If there’s one thing I like more than hiking with my dog, its backpacking with my dog. Being out on the trails and camping somewhere remote and beautiful that you can’t just drive to is one of my all time favorite things. To help out with the load, Breezy always wears a dog backpack when we go. It’s not only a great convenience in that she can carry nearly all her own gear (minus water), but it’s also a great indicator to her that, hey, we’re gonna be spending some serious time and energy out here, so take it easy. If you’ve hiked with Breezy, you know that she uses the trail as more of a “suggestion” most of the time. Because of this, we’ve actually started using the pack on day hikes when I need Breezy to settle herself and stay (relatively) on the trail.
Breezy is was given the Canine Equipment Ultimate Trail Pack in a size small to test. It has a recommended girth of 16-24″ (Breezy is 21″) and weight 30-50 lbs (Breezy is 22 lbs). The saddlebags are only 1L each (total capacity of 2L) so honestly, if I had a 30-50 lb dog I would want them to have a bigger backpack. It’s not a ton of space but we were able to fit in nearly everything we need for a quick overnight trip. The one thing you might be lugging yourself is a dog jacket or sleeping bag. The bags are not very deep, and are made to be pretty tough and as a result, are pretty rigid. Given the stiffness, stuffing a bulky item in them is just not going to work. The packs are a triangular shape which isn’t super ideal for us but for a dog Breezy’s size, this pack has enough space to get the job done. If you had larger dog with a smaller girth you may find these saddlebags are too small for good use, another inch or so of depth would really go a long way!
The pack is a deep red with black straps and while reflective piping on the harness and handle. While I don’t foresee using the pack a lot at night, it would be nice to also have some reflective piping on the saddle bags. The D-ring for attaching the leash is located on the back of the pack. This is an interesting choice and puts the point of connection much further back than I’m used to seeing. Breezy isn’t much of a leash puller, but I imagine I’d want to keep the leash on her collar if she was. The rear placement gives you very little control and it’s much harder to guide the dog since the connection point is on the middle of their body rather than on the front end.
One of the coolest things about this pack is that the saddlebags are totally removable, converting the pack into a nice visible adventure harness. This is a really nice feature for hanging out out around camp or if you want to give your dog a break but don’t want to carry the whole pack. To keep the bags stable and against the dogs body, the harness straps weave through a loop on the underside of each bag. This works great for keeping the bags steady while on the move, but means that to remove the saddlebags, you have to take the entire pack off. If you think you’ll be constantly adding and removing the bags from the harness, you can simply not loop the straps, though you’re going to have a lot of bouncing and even flipping around if you choose to do it that way. I’d recommend using the stability loops, as its really not very difficult to take the pack on and off.
The underside of the pack is a nice breathable mesh that has a good thickness to it. The straps and removable saddlebags all have this mesh as well and so it should sit pretty comfortably on the dog. The mesh allows air to flow so it doesn’t heat up as quickly either. The pack is not designed to be waterproof, but on a hot hike it was nice to be able to dunk the harness portion of the pack in water to help with cooling without drenching the saddle bags and weighing the pack down too much. I wouldn’t do this if you pack anything in the bags that absolutely cannot get wet, as the inside of the bags did start to get wet after about 10 minutes. This is also important to note if you’ll be hiking around any sort of water features. As a rule of thumb, I always pack Breezy’s bag so that it can get wet no problem just so I don’t have to worry about it. Double bag those treats!!
Fitting this pack was more of a challenge than I expected but once we had it right, I haven’t had to make any adjustments to it since. There are SEVEN points of adjustment on this pack. On the harness portion there are three adjustable padded straps: the front strap sits below the neck, the middle around the chest and the last under the belly. Breezy has a relatively long chest and very pronounced tuck to her belly. Originally, I tried to fit the pack so the handle was sitting centered on her body. However for the best fit with the least amount of jostling, we opted to tighten the neck strap nearly as tight as we could so the pack sits high on her back and the last strap closes around the end of her chest rather than her small belly. Dogs with pronounced tucks like Breezy might find this approach useful.
The remaining four points of adjustment are on the saddlebags themselves. Two on each bag connecting next to the handle, I found these to be the most tricky straps to adjust and was fidgeting with them quite a lot on our first hike. All these straps need to be balanced in order for the pack not to drift unevenly to one side, so we tried to get these straps as evenly tightened as possible. With a strap at the front and end of the bag, you can also adjust the angle of how the bag sits on the dog, which is cool, but was mostly just a hassle for us getting them to sit evenly. Once we found the sweet spot, the straps didn’t seem to move out of place, even with Breezy running through heavy brush. Because of the high level of customization on this pack, definitely plan on making multiple adjustments throughout your first hike to get the best fit for your pup.
This pack is a really fine addition to your hiking or backpacking gear lists. It’s durable, nice looking, and super functional out on the trail. I really love the removable saddlebags and the red color is so beautiful. The saddlebags have a lot of pockets and connection points if you’re into that sort of thing, or if you’re like me, just stuff it full and get out there. If you haven’t yet tried a dog backpack, this is a great starter option. Just remember your dog should never carry more than 10-15% of its weight. Be safe and happy trails everyone!
The Ultimate Trail Pack would be best: if your dog fits the girth size rather than the recommended weight, if your dog is rough on gear and needs something sturdy, if you’d like a pack with removable saddlebags
The Ultimate Trail Pack may not be ideal for: if you need your dog to carry a lot of things, especially bulky or oddly sized items, if you need to attach the leash to the pack and your dog is a heavy puller
Breezy’s Measurements: Girth 21″ / Back Length 16″ / Weight 22 lbs
Canine Equipment Ultimate Trail Pack Size: Small
Review by: Dogs That Hike Explorer @breeze.e.bear