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8 Best Dog Backpack Carriers for Hiking in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

Bynewsmagzines

Mar 6, 2023
woman carrying small dog in backpack on a hiking trip


We know how important it is to find the right hiking backpack. And if you’re carrying a dog? You’ll need something with extra support, storage, and comfort. That’s where this post comes in handy.

We’ve reviewed eight dog backpack carriers that deserve an A+ in several categories, like hiking distance and your dog’s body type. Based on your needs, we’re confident you’ll find a backpack worthy of your pup.

If you’re unsure what to look for in a dog backpack carrier, we cover that too. Let’s get started.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023

The 8 Best Dog Backpack Carriers

1. K9 Sport Sack PLUS 2 Dog Carrier – Best Overall

Item Weight: 1.5 pounds
Max Carrying Weight: 40 pounds
Materials: Synthetic materials
Features: Detachable storage bag, ventilated sides, wide base, wide shoulder straps, side pockets
Best for: Moderate walks, short- and long-distance day trips

Our best overall option is the K9 Sport Sack PLUS 2 dog carrier. This backpack fits most small to medium-sized dogs, has full mesh side ventilation to avoid overheating, and has extra storage for long hikes. You can hold water bottles, food, medications, and anything you need in this backpack—or at least most of it.

Of all the small backpacks, we found this one best for longer trips and small dogs if your dog can independently walk part of the trail.

The biggest downfall of this backpack carrier is how much it shifts. If your dog moves off to the side, the backpack moves too. Overall, the carrier could have better support. Given the versatility and longevity of the bag, we feel it’s earned its spot as number one.

  • Full mesh side ventilation
  • Plenty of room for hiking supplies
  • Affordable
  • Fits most small and medium-sized dogs
  • Bag shifts
  • Not great for large or stocky breeds

2. PetAmi Backpack Dog Carrier

PetAmi Backpack Dog Carrier

Item Weight: 3.9 pounds
Max Carrying Weight: 18 pounds
Materials: Polyester, synthetic fabric
Features: Chest and waist straps, back padding, four-sided access
Best for: Short-distance hikes, day trips with easy terrain

The PetAmi is our best value option. This is a nice backpack for short-distance hikes and day trips with easy terrain. It’s a bit heavier than other backpacks, but there’s just enough storage for a day’s worth of supplies, and you can use it for multiple pets if needed.

We also love the multiple access points—two on the side, one on the top, and one on the front. It makes feeding and grabbing your dog a cinch.

Some say the bottom insert digs into their spine, which is a bummer. You can fix this by adding some padding to the area. Ultimately, you can’t beat the price compared to other backpacks.

  • Multi-pet use
  • Excellent ventilation
  • Back padding
  • Multiple access points
  • Various colors
  • Heavier than other backpacks
  • Bottom insert can dig into spine

3. K9 Sport Sack Kolossus Dog Carrier – Premium Choice

K9 Sport Sack Kolossus Dog Carrier

Item Weight: 4.5 pounds
Max Carrying Weight: 80 pounds
Materials: Faux leather, polyester
Features: Backpacking conversion, removable sun/rain hood, removable waste bag dispenser, side cooling venting zippers, internal frame with inner padding
Best for: Long-distance, strenuous hikes

The K9 Sport Sack Kolossus Dog Carrier is our favorite premium option for a few reasons. If you have a slender dog or go on backpacking trips, this bag is for you.

The entire bag is designed to carry your dog’s long body, but it has a backpacking conversion pack to bring whatever supplies you need for a long-distance hike. Plus, the storage pack on the back detaches for versatility and to help distribute weight.

Obviously, longer hikes and heavier dogs require solid back support, and this bag delivers. Inside the pack is an internal frame for better lumbar support, plus back and shoulder padding for extra comfort.

Trust us, this bag is worth the money if you’re a serious hiker or have a long and slender pup.

  • Internal frame and padding for extra support
  • Plenty of storage
  • Great for long, strenuous hikes
  • Removable pack to better distribute weight
  • Good for long and slender dogs
  • Expensive
  • Not good for small breeds
  • Heavier than other backpacks

4. K9 Sport Sack Trainer Dog Carrier – Best for Puppies

K9 Sport Sack Trainer Dog Carrier

Item Weight: 1.01 pounds
Max Carrying Weight: 30 pounds
Materials: Nylon
Features: Padded shoulder straps, water bottle pocket, lower lumbar strap, carabiner safety clip, leg openings
Best for: Moderate walks, short-distance hikes

For beginner hikers with toy breeds and puppies, you’ll want to check out the K9 Sport Sack Trainer dog carrier. This entry-level backpack is small, lightweight, has minimal storage, and is highly affordable. It holds up well and can be an extra pack if your puppy outgrows it.

Unfortunately, the lumbar support isn’t the best with this pack carrier. It tends to shift with your dog, so it’s unsuitable for long-distance hikes. But if you’re new to hiking, have a small dog, and don’t want to spend much money, this pack is worth looking into.

  • Entry-level backpack carrier
  • Affordable
  • Great for puppies and teacup breeds
  • Variety of beautiful colors
  • Lumbar support strap not included in the XS size
  • Not good for long-distance hikes

5. PetAmi Premium Backpack Dog Carrier

PetAmi Premium Backpack Dog Carrier

Item Weight: 1.9 pounds
Max Carrying Weight: 12 pounds
Materials: Polyester, synthetic fabric
Features: Chest and waist straps, back padding, four-sided access, collapsible bowl
Best for: Short-distance hikes, day trips with easy terrain

The PetAmi backpack is similar to the other PetAmi backpack mentioned earlier, but with fewer bells and whistles.

Basically, you won’t get as much storage or pet weight support with this backpack. In addition, the bag likes to cave in which could be uncomfortable for your dog. The plus side is that it weighs less and comes with a collapsible bowl for food and water. You can also find this back in several beautiful colors.

If you’re getting started with hiking and have a small dog, this could be a good fit.

  • Collapsible bowl for food and water
  • Lightweight
  • Shoulder padding
  • Multiple access points
  • Various colors
  • Lacks storage
  • Limited pet weight
  • Tends to cave in

6. Midwest Day Tripper Dog Backpack

Midwest Day Tripper Dog Backpack

Item Weight: 3.3 pounds
Max Carrying Weight: 10 pounds
Materials: Cotton, polyester, natural fabric, synthetic fabric
Features: Interior safety leash, collapsible frame, two access points, built-in poop bag dispenser, water bottle holder
Best for: Short-distance hikes, day trips with easy terrain

Number six is the Midwest Day Tripper dog backpack. With this backpack, you get all the safety and security needed in a dog backpack, plus a little extra. There’s a built-in poop bag dispenser and a water bottle holder for easy access. There’s a back handle in case you want to carry the bag (but it makes it fall over often).

The bottom liner is removable and machine washable in case of any accidents. You could fit two teacup dogs in the bag if you wanted.

This backpack is designed for teacups only. You could buy it for your puppy, but it’s pricey for a dog that will probably outgrow it. Keep in mind, this pack carries a maximum weight of 10 pounds, so you can’t use it for strenuous hikes or medium-sized dogs.

  • Multi-pet use
  • Great for teacup breeds
  • Built-in poop bag dispenser
  • Water bottle holder
  • Bottom liner is machine washable
  • Pricey
  • Not good for pets over 10 pounds
  • Back handle makes the backpack unsteady

7. Coppthinktu Front-Facing Dog Carrier

Coppthinktu Front-Facing Dog Carrier

Item Weight: 0.9 pounds
Max Carrying Weight: 22 pounds
Materials: Foam, Synthetic material
Features: Water bottle holder, padded shoulder straps, collar safety strap, padded bottom
Best for: Short-distance hikes, day trips with easy terrain

Looking for something frontward? Try the Coppthinktu Front-Facing Carrier. This straightforward carrier is lightweight and padded everywhere for added comfort. There’s even a cushion roll near the neck so your dog can rest its head and a tail hole with a padded bottom.

There are a few downsides, making us list it next to last. The design doesn’t suit long-bodied dogs like Dachshunds, and there isn’t much storage, so don’t take this on a long hike. Because it’s a front-facing carrier, it tends to be top-heavy and droopy.

Still, it’s a nice option if your dog doesn’t like the sense of bondage that comes with other backpacks. For walks and easy day hikes, this could be the pack for you.

  • Cushion roll to rest head
  • Front- and back-facing backpack
  • No sense of bondage
  • Padded bottom for your dog
  • Lightweight
  • Tail hole for extra comfort
  • Top heavy with little support
  • Lack of storage
  • Not good for long-bodied dogs

8. YUDODO Reflective Dog Sling

YUDODO Reflective Dog Sling

Item Weight: 0.75 pounds
Max Carrying Weight: 14 pounds
Materials: Leather
Features: Hands-free design, collar safety strap, phone pocket, padded shoulder straps, drawstring closure
Best for: Walks, short-distance hikes, day trips with easy terrain

Last on our list is the YUDODO Reflective Dog Sling. Obviously, this won’t suit every dog. It’s best for teacups and small dogs accompanying you on walks and short-distance hikes. We like that it’s a hand-free design and is affordable and lightweight. It’s basically a fanny pack built to carry a dog.

There is a lack of storage, so don’t expect to take this on a long hike unless you have other storage means. Even if you do, there isn’t much adjustability, and it likes to bounce on your hip. Your dog would get tired of that quickly. But for small dogs and short, easy hikes? This sling could work out beautifully.

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Hands-free design
  • Great for easy hikes or walks
  • Great for teacups and puppies
  • Lack of storage
  • No stabilizer strap along waist
  • Little adjustability

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Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Dog Backpack Carrier for Hiking

Are Dog Backpacks Safe?

We know what you’re thinking. Can’t dogs jump out of backpacks? What if I drop my dog? What if I fall and my dog tumbles with me?

These are legitimate questions, but rest assured, dog backpacks are safe. In fact, several backpack carriers come with safety features should something happen, like if you fall or the bag rips.

Features like leash attachments, padded seating, and durable mesh are all features to look for in a dog backpack carrier. But it would help if you also looked at the bigger picture.

Rough terrain, steep peaks, and gravity all take a toll on the body. A backpack carrier can save the day if your dog isn’t equipped to handle that kind of long-distance movement. You won’t have to take as many breaks, your dog won’t feel pain, and you can enjoy your hike without worry.
Always shop with your pet’s safety in mind and you’ll eventually find the right backpack.

Dog BackPack Carriers: What to Look For

Before you select a backpack, ask yourself a few questions.

What kind of hike are you planning? Are they easy day hikes, or challenging ones that require careful planning and gear? Are you planning other activities, like camping or swimming?

With those questions in mind, let’s look at a few characteristics of backpacks:

Ventilation

Good airflow is crucial to keep your dog comfortable and prevent overheating, especially for stocky and hefty breeds. As you hike through different altitudes, it will become difficult to breathe. Good ventilation will help keep your dog cool so it doesn’t waste its breath panting.

Storage

How much storage you need depends on what kind of hiking you intend to do with your pup. You’ll need to carry the essentials, like food, water, doggy bags, and a first aid kit. Longer hikes may require additional supplies.

Lumbar Support

Don’t throw your back out trying to carry your dog. Who else is going to carry the dog if you do?

Ensure the backpack carrier rests easily on your back, has extra shoulder padding, and has excellent lumbar support. This is especially important if you have a heavier dog.

You’ll notice that not every backpack carrier has the same back support. Some only come with upper and lower straps that wrap around your body. Others have built-in rods for extra support on longer hikes.

Whatever you pick, check that it doesn’t hurt your back.

Versatility 

Some backpacks come with removable built-in storage, and others come with harnesses and packs built into one product. When you hike, finding multiple uses for one product is good! Plus, you get your money’s worth.

Sizing Your Dog’s BackPack 

As you already know, not all backpack carriers are created equal. Each dog breed has a specific body type, so you must shop for a backpack with this in mind. Measure and weigh your dog for accuracy.

Your dog should fall somewhere into these six sizes:

  • X-Small: 10–13 inches
  • Small: 13–17 inches
  • Medium: 17–20 inches
  • Large: 20–23 inches
  • X-Large: 23–26 inches
  • XX-Large: 26–29 inches
Caucasian woman walking outdoors with dog jack russell terrier in a special backpack.
Image Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

Small Dogs

Small, shorter dogs have a harder time with exercise. It can even cause damage to their little bodies if we exercise them too much. That’s why backpacks are excellent options.

Small dogs will fall into these categories: teacups and puppies, stocky, and long-bodied.

Teacups and puppies are roughly the same sizes initially, so finding a backpack won’t be too difficult. You’ll need to find something small so your dog isn’t sinking into the bag during your hike.

Stocky dogs like French Bulldogs are top-heavy, not as limber, and typically need help breathing. A backpack with good ventilation is ideal for preventing overheating. Long-bodied dogs like Dachshunds have short legs, so ensure your dog’s legs are supported and comfortable.

Medium Dogs

Medium dogs fall into these categories: stocky, proportional, and long-bodied. Again, ensure stocky and long-bodied dogs have good ventilation and leg support.

Proportional dogs have the upper hand because their body weight is evenly distributed, and you don’t have to worry about over-exhaustion as much as other breeds. There are also fewer physical restrictions aside from weight and length. Ultimately, you’ll have more shopping options.

However, some dogs with proportional features struggle with their age or suffer injuries later in life, so pick a backpack that supports your dog’s length, weight, and medical ailments.

Large Dogs

Large dogs are either hefty, proportionate, or tall and slender.

Hefty dogs need good ventilation and leg support like stocky breeds. Tall and slender dogs are a bit tricky because you need to find a backpack that fits their length.

What to Pack in Your Dog’s Backpack

Don’t know what to pack? No problem! Here’s a breakdown of what your dog will need:

Day Hikes

  • Food (regular and treats)
  • Water
  • Collapsible bowls
  • First aid kit and medications
  • Leash, harness, and hags
  • Towel
  • Windbreaker jacket
  • Poop bags and Ziploc bags (for containing the poop bags)
  • Musher’s wax

Backpacking

  • Food (regular and treats)
  • Water
  • Collapsible bowls
  • First aid kit and medications
  • Leash, harness, and tags
  • Towel
  • Windbreaker jacket
  • Poop bags and Ziploc bags (for containing the poop bags)
  • Musher’s wax
  • Dog sleeping bag
  • Outdoor booties
  • Toy

Leave No Trace

Hiking is a great way to immerse yourself in nature, but other footprints are being left beside the boots in the mud. Bringing your dog only increases the waste you leave behind, so following the seven principles of Leave No Trace is essential:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of others

Stick to these principles, and your hiking trip with your dog will benefit everyone!

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Conclusion

Let’s do a quick review. Our best overall option is the K9 Sack PLUS 2 dog carrier. Avid hikers could benefit from this backpack. It has extra storage, great ventilation, and fits most small and medium-sized dogs.

Our favorite affordable option is the PetAmi Backpack Dog Carrier. It’s cheap, spacious, stable, and acts like a tent for your dog. It’s a good way to save money without sacrificing quality.

But if you want to put your money where it counts, check out the K9 Sack Kollosus Backpack. This backpack is designed for tall slender dogs or owners who love backpacking. You can’t fit a small dog in this pack, sadly. But it’s a nice option for larger dogs.


Featured Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

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