If you’re like me, you like to take your dog with you on camping trips, hiking trips, and even just long walks in nature. I live in Alaska, where there are limitless outdoor activities available to both Eira and me. Just forty minutes from our home is Hatcher Pass, a stunning mountain paradise in the Talkeetna Mountains. Eira got to hike in Hatcher Pass a lot this summer, and it was fun! But we do wish she would have had something on her to carry her poop bags, a ball or two, her water bottle, and her snacks and treats. I typically ended up carrying all Eira’s supplies, in addition to my toddler’s supplies and my supplies! Too many supplies for any length of hike.
There’s an old picture of my childhood German shepherd, Clancy, sitting next to a waterfall with a yellow Eddie Bauer saddle bag on her back. She wore it on a three-day backpacking adventure with my dad and younger sister, carrying all her own food and water and dishes. My parents still have the saddle bag, but it’s no longer available for purchase since it was at least ten years ago that we bought it.
If you’re looking for a dog saddle bag, never fear, though. There are many fantastic choices online. You’ll find something to suit any dog, large or small. And we’ve rounded up the best dog saddle bags for you below to make your decision easy.
Eira with her new saddle bag. Stay tuned to find out where to get it for your dog, too!
RUFFWEAR Approach Pack
Here in Alaska, I have several friends who head into the mountains weekend after weekend, backpacking and staying in remote cabins through the summer and the deeply cold winter. It’s impressive, and while it’s not something that’s currently feasible for me, I admire their commitment to spending time in nature. With their dogs, no less! If you’re like my friends and love to go for huge adventures nearly every week, you need a dog saddle bag that can stand up to your explorations.
RUFFWEAR offers you the Approach Pack, which costs a pretty penny but is worth every cent to those who use it for camping, backpacking, or intense hiking trips. The bag comes in two bright, easily visible colors: Orange Poppy and Meadow Green. Even though I like the green color better, it might actually be difficult to spot your dog if she gets too far away in a place with a lot of green trees and grass. Orange might work better for visibility. But either one is an excellent choice, depending on your preference and your dog’s tendency to wander.
You can load both sides with plenty of supplies for a long trip into the mountains. And if you have a smaller dog to bring along, you can even fit him into a pocket when he gets tired, as long as you make sure to counterbalance the other side of the pack. That’s how big the pockets are!
The Ruffwear Approach Pack comes in sizes extra small, small, medium, and large/extra large, so it fits the sizes of most adventurous dogs. If your dog has never worn a pack, don’t immediately weigh this one down with stuff, though: you might want to start out with a few items and gradually work up to a full load so that your dog gets accustomed to carrying a saddle bag. And make sure you do this well in advance of your first major adventure!
Outward Hound Daypak for Dogs
If you’re like me and prefer to do shorter day hikes and walks instead of intense adventures, you don’t need to spend a ton on an expensive pack. You simply need something that will hold maybe your car keys, a few snacks for your dog, your dog’s water bottle or collapsible bowl, and maybe a small first aid kit. The Outward Hound Daypak for Dogs is the dog saddle bag that fit our family’s needs best, so it’s the one I got for Eira.
The Outward Hound DayPak is lightweight with four expandable pockets to fit your dog’s basic necessities — and maybe a few of yours, too!
Here are a few things I love about the Daypak:
- It’s lightweight.
- The light blue color is easy to spot in a green area (like our backyard, pictured above!).
- The pockets expand to fit bulky items.
- The padded handle is easy to grip in a tough hiking situation.
- The D-ring is sturdy and clips nicely to a leash.
- Reflective piping adds to visibility level.
- Mesh keeps your dog from overheating.
- There are several adjustable straps to give your pup the most comfortable fit possible.
See the video below to watch the Outward Hound Daypak in action.
It was a little difficult the front strap to get it over Eira’s e-collar, since it’s the only strap without a buckle (it’s still adjustable) but thankfully the collar is somewhat collapsible so we fit it over. (She has to wear the e-collar for a little more than a week still.) That sheep from Outward Hound is pretty bulky, but it fit inside the expandable pocket just fine. We went for a short walk together with the pack and my car keys in the other side pocket of the dog saddle bag to balance the weight of the sheep. Eira can’t go on longer walks until…you guessed it…another week or so passes. Make sure you always balance the two sides of the saddle bag so that your dog isn’t uncomfortably weighted in one direction.
Something else I love is that because the adjustable straps are so long, each strap comes equipped with a velcro cross-strap to hold extra strap length off the ground. This is a thoughtful and convenient feature!
Eira, looking pretty and proud while carrying her Outward Hound Daypak dog saddle bag.
You can find the Outward Hound Daypak below. It comes in green if you prefer that color, and in sizes small, medium, and large. I purchased the large size for Eira.
OneTigris Dog Saddle Pack
Need something with super sturdy fabric for your rough-and-tumble adventure dog? The Dog Saddle Pack from OneTigris is a perfect fit. Made of cotton canvas, the OneTigris pack is extra durable. If your dog loves running through brush-lined creeks, climbing up rocky mountains, and rolling through densely shrubbed hillsides, this is the pack for you. It won’t rip or tear — and it’ll stay firmly planted on your dog’s back.
It’s a simple pack, with three adjustable straps, two large zipper pockets, and two small non-zipper outer pockets. Each side also has a convenient strap with a D-ring hook to which you can attach a collapsible bowl or two or anything else that has a hook or clasp but doesn’t fit in the pack.
If you’re the hunting type, this is a nice pack to take along with you as it keeps your dog blended in with the surroundings. If you want a pack with better visibility, though, this pack isn’t it! Also, the pack comes in one size that fits most medium and large dogs.
Braceus Saddle Bag for Small Dogs
Even if you order the smallest size of any of the above dog saddle bags, you might find that it’s too large for your small but energetic and adventurous dog. If you have a toy or teacup dog who likes to join you on short adventures and loves having a job to do, don’t worry! The Braceus Saddle Bag was designed for small dogs and comes in two sizes: extra small and small. It’s inexpensive and even fits dogs who are just a few pounds heavy. It would be perfect for my in-laws’ tiny dogs, Walter and Rosemary. The two little dogs are often desperately energetic on their daily walks around the neighborhood, and carrying a pack for their poop bags and treats would help them slow down and focus.
I’m sensing that these packs will be Eira’s gift to her canine aunt and uncle come Christmastime!
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PETTOM Waterproof Saddle Bag for Dogs
Does your dog love to go on long adventures where lakes, creeks, and even rivers are involved? Are you concerned about the food and treats and first-aid supplies inside your dog’s saddle bag getting wet? Then it might be worth investing in the PETTOM Dog Saddle Bag, which is waterproof. It features waterproof oxford material and SBS reversed coil zippers to keep water out of your supplies. It’s bright green with plenty of reflective trim. The part that touches your dog’s body is mesh for maximum breathability, which also allows your dog (and the pack) to dry quickly after a lake-swimming or creek-fording session.
Each pocket has a zipper, and there are many pockets to store all your dogs’ products. The company, PETTOM, markets this pack as ideal for multi-day adventures, and it’s a bit less expensive than the RUFFWEAR Approach Pack. So if you love to go on long adventures with your pooch, this might be the perfect pack for you.
Before you go, remember these important things:
- NEVER load your dog with more than 25% of her body weight. You do not want to cause too much strain or tension in your dog’s muscles and bones.
- ALWAYS remember to take the pack off during rest stops and overnight. Your dog needs time to run around and sleep without the pack on her back!
- ALWAYS wipe your dog’s pack clean after each use with a damp towel. This will keep grit and debris from building up and causing your pack to wear out too soon. Make sure you allow time for the pack to dry completely before storing.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.