7 Best Dog Backpack Carrier in 2021 (Small and Medium Dogs)

Edited by: Mike Powell
Reviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall Backpack Carrier: K9 Sports Sack Dog Carrier Backpack
“Small and medium-sized dogs will adore this veterinary-recommended backpack. Its waterproof fabric and mesh Foam-Tek shoulder straps keep you and your dog comfortable even on lengthy hikes.”

Most Affordable Carrier: JesPet Deluxe Dog Carrier Backpack
“Contrary to its price tag, this deluxe carrier is anything but cheap. Comfortable and spacious, dogs up to 18 pounds will happily stay put for long periods.”

Most Durable Carrier: Kurgo G-Train Dog Carrier Backpack
“Whether taking on urban adventures or trail explorations, this airline-approved and tactically designed carrier will last you and your dog for years to come.”

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If you have a dog who loves to adventure but can’t necessarily keep up, having a dog backpack carrier is essential. Fortunately, there is no shortage of hands-free carriers that allow you to take your smaller or disabled pet on ambitious excursions. 

But what should you be looking for? While a fashionable backpack may be a joy to display in public, not every good-looking product provides the support that you and your pup require. If you enjoy hours-long and challenging treks, having a robust, comfortable, and efficient carrier matters. 

In this guide, you’ll learn about the top dog backpack carriers currently available on the market, how to use them, and how to ensure you’re buying the right size for your dog. 

Product Name
Best Overall Backpack Carrier
Most Affordable Carrier
Most Durable Carrier
Our ranking
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
K9 Sport Sack | Dog Carrier Adjustable Backpack (Small, Air - Charcoal Grey)
JESPET Pet Backpack Carrier for Small Dog, Puppy, Cat Carrier Backpack Airline Approved Ideal for Traveling, Hiking, Walking and Outdoor Activities with Family (Blue Grey)
Kurgo Dog Carrier Backpack for Small Pets - Dogs & Cats | TSA Airline Approved | Cat | Hiking or Travel | Waterproof Bottom | G-Train | K9 Ruck Sack | Black (ZCR30-17136)
Our grade
Our Rating 92/100
Our Rating 90/100
Our Rating 90/100
Feature 1
Comes in various designs for dogs of all sizes
Affordable carrier is easy to wear and adjust for optimal comfort
Made with interior fiberglass to provide additional protective structure
Feature 2
Veterinarian approved for security and comfort
Scratch-resistant materials keep the carrier in good shape for a long time
Waterproof and dirt-proof for easy maintenance
Best Overall Backpack Carrier
Our ranking
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
K9 Sport Sack | Dog Carrier Adjustable Backpack (Small, Air - Charcoal Grey)
Our grade
Our Rating 92/100
Feature 1
Comes in various designs for dogs of all sizes
Feature 2
Veterinarian approved for security and comfort
Buy Now Button
Custom Button
Most Affordable Carrier
Our ranking
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
JESPET Pet Backpack Carrier for Small Dog, Puppy, Cat Carrier Backpack Airline Approved Ideal for Traveling, Hiking, Walking and Outdoor Activities with Family (Blue Grey)
Our grade
Our Rating 90/100
Feature 1
Affordable carrier is easy to wear and adjust for optimal comfort
Feature 2
Scratch-resistant materials keep the carrier in good shape for a long time
Buy Now Button
Custom Button
Most Durable Carrier
Our ranking
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Kurgo Dog Carrier Backpack for Small Pets - Dogs & Cats | TSA Airline Approved | Cat | Hiking or Travel | Waterproof Bottom | G-Train | K9 Ruck Sack | Black (ZCR30-17136)
Our grade
Our Rating 90/100
Feature 1
Made with interior fiberglass to provide additional protective structure
Feature 2
Waterproof and dirt-proof for easy maintenance
Buy Now Button
Custom Button
Sources researched
19
Sources researched
Customer reviews
12,652
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
11
Hours spent testing
Products tested
7
Products tested

Best Dog Backpack Carrier

Here are the top dog backpack carriers on the market:

  1. Best Overall Backpack Carrier: K9 Sports Sack Dog Carrier Backpack
  2. Most Affordable Carrier: JesPet Deluxe Dog Carrier Backpack
  3. Most Durable Carrier: Kurgo G-Train Dog Carrier Backpack
  4. Best for Everyday Use: Petsfit Comfort Dog Carrier Backpack
  5. Best Dog Carrier with Wheels: Pet Gear I-G02 Roller Backpack
  6. Best Front-Facing Carrier: Outward Hound PoochPouch Dog Carrier
  7. Best for Air Travel: Katziela Voyager Dog Backpack Carrier

1. K9 Sports Sack Dog Carrier Backpack

Best Overall Backpack Carrier: Durable, versatile, and breathable backpack with adjustable pockets keeping your dog safe even on treacherous trails

K9 Sport Sack | Dog Carrier Adjustable Backpack (Small, Air - Charcoal Grey)
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Key Features

  • Comes in various designs for dogs of all sizes
  • Has breathable mesh side panels for total aeration
  • Veterinarian approved for security and comfort

If you hate leaving your pup at home while you embark on weekend treks, the K9 Sports Sack is a highly versatile carrier that keeps dogs comfortable and in for a scenic hike. This model is available in three different sizes and is manufactured with breathable mesh sides. 

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This carrier’s easy-pull zippers and adjustable straps make for an impressively tailored fit—your dog may even end up napping! But, of course, you’ll never have to worry about your dog slipping out either. The pack’s collar hook-up D-ring keeps your pup strapped to you at all times. 

As for its human benefits, comfortable Foam-Tek shoulder straps keep owners cool even on hours-long hikes. Its particularly thick padding keeps your bottom end snug when taking a break from the trail.

2. Jespet Deluxe Dog Carrier Backpack

Most Affordable Carrier: Affordable and spacious carrier backpack with a large mesh door to keep your dog comfortable and entertained

JESPET Pet Backpack Carrier for Small Dog, Puppy, Cat Carrier Backpack Airline Approved Ideal for Traveling, Hiking, Walking and Outdoor Activities with Family (Blue Grey)
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Key Features

  • Affordable carrier is easy to wear and adjust for optimal comfort
  • Made with durable polyester to withstand harsher environments
  • Scratch-resistant materials keep the carrier in good shape for a long time

Whether traveling or planning a trek, this affordable and airline-approved carrier is truly deluxe. Its space allowances enable small dogs to stand, sit, and lie down comfortably. 

Thanks to its padded handles and shoulder straps, this carrier also keeps humans comfortable on longer journeys. A large mesh door and side panels allow you to keep an eye on your dog at all times and provide them with excellent ventilation.

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Its side pockets are plentiful and allow humans to pack along collars, leashes, wipes, and treats. 

When no longer in use, this box-shaped carrier is foldable and easy to store. If you prefer something more muted than its blue variation, you can also purchase this carrier backpack in smoke grey.

3. Kurgo G-Train Dog Carrier Backpack

Most Durable Carrier: Waterproof and dirt-proof carrier with  tactical-inspired fabrics that can withstand harsh environments for long periods

Kurgo Dog Carrier Backpack for Small Pets - Dogs & Cats | TSA Airline Approved | Cat | Hiking or Travel | Waterproof Bottom | G-Train | K9 Ruck Sack | Black (ZCR30-17136)
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Key Features

  • Made with interior fiberglass to provide additional protective structure
  • Easily converts to a hand carrier whenever necessary
  • Waterproof and dirt-proof for easy maintenance

Whether on your daily urban commute or trekking a formidable trail, this backpack will withstand even the most unforgiving of circumstances. Rain or shine, the Kurgo G-Train dog carrier backpack is breathable yet highly protective. 

This unique and versatile design features ventilated mesh for breathability, roll-up top panels, and dual-side compression straps for even weight distribution. Humans can minimize shoulder and back pain with this carrier’s adjustable and softly padded straps.

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Unlike most carriers, this backpack has more storage compartments than any other—it even features a padded laptop sleeve. Stretch mesh pockets allow you to stuff other goodies for travel.  

Are you worried that your pet will come loose? Don’t be—this backpack comes with a robust safety harness clip that keeps even the rowdiest of pups in place. 

4. Petsfit Comfort Dog Carrier Backpack

Best for Everyday Use: Fashionable and easy to use dog carrier backpack designed for trips to the mall or running quick errands with your dog

Petsfit Comfort Dogs/Cat Carrier Backpack,Hold Pets up to 15 LBS,Go for Walk, Hiking and Cycling 17' H x13 L x11 D, Coffee
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Key Features

  • Affordable yet secure thanks to waist and chest buckles
  • Manufactured with additional mesh windows for peak ventilation
  • Comes in multiple fashionable colors for daily wear

If you’re not an avid hiker but love taking your dog along on daily trips to the market or mall, the Petsfit Comfort Dog Carrier Backpack is perfect for you. Its spacious interior is ideal for smaller dogs, with mesh interiors that allow for a great view. Simply drop your pet in through its easy-access top entrance. 

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Pet parents can stay comfortable throughout the day with this carrier’s cushioned back, shoulder straps, and buckles. In addition, its adjustable buckles reduce bounce while walking, which is ideal for dogs who experience motion sickness. 

Built-in security clips and self-lock zippers are a handy feature for antsy dogs that require additional safety features. Extra side pockets allow owners to pack along treats, toys, and other essentials. 

When not in use, you can quickly flatten the carrier and tuck it away in a drawer.

5. Pet Gear I-G02 Roller Backpack

Best Dog Carrier with Wheels: Convenient dog carrier that transforms into a roller bag, ideal for dog parents who are prone to back pain

Pet Gear I-GO2 Roller Backpack, Travel Carrier, Car Seat for Cats/Dogs, Mesh Ventilation, Included Tether, Telescoping Handle, Storage Pouch
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Key Features

  • Easily convertible into a backpack, carrier, or roller bag, depending on how you travel
  • Removable pad allows for more space and easy cleaning
  • Large storage pockets can hold numerous essentials

If you and your dog are frequent fliers, the Pet Gear I-G02 Roller Backpack easily converts into a backpack or carrier on wheels. Wherever you go, your dog is bound to feel comfortable in its spacious compartment. 

Are you worried that your developing puppy will outgrow it too quickly? Don’t be—the I-G02 Roller boasts expandable sides that provide up to 3 inches of additional space.

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No matter what you’re using this carrier for, you can rest assured its inside tether will keep your dog safe throughout any trip. For instance, its backpack loops are ideal for threading seatbelts through on road trips. 

Even if stowing your pet away in an airline cabin, this carrier’s superior mesh windows provide optimal circulation.

6. Outward Hound PoochPouch Carrier

Best Front-Facing Carrier: Lightweight and secure weather-resistant carrier for dog owners who prefer to keep a closer eye on their pup

Outward Hound PoochPouch Dog Front Carrier, Medium, Grey
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Key Features

  • Secure and comfortable for pet parents who prefer outward-facing carriers
  • Inner clasp hooks will keep dogs from jumping out 
  • Water-resistant nylon fabric is easy to maintain

Outward Hound’s PoochPouch is ideal for carrying your petite pup from the front if you prefer to keep a closer eye on them. Lightweight, secure, and weather-resistant, this smaller backpack can do everything a larger, more durable one can. 

This carrier comes in three different sizes and is easily adjustable for a more tailored and comfortable fit. If you have an anxious or older pet, this pack’s front-facing feature will keep them calm and always in your sight.

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For added security, you can clip your dog’s harness onto the inner hook and cinch the pack’s top drawstring—your dog will probably even get to enjoy the view!

The pack also features smaller side pockets and a large front pocket for bigger essentials. 

7. Katziela Voyager Dog Backpack Carrier

Best for Air Travel: Designed with airline-specific features making it easy to provide optimal comfort for dog owners who fly frequently.  

Katziela Pet Carrier Backpack - for Small Dogs and Cats - Water Bottle, Waste Bag and Storage Pouches, 3 Mesh Windows, Leash Hook - 3 Option Top: Open, Mesh or Shade - Bonus: 2 Poop Bag Rolls – Red
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Key Features

  • Manufactured specifically for frequently flying, allowing owners to take their beloved dogs anywhere 
  • Mesh panels are highly breathable and will keep pets comfortable no matter where they’re stored
  • Removable plush bed allows for total comfort on long trips

This airline-approved dog backpack carrier is ultra-comfortable and will get even the most anxious pets used to flying. Its mesh covers allow for maximum breathability, while you can leave the top open to allow your dog to enjoy even more fresh air. 

This backpack’s most impressive features are its built-in waste bag holders—it comes with two free poop bags—and a water bottle pouch. Additional storage allows owners to pack other essentials such as leashes, harnesses, and food.

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Are you traveling for more than a few hours? This carrier comes with a removable plush bed that provides added comfort for your dog while on the road—or in the sky. You won’t have to stress over permanent stains either—the fleece bed is easily washable. 


Different Types of Dog Backpack Carriers

Unlike traditional carriers, everyday dog backpacks are specifically designed for pet owners to carry their pups safely on their back or front. Some carriers allow dogs to have their head and legs out, while others keep them covered entirely. 

Dog backpack carriers are best for smaller breeds, though some cater to larger pets like Beagles and terriers. Unlike their hard-shell counterparts, soft-sided, wearable carriers are often welcomed on public transportation. 

1) Everyday Carriers

While fully secure, everyday backpacks don’t have the additional safety features hiking sacks do. Instead, they focus on other factors such as ample storage, comfort, appearance, and ease of use. 

Everyday carriers will often fit well in vehicles and come with seatbelt-compatible straps. Some backpacks can even be clipped onto bicycle baskets for daily riding. 

These carriers are typically manufactured with easily washable materials such as polyester and nylon. They are also foldable or collapsible for convenient, space-saving storage. 

2) Hiking Carriers

Most hiking carriers are hands-free, allowing pet owners additional mobility when venturing into the mountains or daily hiking trails. They often provide extra ventilation through mesh windows, especially for pet parents who wander into higher altitudes.  

Many are also weather-resistant for taking along to the lake or in humid environments. Hiking backpacks are often made with nylon, which is stain-resistant and easy to wash.

Made with pet owners in mind, hiking carriers are often equipped with additional padding in its shoulder straps and bottoms to provide comfort during pit stops. Adjustable features offer optimal comfort for both pet and owner and allow for even weight distribution. 

3) Airline Carriers

Airline-approved carriers provide the most robust security features for dogs on the go. More often than not, these spacious backpacks are convertible into handheld carriers or roll-along bags. 

Generous storage space allows owners to pack on essentials such as food, blankets, and even bowls. These robust carriers often feature multiple security features like self-locking zippers, inner and outer leash hooks, and several openings. 

Some will come equipped with expandable space and even accommodate travel beds to keep anxious pets comfortable. 

Keep in mind that not all airline-fit carriers are approved by specific liners. Always consult with your airline beforehand to ensure that your backpack carrier meets its minimum requirements


How to Choose the Best Dog Backpack Carrier

When shopping for a dog backpack carrier, the three characteristics you’ll want to prioritize are comfort, durability, and functionality. Remember, your carrier should make things easier for you and your pet—not more challenging! Consider these factors below before you select a product. 

1) Comfort and Support

High-quality dog backpack carriers should provide comfort for both wearer and rider. Beware of carriers that don’t offer padded support, as this can put significant strain on your neck, shoulder, and back. 

A comfortable backpack carrier should come with chest and waist straps to allow for even weight distribution. Padded bottoms are also a plus when seated. 

Seek added ventilation for your dog, especially if traveling to places with extreme weather conditions. 

2) Versatility

While not a hard must, dog carriers with multiple functions may serve adventurous owners better. These additional features often include convertibility, allowing pet owners to turn their backpacks into roller bags for more accessible storage on vehicles and airlines. 

3) Durability

Naturally, you want to select a dog backpack carrier that lasts a long while. Nylon carriers are a crowd favorite, as this robust material is abrasion-resistant, easy to wash, and extremely long-lasting. 

Some luxury backpacks will even incorporate ripstop nylon, which is rip-proof, as you may have guessed. This interwoven material is thicker, stronger, and more wear-resistant than most. 

4) Storage 

While it isn’t generally recommended to take all of your dog’s belongings when traveling, some prefer to be better equipped than others. Thus, additional storage space is something you might want to consider. 

Most dog backpack carriers come with pockets to store items such as your dog’s favorite leather leash, harness, a handful of treats, and waste bags. Others will be more generous with their compartments, allowing owners to pack along extra items like blankets and food bowls.  

5) Portability

It should go without saying that all dog backpack carriers are technically portable. However, some are bulkier than others and thus more challenging to take on outdoor trips or public transportation. 

Heavy-made carriers also tend to cause stress on the wearer’s back and provide minimal comfort. Selecting a lightweight carrier isn’t just easier on its wearer, but it also more convenient to store.  


Tips for Measuring Your Dog for the Right Backpack Carrier Size

A dog backpack carrier is only as comfortable as to how well your dog fits inside it. No matter how many impressive features a carrier may come with, none will matter if your dog is uncomfortable or even in pain. 

Ensure the right-sized carrier for your dog by taking the following steps. 

  1. Use a tape measure to calculate your dog’s length from the base of the neck to its back.  
  2. Extend the measurement from the base of the neck to the tip of the tail.
  3. Calculate your pet’s height by measuring from the base of the paw to the top of the shoulder. 
  4. Measure the circumference of your dog’s chest.

Compare these measurements to the carrier size, allowing for 3 to 4 inches of additional space. Most carriers will come equipped with adjustable straps that you can alter to provide optimal comfort for your dog. 

You’ll also want to account for your dog’s weight, as some backpack carriers will tear easier than others. 

If you don’t have a larger, more precise scale, you can calculate your dog’s weight by standing on a bathroom scale with and without your dog. 

Never try to force a dog into a carrier that doesn’t suit their weight and size—you risk suffocating them. If your dog’s measurements come too close to that of a backpack you’re eyeing, always move a size up. 


Questions & Answers

Q: How long should my dog stay in a backpack carrier? 

A: Ultimately, this answer will depend on the quality of the backpack carrier and how used your dog is to traveling this way. However, even if your pup is used to traveling long periods in a carrier, they will need to stretch their legs at least every hour. Ensure that you check on your dog periodically—they might be uncomfortable!

Q: When should I use a dog backpack carrier?

A: Dog backpack carriers are convenient, but there is a time and place for them. While most everyday backpacks allow pet owners to take their dog along to the supermarket, they won’t be necessary on your daily walk—otherwise, you defeat the purpose of exercise! Using a dog carrier is detrimental if you notice your dog becoming more sedentary or putting on too much weight.

Q: What is the best material for a dog backpack carrier? 

A: What type of material you select will depend on the circumstances. For instance, everyday use may not require the robust materials you find in hiking packs. Instead, they might be made with polyester. On the other hand, airline-type carriers are made with more durable materials like woven nylon.

Mike Powell

Mike is an avid dog lover and writer. He’s based in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up in a household surrounded by pets. He’s been a dog owner all his life and he uses this extensive experience of having dogs as part of his family to share valuable, practical tips to improve other people’s dog parenting experience.