Here's my frame of reference: Jasmine is an All-American mix, probably shepherd and sight hound. She is tall (26"), long (24"), and lean (68 lbs); built for speed not strength. Her fur is medium-length without much undercoat. She will use the pack for a broad range of applications: from short jaunts transporting her gear (including crate pad) at Agility Trials, to multi-day backpacking trips in the Sierras. Versatility, functionality, durability and safety were the key factors for me. Price was not my primary consideration because I'm most concerned about her comfort and safety. Bear these facts in mind as you read this document - your dog is probably built differently and you may have different applications for the pack.
This turned out to be a far more ambitious project than I had anticipated - I had no idea there were so many packs on the market. As you know, the Internet has changed everything. We used to be at the mercy of our local retailers: go to a camping or pet store, try on the models and sizes they choose to carry, and buy the one that you like best. Not anymore - once you start poking around the Web, the options quickly become overwhelming.
Companies manufacturing dog packs generally come from one of three different worlds: outdoor products, working and sporting dog suppliess, and general or niche pet supplies. In general, I found that the outdoor products and working dog packs tend to be heavier-duty, while the pet and niche products have some special or additional convenience features.
I physically examined as many packs as I could get my hands on, either from local stores or from the manufacturers. Most of the ones I actually touched have pictures with the Specs. If you click on the thumbnail, you can access several more pictures showing greater detail of the harness design and pack features. I also spoke to a couple of manufacturers regarding design considerations.
I do want to say that ALL of the packs I saw are well-constructed, and I have no doubt that any one of them would do just fine in the appropriate application. The significant differences are in feature, design, and construction options, not basic quality. None of the packs stood out next to other packs of comparable price and design, making the choices very difficult, even with all the data I collected. So if you're just looking for something to throw on your dog and carry stuff, you don't need to nit-pick your decision to death the way I have. But if picking nits is your style, the data is here for your reading pleasure.
Last updated 11/07/2010
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