Buying Packs for Your Mountain Hound

Except for steep downhills, where she’s discovered how to delicately step out of the packs, our canine hiking companion doesn’t seem to mind carrying her share of the load. But the packs we have are getting old, they’re bulky and the Velcro closures a little worn. I’m thinking it’s almost time for a new set.

Packs for humans and canines alike! (Photo: M.Kopp)

What to look for when buying dog backpacks:

  • Adjustable harness with good padding – for a snug fit that doesn’t chafe.
  • Proper size – packs come in small to large size ranges.
  • Proper fit – when wearing the packs, your dog should have full range of movement and even be able to lie down comfortably with the packs on.
  • Streamlined shape and positioning – slim profile with weight forward for ease of carrying and less chance of getting hung up on branches and rocks.
  • Durable material – to resist abrasion.
  • Top ring – for leash attachment.
  • Removable saddlebags – a handy option.

What to put in the packs:

  • Dog food
  • Dog dishes
  • Ball or Frisbee
  • Water (or other liquid refreshments)
  • Dog towel (for drying wet paws and coats before tent time)

What not to pack:

  • Breakables
  • Things that can’t get wet

How much can a dog carry:
Estimates range from 20 to 30% of bodyweight.  In theory, our 33 lb border collie should be able to pack almost 10 lbs. We want the experience to be enjoyable, so we never load up the pack that heavy. In steeper mountain terrain, she’ll carry 5-6 lbs.

What does your dog carry on backpacking trips?

© 2011

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