When picking the perfect backpack carrier for you and your dog, there are many factors to keep in mind. Because every dog is unique in size, we’ve opted to look at the more general features of the backpack harness in order to help you decide which one to go with. We also thought it was important to only include those with a lot of feedback and have been tested by real owners.
Picking a backpack that can support your dog is very important. Make sure you know your dog’s weight and size before you start to shop! Many carriers are optimized for specific sizes, so spare yourself the disappointment of finding the perfect pack only to discover that it just won’t fit by knowing exactly what you’re looking for from the get-go.
Keep in mind that you may be able to physically fit your dog into a carrier under its weight class–but it doesn’t mean you should. In an ideal world, your dog will sit comfortably within the range a carrier is approved for. If your pup is above (or even maxes out) the weight capacity, you may run into problems down the road with breaking or tearing. For this reason, we have listed max weights and how well the backpacks hold up.
This is very important. Ensuring your dog has good ventilation while in the carrier can’t be overstated. The last thing we want is for you to go hiking and then find out that your dog is hyperventilating due to lack of air. Likewise, a good carrier will have safety leashes in place to make sure that, even if the flap is opened, your pup won’t escape halfway through your travel.
Even the daintiest teacup-sized pups can feel heavy overtime. To spare yourself pain down the road, pay attention to the backpack straps. In this category, we’re looking at fit (is it like a traditional backpack, or more of a sling?), padding, security (are there additional chest and waist straps?), and any other special features called out by the manufacturer.
It might seem basic, but material is always critical to determining quality and durability. To know what the ideal material is for your specific needs, you should know the circumstances in which you plan to use the carrier–for example, on hikes, you want something soft but durable.
Some carriers are specifically designed with only one size of dog in mind, while others have a wide range of sizes to accommodate more kinds of pups. In this section, we list out how many sizing options are offered to give you a sense of the specific backpack’s flexibility.
Back-Facing, Front-Facing, & Rolling
How do you want to carry your pup? Are you looking for traditional back-facing backpack, or do you want your pup to chill on your stomach? Or, would you prefer roll your little guy alongside you? All three styles come in handy for different situations. Below, we’ve gone into when you’d might like each.
This type of backpack carrier is what you would consider when you think of your typical backpack. Most on the market are supported with shoulder straps and have side mesh panels for air ventilation. If you are going to be moving from indoors to out, starting and stopping, and have a medium-weight dog, this is a solid choice.
This is the “kangaroo” option of backpack carriers. If you have a little dog and/or plan to do hiking, this is a very popular option. For hikers, carrying your dog in the front means you can still wear your traditional hiking pack on your back. For other owners, a front-facing pack lets you keep a close eye on your pup at all times, giving a stronger sense of security.
A rolling carrier resembles a suitcase with wheels and often has the option to be carried like a backpack (although they tend to be optimized for rolling and are not the most comfortable for carrying). These are convenient if you don’t want the constant pressure on your back over an extended period of time–for example, in airports. Unfortunately, it’s also important to keep in mind that you can’t easily take rolling carriers on stairs or outdoors.
Flying With Your Dog
All airlines have different guidelines on the proper way to bring a pet on board, so be sure to check your airline’s rules here. But regardless, there are always two things to keep in mind: the carrier should be comfortable for you to carry and should fit under the seat in front of you.
Some backpack carriers are designed specifically for airplane travel and others try to use it as a marketing trick but don’t follow through. Overall, we’ve taken this into account and have scoured through the reviews to ensure that the ones that claim to be excellent for flying actually live up to that standard.
Likewise, we wanted to compile the links for the most common American airlines so that you could see these guidelines for yourself. The last thing you want to do before flying with your dog is to find out that the traveling carrier won’t work.
Hiking and Traveling Outdoors
We all know it’s fun to let your dog off leash and explore all the wonders of nature, but that isn’t always safe nor is it the right choice for every dog. More time than not, it’s better to just bring the right kind of equipment and carry your dog alongside you so that they can take it all in.
Many of the carriers designed for hiking will have additional support straps for the chest and waist. Another factor to keep in mind is ventilation–nobody wants a sweaty back if it can be helped! Plus, it is essential that you and your pup stay cool and don’t overheat.
Being prepared with the proper backpack carrier can make taking your dog on trips a breeze. With the proper fit and great ventilation, you and your dog could go almost anywhere together.
We hope that this guide has helped you pick the backpack carrier for your needs! Be sure to let us know which one you went with to go on your adventures.