Best Dog Backpack Carrier for Hiking: Top 6 Rides

Shorter legs, older joints, injured paws…there are multiple reasons you may need to carry your dog on the trail. Our guide introduces you to 6 awesome carriers for your pooch that will make doing so a pleasure rather than a pain.

Emily Trostel Avatar
Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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With such a variety of dog breeds and sizes, it can be challenging to know where to begin when looking for a dog carrier backpack for your hiking adventures. Your selection not only depends on your pup’s physical attributes and requirements but also needs to ensure their comfort and security within the carrier.

In this guide, we aim to help you find the best option for you and your pup by introducing 6 awesome pup-portation packs. Leading our list is the Kurgo G-Train but considering the diverse range of dog breeds, several others are worth mentioning, including the K9 Sport Sack, Pecute Pet Carrier, Petsfit Comfort, PetAmi Deluxe, and the Pawaboo Pet Carrier.

We also explain why you might need a dog-carrying backpack in the first place and help you choose the most suitable doggy backpack carrier based on factors such as size, weight, capacity, ventilation, design, and safety.

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Pet Carrier Backpack: Quick Recommendations

  • Editor’s Choice:  Kurgo G-Train
    “Designed for hiking and backed by a lifetime warranty, the Kurgo is our pick for the best dog carrier backpack for hiking.”
  • Runner Up (and Best for Larger Dogs):  K9 Sport Sack
    “A wide range of models and sizes make this one of the best on the market.”
  • Best Expandable:  Pecute Pet Carrier Backpack
    “Excellent ventilation and the expandable side makes this one of the most versatile pet carriers.”
  • Best Value:  Petsfit Comfort
    “Great value and plenty of room for your little dog to curl up and enjoy the view.”
  • Best for Small Breed Dogs:  PetAmi Deluxe
    “Style meets function for the tiniest adventurers.”
  • Best Budget:  Pawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack
    “A basic legs-free carrier that’s a comfortable carry with dogs under 18 pounds.”

What Are The Best Dog Carriers For Hiking?

We’ve compiled the following list of our favorite dog carrier backpacks for hiking, with the Kurgo G-Train taking first in show.

  • Kurgo G-Train
  • K9 Sport Sack
  • Pecute Pet Carrier
  • Petsfit Comfort
  • PetAmi Deluxe
  • Pawaboo Pet Carrier
Kurgo G-Train - Dog Carrier Backpack for Small Pets - Cat & Dog Backpack for Hiking, Camping or Travel - Waterproof Bottom - Red

Kurgo G-Train

Editor’s Choice

The Kurgo G-Train is the best dog carrier for hiking with small and medium dogs weighing 25 pounds or less. Despite a higher price than many competitors, this backpack includes a lifetime warranty and is specifically designed for the trail.

Doubling as a hiking pack, the Kurgo features padded shoulder straps, a chest strap, padded waist belt, adjustable load straps, and two outer holders for water bottles. It is made of weather-resistant fabric and has a waterproof bottom with a removable, washable pad.

This medium dog backpack carrier has mesh sides and a zippered mesh flap that can be rolled open, though fully closed it does not offer the same airflow and breathability as other models. Fairly standard, there is also a safety clip to attach to your pup’s harness to avoid falling or jumping out. For urban adventures or commuting, there is also a padded laptop sleeve.

  • PROs

    • Designed with comfort in mind
    • Plenty of storage
    • Lifetime warranty
  • CONs

    • Not the most breathable model
    • A bit pricey

Bottom-Line: Thoughtfully designed and guaranteed for life, perfect for keeping your pup safe through challenging sections of trail or when they tucker out in that last mile.

K9 Sport Sack | Dog Carrier Adjustable Backpack (X-Small, Air 2 - Charcoal Grey)

K9 Sport Sack

Runner Up (and Best for Larger Dogs)

The K9 Sport Sack is the best dog backpack for hiking with larger breeds. It comes in six styles, each with 3-4 sizes that can accomodate dogs up to 80 pounds. The Sport Sack is designed like a hiking pack with padded back and shoulder straps, multiple compartments, and a hip belt.

Developed in consultation with veterinarians, this model is designed to keep your pup safe and comfortable for hiking, biking, and urban adventures. All models have vet-approved safety features, mesh sides that allow for plenty of ventilation, and come in a range of styles, sizes, and colors. 

With this style of carrier, your pooch will be in what is essentially a heeling position. This is perfectly safe and comfortable for your pup, but not for extended periods of activity. According to the K9 team, while also determined by weather and activity, dogs should generally not be in a Sport Sack for more than 45 minutes at a time.

  • PROs

    • Plentiful sizes and models
    • Veterinarian approved
    • Comfortable for humans and canines
  • CONs

    • Maximum 45-minute use time
    • A bit pricey

Bottom-Line: The best (and only) large dog carrier backpack on our list, the K9 Sport Sack is ideal for biking, hiking, and urban adventures with your bigger four-pawed friends.

Pecute Pet Carrier Backpack, Cat Backpack Carrier, Expandable with Breathable Mesh for Small Dogs Cats Puppies, Dog Backpack Carrier for Hiking Travel Camping Outdoor, Hold Pets Up to 18 Lbs

Pecute Pet Carrier

Best Expandable

The Pecute Pet Carrier Backpack expands to nearly twice its size and doubles as a mesh crate when stopping on the trail. The optional extra room for your pup to stretch out makes it one of the best dog backpack carriers for travel.

Features include chest and waist straps, lightly padded straps, a safety clip to attach to your pup’s harness, and side pockets for storing pet gear and personal items. One side is designed to hold poop bags, dog treats, and a water bottle, while the other holds pet owner necessities such as a wallet and phone.

This model is incredibly well-designed and offers great value for money. It has excellent ventilation and visibility, and you can even opt for an acrylic or mesh window design. It also folds down for complete flat storage. Keep in mind this model is intended for smaller dogs, with a maximum weight of 18 pounds.

  • PROs

    • Expands for extra room
    • Excellent ventilation
    • Sustainable materials
    • Plenty of pockets
  • CONs

    • The acrylic panel can make it easy to overheat on hot days
    • Adjustable shoulder straps are not the most comfortable

Bottom-Line: Designed with pet comfort and human convenience in mind, this versatile dog carrier backpack is a fantastic option for hikers who travel.

Petsfit Pet Backpack Carrier Easy-Fit Dog Travel Backpack Carrier for Hiking Walking Cycling Suitable for Small Medium Dogs Cats and Rabbits up to 22 Pounds, Green

Petsfit Comfort

Best Value

The Petsfit Comfort offers great value. With its boxy design and solid bottom providing support for small dogs that like to move around or curl up for a nap while their human hikes, you won’t have a sagging bottom or sides that cave in on your pup.

Four mesh windows and two entrances (one of which can be rolled up like a curtain) offer plenty of fresh air, versatility, and comfort for your pup to take in the surroundings. This pet backpack is safe for dogs up to 22 pounds but recommended for dogs weighing 15 pounds or less. 

Other features include side pockets, padded adjustable straps, and a removable bottom mat that can be washed. It is also fully collapsible and stores flat when not in use. The tall design allows for enough room to add a small blanket for pups who like to get real cozy.

  • PROs

    • Roomy footprint
    • Great ventilation
    • Fleece mat
    • Adjustable straps
    • Durable materials
  • CONs

    • Low weight limit 

Bottom-Line: If your furry friend likes the royal treatment, this spacious and well-designed room with a view will be their new favorite way to travel. 

PetAmi Dog Backpack Carrier for Small Large Cat, Pet, Puppies, Ventilated Pet Hiking Backpack Travel Bag, Airline Approved Cat Backpack Carrier, Safety Back Support, Camping Biking Dog Bag, Grey

PetAmi Deluxe

Best for Small Breed Dogs

The PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier is our top pick for small breeds. The sherpa-lined interior keeps your pooch cozy while the mesh windows allow them to enjoy the view and fresh air.

Thoughtfully designed to meet both human and canine needs, this backpack has a side and back pocket to hold personal items, comes with a collapsible bowl, and is available in a selection of 12 color choices. The PetAmi features a safety leash and safety buckles to ensure your pup stays snugly inside. 

While rated for dogs up to 18 pounds, the soft siding does tend to sag under that much weight. This model is recommended for small dogs weighing 10 pounds or less.

  • PROs

    • Stylish assortment of colors
    • Plenty of storage
    • Extra safety features
  • CONs

    • Lacks support and can cave in with heavier dogs

Bottom-Line: Style meets function with this model making it our favorite small dog carrier bag.

Pawaboo Pet Carrier Backpack, Adjustable Pet Front Cat Dog Carrier Backpack Travel Bag, Legs Out, Easy-Fit for Traveling Hiking Camping for Small Medium Dogs Cats Puppies, Medium, Black

Pawaboo Pet Carrier

Best Budget

The Pawaboo Pet Backpack is a great budget legs-free carrier to get small pooches through that last mile or two of trail. This model, while lacking in bells and whistles, is easy to use, made with durable materials, and comfortable for both owner and pet.

This model is made with breathable mesh and polyester fiber, so dried quickly when wet and won’t have your pup overheating on summer hikes. The elastic leg openings stretch and it also has adjustable closures with enough give to accommodate your pup’s paunch if they’ve been hitting the Kibble a little too hard.

While the manufacturer’s recommended weight capacity for this dog carrier is 18 lbs, we wouldn’t recommend trying to squeeze any canine north of the 15-pound mark in there due to the lack of padding on the straps.

  • PROs

    • Cheap!
    • Breathable 
    • Soft, spongy mesh fabric
    • Adjustable neck/collar closure
  • CONs

    • Lacks padding in shoulder straps

Bottom-Line: A basic, frill-free dog carrier that’s ideal for dogs weighing 10-15 pounds.

Why Do You Need a Dog-Carrying Backpack?

The reasons you may want to carry your canine around in a dog backpack while hiking include having an aging companion, smaller pups, or water crossings and rock scrambling sections. The primary consideration is whether your pup can safely and happily hike everywhere that you do.

Older dogs may not be up for the long hikes they used to enjoy. Using a hiking backpack for dogs will give them a well-deserved break and still allow them to join their favorite adventures. 

Small dog breeds are likely to need a ride when their legs get tired. They may want to walk for a while, then curl up in their backpack for a snooze.

More challenging hikes may have rock scrambles or river crossings that are dangerous for your canine to attempt. Again, for these sections, it is helpful to be able to safely secure your pup in a dog carrier pack before continuing.

Mercifully, while my three dogs are high-maintenance in their own very special ways, none of them require quite that much exercise. One of them in particular, Tuck, is an eight-pound elderly mutt whose spirit of adventure is much greater than his little legs will carry him. 

Tuck’s Petsfit backpack is always the last thing we touch before leaving the house; as soon as he hears the familiar sound of the zipper, he yelps nonstop until we are out the door. Without this little godsend of an accessory, there are several occasions when poor ol’ Tuck would’ve missed out on all the fun.

Tuck the dog sitting in Petsfit bag
With a dog carrier backpack age doesn’t stop Tuck from living his best life! (Emily Trostel/MyOpenCountry ©)

What to Look for When Buying A Carrier Backpack For Dogs?

The essential features to consider when buying the best dog backpack for carrying your pup are listed below.

  • Size
  • Weight Capacity
  • Ventilation
  • Design
  • Safety

Size

It’s important to properly measure the length of your dog to be sure you choose the right-sized carrier backpack. Depending on the type of carrier, either measure from your dog’s collar to the base of the tail and add a few inches (if the head will be outside of the carrier) or from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail and add a few inches (if the head will be inside the carrier).

Weight Capacity

Weight capacity is crucial and easy to overlook if your pup appears to fit just fine. For both safety and comfort, double-check the maximum weight capacity before purchasing. If your dog exceeds the limit, opt for a different model or size up.

Ventilation

Regardless of climate, good ventilation is important for keeping your dog cool. Look for a model with breathable mesh panels or a zip-up mesh window for air circulation.

Person wearing a dog in a dog carrier on her back with mesh panels on the side
Mesh ventilation panels help keep your four-legged friend cool while being carried

Design 

Most pet carrier backpacks are designed for small dogs, some with a hard, supportive bottom for your pup to curl up inside. Others, like the K9 Sport Sack, are intended for your pup to sit in a heel position, with their head and paws out at the top for a better view. If in doubt about the safety or comfort of your pooch, ask your vet about the best style for your dog’s weight and body type.

Safety

For your dog’s safety, choose backpack carriers with a dedicated dog compartment featuring mesh windows or sides for ventilation. The pack should also have a means to keep your pet secure, such as a small leash attached to the inside that can clip to your pup’s harness.

Best Dog Carrier Bags: The Verdict

If you have a small pup under 25 pounds, the Kurgo G-Train is the best backpack carrier on the market. For a medium-sized or larger dog, the K9 Sport Sack’s range of sizes and models ensures you’ll find one to give your best friend a short break when needed.

Do you have a favorite pet backpack we missed? Let us know! And if you’d like to share this post with your fellow canine-lovers, share away!

Last update on 2024-02-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Emily Trostel Avatar

Emily is an adventure travel professional, writer, and former educator. Growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania, Emily’s wanderlust and love for the outdoors took hold early—she was a total summer camp kid, and spent four semesters studying abroad in college.

After moving to Wyoming to earn her MFA, she spent the next few years backpacking, hiking, and rock climbing throughout the western United States while working as an English teacher, outdoor educator, and trip leader.

Now based in Vermont with her wife and three dogs, Emily has combined her passion for travel and the outdoors into a career – she scouts and develops hiking trips around the world, including the Camino de Santiago, Peru’s Sacred Valley, and throughout the Alps. She also loves food, wine, literature, and open water swimming, and will always say yes to hot springs, saunas, and bluegrass music.

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