We talked to a certified dog trainer about how to pick the perfect pack for your pup

best dog packs for hiking ruffwear commuter pack 4
Enjoying the companionship of your favorite four-legged friend away from home doesn’t mean you need to carry the burden of extra water, treats, and poop bags. Whether you’re running errands around town, hitting the trails after work, or setting off on a thru-hiking adventure, outfitting your canine companion with a dog pack can make the experience that much more enjoyable for everyone.

Things to consider

The benefits of using a dog pack extend beyond freeing up space in your own pockets. Karin Chan, certified dog trainer and owner of the Southern California dog daycare and grooming spa, Whiskers N’ Tails, shared some tips with Digital Trends on why and how owners should use dog packs.

“Dog backpacks are an excellent way of adding a level of intensity to your dog’s daily exercise,” Chan told Digital Trends. “If you have a high-energy breed and a busy life, adding a backpack to your normal walk routine can be huge in improving your dog’s physical output.”

Fit and size are key

As far as choosing the right pack, fit is very important for both the owner and the dog.

“You want to look for a backpack that distributes weight evenly across the dogs back and over the shoulders,” Chan added. “The fabric should be thicker rather than thin straps that can become bothersome pressure points. We don’t want the pack to restrict movement, cause hunching, roaching (a dip down the spine), or an off gait (for example, taking tinier steps than usual or stepping really wide).”

Every pack on this list has its own size guide and adjustable straps to help ensure a proper fit. Too small a pack restricts movement, while too big a pack causes uncomfortable shifting and might even slip off. Chan advises letting your dog wear the backpack empty first and on shorter walks, adding “start small and slowly add weight over the span of a few weeks so your dog can build up the muscles and endurance to carry it.”

To help you navigate the sea of available options, we’ve picked out five of our favorite packs capable of suiting a range of doggie lifestyles.

Our pack picks

Outward Hound DayPak

best dog packs for hiking outward hound daypak

This pack wins for being lighter, both in materials and on the wallet than some of its competitors.  The Outward Hound DayPak features four expandable pockets in a saddlebag design. A breathable mesh harness protects your pooch from overheating. At $35, this pack is one of the cheaper options available. It comes in bright colors and has reflective accents to stay visible. It’s lightweight but still packs a lot.

Unfortunately, the straps are not padded and may chafe over time. Some customers have complained about the Velcro on the straps catching on their dogs’ fur. There’s only one leash attachment point, and it’s at the back of the pack.

Buy it now from:
Amazon

Ruffwear Commuter Pack

best dog packs for hiking ruffwear commuter pack

Just released this year, Ruffwear’s latest addition to its line of doggie gear will ensure your pup is properly suited up for Take Your Dog to Work Day 2017. (That’s a real thing, and it’s Friday, June 23.) The Commuter Pack is, “built to perform in both urban and backcountry adventures,” according to Ruffwear. It features a rucksack-inspired design with vintage materials and styling, including durable heathered polyester and sustainably-produced leather trim from Pittards.

This pack utilizes Ruffwear’s best-selling Front Range harness for the chassis and boasts three points of leash attachment, including one on the chest. The adjustable straps are padded, as is the handle at the top of the pack. It has reflective accents on the chest and sides of the pack and many pockets.

All these fine features come at a price, however as this pack sets you back $100, it doesn’t feature a laptop sleeve, and (gasp) it’s not vegan.

Buy it now from:
Amazon

Mountainsmith K-9 Dog Pack

best dog packs for hiking mountainsmith k9 pack

This is, by far, the most adjustable pack we’ve found. Mountainsmith consulted a sled dog veterinarian before designing this “dogonomically” correct saddlebag dog pack with a four-point adjustable chest harness and independently adjustable back harness. The company constructed this pack with ultra-rugged Ripstop and Duramax nylon materials including reflective trim and features breathable mesh panels.

It’s worth pointing out the K-9 Dog Pack only boasts one leash attachment point, of which reviewers complain of the buckles on the many adjustable straps breaking too easily.

Buy it now from:
Amazon

Groundbird Gear Dog Pack System

best dog packs for hiking groundbird gear

If it’s a cost-effect, custom-made dog pack you desire, look no further than Groundbird Gear’s Dog Pack System. Each harness comes tailored to your dog’s specific measurements with the option to attach two different pack designs in a variety of color combinations. The brand allows buyers to choose between a Trekking Roll-top model or the Weekend Zipper Pack, each available in different capacity sizes depending on how much your dog can carry comfortably.

The custom-fit harness also maximizes your dog’s comfort while an elastic belly strap on the pack reduces shifting. Packs are constructed from durable, 400-denier packcloth and have reflective trim. Groundbird Gear offers loads of color combinations, though there does exist a lengthy wait list for orders — in addition to a four to six week delivery time.

Buy it now from:
Groundbird Gear

OneTigris Tactical Dog Vest

best dog packs for hiking onetigris tactical

This one is for the dog who’s tougher than the rest. The OneTigris tactical vest protects your furbaby’s hide while he or she is crawling under barbed wire fences while the detachable modular pouches offer the utmost in terms of organization. Additionally, it also happens to be the most badass-looking pack of them all.

Three detachable pouches are included and both sides of the vest are covered with Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment for additional attachments such as a magazine clip — or a slew of dog treats, of course. The top of the vest also features a Velcro panel for adding patches of flair, and OneTigris included two leash attachment points and a padded chest strap to prevent chafing. There’s no reflective trim, though the only color options are black, tan, and camo, so these vests are clearly designed to be stealthy rather than shiny.

Buy it now from:
Amazon

Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.
Photography

These are the best camera straps you can get your hands on

Choosing the right camera strap for your needs can be a tough decision. To help sort through the junk, we've rounded up the best camera straps on the market for you to choose from.
Smart Home

We’re lovin’ these toaster ovens that do way more than brown bread

Are you looking for a toaster oven that can make jerky or steam vegetables? Do you need a dedicated countertop appliance for making pizza? Fortunately, these toaster ovens provide a wide array of functionality.
Emerging Tech

Bright idea: Keep your gadgets juiced up with these stellar solar chargers

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.
Outdoors

Sleep comfortably under the stars in one of the best tents

An essential piece of gear whether you're camping in your backyard or on a multi-day backpacking trip, here are our picks of the best tents currently on the market from car camping varieties to the best three-person option.
Emerging Tech

This high-tech water gun makes your old Super Soaker look like a fossil

The Spyra One is a next-generation water cannon that shoots single rounds up to 30 feet. It features a sleek design, bright colors, and digital display to show how much ammo is remaining.
Emerging Tech

The Trident scooter promises to propel you through the waves like a boss

Trident is an 'underwater scooter' which lets scuba divers or snorkelers power themselves through the waves at speed of up to 4.3 miles per hour. Here's how you can get your hands on one.
Emerging Tech

Awake’s stunning new electric surfboard promises good surfing even on flat water

Awake Rävik is a stunning new electric carbon surfboard that promises to let you get in a scintillating surf session even when the water is flat and free of waves. We totally want one, like, now.
Outdoors

Take on the forces of nature with one of the best backpacking tents you can buy

Whether you're headed out for the weekend or a thru-hike, these are the best backpacking tents you can buy. A proper backpacking tent allows you to stay comfortable and cozy on beautiful days or when the forces of nature seem to be…
Deals

REI slashes prices on tents, backpacks, and gear for its Outlet sale

As we reach some of the last hurrahs on summer, REI is offering steep discounts on its entire REI Outlet inventory. From now until August 13, you can save up to 70 percent on backpacks, tents, jackets and more.
Outdoors

The Mate X folding ebike carries a 55-mile range with an affordable price tag

The Mate X folding ebike promises to deliver a range of up to 55 miles, speeds of 20 mph, and an affordable price point. The bike is already a success on Indiegogo, raising $2.4 million in just a few weeks time.
Outdoors

This waterproof case turns your iPhone into an underwater camera system

The AquaTech AxisGo iPhone case turns Apple's smartphone into an underwater camera system complete with grip handle and an interchangeable lens system, making it easy for divers and snorkelers to capture photos and video.
Outdoors

BioLite's FirePit gives you a smokeless campfire, and it's available now

The new BioLite FirePit uses an innovative design and a built-in fan to create a smoke-free environment for cooking and enjoying a backyard bonfire. The device makes sitting around a fire a much more enjoyable experience.
Emerging Tech

This underwater camera drone can auto-follow and film while you dive

Youcan Robot's BW-Space hails itself as the world's first underwater photography drone that can recognize images and intelligently follow a target, while broadcasting live 4K video.