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Wolf Packs Guide to Dog Packing

Various questions about our dog pack designs have been asked of us over the years. We will attempt to answer the more common ones here. This FAQ is a work in progress, but with time it will grow more complete.

You might also be interested in reading some of the testimonials about our products sent to us by our customers.

How can I see your dog pack designs side by side?

Our customers have told us they would like to see pictures of all of our dog pack designs side-by-side on the same web page so that they can better compare features, size, and fit. These dog backpacks are modeled by Odin, one of the handsome German Shepherds owned by our Australian dealer, Danni Baker of Dxenion Working Dogs.

The picture above shows one of our large Banzai dog pack in royal blue.

This is our Reflector dog pack in royal blue, size medium.

How old should my dog be before he carries bottles of water?

We highly suggest waiting until your dog is completely grown, and his bones are solid before asking him to carry a heavy load such as a water supply. If you have any doubts about your dog’s fitness for packing, give your veterinarian a call. It’s always safer to double check, as you might otherwise create a condition that troubles your dog when he is in his advanced years. Young dogs can still be trained with a dog pack, and can hike with light weight things such as rain gear or first aid items.

Why have you gone for a one-piece dog pack design?

While doing the original prototypes in 1988 I considered designing a two-part type pack. I didn’t create one because they are more complicated to attach to the dog than are one-piece dog packs. People think the main advantage to having a two-part pack is that the load can be removed during breaks, but the yoke stays on the dog unless you feel like removing that too. With our packs you simply unsnap one buckle to completely remove the pack (see next question). Also, with two-part dog packs the panniers could be unintentionally separated from the yoke, thus losing the pack & contents. Since I didn’t want dogs to ditch their packs in the backcountry, I scrapped the idea.

How many straps pass under the dog to hold the pack in place?

Only one – at the waist. During our early days we experimented with a strap behind the elbows, and found it to actually rub fur right off of short haired breeds like labs and dobermans. It seemed to put undue pressure on the sensitive “armpit” region, especially during downhill sections. (read a Comment from one of our customers about this issue) A single waist strap makes it simple to position and remove the pack from the dog. To remove the pack, un-clip the waist strap and lift the loaded pack over your dog’s head. Do the opposite to load the pack on your dog. If you’d like to un-clip the chest strap you certainly can, but there really isn’t any need to do so once it has been adjusted properly.

Are the parts that touch the dog padded?

Thick pads use hook and loop fasteners to hold them in place beneath every buckle. The body of the pack has no additional padding. If desired, you can place a folded towel (saddle blanket-style) between the dog and pack. This adds padding and gets a towel into the backcountry without taking up room in anybody’s pack.

If my dog's back and shoulders are covered with solid fabric, won't he get too hot?

Since dog cool themselves by panting and sweating from their pads and muzzles, a solid panel across the back shouldn’t make much difference in a dog’s body temperature. For quick, easy cooling (even when away from home for days), try placing a wet towel between pack and dog. As the moisture evaporates, the dog is cooled. If you try this, remember to double Ziploc anything that must stay dry. Our wide top panel will distribute the load over the largest possible area on the dog’s back, as well as providing solid support for the load bearing panniers.

Can you make the back panel out of mesh to allow more heat to escape?

We used mesh on a few dog packs back in 1988. We quickly found the mesh couldn’t support the weight of a loaded pack, and pulled out of the seams on the panniers. This is because mesh is mostly holes and about 7 out of 10 stitches completely miss the fabric strands. Mesh also gets snagged on brush instead of slipping through because of the holes.

Why are your compression straps horizontal rather than vertical?

Vertical compression straps tend to get hung-up on brush, trees, big rocks, etc. They can effectively stop a dog in his/her tracks. I experimented with two vertical straps back in 1988, and opted for one horizontal strap instead.

Shouldn't the lash patches slots be oriented so a tie-down strap would run in the nose-tail direction?

The lash patches are only available from fastener suppliers with slots oriented this way. Years ago we were able to buy patches that accepted straps in both directions (across the dog AND nose to tail). Those bidirectional patches have been discontinued. The ones we use now can still secure a tent or sleeping mat in the nose-to-tail direction. To do this you need to fasten a short piece of web through the patch slots, then run two longer straps under the first strap (between the three high points on the plastic lashpatch), then bring it around your gear.

Can I carry water bottles in my SaddleBag?

We designed our SaddleBag dog packs to be light and low-profile so that they could be worn by Service Dogs in tight places like malls and supermarkets. Because of this, a narrower water bottle works best in this dog pack design. Half liter water bottles (made by Platypus or Nalgene) fit the narrow pack profile well. One liter bottles also fit, but the top of the flexible bottle needs to be folded over. You can find these water bottles at most outdoor stores.