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Dog Backpack Feature Comparison

When I decided that my pooch should start carrying her own gear, I wanted to do my homework before I decided on a backpack. No point in letting all that work fall by the wayside, so I have compiled my findings and presented them in this document.


TABLE OF CONTENTS


  • Introduction:   Please don't skip this section. It details important introductory material: what features I was looking for, what we're using the pack for, the size of my dog, where I found the packs, etc.
  • Design Options:   Analysis of the design options and features to consider when choosing a pack.
  • Categories:   I have divided the packs into five rather arbitrary categories, although there is quite a bit of overlap.
  • Detailed Specs: Complete description (with pictures) of all the data I gathered on each of the packs I researched. Within categories, they are listed alphabetically by manufacturer or brand name.
    NOTE: Features, Specs and Colors are taken from manufacturers publications and my observations. If I actually touched the bag, I have included my Personal Impressions, and in most cases, photos. If Feedback is listed, it has come from members of the Agile Dogs mailing list unless otherwise stated. Prices quoted are retail - where I've found discount sources, I've noted them.
  • Spec Summary:  For the Rugged and Casual packs, I have also compiled a Feature Summary Table that compares the packs feature by feature.
  • Feature Choices: My personal preferences on which features to choose, along with comments and with rationale.
  • Related Links: Links to working dog suppliers, books, and articles for more information on backpacking with your dog.

THE WINNERS


Based on my feature choices, I've awarded several prizes. Note that I did not include any of the Specialty packs - these need to be evaluated individually on the merits of the features that make them unique. I did include my overall impressions in the Specs for each of the Specialty packs I was able to get my hands on.   I felt that I wanted a more sturdy and versatile pack than the Specialty group offered, but please, don't overlook them in your decision process.

  • MOST COMBAT READY: Wolf Packs Banzai This pack is feature-rich, bullet-proof, and has just enough pockets to make me feel organized. Add the excellent user feedback and good manufacturer support, and it places as my overall favorite.
  • BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Granite Gear Ruff Rider No question here - at $48 for the high quality features, long standing reputation and good manufacturer support offered by this pack, it is clearly the best value in the bunch.
  • IF PRICE IS NO OBJECT: Ruff Wear Palisades I love gadgets so this one appeals to me because of the hydration system. And it is well constructed with good ergonomics and excellent features.
  • BEST DAYHIKER: Wolf Packs Reflector High-end features in a mid-range, light-weight pack.
  • BEST ENTRY-LEVEL PACK: Outdoor Products and Caribou Woofer (tie) If you don't know how your dog is going to take to wearing a pack, and you don't want to spend a lot of money finding out, either of these will probably do fine. Be sure to check the fit of the pack because both of these packs have unusual saddle sizes.

And now the disclaimer: I am an outdoor enthusiast (albeit somewhat casual), and a dog enthusiast as well. I have experience with outdoor product construction, having designed and built motorcycle luggage with similar materials. But I am not an expert in this field. The opinions I have presented in this document are based solely on my critical observations and discussions with several manufacturers. Furthermore, I did no actual testing of the products, either destructive testing or 'road' testing on the dog. All analysis and fitting was done in the comfort of my living room. Finally, and most importantly, I am not involved in canine medicine or bio-mechanics in any way. I make no representations as an expert in the proper loading of dogs - use these packs wisely, but use them at your (and your dog's) own risk.

If you have any questions, comments, corrections, or additions, please send e-mail to hnewman@agilepooch.com.

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Last updated 11/07/2010

Holly Newman 2000-2012. All rights reserved.
Photos for owner's use only. Reproduction or commercial use allowed only with permission of both owner and photographer.

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