The 7 Best Dog Backpack Carriers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Our favorites are the Kurgo Nomad and K9 Sport Sack Air backpack carriers

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Commerce Photo Composite

The Spruce Pets / Lecia Landis

From keeping your hands free while running errands to providing a restful perch for tired paws on long walks, a dog backpack carrier is a great way to bring along a small to medium-sized furry friend. There are various styles of dog backpack, which will allow a dog to sit, lie down, or rest in an upright pose. Of course, we also want the option to let its adorable head peek out.

We purchased and tested 14 of the most popular and top-performing dog backpacks. Each one was sent to a volunteer tester and their dog at home. While our dog participants were toted around, our human testers took careful notes. Following a methodology written in advance, our testers evaluated each dog backpack for its performance, quality, comfort (for both paw-ticipants), and overall value.

Our favorite for small breeds is the Kurgo Nomad Backpack, which resembles a standard backpack with a zippered pocket on the front. The main compartment has a supportive frame and sturdy bottom to provide a pleasant space for dogs under 15 pounds. If you have a slightly heavier dog—up to 25 pounds—the K9 Sport Sack Air is our top pick. This style puts dogs in an upright position, with their front legs out and room for their tail, putting their face right over your shoulder. Both are easy to wipe clean and offer additional pockets for carrying treats, collapsible water bowls, and more. There were also several other dog backpacks that our testers loved, which may work even better for you and your dog.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall for Small Breeds

Kurgo Nomad Carrier Backpack

4.6
Kurgo Nomad Carrier Backpack

Amazon

What We Like
  • Waterproof bottom

  • Clip to keep dog attached to bag

  • Additional space for other items

  • Can be used as a carrier or backpack

  • Window for visability

  • Easy to clean

  • Dog can be fully covered

What We Don't Like
  • Could use more ventilation for warmer climates

  • Lacks more rigorous hiking features like a waistbelt

The dual-use Kurgo Nomad Carrier Backpack is suitable for small dogs that weigh less than 15 pounds, and it can be configured as either a backpack or a carrier, including both backpack straps and two beefy, dual-carry handles.

Our tester—who used the bag to separately cart around their small, 11-pound dogs—found the bag to be comfortable for all involved: “I think that this pack is very well constructed and well-balanced with several points of adjustment.”

The Kurgo Nomad benefits from a classic backpack look that doesn’t immediately suggest a pet carrier. Its broad back panel also offers several ways for your dog to travel, since the compartment can be fully opened or closed, or just allow enough room for a snout to poke out. There’s an interior tether that you can attach to your dog’s collar to keep it in place.

The interior of the Kurgo is lined with waterproof fabric, and the internal pad where your dog sits can be removed and machine washed. The exterior is similarly water-resistant, with a DWR coating that should keep your dog dry next time you’re caught in a downpour together. In addition to the external pockets, which include a large, zippered front compartment and two side stow pouches, the Kurgo Nomad has an interior tablet sleeve.

The bottom of the bag is waterproof with ventilation panels on each side. The zippered main compartment also has two separate zippers, so you can either zip it fully closed or zip up a separate mesh panel for additional ventilation. While we appreciated the multiple ways to ventilate, the mesh is a little too heavy-duty to allow as much airflow as our tester would have liked.

Price at time of publish: $90

Dog Tester’s Weight: 11 pounds | Size Recommendation: Up to 15 pounds | Colors: Red, Blue | Dimensions: 15 x 11.25 x 7.5 pounds

Best Overall for Medium Breeds

K9 Sport Sack Air Dog Carrier

4.6
K9 Sport Sack PLUS 2

Amazon

What We Like
  • Detachable storage bag

  • Even distribution of weight

  • Mesh side pockets for ventilation and storage

  • Cooling side and back panel

  • Flap of fabric to keep fur from getting zipped up

  • Sternum strap and wide shoulder straps for support

  • Wide base to accommodate a dog's tail

  • Dog faces towards human's back, so it's easy to check on them

  • Easy to store when not in use

What We Don't Like
  • Finding a comfortable fit may take a little adjusting

If your dog is comfortable in an upright position, the K9 Sport Sack PLUS 2 will make it easy for you to bring it along on adventures. The backpack comes in three sizes, which can accommodate dogs ranging in weight from 8 to 40 pounds. The sizing chart also has length guidelines, so you should measure your dog from collar to base of tail to find the right fit.

Our tester’s senior dog is under 30 pounds and has joint issues, but once inside the backpack it was able to join its human on walks without discomfort. “This product is really helpful and distributes the weight of my dog well,” our tester said.

Once securely inside the backpack, a dog’s head and front legs will remain uncovered for snoot boops, high fives, and paw-shakes. The sides are ventilated with small mesh pockets, and a padded back panel helps to keep your dog cool. For a human’s comfort, the bag features wide straps designed to relieve pressure and a padded back panel. However, our tester found perfectly distributing a larger dog’s weight to be a little finicky, taking multiple strap adjustments before they found a comfortable configuration.

The K9 Sport Sack also includes a 14 x 9 inch detachable storage bag, for carrying additional items like a collapsible water bowl, snacks, keys, and more.

Price at time of publish: $95

Dog Tester’s Weight: Under 30 pounds | Size Recommendation: 8-40 pounds and 20-23 inches in length for large | Colors: Black, Mint, Gray, Tie-Dye | Exterior Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 22 inches for large

Best Outdoors

Kurgo G-Train Dog Carrier Backpack

4.4
Kurgo G-Train Dog Carrier Backpack

Amazon

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Sturdy construction with interior fiberglass rods

  • Clip to keep dog attached to bag

  • Reflective strips

  • Window for viability

  • Dog can be fully covered

  • Adjustable hip, chest, and shoulder straps

  • Padded shoulder straps and back

  • Storage compartment

What We Don't Like
  • Dog faces away from human’s back, which pulls weight in opposite direction

  • Placement of optional stabilizing rods reduces internal space for dog, and our tester found the rods difficult to install

Made with waterproof, dirt resistant fabric and featuring reflective strips and a sturdy base, the Kurgo G-Train Dog Carrier Backpack is designed for bringing your dog along on outdoor excursions.

“My dog was adequately supported, and I could walk around hands-free comfortably and set the pack down with him in it if needed,” remarked our tester, whose dog slightly exceeds the manufacturer’s suggested weight of up to 25 pounds.

Padded shoulder straps, along with an adjustable strap at the sternum and hip, offer support and help to alleviate pressure. However, when the backpack is on the bag is designed so that dog and human are facing in opposite directions. For our tester, this aspect of the backpack made it feel like the weight of their dog was also pulling away. The carrier comes with two optional stabilization rods that can be placed inside, but that slightly reduces the interior space, and our tester found installation to be tricky.

Mesh on both sides provides ventilation along with slim pockets for easy access to anything you want to keep on hand, like a water bottle or snacks. An internal padded pocket can accommodate a laptop, and there are loops on the exterior for attachment of other items.

Price at time of publish: $107

Dog Tester’s Weight: 27 pounds | Size Recommendation: Up to 25 pounds | Colors: Black, Red, Navy, Blue | Exterior Dimensions: 13.5 x 10 X 21 inches

Best for Older Dogs

Apollo Walker Pet Carrier Backpack

5
Apollo Walker Pet Carrier Backpack

Amazon

What We Like
  • Mesh top and sides with ability unzip windows

  • Internal leash clip to secure dog via collar or harness

  • Interior padding

  • Sturdy yet light construction

  • Thick, padded shoulder straps

  • Strap at sternum and waist

  • Two side pockets

What We Don't Like
  • Bulkier than other styles

If you want to give your dog a place to rest while continuing with your walk, this sturdy dog backpack will allow you to continue enjoying the outdoors together. Our tester was pleased with the lightweight construction of the Apollo Walker Pet Carrier Backpack, and their senior toy poodle had plenty of space to relax.

With mesh sides and top, your dog will be able to feel the wind across its little furry body to keep it cool. You can also unzip each mesh panel to let your dog poke its head out, and an internal clip that attaches to a collar or harness will keep your dog securely inside the backpack. For the wearer of the dog backpack, thick padded straps, along with a sternum and waist strap, will alleviate pressure on the back and distribute your dog’s weight.

The stable construction of this dog backpack offers a protected encasement for your pup, but you may find it more difficult to store, because it takes up more space.

Price at time of publish: $40

Dog Tester’s Weight: 10-pound Toy Poodle | Size Recommendation: Up to 25 pounds | Colors: Black, Gray, Pink, Blue, Navy | Exterior Dimensions: 16.8 x 11.4 X 12.6 inches

Best Airline-Approved

Mr. Peanut's Aspen Series Airline Approved Backpack Pet Carrier

4.8
Mr. Peanut's Aspen Series Airline Approved Backpack Pet Carrier

Amazon

What We Like
  • Mesh on four sides

  • Side pockets are large enough to carry a water bottle

  • Designated strap for sunglasses, pocket for phone, and compartment for ID

  • Removable fleece pad

  • Airline approved (always check with your airline)

  • Folds up when not in use

  • Dog can enter from the sides and the front

  • Seat belt attachment

What We Don't Like
  • No chest strap, which our tester felt was needed for support

  • Only available in gray

Streamline your airport experience with the Mr. Peanuts Aspen Series Pet Backpack. “The build alone gives you comfort that your pet is comfortable on your back,” shared our tester who found the additional storage pockets and the removable fleece pad to be highly convenient for daily use and while traveling. The bag is designed for use as a pet carrier on commercial flights, but you should always confirm with your airline provider before arriving at the airport.

The backpack features breathable mesh on both sides, the front, and the top, and all four placements can be unzipped for access and viewability. Our tester found the adjustable shoulder straps with padding to be comfortable but felt that a sternum strap would make the backpack feel more secure. It also folds up easily for storage.

Price at time of publish: $89

Dog Tester’s Weight: Dachshund, but did not provide weight | Size Recommendation: Up to 14 inches long and 9 inches tall; up to 16 pounds | Color: Gray | Exterior Dimensions: 18 x 14 x 9 inches

Best Sling Carrier

YUDODO Reflective Pet Sling Carrier

5
YUDODO Reflective Pet Sling Carrier

Amazon

What We Like
  • Available in lots of colors

  • Strap has a pocket for a phone

  • Drawstring closure

  • Reflective strip

What We Don't Like

For small dogs that tend to be anxious, the cross-body design of this carrier will keep your furry friend close by. It distributes the weight of the dog more evenly than a shoulder bag and gives you the hands free experience of a backpack.

Our tester selected the medium sized YUDODO Reflective Pet Sling Carrier for their 12-pound dog. She felt that it offered ample space to keep her dog protected and secure without feeling restricted.

The lightweight sling weighs less than a pound on its own, has a drawstring opening, and is made with a breathable mesh. The adjustable strap has a large buckle closure and a pocket designed for a smartphone. Our tester, who also has a baby at home, found the sling to be very comfortable and convenient for taking her child in a stroller and her dog in the sling on walks and running errands.

Price at time of publish: $29 (for Medium)

Dog Tester: 12-pound Mini Schnauzer | Size Recommendation: Up to 14 pounds | Colors: Black, Pink, Teal, Red, Gray, Blue, Orange | Exterior Dimensions: 15 x 3.9 x 7.8 inches

Best High End

Manhattan Portage Sirius Traveler Dog Backpack

4.5
Manhattan Portage Sirius Traveler Dog Backpack

Dog & Co.

What We Like
  • Dog can move around inside to find a comfortable position

  • Removable waterproof nylon interior cushion

  • Interior clip to secure dog via collar or harness

  • Deep outer pockets on sides and a zipper pocket

  • Sternum strap

  • Padded shoulder straps and back

  • Bag stands upright on its own which made it easier for tester to place their dog inside

  • Zipper flap that prevents catching on fur

  • Easy to wipe clean

What We Don't Like
  • Only available in black

The Sirius Traveler Dog Backpack from Manhattan Portage offers comfort for canines and their human companion. “This backpack gave us an added sense of security, and we really appreciated the attention to detail for the dog and the pet parent that was put into it,” remarked our tester.

The parcel is designed to stand on its own, making it easier to place your dog inside, where it will find a cushioned base. The bag is recommended for dogs under 15 pounds and is designed to give a dog plenty of space to move around as it pleases. An interior clip attached to a collar or harness will keep your dog safely inside, and a mesh panel at the top can be unzipped without your worrying about your dog escaping.

Each side has a mesh panel for airflow and a deep pocket with an elastic top. Our tester used the side pockets for walking essentials like a retractable leash and a collapsible water bowl. For more valuable items like your keys and phone, the front of the bag has a zippered compartment. Adjustable shoulder straps, a sternum strap, and padding along the back add comfort and help to distribute the backpack’s weight.

Price at time of publish: $160

Dog Tester: 13-pound Mini Schnauzer | Size Recommendation: Up to 15 pounds | Colors: Black | Exterior Dimensions: 17.5 (front) x 44 (back) x 11 X 9 inches

Final Verdict

Our favorite for small breeds (under 15 pounds) is the Kurgo Nomad Backpack. It has a front flap that can be unzipped and opened, providing a window for your dog to be admired, along with an interior clip to keep your dog securely inside. For medium sized dogs (up to 25 pounds), the K9 Sport Sack Air is our top pick. It’s lightweight and easy to clean, and your dog is free to give you a kiss whenever it pleases. It also comes with a removable pouch in case you want to bring along more snacks. If you are looking to keep your dog a little closer, the YUDODO Reflective Pet Sling Carrier offers the hands-free mobility of a backpack and more evenly distributes your dog’s weight than a shoulder bag.

How We Tested the Dog Backpacks

We selected 14 of the latest, top-performing dog backpacks available and sent each one to a real home with a dog for real-world testing.

Each of our canine participants was placed in and carried around in a dog backpack. Their human companions gathered insights and made notes about their shared experiencs over the course of two weeks and then provided their feedback within the following categories: performance, comfort, quality, and value. They were also asked whether they would recommend the dog backpack they tested.

Equipped with this first-hand information, we ranked and categorized our top picks to simplify your search for the perfect dog backpack to suit your needs, habits, and preferences.

What to Look for in a Dog Backpack

Carrying capacity

All of the dog backpacks we tested come with recommendations on weight, and some also include measurement guidelines. If your dog exceeds the weight by a pound or two, you might still be able to get it inside. You should also keep in mind how much weight you want to carry while walking around. The more structured dog backpacks, like the Sirius Traveler Dog Backpack from Manhattan Portage, tend to weigh a little more than foldable styles, like the K9 Sport Sack Air.

Ventilation

To keep your dog cool and comfortable, make sure the bag you select is appropriate for the weather. Mesh panels, drawstring openings, and zippered windows allow for airflow to keep your dog cool in their backpack but may also leave it exposed to the elements.

FAQ
  • Are dog backpacks safe for dogs?

    Yes, backpacks that are designed to carry a canine are safe for very small to medium-sized dogs. You should select a dog backpack that provides enough space to keep your dog comfortable and provides support for you and your dog. Dog backpacks are not interchangeable with regular backpacks.

  • Are dog backpacks comfortable for dogs?

    Yes, but you need to find the backpack that works for you and your dog. You need to be comfortable carrying your dog on your back, and your dog needs to be comfortable inside the backpack. Some dog backpacks allow for a dog to sit and lay (more likely for smaller doggos) while others, like our pick for medium breeds, the K9 Sport Sack PLUS 2, puts the dog in an upright position, which might not be comfortable for all dogs. Pay attention to your dog for any signs of discomfort.

  • Are dog backpacks appropriate for all dogs?

    No, some dogs are too big to fit into a dog backpack. You should also consider how much weight you want to carry on your shoulders and back to help you determine whether a dog backpack works for you and your pupper. If you usually carry your dog in a bag, then a dog backpack will probably be an easy transition and a welcomed respite for one side of your body.

Why Trust The Spruce Pets?

This roundup was written by Anna Mejorada, a writer for The Spruce Pets, who shares her home with a happy pomeranian named Gidget, who loves tagging along in her dog backpack. Before researching and writing about pet products for a living, Anna embarked on a self-mandated, ongoing quest to find the optimal items for her dog. She is now delightfully devoted to helping humans discover and select the most favorable products for their pets.