Backpack Basics! Decide which pack and features are essential for a fun foray.
What size pack does my dog need for overnight trips?
This will depend on the climate, exposure to the elements and activities planned. Pack enough gear to make the experience comfortably enjoyable, but not so much that the gear becomes a burden. Excursions to a friend' s house or to destinations in the mountains or desert will have a direct impact on the gear needed. Plan out the meals and activities down to the last biscuit, with a day or two worth of food for safety and you will not be burdened with extraneous goodies. The lighter load will allow you and your dog to move swiftly while avoiding injury.
What is an assistance handle and why does my dog pack need one? The assistance handle is the handle on the back of Ruff Wear dog packs that allows you to hoist your dog like a gear bag. This is especially helpful when you are carrying your own backpack and your dog needs a little assistance over obstacles. The handle can also be used to restrain the dog from inspecting other hikers, animals or venturing where you would prefer they not go.
What features should I look for when shopping for dog packs?
Intended use is a good place to start. Will your adventures consist of multi-day forays or simply day hiking. Fit is most important, matching the pack to the dog's size is key. A harness system that keeps the pack secure without the need to over tighten cinch straps, proper padding between the dog and pack, and durable cloth with reinforcement in abrasion areas are just a few of the points to look for. Another key element is a full suspension breathable mesh back panel that disperses the load while providing ventilation. After the pack meets these points look for features that make it user friendly: gear retention cords, self-repairing coil zippers, easy to grab zipper pulls, attachment points for leads. A removable pack with a separate harness that allows the human to fit the dog without the bulk of the pack; additionally the saddlebags may be removed for adjustments to the load during water crossings and rest stops. Reflective trim allows you and others to see the dog in low light situations. There is a reason why hunters wear bright clothing; our four-legged critters running through the bush should be equally visible and not confused with wild game. Also, the reflective properties are reassuring where travels are near road crossings. Reinforced seams keep the gear where it belongs: in the pack. Zipper rainflies keep the dust, dirt and rain out of the bag and protect the zippers from ultra violet and abrasive exposure, reducing premature failure. Compression straps are key on large capacity packs for load stabilization. Get the pack that fits well and carries the load without a lot of unnecessary adjustments.
How tight is too tight when fitting a pack?
You should be able to get two to four fingers between the harness cinch straps and the dog. A properly designed harness and suspension system will allow the pack to rest on the dogs' back without the pack sliding forward or backward. There is occasionally some side to side movement but this is resolved by balancing the load. If your dog is getting sore or there are noticeable wear areas, the pack is either too tight or too loose.
Can my dog wear an overcoat with a backpack for winter tips?
Yes, all of Ruff Wear's gear may be layered and worn in conjunction with our other body items.