Short on time? Our pick for the best dog backpack carrier for hiking is the Kurgo Dog Carrier Backpack.
Never leave your best friend behind with these dog backpack carriers for hiking and traveling.
Many dogs are prone to separation anxiety, so dog owners know that it’s best to take your dog with you on outings whenever possible.
Luckily, a dog is the perfect hiking companion. Dogs are just happy to be outside and to be included, and their joy is infectious.
Dogs and humans also have a pretty long history of traversing the wilderness together. Hiking with a dog puts you and your furry friend in touch with your primal roots.
Of course, dogs have come a long way from those primal roots. The stubby legs of a corgi or a chihuahua’s spindly ankles are a far cry from their tireless wolf ancestors.
A modern-day dog (especially if you live in a big city like San Francisco) is pretty likely to get tuckered out on the trail.
That’s when a backpack to carry your dog comes in handy. Safely strapped to your back, your pup can continue enjoying the scenery and your company without slowing you down.
In this article, we’ll talk about the best backpacks for dogs by breed and activity and name the overall number one best dog backpack carrier for hiking.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
Short on Time? Here’s a Quick Look at Our Recommendations
- Best for Small Dogs – Texsens Pet Backpack Carrier
- Best for Medium Dogs – Kurgo Dog Carrier Pack
- Best for Large Dogs – K9 Sport Sack Rover 2 Dog Carrier
- Best Front Pack Dog Carrier – WOYYHO Pet Dog Carrier Backpack
- Best Budget Dog Backpack Carrier – Outward Hound PoochPouch
- Best Luxury Pet Carrier Backpack – Kenneth Cole Reaction Collapsible Travel Pet Carrier
- Most Comfortable Dog Backpack Carrier – Timbuk2 Muttmover Luxe Backpack
- Best for Backpack Carrier for Puppies – COVONO Expandable Pet Carrier Backpack
- Most Versatile Dog Backpack Carrier – Kurgo Dog Carrier for Small Pets
- Best for Hiking and Biking – Lekesky Dog Carrier Backpack
- Best Lightweight Dog Backpack Carrier – Pawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack
- Most Durable Dog Backpack Carrier – K9 Sport Sack
#1 Texsens Pet Backpack Carrier
Best for Small Dogs
Size: 13″ x 11.42″ x 16.73″
Weight: 2.49 pounds
Our Rating: 4.7/5
Best for: Smaller dogs like chihuahuas, Yorkies, and Jack Russells
Sticking your furry friend into a backpack doesn’t have to mean hiding them away from the world. The Texsens Pet Backpack Carrier is an excellent backpack for small dogs.
It has a three-sided PVC mesh construction for a well-ventilated interior and a sponge-filled backing that provides cushioning.
The backpack accommodates pups up to 15 pounds, so it’s perfect for the littlest dog breeds.
This dog hiking backpack carrier features chest buckles to offset your dog’s weight. They also help keep the shoulder straps from slipping down if your dog starts shifting around inside the bag.
As a bonus, this backpack is foldable, so you can easily stash it when you aren’t using it.
It also comes with a safety lock to ensure your pup won’t make a break for it when you’re loading them in and out.
And a washable removable pad keeps your dog cozy while also making things easy if they have an accident.
The Texsens backpack comes in black, light grey, and pink for a touch of personalized flair.
- Mesh construction for airflow and viewability
- It has a removable, washable pad
- Safety strap lock
- No hip strap
- Not very lightweight
#2 Kurgo Dog Carrier Pack
Best for Medium Dogs
Size: 12.5” x 9” x 18.5”
Weight: 3 pounds
Our Rating: 4.2/5
Best for: Medium size dogs like corgis, Shiba Inus, and beagles
Kurgo is one of the leading brands that make dog carrier backpacks, and the Kurgo Dog Carrier Pack is one of their best offerings.
First of all, this medium dog backpack carrier has a stylish design. It’s made with water-resistant fabric and faux leather detailing and is available in either heather grey or heather black.
This backpack also provides good ventilation with a zippered top mesh opening, which you can roll away to make it even more well-ventilated.
And this pet carrier backpack has all the standard features you’d expect, such as a sternum support strap, an interior safety tether, a waterproof bottom, and a removable machine washable interior pad.
But it also comes with a few handy extra features, such as a pocket for your iPad or small laptop and a bottle opener on the roll-top buckles.
As a bonus, this Kurgo backpack for dogs is easy to wipe clean and can carry pets up to 25 pounds.
- Safety tether
- Bottle opener
- Laptop pocket
- A little heavy
#3 K9 Sport Sack Rover 2 Dog Carrier
Best for Large Dogs
Size: 32” x 10” x 8”
Weight: 4.7 pounds
Our Rating: 4.4/5
Best for: Big puppies like poodles and labs
Dog backpacks aren’t just for lap breeds. The K9 Sport Sack Rover 2 Dog Carrier is an excellent backpack carrier for large dogs.
The XXL size accommodates dogs weighing up to 80 pounds who are up to 29 inches long and 40 inches around.
This heavy-duty hiking dog carrier is similar to a backpacking backpack with 60 liters of space, and it comes in black or myrtle green.
Adjustable shoulder/torso sizing and ergonomic, padded shoulder straps mean your dog’s weight is properly distributed across your back, no matter what size they are.
K9 is another leading brand in dog carriers. And this backpack will have you ready for anything with a removable storage bag, side venting zippers, hip pockets for extra storage, a hydro port, and safety clips.
K9 also offers a 60-day quality guarantee so you can feel confident with your purchase.
- Fits larger breeds
- Ergonomic adjustable shoulder straps
- Trusted brand
- Somewhat heavy
#4 WOYYHO Pet Dog Carrier Backpack
Best Front Pack Dog Carrier
Size: 15” x 8” x 17”
Weight: 1 pound
Our Rating: 4.4/5
Best for: Little dogs who like to feel included
Backpacks don’t have to be on your back. For small and medium dogs, sometimes the best pet gear is a front pack.
With a front-pack, your pup stays included in what you’re doing and seeing, and you can keep an eye on them while keeping your hands free.
The Woyyho Pet Dog Carrier Backpack is a small carrier for dogs. It comes in eight different colors and two sizes (small and large), so you can find one that fits your small dog and your lifestyle.
The small size fits pups up to 10 pounds, and the large works for pets weighing up to 14 pounds.
It also has breathable mesh windows and polyester construction, with removable and washable inner pads.
A solid bottom provides a good foundation for a skittish dog that frequently shifts around, while a built-in security clip keeps your pet strapped in. And chest and waist buckles keep the pack firmly supported on your body.
Also, even though it’s marketed as a front pack, you can wear this dog backpack either on the front or the back.
- Lots of color options
- Only accommodates dogs up to 10 pounds
- Not fully enclosed
#5 Outward Hound PoochPouch
Best Dog Backpack Carrier for Those on a Budget
Size: 6.5” x 10” x 8”
Weight: 1.49 pounds
Our Rating: 4/5
Best for: Dog lovers who don’t want to break the bank
If spending an arm and a leg on a pet carrier backpack isn’t your style, there are still some great affordable options.
The Outward Hound PoochPouch has many of the same features as competing brands at a fraction of the cost.
Outward Hound’s small dog backpack for hiking offers a couple of different color options: grey, blue, and black.
Additionally, front and side pockets provide extra storage for valuables and water bottles. As a bonus, mesh straps make it comfortable to wear, and a removable pad makes it easy to clean.
You can wear this water-resistant backpack on either the front or the back, and it includes a harness attachment to ensure your pup won’t make a break for it when you’re hiking.
- Mesh straps
- Lots of pockets
- Not as comfortable or durable as more expensive options
#6 Kenneth Cole Reaction Collapsible Travel Pet Carrier
Best Luxury Dog Backpack Carrier
Size: 16” x 12.5” x 10”
Weight: 3.2 pounds
Our Rating: 4.5/5
Best for: Stylish dogs and their owners
Dog carrier backpacks don’t have to clash with your style.
If you like to pamper your dog, and yourself, then this chic polyester-twill backpack from Kenneth Cole allows you to carry your furry friend without having to sacrifice fashion.
But it’s not all about looks; this backpack is super functional as well.
The durable mesh exterior comes in black with gold hardware. And a waterproof coated bottom material and removable machine washable fleece lining help keep the inside clean.
Plus, breathable padded air mesh backing and straps and adjustable waist straps make it comfy for the wearer, while a leash clip keeps your dog safe and strapped in.
This backpack also has a surprisingly high capacity for its size: it can accommodate pets up to 18 pounds.
- High weight capacity
- Washable fleece lining
- A little bulky
#7 Timbuk2 Muttmover Luxe Backpack
Most Comfortable Dog Carrier Backpack (For the Wearer and the Dog Too)
Size: 9.5” x 14” x 10.5”
Weight: 3.95 pounds
Our Rating: 4.7/5
Best for: Long hikes with your pup
Timbuk2 is a long-standing San Francisco-based brand that makes high-quality bags of all types, so it’s no wonder that they also make a well-crafted dog carrier backpack.
Like all their products, the Timbuk2 Muttmover Luxe Backpack comes with a lifetime warranty.
On top of that, this bag offers plenty of excellent features, such as a removable sternum and waist straps and padding in the air mesh back panel and shoulder straps.
Timbuk2 also uses superior materials. The main body is hard-wearing PVC, and the interior’s ripstop water-resistant nylon fabric is easy to wipe clean.
There’s also a generous amount of organizational pockets for a leash, snacks, or your other belongings.
Plus, it’s a versatile pack. With a maximum weight capacity of 20 lbs, this bag can accommodate a wide range of dog breeds.
- Quality materials
- Lifetime warranty
- Lots of pockets
- Somewhat heavy
#8 COVONO Expandable Pet Carrier Backpack
Best for Backpack Carrier for Puppies
Size: 13.6” x 10” x 16.8”
Weight: 4.41 pounds
Our Rating: 4.8/5
Best for: Puppies who are still getting used to the carrier
Hiking with a puppy in your backpack can take a little getting used to, both for you and your pet.
Luckily, the Covono Expandable Pet Carrier Backpack is a puppy carrier for hiking with many features that make the transition easier for a young pup.
A mesh window on the top and a transparent window in the front let in lots of light. An expandable design with four separate entrances helps coax wary pets inside.
And nine different venting holes, as well as oxford cloth and acrylic construction, keep your dog feeling breezy with plenty of air.
Another reason why this is the best puppy backpack is that there are features to make things easier on the owner.
A self-adhesive, washable, and removable pad makes clean-up a piece-of-cake. Padded shoulder straps with buckles at the waist and chest help lighten the load, which has a maximum capacity of 18 pounds.
- Multiple entrances
- Lots of vents
- Reasonable price
- Somewhat heavy
- Lots of bells and whistles may make things more complicated
#9 Kurgo Dog Carrier for Small Pets
Most Versatile Dog Backpack Carrier
Size: 14.57” x 5.71” x 18.5”
Weight: 4.28 pounds
Our Rating: 4.8/5
Best for: Avid travelers and their puppies
As I mentioned above, Kurgo is a leading brand for pet carriers, and the Kurgo Dog Carrier Backpack for Small Pets is their most popular offering.
This backpack is an excellent choice for pet owners who like to have their dogs with them in various settings and on many types of excursions.
This backpack has a waterproof bottom and is machine washable and wipeable, so it’s easy to clean after a long dusty hike or if your dog has an accident.
It also features a plethora of zippered organization pockets, a clip tether on the inside, and mesh ventilation to give your dog ample airflow.
You have the choice between a red or black outer, and it isn’t immediately apparent that it’s a pet carrier, so you could use it for other things on days when your pup is staying home.
And this bag’s versatility doesn’t end there. The straps, which are padded and adjustable, can be stowed away to turn the bag into a regular carrier as well.
What’s more, the Kurgo Dog Carrier is TSA-approved so that it can keep your pet by your side from hiking trails to trips abroad.
- Trusted brand
- Can transform from a backpack to a traditional carrier
- A little on the heavy side
#10 Lekesky Dog Carrier Backpack
Best for Hiking and Biking
Size: 30” x 26” x 43”
Weight: 2.8 pounds
Our rating: 4.5/5
Best for: Active people who love adventuring with their smaller dogs
The Lekesky Dog Carrier Backpack is one of the best dog carriers for hiking due to its lightweight and generous size. The roomy interior can accommodate pets up to 15 pounds.
This backpack features a convenient chest strap, so your pet’s weight is distributed across your back and shoulders evenly during a long hike. And its heather grey outer is made from high-quality 300D polyester, so it’s pretty durable too.
Its design also includes lots of mesh windows for optimal airflow. Plus, there are entrances on both the top and the front to make it easy to load your pet inside.
The bottom of this dog carrier backpack is firmly structured, so your pet can move around freely while inside without throwing off your balance.
- Dual entry
- A little bulky
- Not waterproof
#11 Pawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack
Best Lightweight Dog Backpack Carrier
Size: 14.7” x 10.4” x 0.5” inches
Weight: 6.56 Ounces
Our rating: 4.1/5
Best for: Dog-loving hikers who don’t want to strap on a lot of extra weight
When it comes to small or medium dog backpacks, you want something as lightweight as possible.
The Pawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack straps around your dog’s torso while leaving their legs and tail free.
You can wear it on either the front or the back and cradle your pup like a baby, and there are two side zippers to make it easy to load your pet in or out.
This carrier is extremely lightweight at only six and a half ounces, but it can accommodate pets up to 18 pounds, thanks to its design.
Thickened sponge creates a padded back and straps, which keep your dog from causing strain or feeling too heavy.
The Pawaboo has eight different colors to choose from, including a bright, multicolored stripe pattern, camouflage, and a robin’s egg blue.
- Lots of fun colors
- Some dogs may not like having their legs dangle
- No organizational pockets
#12 K9 Sport Sack
Most Durable Dog Backpack Carrier
Size: 21.97” x 11.26” x 3.35”
Weight: 1.1 pounds
Our rating: 4.4/5
Best for: Avid hikers and their dogs
The body of this bag fits around your dog’s torso snugly, so your pet feels well supported inside the pack.
The durable Cordura fabric also comes in fantastic color options, including “Summer Mint” and a tropical print.
The pack also offers a variety of size options that can accommodate an impressive range of breeds weighing up to 30 pounds, while the bag itself only weighs one pound.
With breathable mesh sides, a safety strap clip, collar enclosure, and dual side pockets, this backpack is ready for whatever adventure you throw at it.
And a sternum strap and ergonomic shoulder straps save your shoulders and neck from getting sore in the process.
- Quality materials
- Lots of colors
- Some dogs may not like having their movement constricted
- No waist strap
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Dog Backpack Carrier
Now that we’ve laid out a range of options, you might feel a little stuck when it comes to choosing which one is best for you and your dog.
Here’s a handy buying guide to help you sort out the process.
What to Look for in a Dog Backpack Carrier
Choosing the right backpack for your dog is a matter of knowing what to look for.
Most pet backpacks include certain crucial features for keeping your pet safe and comfortable inside the bag.
There are also several features that you’ll often see which help make things more convenient for you, the dog owner.
The first crucial thing to consider is whether the bag is well-ventilated.
The average pet backpack will come with a venting system, but some have grommet holes and mesh windows. Some have just one mesh section, and others are mesh all around.
So, it’s up to you to decide if the ventilation of a particular bag is right for you and your pet.
The next aspect to keep in mind is security. Most dog hiking backpacks have a leash clip so that your pooch is strapped to the bag and can’t just slip out and take off.
You’ll want to consider how strong that leash clip is, but also look at what other safety features the carrier has.
Are the zippers sufficiently complex for a pet not to push open? Does the bag strap to the dog’s body, or do they have room to move around inside?
How Easy it is to Clean
Next are the features that make your life easier. Some nervous puppies might be prone to accidents, so a waterproof carrier would come in handy for them.
Many carriers also feature a removable, washable pad to make cleaning up less of a headache.
Another detail to consider is how comfortable the bag is for the wearer.
What is the weight of the dog carrier backpack? If it’s heavy, then those are extra pounds you’ll have to carry on top of your dog.
Are there chest and waist straps to offset that weight? Is there a padded back or an ergonomic strap design?
Once you’ve covered the basic features, you’ll want to look at any extra features.
Does a bag’s design feature anything that sets it apart, like a laptop sleeve or a water bottle holder?
Elements that go above and beyond will help determine the best dog carrier backpack for you.
Types of Dog Backpack Carriers
There are a few categories of dog carrier backpacks, and each one has its advantages that suit a different type of dog or another type of pet owner.
Before you get into a carrier’s features, you’ll need to determine which category has the best dog carrier backpacks for you and your pet.
Structured and Enclosed Carrier
Some backpacks have a hard, flat bottom and zip all the way closed.
Your dog stays entirely inside the bag and gets its airflow through mesh windows and grommet holes with this variety.
If your pet is an escape artist or feels skittish when confronted by larger breeds, then this may be the right backpack for you.
These dog backpacks also tend to have multiple entry points, making it easier to load a pet in and out.
However, one disadvantage of this type of pack is that they can be rather large and cumbersome to carry on your back.
Technically, you can wear any backpack on the front, but some feature designs are specific for this type of versatility.
Dog front carrier backpacks tend to hug a dog’s torso and may even have leg holes that let the legs dangle freely.
Front backpacks will generally be lighter and may be well suited for dogs that respond well to thunder shirts.
Some dog backpacks are aesthetically similar to a standard backpack but have hidden features that make them safe for carrying your pet inside.
Carriers like this may feature lots of extra pockets so you can carry other items aside from your dog.
This type of carrier can even be pretty stylish so that it could be a good choice for the fashionable dog owner.
FAQs About Dog Backpack Carriers
If you’re concerned about the safety of a dog backpack, we’re here to answer all of your burning questions about dog carriers backpacks.
Are dog carriers okay for dogs?
There’s so much variation between breeds and personalities that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to what’s best for your dog.
Many dogs thrive inside a backpack carrier, while others find it distressing or uncomfortable.
In general, backpacks are a good solution for both dogs and their owners. However, individual preferences vary, and we don’t recommend putting your dog in a pack if they don’t like it.
How long can a dog stay in a backpack?
The amount of time that a dog should stay in a backpack carrier depends on the climate and the type of carrier.
For its Sport Sack, K9 recommends that dogs shouldn’t stay in the bag for longer than 45 minutes at a time, with the time limit decreasing in hotter climates.
It’s a good idea to check in with your dog frequently. Just because your dog is out of sight on your back doesn’t mean that it should be out of mind.
If your dog seems overheated or otherwise uncomfortable, it may be time to take a break and stretch its legs.
How do you know which size backpack to carry your dog in?
There are two ways to determine if a carrier is the right size for your dog.
The first thing to consider is the bag’s weight capacity. However, the weight limit doesn’t tell you everything.
For example, your dog may weigh less than 10 pounds but have a very long torso. So another factor to look at is the actual measurements of the bag.
If your dog is within the weight limit and smaller than the bag’s dimensions, you should be in the clear.
Our Pick for the Best Dog Carrier Backpack for Hiking
Our pick for the best dog carrier backpack is the Kurgo Dog Carrier Backpack for Small Pets.
Aside from being a sturdy and well-made bag, I like this backpack for its versatility.
Even if you’re looking for a dog hiking backpack specifically to use on the trail, you may also want to bring your dog on an airplane at a later date.
The Kurgo backpack is TSA-approved, so it has you covered in both of those scenarios, and you won’t need to invest in multiple bags.
The fact that this bag converts from a backpack to a traditional carrier is another big plus.
If you buy it and find that your dog isn’t too hot on the backpack model, then this bag will still work for you, making it a safer investment.
The Kurgo bag accommodates pets up to 25 pounds, so a diverse range of dogs will feel comfortable inside it.
It also has the look of a traditional backpack, so you can use it even if you’re not bringing your dog with you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elina Ansary is a writer, visual artist, and avid traveler. She grew up in San Francisco, CA, and spent her childhood camping up and down Northern California. These days, she visits artist residencies around the world and has lived in Amsterdam, Australia, and now Brooklyn, NY.
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