We get lots of questions regarding how to choose the right pack for your dog, so we thought we’d post a quick guide to selecting a pack. 

The Ruff Wear Palisades Pack
The Ruff Wear Palisades Pack


 First, consider intended use. For multi-day adventures such as backpacking, a larger, more integrated dog pack such as the Ruff Wear Palisades Pack™ is recommended. For longer adventures, consider features such as removable saddlebags, integrated water bladders, larger pockets, waterproof zippers. Also, look for a pack with a compression strap system that cinches the saddlebags closer to the dog’s body. The compression system keeps the saddlebags from flopping around when your dog takes off running.  For shorter trips and day hikes, the Ruff Wear Approach Pack™, or similar, one-pocket, no-hassle packs are a great solution.

 Second, be sure to size appropriately.  An oversized pack is not only more likely to shift and cause abrasion, it can cause injury if over packed.  Be sure to measure your dog’s girth (the widest part around their body), and purchase the correct size pack according to your dog’s measurements.  Our saddlebags are sized to help prevent overloading; however, a good rule of thumb is 25 – 30% of a well-conditioned and healthy dog’s weight. 

Third, fit and design will help stabilize the pack.  Saddlebags that attach to a sturdy harness frame will keep the pack secure and prevent discomfort and saddlebag shift.

Forth, look for key features.  One key element is a breathable back panel that disperses the load while providing ventilation. Other features to look for are gear loops, self-repairing waterproof zippers, easy-to-grab zipper pulls, and leash attachment points.  Reflective trim is another nice feature, keeping your dog visible in low-light conditions.

 Finally, fabric choices make a difference in the long run.  A good, sturdy fabric will keep your pack clean and abrasion-free for years to come.  Look for fabrics and features that resist wear and tear and keep out dust, dirt, and rain. Synthetic fabrics are both UV stable and resist dirt and abrasion.

What other advice would you offer to fellow dog owners looking to select the ideal pack for their dog?

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5 thoughts

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  2. My Doberman loves his Ruff Wear Palisades Pack and the built in water bladders mean I don’t have to fill my own pack with his water. He can also carry his own poop bags and his ruffwear travel bowl and food. The fact that they are water bladders also mean that they are more stable in the pack than a loose water bottle.

    It certainly doesn’t seem to slow him down at all, even after wearing it over many, many miles. The straps seem well padded and don’t seem to cause any rubbing.

    Despite being the best pack on the market (IMO) I’d suggest a couple of improvements. Ruff Wear need to rethink the clumsy velcro catches that fasten the bag to the strap under the dogs stomach. Some kind of quick release catch would be far preferable. Additionaly I didn’t find the front straps had quite enough adjustment.

    The Doberman is a very deep but narrow chested dog and I found the straps didn’t adjust quite short enough for the front padding to sit in the centre of his chest. Half an hour with a needle and thread fixed this, but if the front straps had a different adjustment toggle then it would have fit properly ‘out of the box’.

    Don’t let these small observations put you off. . . . . In every other way the the medium size was perfect and it’s HIGHLY recommended. It feels like proper, human, backpacking equipment. Durable and well thought through.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with the Palisades Pack. We’ve long tried to come up with a good solution for saddlebag flop, and appreciate your feedback on the velcro tabs (as well as comments on the strap lengths). Thank you again for sharing.

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