Americans are increasingly keeping their dogs by their sides at home, at work, and even on vacation. Results of a study by TripAdvisor.com show that 56% of Americans take their pets with them when they travel. Regardless of whether you are planning to take your pet on a camping trip, a road trip, or a European tour, you should not leave home without a trusted dog backpack carrier.
Before we look at the best dog backpack carriers on the market, let’s review three important features that you should consider as you choose the best dog backpack carrier.
Safety Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Dog Backpack Carrier for You
Safety should be your top priority when you choose a dog backpack carrier. Your dog should fit snugly into the carrier and should be able to breathe properly. Here are five safety features to keep in mind when you choose a backpack carrier:
1) Ventilation. Select a carrier made with vents and a porous material like microfiber to prevent your dog from overheating.
2) Proper sizing. A backpack that is too large offers little security while an overly small one will be too constricting.
3) No small parts. Steer clear of carriers with small parts that dogs can chew off and choke on.
4) Safety straps. Backpacks should include straps or a means of preventing your dog from jumping out and being injured.
5) Weight capacity. Make sure you choose a carrier that will support your dog’s weight.
Top Utility Features to Seek in the Best Dog Backpack Carrier for You
In addition to possessing a safe design, a carrier should be designed with owner convenience in mind. Some carriers are designed with a plethora of features to enhance their utility and enable owners to transport their dogs on their backs, in their cars, and on planes. Below are the top five utility features to consider as you review backpacks and carriers:
1) Accessibility. You should be able to place your dog in the carrier with ease. Removal should be just as easy.
2) Convertible design. Some backpacks can convert to carriers, totes and car seats, making them incredibly useful.
3) Pockets. Carriers with pockets for treats and toys prevent you from needing to pack a separate bag for your dog.
4) Retractable wheels. This feature allows owners to take the weight off their backs and easily pull their dog.
5) Washable. A carrier should be easy to keep clean. Interior pads should be simple to remove and wash.
Comfort-Related Characteristics to Consider in the Best Dog Backpack Carrier for You
After considering safety and utility, you need to focus on maximizing comfort for both you and your dog. Here are five key features that will help make transporting your dog a more enjoyable experience.
1) Lightweight design. Carriers that are lighter weight (under 1 pound) will optimize your comfort.
2) Allows visibility. A backpack that promotes visibility for your dog will be more enjoyable for your dog.
3) A cushioned interior. A carrier with soft padding will help your dog feel comfortable and secure during transport.
4) Quilted neck and leg openings. Your dog will feel cozy with extra quilting around elasticized leg openings.
5) Padded shoulder straps. Choosing a backpack with well-padded shoulder straps will enhance your comfort.
The Best Dog Backpack Carriers of 2016
Not all dog backpack carriers are created equal. The best dog backpack carriers effectively combine the safety, utility and comfort into one neat package. They are designed with your dog’s contentment in mind and are built to be durable. Below are the top backpack carriers of 2016.
- Ruffit Dog Carrier: (See below) The Ruffit is known for being the first front-facing backpack carrier for dogs. Its durable, hands-free construction keeps your dog secure during hikes, bike rides, and other outdoor activities. This carrier is on the upper end of the price spectrum, but is a popular choice for active dog owners seeking a more sophisticated design. Available in four colors (green, blue, black, and red) and four sizes (S-XL), the Ruffit enables your dog to see everything that you see with its forward-facing design.
- Dog Perch Backpack II: Like the Ruffit, this dog carrier has a forward-facing design. While it is one of the heaviest backpack carriers on the market at 3 pounds 8 ounces, the Dog Perch Backpack II has many unique features that make it a popular choice. In addition to allowing your dog to ride in a natural position, this carrier transfers the weight of your dog smoothly to your hips. Additionally, this carrier can accommodate dogs up to 22 pounds and has a five-point safety harness. Finally, the Dog Perch Backpack II is water-resistant and is available in six different sizes.
- PetGear I-GO2 Escort: This carrier is one of the best all-in-one options for owners of small dogs. The I-GO2 Escort functions as a backpack, carrier, tote or car seat. It complies with most airline regulations and includes a removable fleece pad that is machine washable. This carrier is designed with a large mesh opening to optimize visibility for your dog and there is a roomy pouch to store treats and toys. It is important to note that the I-GO2 is designed for small pets only (under 15 pounds).
- Casual Canine Ultimate Backpack Carrier: This carrier is perfect for people and dogs on the go who are seeking a user-friendly, convertible pet carrier. The key advantage of this backpack is the inclusion of a zip-down front section that expands into a mesh tent to give your dog a place to stretch out and rest between travels. The Ultimate Backpack is available in blue or green and accommodates dogs up to 22 pounds.
- Outward Hound PoochPouch Front Carrier: The PoochPouch is an affordable carrier designed for use with small dogs up to 15 pounds. Available in two sizes (small and medium) and in two colors (blue or gray), the PoochPouch is well-ventilated with mesh sides and includes a safety harness and drawstring top to keep your dog secure. The PoochPouch has a well-padded bottom to keep your dog cozy and extra padding in the straps to keep you comfortable as well.
- GemPet Hand-Free Reversible Small Dog Sling Carrier: While this carrier is limited to small dogs under 6.6 pounds, its unique over the shoulder design allows your dog to rest comfortably on your hip as you walk. Constructed of soft, washable cotton and polyester, this carrier has a safety clasp that attaches to your dog’s collar to prevent him from jumping out. This carrier also works well with small cats and rabbits!
One Last Step Before You and Your Dog Put Your New Carrier to Use
If you are purchasing a backpack carrier specifically for a long trip, do not wait until the minute that you leave to introduce your dog to his or her new carrier. If possible, complete your purchase well in advance of your planned vacation or trip and properly introduce your dog to the carrier. This will allow your dog to get acclimated to riding in the carrier and will also help you get accustomed to the process of carrying your dog with you. You can begin by placing your dog in his or her new carrier while you are safely within the confines of your home and then gradually venturing outdoors and into public places. This critical step will help ensure that you and your dog make a smooth transition to traveling together!