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Hiking with dogs is one of our favorite activities here at Rover—but for some pet parents, it’s also one of the most challenging. After all, not all pups are built to clamber over boulders or ford muddy streams. So instead of leaving your dog behind or modifying your route, consider an alternative: a dog hiking backpack. And thanks to our recent experiments in the outdoors, we know exactly which one you should pick.
Why a Backpack for Hiking with Your Dog?
Some dogs were built for hiking. Long-legged Huskies, Cattle Dogs, Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs are powerhouses that can often keep on trekking long after you’re ready to call it quits. But not all pups, no matter how big of spirit, are meant for the trail. Senior dogs and smaller breeds are especially vulnerable to exhaustion and injury—a dangerous situation when help or a ride might be several miles out.
This was the dilemma I faced as I contemplated the first hike of spring with my recently adopted senior Dachshund Oscar. Oscar has many passions, but none are greater than his determination to not be left behind. He was willing to make a go of hiking—but I wasn’t sure his short legs and 14-year-old back were up to the challenge.
I needed a way to give Oscar a break when he got worn out—and maybe a way to transport him over some of the larger obstacles we were likely to encounter.
In short, I needed a dog-safe backpack carrier suitable for hiking. I found a market full of promising options, like the popular K9 Sport Sack and the PetAmi Pet Carrier. But Oscar’s vet had the last word—she said those carrying sacks were good for other pups, but Oscar’s extra-long (and extra-old) back needed more support, something that let him sit naturally, like the Kurgo G-Train Dog Carrier Backpack.
So off we went into the wilderness, armed with raincoats, hiking gear, and a spiffy red dog backpack.
What the Kurgo Dog Carrier Backpack Has to Offer
The first thing I realized about the Kurgo dog hiking backpack was that it wasn’t just a good choice for a sensitive dog back—it was a good choice for my back.
The Kurgo comes with adjustable buckles at just about every point you could want them: around your waist, at your chest, and at the top and bottom of the bag, where the padded shoulder straps can be tightened or loosened to fit the length of your torso. About two minutes of work saw the carrier better fitted to my shoulders than any bag or pack I own (and had me wondering if I should get a second one for human-only use).
Two other straps are all about your dog’s comfort: buckles on the sides of the pack cinch the front to the back, making sure your dog doesn’t feel like he’s on the verge of tipping out.
Then there’s the internal strap with a carabiner that connects to your pup’s harness and makes sure they can’t tip out—even if they want to.
The whole pack is reinforced by fiberglass rods to help it keep its structure, while cushy, ventilated mesh back and side panels offer comfort for carrier and passenger alike.
The pack’s sturdy armorsole base is inflexible and waterproof, meaning it’s no big deal to set it down on a muddy trail, while the inside has a cozy, machine-washable liner for your dog’s comfort. The whole pack is water-resistant and can be wiped down or hand washed.
Finally, the Kurgo hiking backpack has an array of convenient pockets for tucking leashes, collapsible water bowls, snacks, and anything else you might want on the trail—even laptops and tablets.
I thought it was an excellent carrier with a smart, comfortable design and couldn’t have wished for better. But what did Oscar think?
A Dog’s Review of the Kurgo G-Train Hiking Backpack
True to Dachshund form, Oscar has a natural affinity for caves, blanket forts, and other tight spots. He also has an independent streak that disapproves of crates or anything that restricts his ability to go where he pleases.
I wasn’t sure which category the backpack would fall into, so I took a cautious approach. A week before our hike, I set it on the living room floor for a bit so Oscar could do some sniffing. Then I sprinkled some treats in there. When those disappeared, I picked Oscar up and settled him in the open backpack. He seemed okay, so I invited him to come out so we could try again—but he didn’t. He stayed in the pack.
Oscar thought the pack was cozy. Over the next few days, I caught him nosing it, trying to get in on his own. One night when he couldn’t settle down, I tried putting him in the pack next to me, and he fell right asleep. We tried a few short trips, including a bus ride to visit his human grandparents, and Oscar was always pleased as punch to be along for the ride.
When we finally made it to the wilderness, he got in like a champ, happily alternating walking and riding over the course of a beautiful (and slightly rainy) four miles. Human and pup agree: this hiking backpack for dogs is a winner.
What To Know Before You Buy the Kurgo Hiking Backpack
The Kurgo G-Train is advertised as suitable for dogs up to 25 pounds, and that looked about right to us! Oscar clocks in at 16 pounds, and he fit in the pack with room to spare—unusual proportions and all. Some smaller pups might have trouble seeing out the top, like Boston Terrier Olive did when she and pet parent Amber gave the Kurgo a shot. Their solution? A cozy bed of towels or blankets at the pack’s base to add a couple inches of height.
For pups in a weight class the Kurgo G-Train can’t accommodate, the K9 Sport Sack is a good option, with some models, like the Rover 2, able to carry pups up to 80 pounds (that is, if you can—in which case, we salute you!).
There are also a few good watchouts to keep in mind on your adventures in the wilderness. First, when you have a carrier with an internal tether, it’s important to attach the carabiner to a harness instead of a collar. If your dog made a sudden bid for freedom and managed to jump out of the backpack, you’d want them to be caught by their chest, not their neck. Oscar and I can’t really imagine a pup busting out of the Kurgo—but safety first!
Second, it’s always important to practice basic hiking safety. You’ll want to bring lots of water and make sure you have a way to share it with your pup. Snacks are a good idea for both of you—even if you don’t think you’ll be out very long.
You’ll also want to keep an eye on the weather, since whether they’re walking or not, anything above 85 degrees or so can be too toasty for a pooch. Leashes and poop bags are important, flea and tick preventatives are smart, and dog boots can be surprisingly handy.
And that’s it from us! Oscar and I are off to the trails again today, and we wish you blue skies, good smells to sniff, and many happy hikes.
To learn more about the Kurgo G-Train dog hiking backpack, check out Amber and Olive’s video review:
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