top rated saddle bags your active hiking camping dog will love
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Best Hiking Pack for Dogs that your dog will LOVE!

Looking for some of the top rated saddle bags your active dog will love? Look no further, we’ve written a in-depth article on some of the best options available on the market today. 

Dog owners are discovering the awesome benefits that a dog saddle bag has to offer.

Having your dog help carry much needed items like water, waste bags, food, cell phones, car keys and an infinite amount of other items while on your hike or after work walk is genius! 

They provide your dog with a sense of purpose, and encourages them to focus on the task at hand. With the added weight to their body dog’s exert significantly more energy on their walks than they would without a saddle bag. 

Bonus! Saddle bags can also have a calming effect on dogs that have fear or aggression issues. It works similar to the Thunder Blanket, which calms high anxiety dogs down during thunderstorms or fireworks. 

Whether you enjoy casual city and neighborhood walks or long hiking and camping trips, if you have an active dog that loves being outdoors you should consider getting your pup a dog saddle bag. There are many different types and styles of bags and packs available on the market but we picked out some of the top rated, highly reviewed and affordable packs to make the selection process easy for you.

GLOSSARY

For your convenience we made a glossary  with quick links to three categories and to some frequently asked questions.

  • Heavy Duty: These bags are ideal for heavy use. Two to three hikes per week or long adventures on the weekends. Larger dogs will love wearing a heavy duty saddle bag!  
  • Medium Duty: Perfect for hikes and long walks once or twice a week. A medium duty saddle bag will work great for both medium and large dogs.
  • Light Duty: Casual walks around the neighborhood with a light load. A light duty saddle bag will work great for small, medium and even large dogs!

Features to look for in your dog’s saddle bag:

  • Handles: Look for a sturdy padded handle to help your dog cross rough terrain and over any obstacles. Handles are typically located on the neck and the mid-back are of the bag.
  • Fitting and Comfortability: Look for fully adjustable chest and waist straps
  • Padding: Look for padding beneath the straps and other sensitive areas. Padding will help prevent sores and chaffing. 
  • Removable bags: A removable bag system is important to allow for your dog to rest and cool down.
  • Water Resistant: Water resistant material is ideal but not all saddle bags have this option. Water resistant sprays can help for rain and any light water activities. Look for vests made from polyester material if you expect to hike through rivers and wet trails. Some nylon material is waterproof or can be sprayed to be water resistant. 
    If the bag claims to be water proof be cautious when allowing your dog near deep water. If your phone or other electronics is stored in a compartment there is a chance it could get weight and potentially destroyed. 
  • Durable Material: Select a saddle bag pack made of tough nylon material to prevent any ripping or damage to the bag. There are ways to repair nylon material so bringing a nylon repair kit is a good idea for most adventures you go on. 
  • Load Distribution: Look for saddlebags that taper towards the rear of the dog as they place the bulk of the weight on the shoulders rather than the spine of the dog. Some saddle bags offer a weight forward feature which pulls the weight of the load towards the front of the dog. 
  • Smaller Pockets: Smaller pockets mean less weight. Neighborhood walking will cover a lot of ground quickly so be sure and go for the lighter packs. If your intention is to wear your dog out in 30 minutes or less then by all means get a saddle bag with large compartments. Adding weight to the compartments will tire them out much faster. Be sure not to start off with too much weight at first. You need to give your dog a chance to build up their muscle and stamina.   
  • Proper clearance: Be sure to get a saddle bag that comes now lower than 1” above the dog’s elbow. This will ensure proper clearance and even weight distribution of the pack. 
  • Climate concerns: The climate you live in will determine the proper saddle bag for your dog. Pay attention to the materials used. Some packs allow for the bags to be removed for resting and cooling off. Look for thin material with mesh lining also which will allow for breathing between the dog and the pack.
  • “Y” style chest straps: Straps that cover the front chest are designed to stabilize the pack and reduce stress on the neck. This style is highly recommended for both short and long walks.
  • Reflective tape: Some bags come with reflective tape already on the pack but you can always buy some and attach it to the bag for added safety. “Safety Orange” is a popular color for neighborhood walks.

HEAVY DUTY SADDLE BAG

The heavy duty dog saddle bag would be ideal for deep wood off path hiking adventures or over-night trips. These bags are built to last and have had great reviews on Amazon. If you and your dog love the outdoors  consider purchasing one of our recommended heavy duty saddle bags. 

Mountainsmith
K-9 Dog Pack

ABOUT:
Legendary outdoorsman Patrick Smith was in need of durable and efficient hiking gear that could withstand the deep back country hikes he went on in the Rocky Mountains. So in 1979 he founded Mountainsmith! 

The Mountainsmith brand has become one of the most well-known brands in the outdoor enthusiast community. They offer some of the most durable and functional packs available on the market. 

Making the K-9 dog pack one of the most top rated saddle bags on the market.

They manufacture a variety of products to meet the demands of rigorous travel both on and off the trail. Consider picking one up for yourself when shopping for your dog! 

FEATURES:

  • 4-point adjustable chest harness 
  • Independent adjustable back harness for a custom fit
  • Single adjustable belly strap 
  • Single haul handle at the top of the pack 
  • Tapered torso shape  
mountainsmith dog saddle bag backpack fitting guide
mountainsmith dog saddle bag backpack fitting guide 2

RUFFWEAR
DOG SADDLEBAG

ABOUT:
The Approach pack is ideal for day hikes or over-night adventures. 

Some users simply use this pack to add some weight while exercising their dog. 

Adding a light load when walking your dog can make them feel like they have a job to do and also work them out at the same time. 

This saddle bag offers 5 separate straps to get that perfect fit for your dog. There is soft padding located in sensitive areas on this pack to allow for maximum comfort while on longer hikes.

FEATURES:

  • Weight-Forward Feature – Provides a comfortable method to carrying the necessary items on your adventures
  • Easy access pockets for often used items
  • Integrated harness for leash walking via leash clip and lifting via the handle
  • Reflective trim for low-light visibility 
  • 5 point adjustment system allows you to create the perfect fit!  

PETTOM 2 IN 1
SADDLE BAG & HARNESS

ABOUT:  
This Pettom brand saddle bag makes multi-day outdoor adventures possible with features like the load compression system and removable bags.

 Your dog can wear this bag for long hikes or walks without easily tiring out. 

The material is 600D nylon which makes it waterproof and more resiliant against brush and branches and has ample room for gear and supplies! 

FEATURES:

  • Recommended for multi-day back-country adventures
  • 600D Waterproof and stretch resistant durable polyester material
  • Removable bags and load compression system
  • Breathable and cooling mesh inner material for comfortability
  • Strong stitching and zippers for frequent and long term use

ONETIGRIS
SADDLE BAG

ABOUT:  
This on-the-range style saddle bag will work great for long hiking trips or daily walks with your best bud. 

With the 3 fully adjustable straps and cotton material this backpack is designed with your dog’s ultimate comfort in mind. 

The premium cotton canvas material is very durable and will allow for many long and memorable adventures with your best bud. 

The OneTigris brand is known for there well made dog harnesses, vests and saddle bags. 

FEATURES:

  • High density cotton coupled with strong stiching makes this saddle bag extremely durable
  • Two zippered compartments on each side with extra compartments for carrying and organizing gear
  • Vintage design for that dog on-the-range look
  • Handle located at the top for easy storing
  • 3 adjustable straps for medium to large dogs.

OUTWARD HOUND
SADDLE BAG

ABOUT:  
The Outward Hound dog saddle bag features roomy compartments, mesh pockets, durable zippers, and a harness that easily adjusts to the perfect fit.

Reflective accents increase visibility in low light environments. 

The interior pockets and elastic water bottle holder allow dogs to carry essentials on hikes and camping excursions. 

Made of sturdy, super-tough nylon material, this pack makes it easier to gear up and go together.

FEATURES:

  • Removable pack takes weight off your dog during rest stops
  • Reflective accents and bright colors for high visibility
  • Interior water bottle holder and mesh pockets
  • Convenient pockets for carrying food and water
  • Handle on back for rough terrain assistance and for maintaining control of your dog

HEAVY DUTY ACCESSORIES

FABRIC REPAIR KIT

If you plan on doing some deep woods trekking or if your dog is really energetic it may be a good idea to pick up some fabric repair.

Throwing one of these in the saddle bag will take up very little room and give you a peace of mind.

Shop Amazon

WATER REPELLENT

Adding some KIWI heavy duty water repellent to your doggy’s saddle bag will ensure it stays dry, along with everything inside! 

Be sure to read the label for recommended uses and application. 

Shop Amazon

LED LIGHT WITH CARABINER

Consider attaching a clip on LED light to your pups saddle bag for late night walks or camping trips. They are lightweight and water resistant so you never have to worry about them not working. 

They are available in multiple colors! 

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PET FIRST AID KIT

This canine friendly pocket first aid kit is perfect for everyday use. Take it with you on walks, hikes or keep it handy in your car for emergencies. Whether you’re on the road or on a hike be prepared with a canine friendly first aid kit. 

Shop Amazon

MEDIUM DUTY SADDLE BAG

LIFEUNION
SADDLE BAG

ABOUT:  
Lifeunion manufactures performance dog gear to enhance outdoor adventures for dogs and humans. 

They build a variety of dog vests, harnesses, bags and packs! 

This saddle bag is one of their best sellers and highly rated on Amazon.

It is not recommended for heavy deep woods hikes but works great for side walk and trail hikes.

There is plenty of room in both compartments for added weight to give your dog the ultimate workout! 

FEATURES:

  • Fully waterproof with 100% polyester material
  • Adjustable straps to the chest and back areas for a comfortable fit
  • Comes with 4 large reflecting strips for night walks
  • Large carrying compartments on both sides with durable zippers
  • Handle on back for rough terrain assistance and for maintaining control of your dog

DENVER URBAN PACK
LIGHTWEIGHT SADDLE BAG

ABOUT:  
This stylish, lightweight saddle bag is perfect for casual outings.

It offers two large but slim storage pockets for carrying essentials such as car keys, cell phones, wallets, and food and waste bags.

The durable D-ring clip allows the pack to be clipped to a leash with ease. 

Comfort was not compromised with this saddle bag, it offers easily adjustable belly straps and mesh lining for maximum comfort for your dog. 

FEATURES:

  • Trendy and lightweight design for you and your dog’s outings
  • Adjustable belly straps for a comfortable fit
  • Dual D-ring clip for easy leash attachment
  • Mesh interior to keep your dog cool 
  • 2 large storage pockets with 2 smaller zipper pockets

FRONTPET
EXPLORER ULTRA LIGHT SADDLE BAG

ABOUT:  
The FrontPet ultra light medium dog saddle back pack is available for dogs with a 27 – 32″ waist.

Works great for medium size dogs! It has a 5 point adjustment system which allows for that perfect and safe fit.

With the two compartments on each side you’re dog can carry snacks, dog food, water and other needed supplies while still being able to run freely.

Whether your on a long hike exploring the wilderness or touring through the city this will make a great back pack for your dog!  

FEATURES:

  • Ultra light and sleek design
  • 4 compartments with zippers for storing and organizing
  • 5 point adjustable system for getting a snug fit
  • Rugged and durable material for medium to heavy use 
  • Great for hiking, camping, running and walking! 

LIGHT DUTY SADDLE BAG

WELLVER
LIGHTWEIGHT SADDLE BAG

ABOUT:  
This saddle bag pack is great for casual city walks and day walks.

This pack is available in small, medium, large and even extra large.

It has adjustable straps which allows room for growth.

This pack is a great way to offer your job a dog and carrying their own supplies.

If your dog is a hard puller during walks it is recommended to attach your leash to their collar instead of the D-clip on this pack. 

FEATURES:

  • Adjustable width straps for a comfortable fit
  • Washable cotton material
  • Pockets on both sides for waste bags and treats
  • Great for casual city or neighborhood walks

OUTWARD HOUND
LIGHTWEIGHT SADDLE BAG

ABOUT:  
The sleek design of the Outward Hound saddle bag is free from bulk and full of function.

Adjustable straps keep the pack in place and reflective strips provides enhanced visibility to your dog day or night.

Adjustable straps enable a full range of motion and keep the pack in place without wobbling while you walk.

FEATURES:

  • Adjustable width straps for a comfortable fit
  • Reflective strips on straps for neighborhood walking
  • Plenty of storage space for wallets, car keys, treats and poop bags!
  • Made with durable waterproof nylon
  • Handle on back for rough terrain assistance and for maintaining control of your dog

HOW TO MEASURE YOUR DOG FOR A SADDLE BAG

As we all know, dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Some have long thick hair and some having short thin hair. Some dogs are broad in the shoulders and some dogs have inward pointing shoulders. Keep this in mind when sizing your dog for their new saddle bag pack. Be sure not to get one that is too tight or too loose. Most saddle bags do have adjustable straps so if you’re on the fence between a small or a medium go for the larger option.

Below is a general measuring guide for measuring your dogs chest. Each bag and harness is different so check the manufacturers size measuring recommendations for each bag. 

measure your dog for a saddle bag

Don’t overload your dog’s saddle bag: Choose a Comfortable Load

Overloading the packs will put too much weight on the hips, back and shoulders. This can lead to overexertion and health problems, so use discretion when adding gear to your dog’s saddle bag. Remember to always start off small and work them up to heavier loads. 

Recommended weights vary depending on the dog. Conservative guidelines suggest that between 10% – 20% of body weight range is ideal. Some other say healthy dogs can carry ¼ of their body weight or more while in a well-fitting pack.

Saddle Bag maintenance

Similar to your other camping, hiking, hunting and dog gear your new saddle bag will need to be properly maintained to ensure a long life. Luckily with most saddle bags being made from weather resistant material such as nylon and polyester maintenance won’t be required very often. 

A simple rinsing outside with the garden hose and hang drying in the shade after every other couple uses will be sufficient. If you and your dog plan on partaking in some extreme outdoor activities in muddy, wet and rough terrain then you may need to take the cleaning and preventative maintenance a step further.   

How to Clean Your Dog’s Saddle Bag

With most saddle bag packs being waterproof and made of nylon or polyester, cleaning them is a breeze. Simply throw them in the bathtub and run cold water over them. If your vest is saturated with mud, lake water or grass it is recommended to hose it off outside first.

Once the bag is completely saturated you may need to use a hard haired cleaning brush to loosen up any tough stains. Once the stains have been loosened simply add a small amount of detergent free dish soap. Rub the heavily soiled areas again with your hands and let the pack sit in the tub for 5 or so minutes. 

After soaking in cold soapy water and rubbing all soiled areas drain the tub and start to rinse off the pack. 

After rinsing thoroughly ring the saddle bag and all compartments like you would a wet towel a couple of times. This should squeeze out a lot of excess water. Enough should come out to where you can hang it up on the side of the tub or shower curtain rod and it not drip water onto the floor. If your saddle bag is made of thick material or has a lot of water still in it wrap it in a towel and take outside to hang dry in the shade. 

When you’re done with washing your vest you need to let it air dry. Do not put the vest in the dryer unless the manufacturer says to and do not let it air dry in the sun. This will weaken the vest and create potential safety issues for your dog.

Professional Strength Cleaner

No harsh chemicals in this cleaner. It is usable on multiple services including clothing, upholstery and carpet. Will work great on your dog’s pack as well! 

KIWI Heavy Duty Waterproofing Spray

Heavy duty top rated KIWI water repellent. Perfect for all your camping gear, hunting apparel, boots, patio furniture and tactical dog vest! 

How Often Should I Clean it?

There are a number of factors that will decide how often you should wash your dog’s saddle bag. It is ultimately up to you to decide how often you wash it and the technique you use to wash it. We’ve listed some factors you should consider below.

  • How many miles have you trekked since the last cleaning?
    Keeping track of your miles is important. Regardless of the terrain your walking on. You would be surprised how dirty they can get after just a few miles of walking on pavement.   
  • What type of terrain and environment are you walking in?
    If you walk a few miles on trails or dirt paths, a quick rinsing off with the garden hose and inspection of the pack wouldn’t hurt after every use. All types of bugs can attach onto the saddle bag including ticks! You don’t want to bring any unwanted creatures inside of your home do you? 
  • What time of day does your dog typically wear the saddle bag?
    If you and your dog’s routine is walking in the evening after work when it is dry and humid out then you will typically wash your dog’s pack less frequently. If you like to do late night or early morning walks, when the dew and moisture is heaviest, then they may need to be cleaned more often. 
  • Does your dog wear the saddle bag while at home?
    Some dog owners allow their dog’s to wear their saddle bag while at home. If they have a big yard or the dog feels safe with his pack on then why not? Just keep this into consideration when caring for your dog’s pack. It will need to be washed more frequently. 

All these questions should be taken into consideration when determining how often you should clean your vest. 

TIP: Try washing your dog’s pack when you give them a bath! Using luke warm water won’t hurt or weaken the vest and your dog’s shampoo should work great with cleaning it. 

Inspect Sensitive Areas

Make sure and inspect the sensitive areas of your dog after your first couple of walks. This includes areas under their arms and neck. Wherever the straps and bags come in contact with the dogs body will need to be inspected also.  Be sure that the vest is not chaffing your dog’s legs and neck area. 

This can lead to sores, rashes and possibly an infection. Making sure the vest is not too tight or too loose is important in preventing this. After a few walks, and some minor adjustments,  most owners are able to find a comfortable fit that is safe for their dog.

Benefits Of A saddle Bag

Utilizing a saddle bag will provide numerous benefits to both you and your dog. The most obvious benefit is having extra help in carrying much needed items like water, medical supplies, car keys, phones, treats, waste bags etc. Some of the not so obvious benefits include how they will help improve your dogs behavior, build muscle/lose weight, reduce pulling on leashes and reduce stress and anxiety!

Improve Behavior

Exercise produces endorphins and many dogs love it. 

When they don’t get it they start to feel a little crazy, similar to a lot of people. 

By adding a saddle bag to your dog they will be both mentally and physically stimulated.

Adding weight to the storage compartments will increase the physical demand on your dog tire them out faster. This will allow them to calm down and keep a better focus on whats going on. 

When dogs don their saddle bag they feel like they’re “on the job” and part of the team. Feeling important and needed will calm most dogs down. There will be some training involved in getting your pup used to the new gear and weight but it has been proven to work so staying persistent and being patient will pay off!  

Be sure to shop around and get the best saddle bag for your dog before buying. Amazon has countless reviews from dog owners that have purchased and used practically every bag and pack available. Don’t go by recommended weight be sure and measure the chest and waist of your dog to get a right fit. 

Build Muscle / Lose Weight

Not all dogs need to lose weight but if your dog is on the chunky side adding some extra weight to his or her body during walks and hikes will help reduce it. It is recommended to add very little weight in the beginning. Let your dog get comfortable with the vest and over time add a little more weight to it. Be sure to make the weight even on both sides. If you have a full water bottle on the right side be sure to counter that weight by adding another full bottle to the left side.  

After time your dog’s bags will loaded with all types of gear and useful items. Because you added the weight gradually and over time, their muscles and stamina have had a chance to build up. This will give them the necessary strength needed to carry the weight. They have also burned a lot of calories!  

How much weight should you add?
It is recommended to add between 10% and 20% of the dog’s body weight to the vest (max). If your dog weighs 40 pounds then anywhere between 4 to 8 pounds would be ideal. 
 
Remember to factor in the weight of the saddle bags. Most manufacturers will have the weight listed on their website in the product description. We weigh the empty bag ourselves just to be safe. We first weigh our dogs with the bags off and again after we put their fully loaded bags on. This will guarantee an accurate weight to ensure your not over working your furry friend! 
 
Keep in mind that every dog is different. Be sure to add a little bit at a time to ensure they build their muscle and stamina up to the max weight. Start off with a water bottle on each and work up from there.
 
Reduce Pulling

Having a saddle bag on your dog should cause your dog to slow down and take their time. This goes along with how these vests will improve your dogs behavior.

It has been proven that when dogs wear a they feel like they are “on duty” which makes them slow down and take things seriously. Of course not all dogs will be effected by the vest and will still continue to pull.

If they continue to pull after the first use give it some time and see if they calm down after a week or two of using the vest. Slowly add more and more weight to the vest. Having more weight will definitely help with them pulling and hopefully get them walking next to your side.

Conclusion

Having three active doggies of our own we’ve come to learn and hack all sorts of tips, tricks and techniques to fulfilling their doggy needs. You and your doggy will never be more excited together after purchasing a dog saddle bag!

Not only will your dog look and act super awesome but they’ll be a huge help in  carrying the load. We love storing our car keys, wallets, cell phones and poop bags in our dogs’ bags. They love it too! 

When we get home from our adventures they typically go straight to their dog beds and crash out for a nap. Knowing that they’re exhausted and happy allows us to relax and focus on ourselves.

We highly suggest looking into getting you and your dog a tactical vest. 

We hope you enjoyed our article and gained something from it. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact us!