Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack Review

Tom’s Review of the Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack:

We have a Norwegian Elkhound named Freya that loves to spend time with us in the outdoors. She has a ton more energy than both my wife and I have combined so we decided we should get her a dog backpack so she can start carrying her own weight while on longer hikes. This way I don’t have to carry all of her gear and she uses more of her endless energy.

Purchase the Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack on Amazon

Ruffwear Approach


When looking for a dog backpack there were many options. We decided on the Ruffwear Approach for the following reasons.

  1. There is a handle on the top of the backpack that allows us to help our dog over obstacles. This was by far the biggest reason we got the backpack because our dog is too quick to catch unless there is something to grab onto. She also hates being picked up in the air and fights me whenever I try to lift her. With the backpack, she is easy to catch and she doesn’t mind if I lift her completely off the ground to help her over an obstacle.
  2. Comfortable harness system for the dog to carry the pack.
  3. The Approach holds the weight of the pack over the shoulders of the dog, which is where the dog is the strongest. This also helps your dog avoid hip dysplasia.
  4. The pack is attached to the harness. A lot of people have said this is a negative thing but for me it was very important. Our dog spends a lot of time off leash when we are hiking and she runs through all sorts of stuff. If the pack could come off, I’d be worried she would lose it.
  5. I’ve noticed our dog is much better on hikes when she is wearing the backpack with a few pounds in it. I’m not sure if she no longer has energy to misbehave or if she enjoys her new found role of responsibility in carrying her own water, but she stays much closer to us and is less likely to wander around causing problems.
  6. The pack still allows us access to her collar so we can keep her on leash rather than attaching the leash to the backpack.

Purchase the Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack on Amazon

Dog Backpack Review

There are a few things about the backpack that I don’t really care for:

  1. The backpack is not waterproof so we need to be careful what we put in her pack and what we carry in ours. Since she is always hitting into trees, rocks and even our legs we need to be careful nothing breakable goes in the pack either.
  2. My dog gets much hotter when she is wearing the pack. We have a winter dog so she is always hot unless it is below freezing, but I need to keep a closer eye on her when she is wearing the pack for signs of heat exhaustion. We also need to be sure the weather is going to be cool enough for her to carry the backpack.
  3. We have probably put about 100 miles or so on this backpack and it is starting to show major signs of wear. I doubt we will get another 100 miles out of the pack. I am not sure if that is due to the material the pack is made out of or our dog’s inability to learn how wide the pack is from her body. We also have taken her through some serious terrain (slot canyons, overgrown trails, deserts and mountains) so that could lead to the backpack wearing faster than normal.
  4. I can’t say my dog enjoys having the backpack put on. I don’t think she hates the pack, I think she just hates that she now has to carry something and will be warmer. She always sits around and pouts when we are still at home after I’ve put the pack on her. However once we get to the trailhead she seems to hardly notice the backpack.
  5. The saddle setup makes it a little difficult to keep the weight evenly distributed. Every time we stop to let our dog take a drink, we have to pull out both water bottles from her pack and make sure we give her about the same amount from each so the pack doesn’t end up lopsided. This is a problem with all saddle type backpacks.

Purchase the Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack on Amazon

Reviews of Dog Backpack

Overall, we are very pleased with the Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack. When our current one wears out we will definitely get a new one to replace it (I think that is a good sign for a product). The backpack does come in 5 sizes, so be sure to get the right size for your dog. Dogs should not carry more than 25% of their body weight and really, I think they should work up to that, just as you would train for a backpacking trip.

Let us know what you think of the Ruffwear Approach or how your dog carries their gear on hikes. Also, don’t forget to sign up for the Travel Tom’s Newsletter by submitting your e-mail in the bar above.

Osprey Poco Child Carrier Backpack Review

Tom’s Review of the Osprey Poco Child Carrier Backpack:

When my first child was born, my wife and I decided that we wouldn’t let having kids stop us from exploring the world. We also wanted to instill in our son a spirit of adventure and curiosity and a love for the outdoors.  We began doing short hikes when he was only a couple of weeks old using a front carry sling. That was fine for a few short hikes before he was very heavy but we realized we needed something a little bit more comfortable as he grew and took longer hikes.

Purchase the Osprey Poco Child Carrier on Amazon

Osprey Backpack

We researched a few child carrier backpacks and eventually decided on the Osprey Poco for a number of reasons listed below. The Osprey Poco comes in three different models – the Poco, the Poco Plus and the Poco Premium. We purchased the premium, which I have written about below.

  1. Osprey is a brand we trust. Their backpacks are well made and Osprey stands by them with their all mighty guarantee, where they will fix anything that breaks in the backpack no matter the cause.
  2. The backpack is very easy to adjust depending on if my wife is carrying the baby or I am.  This is a great feature because sometimes we would both like the workout of carrying the child and we are able to quickly adjust the size so it fits either of our backs easily.
  3. There is quite a bit of storage space in the backpack for longer hikes. This was a big thing for us. Taking a baby hiking means you have to bring many additional supplies, food and water, and all of our regular supplies, plus I always bring a lot of camera equipment.
  4. There is a small detachable backpack for when my son gets older to be able to participate and feel like he is helping out.
  5. There is a built-in sunshade which is very easy to get out and put away. This was also a big deal for our family because most of our family hikes are in sunny weather and our little family sunburns like you wouldn’t believe.
  6. There are a lot of mesh panels. The carrier has a mesh back panel to help keep you cool when carrying the backpack and the child has mesh on either side of their body to help keep them cool during the summer as well.
  7. It has a removable pad right under the child’s face. This is awesome for cleaning in case the child ever drools or spits up.

Purchase the Osprey Child Carrier on Amazon

Backpack Kid Carrier

Whenever we go on hikes with my son in his backpack, we always get so many comments regarding it. Everyone always seems so friendly when they see a family backpacking, we have met a lot of people because of the backpack.

Osprey  Child Carrier

Osprey recommends that children should not be in the backpack until they are old enough to sit up unassisted. We may have started our son a little early in the backpack but he didn’t seem to have any problems and since there was one person not wearing the backpack, that person was able to make sure he was breathing and okay.

Paradise Point along the Chuckwalla Trail

There are a few things about the backpack that I don’t really care for

  1. The lower pocket is pretty big and can fit quite a bit of stuff, but it is only available when the kickstand is out. If you put the kickstand away you lose all of that space. It makes it a lot harder to transport the pack with the kickstand out so I often need to take a small sack filled with stuff I will later put into the bottom pocket.
  2. The cell phone pocket on the strap is way to small for a smart phone. I’ve heard it fits camera’s but mine wont fit in there either.
  3. The weight of the pack is a little high. It weighs 7 lbs 9 oz.
  4. The baby seat is a little narrow. This is actually a great thing for us right now because it fits our 10 month old pretty well but I worry that he will outgrow the pack before he is able to hike on his own.
  5. The baby sits a little higher on your back which puts more strain on your shoulders instead of your hips. However our baby is able to see out above my head and he loves seeing where we are going.

Purchase the Osprey Child Carrier on Amazon

Hiking with a toddler

Overall, I am very pleased with this backpack. A lot of times I think it is easier to put the baby in the backpack to get around rather than taking a stroller although it is more tiresome.


Make sure you test any backpack out before you purchase it especially one as expensive as the Osprey Poco. A backpack is one of the main pieces of equipment and if it is uncomfortable there isn’t much you can do about it in the backcountry.

Let us know what you think of the Osprey Poco Child Carrier or what your favorite way to carry kids while hiking is in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to sign up for the Travel Tom’s Newsletter by submitting your e-mail in the bar above.