The Dog is in the Details: Designing the Home Trail™ Hip Pack
- Cristina Stavro
Leash? Check. Pick-up bags? Plenty. Treats? Can’t leave home without ‘em. Add in the well-loved, grime-covered ball and – oh ya, my stuff too. Keys, phone, wallet, mask...
My furry sidekick, Lennon, patiently used to wait and watch as I went through this mental checklist multiple times every day. Between our walk breaks around the neighborhood, jetting off to our favorite trails after work, or meeting up with some of Lennon’s favorite canine buddies, it had been quite the production getting out the door in a timely manner or without forgetting any of her or my stuff.
Enter the Home Trail™ Hip Pack. I call it my “go-bag.” And much to Lennon’s approval, the time between “Want to go for a walk?” and “Let’s go!” is now a simple grab-and-go on the way out rather than the frantic herding of pick-up bags and treats and my keys that were in the pocket of which jacket again?
I appreciate that it holds pretty much anything either of us needs to get out and get going for our everyday adventures – and hands-free at that. Lennon appreciates that it holds treats. And really, it’s the mindful dog details in the design that keep us both stoked when on the go.
To learn more about the inspiration behind the Home Trail Hip Pack, who better to catch up with than the designer herself: Liz. She also has some great tips for making the hip pack your own.
RW: Is there a moment you can think back to where you first started to dream up the idea of a dog-centric hip pack?
Liz: There was a trip I took to Portland, and there was this moment… I’m in an elevator of a dog-friendly hotel with Bernie. We were staying there but headed out for a night walk so Bernie could use the bathroom.
I have this standard hip pack on so I can carry my wallet and keys and room key. But I also have a Treat Trader™ because we’re in a hotel and I want easy access to treats to reward Bernie for being good. And I have a Stash Bag™ on the leash because I’m in a city and there aren’t just pick-up bags everywhere. And then I’ve got Bernie’s leash in one hand and my phone in the other because it doesn’t fit in my hip pack or the Stash Bag. [See picture below of Liz sporting a similar setup]
I think back to that moment and how just that simple act of needing to go outside turned into an expedition without a one-stop piece of gear.
Ha, that story sounds familiar... so the "gear juggle struggle" is real?
Yeah, it was a clear problem area from the beginning. Our lives are integrated with our dogs’ lives. And because we’re living this integrated lifestyle, we have things that we carry on the daily, and we have things that we’re carrying for our dogs on the daily. Why wouldn’t we have one integrated location for all of that?
[Photo: Liz's early sketches for her dream dog-centric hip pack]
The small accessories work well, but for someone who’s trying to carry all those things at the same time, the Home Trail Hip Pack is the all inclusive grab-and-go solution. Space for your things and space for your dog’s things. And, it’s designed for your dog’s things, so you don’t need to worry about putting that grimy ball in there.
It does the heavy lifting so you don’t have to.
Exactly. I don’t even want people to think about wearing it. I want it to be streamlined. It can just be on them and they can focus on having fun with their dog.
So it’s designed for dog people, but you can make it your own. What are some ways you do that?
One of the bonus functionalities of the gear loops is you can add a Treat Trader so you can carry two separate types of treats –high value/low value. It also works with the Pack Out Bag™. I’ll clip that to the gear loops if I know we’re going to be walking where there might be a few miles in between trash cans.
Or, if we’re in an off-leash area, I’ll clip the leash hardware to the gear loops and then stash the leash in the hip pack. That way I don’t have to carry the leash but I have quick access to the clip if I need it.
[Photo: Liz and Bernie putting an almost-there prototype of the Home Trail Hip Pack to the test.]
As someone who’s constantly grabbing my phone to snag pics of Lennon when we’re out on the trails, I’m a fan of the quick-grab phone pocket. There’s a unique design to it – what’s the story there?
In the early stages of development, I was in Vietnam and using both my normal hip pack and a prototype of the dog-centric hip pack to test out some ideas we had.
When I’m traveling, I like to take a lot of photos to document my trip. This trip in particular, I was doing visual research about how other travelers use hip packs. I found that I would just leave my main zippered pocket open so that I could grab my phone really easily to take photos.
Halfway through that trip, I had an aha! moment about having an easy pocket for our phones. While making it easy to grab, we also wanted a way to still keep it from slipping out, so we added a shingle that creates a kind of passive way to retain the phone.
Last but not least: What’s in your Home Trail Hip Pack right now?
- Hand sanitizer – lavender
- Opinel pocket knife
- Wrapper from a snack bar
- Cough drops
- 3 different types of treats for Bernie ranging from soft to crunchy (variety is the spice of life!)
- Loose pick-up bags in the stretchy mesh
- Little card-holder wallet
Big thanks to Liz (and Bernie) for showing us around the all-new Home Trail Hip Pack. You can learn more about it here.
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•Personally, from an organizational viewpoint, I think the human items should be in the middle for more stability of the bag. These items are heavier and should be in the center. And for security the center is best.
•The dog’s items should be on the front for more accessibility and larger to accommodate more items. This way the personal heavier items are not weighing down the front of the bag, especially when the dog section is open. (Less stress on the middle zippers too.)
•The cellphone pocket slot needs to accommodate large phones that are IN A PHONECASE. The next-to-the-body area where you have it is best.
Having had many fanny packs and Labs & other dogs over the decades, this organization works the best. Please take another look at your design. Send me a fabric pattern of a prototype and I’ll add my 2 cents worth.
My many Labs over the decades and now are Ruffwear dogs. From jackets to harnesses etc. They have every color harness from the this and the previous color selections. We’ve used your products for years and love them. We moved to Florida so coats are not really needed anymore. But everything else is.
Additional thought.. keep this design you have and offer an upgraded version too ….the Home Trail Hip Pack Plus… ! Please offer more colors too. Thanks for reading. We love Ruffwear. 🧡
Patti & my Labs
Rose 🤍💛 4.5
Shorty 🖤 8
This appears to be a great tool, but what about a place to carry water bottles?