I have been searching FOR-EVAR for a backpack to carry a small dog around the city or on a hike. Or more accurately, searching for a backpack to safely carry a Dachshund (i.e. doesn’t put pressure on their fragile, long backs).
Chester is a senior dog and can’t always keep up with our walks anymore. Strangely, he seems to do better on our hikes. However, I feel like I am always making him go faster than he wants to during our Adventureweiner Club walks on the cement path around the lake. I think it’s a combination of my own pace being slower on hikes and the pavement being harder on this old man joints than a soft dirt trail.
I’ve ordered, and been disappointed in many, backpacks meant for carrying dogs over the last year or two. Now I know what to look for and don’t even bother with one if I am not reasonably sure it will work.
On our recent trip to Colorado, we had to carry Chester on the steep and rocky parts of the 14ers. I posted a picture of my hubby carrying him in a backpack. A lot of people asked me about it.
As with most of the other packs that I have tried, the pack I used is not ideal for cradling a Dachshund’s long back. We made it work though. The pack was an (affiliate link) Osprey Talon 44.
The first priority for me was having something that wouldn’t hurt Chester while he was being carried. If he was uncomfortable he would wiggle around, which would be hard for me and could result in him falling out. The second priority, which is really just as important, was to find a pack that would be comfortable for me to carry weight in going up a rocky, steep trail.
I put all of the stuff I needed for hiking in the bottom of the Osprey pack. We stuffed a blanket in on top of that. Then we stuffed another blanket in and fluffed it so it was kind of at a slope. When Chester laid on it, his upper body was propped up to peek out of the bag and his lower body rested against the other side of the pack. It wasn’t ideal but it worked.
It’s unusual that Chester has to be carried while we are hiking. At first I thought we had to do it in Colorado because he was just getting old. He was fine when we returned to lower elevations though so I think it was more elevation than anything. Like I said though, it’s the brisk urban walks on pavement that is the real problem. The pack we used in Colorado would not be my choice for around the city. The main reason being that it’s not ideal for protecting his back.
A few months ago I discovered the Muttmover Backpack by Timbuk2. Timbuk2 is a great maker of urban commuter bike bags and messenger bags. It looked like the Muttmover might be the solution I was looking for. They even showed a Dachshund riding in it. They happily sent me one so I could check it out.
This is the best pack I have found so far for carrying a Dachshund weighing 20 lbs or less. There are two different holes on the side of the pack – an upper and lower one. The lower hole allows shorter dogs to comfortably stick their head out of the bag. It also allows dogs to be carried horizontally across your back so that they are in a natural laying down position. By laying sideways – instead of vertically – the bag offers even support along the length of a Dachshund’s spine.
The Muttmover has some nice features over a regular backpack. The front panel on the backpack zips completely open to lay flat so your dog can easily step in; It has a waterproof liner that is easy to wipe down if it get’s dirty; and it includes a folding water dish for your pup – made from food-grade plastic.
However, the Muttmover is not ideal for hiking. Although the shoulder strap length is adjustable, the width between them (where they connect to the backpack) is not and the straps are set a bit to narrow to be comfortable on a long, steep trail for me. There is no waist belt for extra support so the bulk of the weight can’t be transferred from your shoulders to your hips. Although there are small pockets for snacks and a bit of water, there is not enough space to pack hiking necessities like a lot of water and snacks, an extra jacket, and an other-than-cell-phone camera. However, I am definitely keeping this pack to use around the City, or on our urban hikes, when Chester gets tired or too crotchety to go on brisk walks.
There are a couple of other considerations about the pack to be aware of. First, Even the low head hole was a bit too high for Chester. He kept coughing because the fabric put pressure on his throat. I put a towel in the bottom of the bag to raise him up and it was perfect but you may have to take this extra step. Also, Chester is about 14 inches long from his shoulder blades to base of tail. The bag is 13.8 inches wide so I thought he would just fit. It turns out I didn’t think about his chest adding a couple of inches to his length. He fits in the bag because the sides are flexible but it is a little snug for him. If your dog is under 20 lbs, or is less than 14 inches from shoulder blades to butt, it will probably work for them.
I am very picky so either of these options is not ideal for me. It seems that the dream bag I covet does not exists. I will keep looking but, for now, these are two best solutions for us.
Have you tried any backpacks for your dog that you loved? Please share why and what kind of dog you have so we can check them out.