Hiking With Dog in a Backpack: Tips and Considerations

labrador, dog, mammal-8128379.jpg
This article may contain compensated links. Learn more here.

Hiking with dog in a backpack? It’s doable.

Going on a hike with your furry companion can be an exciting experience, but not all dogs are fit for long walks. Whether your pup is a senior dog or a small breed, sometimes carrying them in a backpack can be the best (and safest) option for both of you. Carrying your furry friend can provide you with the opportunity to travel further distances, hike over difficult terrain, or simply provide a comfortable way for your dog to rest if they become tired.

If you’re planning an adventure with your dog in a backpack, there are a few things to keep in mind before you hit the trails.

Hiking With Dog in a Backpack: Intro

Hiking with dogs brings a unique dimension to outdoor adventures, offering both physical activity and a bonding experience. Dogs, with their natural curiosity and zest for exploration, can make enthusiastic hiking companions. However, not all dogs are suited for traversing long distances or difficult terrains. This is where backpack carriers come in handy.

Dog backpack carriers are specially designed to carry your canine companion safely and comfortably during hikes. They are particularly useful for small dogs, older dogs, or dogs with physical limitations. With a variety of designs and sizes available, choosing the right backpack carrier requires a consideration of your dog’s size, weight, and comfort, along with the nature of the hiking trail and the weather conditions.

Pros and Cons of Dog Carrier Backpacks

Pros of Dog Carrier Backpacks

  1. Comfort for your dog. Backpack carriers are designed to offer a comfortable ride for your pet. Padded interiors provide a cozy space for them to relax while mesh windows ensure proper ventilation.
  2. Versatility. These backpacks are versatile and can be used for various outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or camping.
  3. Safety. They provide a safe way to transport your dog, especially in crowded or high-traffic areas.
  4. Health considerations. For elderly dogs, puppies, or dogs with health conditions, a backpack carrier allows them to enjoy the outdoors without straining themselves physically.

Cons of Dog Carrier Backpacks

  1. Weight. Depending on the size and weight of your dog, carrying them in a backpack for extended periods can be physically demanding.
  2. Size limitations. Larger breeds may not fit comfortably in a backpack carrier. They are typically designed for smaller dogs.
  3. Limited movement for dogs. While in the backpack, your dog’s mobility is significantly restricted, which might cause discomfort for some dogs.
  4. Cost. High-quality dog backpack carriers can be expensive. It’s an investment, so ensure you choose the right one that suits your needs and budget.

Read more: What Are the Pros and Cons of Dog Carrier Backpacks?

Little dog in a backpack

Choosing the Right Dog Carrier Backpack for Hiking

The Size and Weight of Your Dog

The size and weight of your dog are crucial factors when selecting a backpack carrier.

Ensure the backpack is large enough for your dog to sit, stand, and turn around comfortably. Additionally, check the weight limit of the backpack. Most manufacturers provide a maximum weight recommendation. Overloading the backpack may cause discomfort to both you and your dog and could potentially lead to damage of the backpack.

The Design and Comfort of the Backpack

Look for a backpack with a well-padded interior and adjustable straps.

The comfort of your dog should be your top priority. A good backpack will have mesh windows for proper ventilation and visibility. It should also have easy access points to get your dog in and out without hassle. Some backpacks offer compartments or pockets for storing dog treats or water bottles, which could be a handy feature during hiking trips.

The Durability of the Backpack

When hiking, your backpack carrier will be subjected to various elements and rough terrains.

Therefore, it’s vital to choose a backpack made of durable, high-quality materials that can withstand these conditions. Look for backpacks that are water-resistant or waterproof and have sturdy zippers and stitches.

Safety Features

Safety should never be compromised.

Check for any additional safety features like interior harnesses or clips that can be attached to your dog’s collar to prevent them from jumping out. Also, reflective strips for visibility in low light conditions can be a great addition for those early morning or evening hikes.

Read more:

Small dog in a backpack

Best Dog Carrier Backpacks for Hiking: 3 Top Picks

Choosing the right backpack for a dog can be a daunting task given the wide range of options available in the market. To help you make an informed decision, here are our top three picks for the best dog carrier backpacks for hiking:

1. K9 Sport Sack AIR Dog Backpack

K9 Sport Sack AIR is a high-quality dog backpack that boasts a veterinarian-approved design, ensuring your pet’s comfort and safety. It comes with adjustable straps and a padded back for your comfort. The wide, pressure-relieving straps, well-ventilated sides, and a plush interior ensures your pet’s comfort throughout the hike.

2. PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack

PetAmi’s Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack offers exceptional comfort and convenience for pet owners. With its well-ventilated design, soft sherpa-lined bedding, and multiple access points, your pet is guaranteed a comfortable ride. This backpack is equipped with an additional waist strap to help distribute your pet’s weight evenly.

3. Petsfit Pet Carrier Backpack

Petsfit Pet Carrier Backpack is a lightweight and durable carrier that’s perfect for small dogs. It has a spacious interior with a removable pad, providing a cozy area for your pet. The backpack also features mesh windows for ventilation, a safety rope for added security, and additional pockets for storage.

Read more:

Why Do You Need a Puppy Carrying Backpack?

Investing in a puppy carrying backpack has several benefits.

It provides a solution for tired pups on long walks or hikes, and allows you to bring them along on bike rides or other outdoor activities. Carrying your puppy in a specialized backpack is safer and more comfortable for both of you. It’s also an important part of their hiking training.

Tiredness and The Need for a Puppy Carrying Backpack

One common reason that necessitates the use of a puppy carrying backpack is the tiredness that young dogs often experience during outdoor activities.

Puppies, while full of energy in short bursts, don’t have the same endurance level as adult dogs. Long walks or hikes can quickly become overwhelming for them. Carrying your pup in a backpack not only ensures their safety but also allows them to rest and recharge, making the overall experience much more enjoyable for them.

Steep and Dangerous Trails

Venturing onto steep and treacherous trails presents another scenario where a puppy carrying backpack becomes indispensable. Not all trails are suitable or safe for dogs, particularly puppies.

Areas with sharp rocks, large gaps, or steep drops can pose significant risks to your furry friend. Likewise, puppies might struggle with challenging inclines or have trouble navigating over loose gravel or uneven terrain.

In these scenarios, a dog carrier backpack allows you to safely traverse these difficult parts of the trail with your pup securely nestled on your back. The specialized design of these backpacks ensures your dog is comfortable and protected, giving you peace of mind as you navigate more challenging outdoor environments. It’s an excellent solution that allows you and your beloved pet to continue your adventure, regardless of the path ahead.

Read more:


Comparing Different Types of Dog Carriers

Dog Backpack Carriers

Dog backpack carriers are the most common type of carrier seen on the trails.

These are usually built to be larger than other types of carriers in order to accommodate also medium and large breeds. The backpack design allows for equal distribution of your dog’s weight, resulting in reduced strain on your back. These carriers also come equipped with padded shoulder straps and back panels making it comfortable for you to wear a heavier load.

Frontal Backpack Dog Carriers

If you want your furry friend to be in front of you while you hike or take part in other outdoor activities, then a frontal backpack carrier is what you need.

Unlike the traditional backpack carrier, this carrier positions your dog in front of you, allowing for better interaction with your pet. Although they tend to be on the smaller side, frontal backpacks are perfect for small dogs, puppies, and elderly dogs.

Dog Sling Carriers

Dog sling carriers are great for small dogs that may need a little extra help on their walks. These carriers are designed to wrap around your body, allowing you to carry your dog close to your chest.

They are smaller than backpack and frontal backpack carriers but offer more mobility, making them perfect for crowded spaces. Slings tend to have less ventilation than other types of carriers, so if you do use a sling carrier, ensure you take regular breaks and allow your dog to stretch their legs.

Dog Carrier Backpacks vs Strollers

The first thing to understand when choosing between a dog carrier backpack and a dog stroller is that they are fundamentally designed for different purposes.

A dog carrier backpack is intended for active, on-the-go situations where mobility and compactness are of utmost importance. This makes it perfect for hiking, trekking, or any other kind of adventure where you need to be constantly moving.

On the other hand, a dog stroller is designed for more leisurely activities, where there’s less need for mobility and more emphasis on comfort and convenience. It’s ideal for walks in the park, seaside walks (not always and not everywhere), or any casual outing where you can take your time and enjoy the scenery. Stroller is a great choice for hiking with senior dogs.

Understanding what each option is designed for will help guide your decision.

Read more: Dog Carrier Backpacks vs Dog Strollers (for Hiking)

Dog Backpack Is Not a Dog Carrying Bag

The former, dog backpacks, are designed for dogs to carry, providing them with a sense of purpose while also serving as a handy tool for owners to store doggy essentials. On the other hand, dog carrying bags are backpacks designed for humans to safely and conveniently carry their smaller dogs, offering a unique solution for long walks, hikes, or travel where the dog might get tired or overwhelmed.

While distinct in their functionality, share a common purpose: to facilitate mobility and enhance the quality of life for both dogs and their owners.

Read more: Dog Backpack Is Not a Dog Carrying Bag 

Dog wearing small backpacks on its back
Dog wearing small backpacks on its back

Hiking With Dog in a Backpack: Considerations

When planning a hike with your dog in a backpack carrier, there are several considerations to keep in mind. These factors will ensure both you and your furry friend have a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable adventure together.

Choose the Right Backpack (Sling/Carrier/…)

When it comes to choosing the right backpack, safety should be your primary concern. Look for a backpack that is designed specifically for carrying dogs, and ensure that it is the correct size for your pet. Dogs should be able to sit upright, lie down, and move around within the backpack comfortably.

The backpack should also have enough ventilation to keep your furry companion cool and comfortable.

Train Your Dog

Before you begin a hike, it is important to train your dog to become familiar with the backpack.

Introduce the backpack to your dog and allow them to sniff it, place treats inside the bag to create a positive association. Start with short walks around your neighborhood or a local park, gradually increasing duration, distance, and difficulty at a comfortable pace.

Plan Your Hike

When planning your hike, it is important to consider the difficulty of the terrain and the weather conditions, your dog’s age, breed, and physical condition.

Be sure to make frequent stops and allow your dog to stretch and drink water, especially in warm weather. Remember that while you may be able to push yourself, it’s essential to consider your dog’s limitations too.

Pack the Essentials

Make sure you’re prepared by packing the essential gear for both yourself and your dog.

A first aid kit for both you and your dog and plenty of water is a must-have. Don’t forget to bring waste bags to clean up after your furry companion. You should also consider carrying food or treats for your dog, depending on the length of your hike.

Do a Health Check

Make sure your dog is fit to go on hikes before starting one with them.

If your dog has any health issues, you may need to do a short hike before taking them on any more extended trips. Make sure your dog is up to date with all vaccinations, and if you plan to travel to areas with ticks, you should consider preventative measures.

Read more:

Welsh Corgi
Welsh Corgi

Best Small Dogs for Hiking

When it comes to selecting the best small dogs for hiking, it’s crucial to consider both the breed’s characteristics and individual dog’s disposition. Some breeds are naturally more adaptable to outdoor environments and physical exertion, ensuring they can handle the rigors of hiking.

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terriers are known for their energy and athleticism. These dogs are hardy and brave, making them excellent hiking companions. They are also intelligent and curious, meaning they’ll enjoy the stimulation of a new environment.

Jack Russell Terriers are also quite agile and have a good jumping ability, which can be beneficial in varied terrains. However, their strong prey drive can sometimes lead them astray, so always keeping them leashed or in their backpack during a hike is advisable.


Dachshunds have a surprising level of stamina for their size, making them good hiking companions. While Dachshunds are adventurous and love to explore, their elongated body and short legs can pose some difficulties when hiking on rugged terrains. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep a pace that’s comfortable for them, and using a dog carrier backpack can be a handy solution for longer or more demanding trails.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Corgis are sturdy, energetic, and athletic, all of which make them a good choice for a hiking buddy. They are also highly intelligent, making them quick learners and good at following commands, which is crucial when navigating potentially hazardous trails.

Corgis possess a strong sense of adventure and are always eager to explore new surroundings, making every hiking trip an exciting experience. Their sociable nature and ability to adapt quickly to different environments also make them great companions for camping trips or outdoor gatherings.

Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzers are known for their robust and athletic nature, despite their small size. They enjoy being active and have a relatively high endurance level, which makes them suitable hiking companions.

Their intelligence and obedient nature mean they respond well to commands, which is vital on hiking trails. Their dense, wiry coat offers some protection against the elements, making them suitable for hikes in various climates. However, bear in mind that their curious and adventurous nature may require them to be on a leash or in a carrier backpack in areas with potential hazards or wildlife.

Remember, no matter the breed, individual dogs have unique temperaments and physical abilities. Always ensure your chosen hiking companion is comfortable with and capable of the physical demands of hiking. Regular vet checks can ensure your pet is in the best health to tackle the trails with you.

Read more: The Top 5 Best Small Dogs for Hiking

German Shepherd dog

Accommodating Senior Dogs’ Needs During Hiking

Hiking with senior dogs requires one to be especially mindful and considerate of their needs. Aging dogs may not have the same level of energy or physical agility as their younger counterparts, but this doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy an outdoor adventure.

  • First and foremost, before embarking on a hike, a comprehensive vet check is important to ensure your senior dog is in good health and up to the physical demands of hiking. Depending on any existing health conditions, your vet might recommend specific precautions or adjustments to your hiking plans.
  • When choosing a trail, opt for flat, even surfaces that are less strenuous on your senior dog’s joints. Steep, challenging terrains might be too tough on an older dog’s body. If possible, choose trails with shaded areas for rest, as older dogs can be more sensitive to temperature extremes.
  • Take frequent breaks during your hike to allow your senior dog to rest and rehydrate. Always carry sufficient water for both of you and consider packing a portable dog bowl for your senior companion.
  • Moreover, using a dog backpack carrier can be beneficial for senior dogs. If the trail becomes too demanding or your dog shows signs of fatigue, the backpack carrier allows you to carry your dog, ensuring they can rest while still enjoying the outdoor experience.
  • Lastly, monitor your dog’s behavior closely throughout the hike. If they show signs of discomfort, fatigue, or anxiety, it might be best to cut the hike short and head back. Remember, the goal is for both of you to enjoy the experience, so always prioritize your senior dog’s comfort and well-being.

Hiking With Dog in a Backpack? It’s Doable

Hiking with your furry companion can be a fun, exciting, and adventurous experience, and carrying them in a backpack can be a convenient way for you both to enjoy the great outdoors. However, do keep in mind that not all dogs are fit for long hikes, and carrying them in a backpack does require a little bit of planning and training.

Before setting out on your next adventure, ensure that you have the right gear and have taken the necessary precautions to have a safe and enjoyable experience for you and your furry companion.

Please note that the information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only and should not replace professional advice from a veterinarian or dog trainer. Always consult with a qualified expert before making decisions regarding your dog’s health, well-being, and training.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *