Friday, April 5, 2013

A Backpacking We Will Go!

The other day I mentioned we received a package. It was Taricha's new backpack and hiking leash. 

I would like to mention right away that the Ruffwear Roamer Leash is my absolute favorite new thing ever.

Taricha and I are walkers. Be it our neighborhood, our fine city or out in the middle of the woods. She sure seems to enjoy the woods more than anywhere else because this is where she starts to pull me around a bit. For the first 15min or so, Taricha pays great attention and is loose-leash but..... then finds a groove and tries to set a fast pace all the while trying to sniff things as she walks briefly. A normal flat 6' leash, this becomes a pain, constantly readjusting, holding, turning around, folding the leash. Hands free was not an option because of her brief sniffs, she'd step over the leash and then it starts to get tangled in legs and more readjustment is needed. If I wanted to take the time to treat every 10 steps she would walk in a heel but that is seriously no fun on a trail for either of us and often there isnt room. 

The roamer has changed it all! I think both of us felt some form of relief while on the trail. Less tension. I  attached the leash to my backpack and didn't really have to think about it the rest of the hike. Actually I thought about it a lot, I thought about how AWESOME it was to not adjust every two steps! Every move either of us made was slowly guided in or out by the bungee-ness of the leash. It never got tangled in legs, it just swang along in the air doing its thing. 

This is not a leash I would probably use on streets or parks, because I really dont have that much control. Taricha has nearly 12ft of free roam with when stretched out. Near the dog end of the leash is an extra loop to grab hold of incase of emergencies or if I need to help Taricha up an obstacle. Brilliant  The perfect hiking leash, I will never look back.


Then we have our new Ruffwear Approach Pack, size XL. Taricha has gone through a lot of backpacks over the years. All have their pros and cons but this backpack blows them all out of the water. Im turning into an advocate for Ruffwear because the quality has always been superb and they think of great little things that other packs don't. It is expensive, that's why it took me so long to 'invest' but I will say this now, so. worth. it.

But... anyways. This backpack still leans slightly to one side sometimes but every pack has done this on Taricha, maybe one leg is shorter than the other! This pack has room to spare, a great harness for her beefy shoulders to move in and good fit on the belly with padded straps. I looove the little tiny bungee-ness of every strap where it attaches to the pack, it allows for some freedomwhile still hanging tight.

The first day she had it on, Taricha managed to find a pile of animal poo in a thorn bush and proceeded to roll in it as I squeeled at her. I didnt care about her getting dirty, I didnt want the pack to rip! I could hear the thorns grabbing into fabric, I cringed! Thankfully.... not a single thread was out of place on her backpack! Some thorns were stuck in Taricha's hair, though....

I feel backpacking is important for Taricha. It does.... give her a job. I notice an extra glint in her eye when she's got one on and she's extra tired when we get home. I don't always make her carry a lot of weight, per say, just having something on her back does the mental trick. Another of our favorites is this backpack.

Oh jeeze another ruffwear product? Yeah! The Singletrak Pack. We used this alllll winter, when it was muddy or in the city. Its nice a nice pack because she can carry her own water but its small, light and easy to slip on and off.  We had to cut off the belly strap padding to adjust the straps to fit her correctly... even though this is the largest size pack. It didnt seem to effect her comfort at all. But. again, great quality. After almost a year of use it still has every thread in place. 

Taricha is a funny shaped dog, well, compared to most sporty dogs you'll see out on the trail. She has such a huge head, neck and shoulders (doesnt really come across in photos as well as you'd think) that most sizes of most packs dont fit in one place or another. Some failed packs are the following....

Homemade! Oh so long ago I made this for Taricha out of some old cargo pants. It was cute and fun while she was a puppy but she quickly grew out of it. If you'd like to see how your doggie thinks of a backpack, try something like this first even if it doesn't quite fit right... :)


The EzyDog Summit backpack! This is probably the worst pack we've tried. For it's average internet price of  $60 for a Large, I fully expected it to be better. The strange canvas fabric is stiff, noisy, like really noisy with every step noisy. The pockets are all Velcro and snaps (as opposed to most packs being zippers). While the chest harness is thick and padded... it doesn't make up for the saddlebags being huge, square and bulky. I do not recommend this item. 

This inexpensive pack was one of our favorites for two years. The Outward Hound Excursion Backpack is only $30 ish bucks for an XL but unfortunately, seems to have been discontinued? The only place online that seem to have this style anymore is Ebay. 

This pack only recently died on a hike from a seam rip and broken zipper. It served well while it lived! This pack never really attached very well around Taricha's chest but this gave her more freedom to move (this would be a better offleash area pack than ruffwear's bulkier harnesses). No matter how I adjusted the straps, the pack always kept the weight on her back (as opposed to shoulders where it should be...) so I never put more than a few water bottles in it. Still gave her a job and for the price, it's frigging awesome.

Spring is here and summer is coming... I cannot express how happy we are to start getting some real outdoors time again. Taricha is starting to carry real weight now as we train and prep for overnight hikes coming up soon.

When out backpacking it's important to remember common courtesy doggie rules. Most areas require a leash so stick to it! Wildlife doesn't appreciate being chased. Pick up all poo to keep things beautiful and water unpolluted!

Have you gotten outdoors with your dog lately? I mean more than just a walk around your block! Go sniff some poo and talk to some birds! Wear a backpack while you do it!


  1. Thanks for joining our blog hop. SD Jack likes to wear a pack too and I agree it gives a little bit of added effort and he's always a bit more tired after hikes with the pack. May need to check out that bungee leash too - looks useful!

  2. I love your DIY backpack! So enterprising!
    The Roamer leash sounds like just the thing for our hikes in the woods - we'll be on the lookout!

  3. Those are some great backpacks, and they look just right on you! What do you carry in your packs? I like them all, even the homemade cargo pants one. Thanks for joining FitDog Friday!

  4. That leash is so cool! I am shopping for a good hiking backpack for Luna right now, but I have not found many that are small enough for her. Maybe this is an option!

  5. @Peggy - Usually just her poo bags, water bottles (usually 2 each side, up to 5) and a towel. The towels helps fill empty space and serves as a paw cleaner later. When we go on really long hikes, she still mostly carries water but also her own food.

  6. @Jessica - What a tiny beast you have! Ruffwear makes XXS sizes and even though its pricey, it will last for years to come!

  7. Hi! We're from the FitDog Friday blog hop! Very helpful info about choosing a backpack. We do a lot of hiking but I don't carry my own pack (because I usually end up in the water).


  8. Huxley just got a Ruffwear Palisade pack. It was the best one in the store (and in all the reviews I read before the store.) And he gets the same glint in his eye and extra spring in his step even with an empty pack. It's wonderful fun!

  9. We love to hike! I have to carry the dog's stuff though because they are too small to carry anything.