Choosing the best dog carrier backpack can be confusing considering there are many different materials, sizes, and features. We've done the research for you and picked the Comfort Dog Backpack Carrier by Petsfit as our favorite dog carrier backpack. It's well-ventilated, allows your dog to take a good look at the world, and is a good choice for hiking or cycling. We’ve also chosen our 10 best backpacks for you to consider and created a handy buying guide to help you make your choice.
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Knowing which dog carrier backpack to choose can be tricky. To help you decide what kind of carrier your pooch might appreciate we created this buying guide.
There are two main types of dog carriers. The first of these are ones that look like baby carriers, where the legs of the dog hang out. Some dogs are happy and comfortable in these, but this isn't the case for every dog. They can leave your dog with very little space to stretch their limbs and can cause cramping.
The second type is the all-encompassing carrier. These look like a kennel or little space pod on your back and fully encase your dog. These are far more suited to long plane rides or hikes in the forest, as your dog can move around enough to get comfortable. They also have good ventilation, which many baby carrier-style bags can lack.
All-encompassing carriers can be either soft-sided or hard-sided and both have their benefits. Hard-sided carriers are easier to clean and will protect your pet better during transit. They're solid and secure and won't bend under your dog's weight. Soft-sided carriers can be folded down when not in use and are lighter than hard-sided carriers.
As baby carrier style bags are not suitable or favored by every dog, if you're new to carrier backpacks or are unsure what your dog will like, we suggest an all-encompassing carrier. If your dog enjoys being carried and kept close to your body, then a baby carrier may be suitable.
Legs-out dog carriers are cute, but we don’t really use them because I’ve seen reports from some canine fitness experts that they can put a lot of stress on your dog’s body. It’s a stressful posture for them to maintain for long periods because it’s not natural—they don’t sit like that.
A common mistake when purchasing a dog carrier backpack is to choose after only confirming the weight limit. Along with weight, make sure to measure your dog’s length.
You can do this by first measuring their standing height from the top of their head to the floor. You should also measure their length from the tip of their nose to the tip of the tail.
Once you have these measurements, then add an extra two or three inches. Doing this will ensure that your dog has enough room to be comfortable, but not so much that they will get tossed around.
I think [whether a carrier can get too big] depends on the activity that you’re doing. If you’re just walking, it’s probably fine, but we take Mr. N biking sometimes. For that, I would want something snugger just so he doesn't get rattled around in the carrier when you’re going at a higher speed.
[With sizing], I look at the measurements of the carrier. I know Mr. N’s measurements off the top of my head, so I compare. I also read reviews and see what other people are saying about how sizing works for their dog and just accommodate for that.
Polyester is durable, breathable, and dries quickly if it gets wet. Nylon is usually more durable than polyester and although not naturally water-resistant, can be treated to become so. While there’s no way you can keep wind and rain completely away from your dog, nylon absorbs very little moisture and holds up well to sudden showers.
Canvas is comfortable, but it’s not as resistant to tearing, so we wouldn’t recommend it if you have a dog that likes to scratch. Oxford is thick and durable but has a slightly rougher texture to it, so if you purchase a carrier backpack made from Oxford fabric, make sure it's lined in something softer.
You should also consider the material inside the carrier. Your dog might spend a long time inside it, so make sure they have something comfortable to sit on. Many carriers have soft linings made of plush material or fake fur, or you can get a removable one. It will also make cleaning the carrier easier if you can remove and wash the liner.
The majority of the carriers that we’ve used have been made with nylon. I like them for their durability. If you ask Mr. N, he just usually wants the softest material, lining-wise. The carrier that he mostly uses, the lining feels like fake fur—that kind of very plush and smooth texture. So that’s his main criteria.
Mesh makes sure your dog is getting enough ventilation. Your dog will not only need it to breathe, but it gets all the more important if you’re heading to a hot and steamy resort for a vacation.
If your dog is the curious type, mesh also gives them an opportunity to watch the world go by. Many mesh windows can unzip, so your dog can poke their head out and catch a breeze or crane their necks to take in a sight. Not all dogs will like to see where they're going, however, so make sure to get a carrier that suits your dog's personality.
Generally speaking, the more ventilation and airflow, the better. But in cases where you have a really anxious pet, having less mesh might be more comforting for them. I’ve seen options where there's a flap that detaches to cover some of the mesh or where there’s a privacy screen that you can pull down—an in-between option like that might be good so you have the best of both worlds.
If you're looking to fly with your dog, then some carriers are airline-approved or can be converted to accommodate airline regulations. Some backpacks can also double as car seats. It's important that car seats are safe, and you can check this by seeing if they are approved by the Center for Pet Safety (CPS.)
When it comes to hiking and cycling, you should prioritize comfort. It needs to be comfortable for both your dog and yourself, so be sure to follow our guidelines for getting the right size and ensuring the straps are comfortable for you. The last thing you need is to find either yourself or your pet in pain when you are miles from home.
You should also make sure that the material is tough enough to deal with the weather conditions you're going to face while you're out. Look for carriers that are made from waterproof or water-resistant materials and are strong enough to deal with strong winds or harsh sun.
You might also want a backpack that has pockets to carry water or snacks for your dog. Finally, ensure your carrier has enough features to keep your dog secure at all times. Leash hooks and solid frames are a must when out for a bike ride with your dog.
When you're cycling, you need your full attention on the road and trails ahead of you and will need to know that your dog is secure. If your dog is able to escape your backpack, they could be away and out of sight before you've even had the chance to apply the brakes.
When you’re flying, generally you’re trying to find a carrier that has the maximum amount of space for your pet but you can still carry onto the plane because there’s only so much space by your feet. So carriers that have some flexibility are convenient; they’ll bend so that your dog has more room but will still fit into the space that you’re given.
If your dog’s a little antsy, look for an internal safety harness or a leash hook. This will keep your dog secured and prevent them from jumping out to chase a squirrel. It also means you can open the top flap of the bag and allow your dog to poke their head out without fear of them getting loose.
If you travel at night, there are also reflective strips on some of these carriers. They function just like they would on shoes or a shirt, making sure that cars can see you when they pass you on dark country roads. This gives you an extra layer of protection when walking in the dark!
If you decide to choose a soft-sided all-encompassing carrier it's important to ensure that the carrier is of good quality and structurally sound. Things you should look out for are double-stitching, a solid frame, and a solid base. Strong zippers that the pet can't open are also important and will help keep your dog secure.
It can be difficult to judge these things when shopping online so check the reviews from previous purchasers for any reports of ripped seams or collapsing carriers as these can put your dog at risk.
I think [a safety harness] is a good feature to have. However, when we’re traveling by air, it limits his mobility a little bit. We don’t put it on him if we’re traveling for a couple of hours, but we do use it when we’re biking with him.
We’ve talked in-depth about how you can make your dog comfortable, but it's not just your dog you need to consider. Carrying several pounds of heavy dog on your back can cause great strain, so you want as much padding on the shoulder straps as possible.
You should also look for backpacks that have belts and buckles that go across your chest and waist. These will distribute weight more evenly across your body and relieve the strain on your back. Make sure that these are adjustable and padded too, especially if you're looking to go on hikes or long walks with your dog.
If you find that the backpack does press uncomfortably against your back, then the first thing you should do is make sure that the shoulder straps are correctly adjusted. A simple tightening or loosening of the straps might be enough to solve the issue.
If not, and you don't have time to purchase a new one, then a sweatshirt around your waist is a good temporary fix.
Extra padding is definitely needed. Some carriers have a loop or a strap so that you can put it on top of your suitcase so it’s easier to carry. I wouldn’t do that when your pet was in the carrier, necessarily, but it's good for storage purposes.
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This carrier has mesh windows on four different sides, so your dog can look around and take in the fresh air from all sides. The mesh flaps on the top and front both unzip so you don’t need to gingerly lower your dog into the bag. The safety features and structure of this backpack make it suitable for most purposes, especially cycling.
Some reviewers found this backpack uncomfortable to wear as the bottom of the bag pressed against their back. A few reviewers also report split seams after a few uses. However, reviewers report that their pets felt comfortable inside the carrier. They say the carrier is well-ventilated and like the soft and removable pad at the bottom.
This cute carrier is available in several different colors. It has various ventilation holes around the backpack and also mesh panels on the sides to ensure your dog is adequately ventilated. You can also swap the acrylic bubble for a mesh cover to allow more air to flow and to obscure your dog's view.
Some reviewers say that this backpack was too small for their dogs and didn't give them enough room to move around. Reviewers praise the bag for how sturdy it is and say they have no worries that their pet will be able to escape. They also like how ventilated the carrier is and that the front can be changed.
The padded shoulder straps, waist and chest straps, and stability of this backpack's frame mean the weight is well-distributed. This makes it ideal for long hikes. The bag has side pockets to carry water or snacks and the size of the bag means your dog will have enough room to either stand or sit while being carried.
According to some reviewers, the base of the bag pressed uncomfortably into their lower back, but many others didn't have this issue. Make sure you adjust all of the straps to fit your body size before starting any hikes. Reviewers praise the bag for being lightweight but sturdy, even for larger dogs. They also love that their dogs can sit or stand inside.
If you have a dog that likes to feel the fresh air and see everything around them, this backpack might be ideal for them. It's especially ideal for older dogs or those with disabilities that mean they may get tired easily. The snugness of the backpack means they can't move around as much, but this can help soothe nervous dogs.
This style of carrier isn't for every dog. Some reviewers say their dog didn't find it comfortable and moved around too much to feel secure. However, many dogs loved this backpack and several reviewers were able to take their pets out for bike rides. They say that it fits securely and can even reduce their anxiety at being outside.
Available in several colors, this backpack can be extended to give your pet more room and ventilation, making it ideal for use when relaxing outside. It has several pockets to hold various items and is made of heavy-duty waterproof material.
A couple of reviewers say the zippers failed early on with this bag but the majority of reviewers only have praise for this carrier. They say that the bag is very durable and the Oxford cloth holds up well to sharp claws. They say that it has plenty of room and the option to extend the back is also highly praised by reviewers.
This bag has two entry points for your dog and a soft sherpa-lined base to keep them comfortable. For hiking trips, there are large mesh pockets on the side for storing treats and water bottles. The shoulder straps are well-padded and the combination of water bottle pockets and a collapsible water bowl means your pup will always be hydrated.
Some reviewers report that this bag isn't very comfortable for them, as the base of the bag pressed into their back. On the other hand, more say that the bag is very sturdy and that the zippers have additional safety features to stop them from coming open. They say that the bag folds up nicely when not in use and they love the pockets it has.
This backpack can be opened from both the top and the side, allowing for easy entry and access to your pet while they are inside. There are mesh panels on four sides and the lining of the bag is thick and plush, making it very comfortable for your pet.
However, some reviewers found that the bottom of the bag sags when a pet is inside and isn't as comfortable for the human wearing the bag. Positive reviewers praise how soft the pad inside is and confirm that it is comfortable for their pets. They report that the bag is spacious and air flows through it well.
If you want to keep your dog close while you're outside, this backpack will help you. You have the choice of wearing it comfortably on either your back or your front, and there are waist and chest straps to help balance the weight. Dogs can stand or lie down if they prefer, and it is well-padded to keep them comfortable.
Not at all dogs were happy with this style of bag and some smaller dogs couldn't reach the neck opening to look out. However, most reviewers say that their dogs loved this backpack and found it comfortable. They like that their dog can see everything, and praise the bag for being sturdy and keeping their dog safe.
This carrier is a great idea if you're looking to travel with your pet cat or dog. It can be used as a backpack but can also be used as a trolley and has a telescopic rod and wheels. You have the option of allowing your pet to see out through mesh panels, or a shade can be pulled down to keep them in the dark.
Before purchase, make sure that the measurements work with your airline. However, reviewers found it easy to travel with their pets when using this carrier and say it was suitable for both airlines and car rides. They praise the quality of the carrier and the wheels.
This backpack can be worn either on your back or front. It has a flexible neck and a leash hook to keep your dog comfortable and in place. You can choose to cross the straps of the backpack to give yourself more support.
Some reviewers found that the bag wasn't suitable for their dog. They say that it didn't fit correctly and left their dog without adequate support. However, reviewers with smaller dogs say that this backpack was comfortable for their pups and that they loved it. They also report that it is comfortable to wear and that the straps are sturdy.
We've also taken the time to answer one of the most frequently asked questions regarding dog carriers.
The majority of dog carrier backpacks are designed for small dogs and puppies, but that doesn't mean that large dogs can't be carried. If you're looking for a bag for a larger dog your options will be more limited and you will have to be very careful when looking at the size and weight limits to ensure your dog will be comfortable and safe.
Most bags created specifically for larger dogs tend to look like crates. They're boxy and designed to be carried at the waist instead of on your back. Slings are also popular for larger dogs and these can either be carried at the waist or on your front or back like a backpack.
If you're going to regularly take your dog hiking or traveling, then you'll need more than just a dog carrier backpack. We have some more recommendations for products to help you keep your furry companion happy and healthy!
If you're in need of some more suggestions, why not check out the best-selling items on Amazon?
No. 1: Petsfit｜Comfort Dogs Carrier
No. 2: Lemonda｜Innovative Traveler Bubble Backpack Pet Carrier
No. 3: Apollo Walker｜Pet Carrier Backpack for Large and Small Cats and Dogs
No. 4: K9 Sport Sack｜Front Facing Adjustable Dog Backpack Carrier
No. 5: Pecute｜Expandable Pet Backpack Bag
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