott, but I’ve never seen one like that. But, you may be able to find one that has large enough compartments to accommodate a toy breed. You’ll just have to put something of equal weight in the compartment on the other side to keep things balanced.
Best of luck!
August 3, 2018
hello – great article
My question is what is the make and model of the olive drab saddlebag that the white setter in the first picture up top is wearing? You didn’t cover that rig in your review.
August 3, 2018
Hey Jason – that’s a stock photo so we can’t say for sure what the brand is. We’ll keep an eye out for it though!
January 27, 2020
Its called Laika Kløv.