Choosing the Right Dog Pack

Summer is the season for backpacking, camping, and long days on the trail. If your furry trail companion is ready to carry their own gear and you’re wondering which pack to choose, we can help.

We’ll cover some dog backpack basics, do a quick comparison of the pack lineup, dig deeper into each of our packs by their key features and the types of adventures for which they’re designed.

Take a look, and start dreaming about where the trails will take you next.

How much weight can my dog carry in their backpack?

A good rule of thumb to start with keeping total carrying weight (including the pack and its contents) under 25% of your dog’s body weight.

Fitness and breed will affect how much your dog can carry. First-time pack-wearers or senior dogs may want to go lighter. Puppies are encouraged to wait until they're fully grown before carrying any weight. An empty backpack is a great way to get them used to wearing a pack if they're too young to be carrying weight.

Man and dog with backpack hiking

How do I get my dog used to wearing a pack?

Try having your dog wear their pack on walks and short hikes. It’ll give both of you the chance to get to know the pack and its features. Plus, you can dial in the fit. Start with an empty pack, then work up to carrying some weight.

Lots of praise, treats, and fun while the pack is on go a long way when a dog is warming up to a pack. 

How do I choose a backpack for my dog?

One of the quickest ways to narrow down what type of pack is right for your dog is to start with what activities you plan to have your dog wear it for, and how much space you need to carry the gear you plan to pack.

Here are our packs in order from lowest volume to highest volume:

Looking for a way to just carry water and a few small essentials? Or wanting to lighten your dog's load a little and keep their packing list short? Check out the Singletrak™ Pack

Want a day pack for day hikes where you won't be out all day but want to be able to carry the standard on-trail necessities? The Front Range™ Day Pack is at home on and off the trail and will easily hold water, first-aid, a leash, bowl, and even some boots. 

How about a more technical pack that can tackle both all-day exploring and an overnighter? The Approach™ Pack has room for the must-haves plus food and extra layers to be prepared for fickle weather.

If you're setting out for multi-day treks and your dog will be carrying a good share of their gear, the Palisades™ Pack is the way to go. It has the highest volume of our packs and removable saddlebags.

pack comparison chart

Pack By Pack: Overview of Ruffwear's Backpacks

Palisades Pack

The Palisades Pack puts the deepest of backcountry within reach for you and your dog. Our highest-volume pack, it's designed for multi-day treks with roomy saddlebags that host a cross-load compression system for stable, comfortable gear carry.

The saddlebags attach securely to a breathable harness chassis, and can be removed at camp to lighten the load for side-excursions.

Multiple pockets and an external daisy chain store and organize your dog's trekking necessities like a sleeping system, food, and even two collapsible hydration bladders that come with the pack.

Palisades™ Pack on dog backpacking with human behind.

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Approach Pack

Roam further with the Approach Pack, a day hiking and light overnight dog pack with excellent performance, fit, and functionality. Radial cut saddlebags – sized right for extending day hikes and venturing into light overnights – create a passive compression system for efficient load carrying over the shoulders.

They rest on an integrated harness with a breathable chassis that enhances comfort and pack stability. With lightweight materials, a streamlined design, and mindful gear organization, the Approach Pack sparks instant motivation for canines seeking deeper exploration on the trail with their human.

Woman backpacks with her dog using approach pack.

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Front Range™ Day Pack

With plenty of internal organization and trail-minded details, this comfortable day pack equips dogs to carry the day's provisions on hikes and frontcountry pursuits.

The Front Range Day Pack incorporates Ruffwear's signature radial cut saddlebags with the customer-favorite Front Range® Harness platform, making it an everyday pack staple in any dog's gear closet. Dogs can help shoulder the load thanks to the integrated padded harness and belly strap that adjust for exceptional fit and pack stability.

The saddlebag geometry creates a passive compression system that is formfitting and supports efficient load carrying. There are three leash attachment options: a V-ring and a tow loop on the back, and a reinforced webbing loop on the chest – great for redirecting dogs that pull when on leash.

Hector hikes along creek with dog Canyon in front range day pack.

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Singletrak Pack

Ruffwear’s Singletrak Pack is a sleek, low-profile hydration pack that’s perfect for long days on the trail with just the essentials.

The saddlebags fit close to the body, allowing dogs to move with speed and agility, and hold two 0.6-liter collapsible water bladders with enough room left for some treats, pick-up bags, and a small leash. The Singletrak Pack is great for day hikes, trail running, and mountain biking.

Dog in Singletrak™ Hydration Pack runs along trail at the base of red rocks.
Compatible with: Swamp Cooler Core™, and Brush Guard™.

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Do you have questions or feedback about our packs or any other Ruffwear gear? Let us know.