Dog Backpacks: Ruffwear Singletrak Review
The Ruffwear Singletrak dog pack offers convenient hydration in a durable low-profile backpack. It fits snug, and stays comfortable on the trail.
Jake is my newest four-legged hiking buddy on the trail. And as a 1-year-old pup, he’s full of energy on a hike – whether on a shorter local hike or a longer North Georgia backcountry adventure. When we hike the backcountry, my Osprey Talon 33L backpack has plenty of extra storage room for Jake’s water and water dish.
So Why a Dog Backpack?
I use a hydration pack on the trail: I love the convenience of sipping from my Osprey Hydraulics 3 Liter Reservoir without stopping when I’m on a long hike. Hydration is equally important for dogs on a hike – especially in Georgia’s hot, humid climate. And digging Jake’s water bottle and dish out of my backpack on a long hike takes away from trail time.
Choosing a Dog Pack
I began my search for a dog hydration pack. I’m not looking for Jake to carry much – other than some water and my favorite dog dish for hiking, the ultralight Ruffwear Bivy Bowl.
Our Ruffwear Singletrak Review
We tested a few dog packs before we found one we both loved: the Ruffwear Singletrak. The Singletrak is durable, well constructed, and fits Jake perfectly: it doesn’t shift to one side. And it’s comfortable: Jake doesn’t seem to notice when he’s wearing the pack. It’s well-padded, and its adjustment system fits snug, so it doesn’t cause chafing or rub marks, even on a long hike.
The Ruffwear Singletrak’s design is very streamlined and low-profile – a feature that scored high for us. Jake doesn’t need to carry much, other than water and his collapsable water bowl – and most dog packs are large and bulky. Many of our favorite trails are single-track, carved into the side of a ridge on the Appalachian Trail or trekking tight between dense vegetation. The Singletrak contours close to a dog’s body, offering moderate storage without the bulk of most other packs. It’s low-profile, and looks great, too.
The Ruffwear Singletrak holds two half-liter hydration bottles, included with the pack. The pack has four total pockets: each side has a larger pocket for the hydration bottles and a smaller pocket for small gear. The hydration bottles have pop-up squirt tops, making it easy to fill Jake’s water bowl evenly from both at the same time. (For the best dog pack fit, keep the saddlebag weight balanced and empty the water bottles evenly.)
Ruffwear Singletrak: Fit
Adjusting the Ruffwear Singletrak was an easy fit on Jake. The belly and chest straps are padded for comfort – and they snugly keep the pack from sliding when Jake is bounding down the trail. Snap-on fasteners make it easy to quickly get the Singletrak on or off once it’s initially adjusted. As far as fit, Jake is a 60-pound “boxador” (labrador / boxer mix), and the medium fit him perfectly after a few minutes of adjustment.
Handle & Leash Attachment
The Singletrak incorporates a large, easy-grip handle on the top side of the pack that’s perfect for helping Jake scramble over large rocks on the trail. The pack has a leash attachment loop, but it’s located too far back on Jake to control his enthusiastic trail romps. But I’ve found the Singletrak pack, paired with a carabiner clip and the Ruffwear Slackline Leash make for a fantastic leash system. Clip the leash to the dog collar, and then use the carabiner to attach the doubled-up end of the Slackline Leash to the handle on the Singletrak pack. This helps prevent tangles on the trail, helping prevent Jake from stepping over the leash when it’s slack and getting the leash caught between his legs.
We’ve hiked some heavy trail miles with the Singletrak, and it’s still looking new. Its shell material dries fast and easily wipes clean – great qualities for a water-loving dog that enjoys an occasional mud puddle.
Jake hasn’t had issues with the pack on any of his trail tests. The pack seems comfortable: he doesn’t seem to notice he’s wearing it. If Jake is tired, or hot, it’s easy to clip the Ruffwear Singletrak to my own backpack with a carabiner for the rest of the hike.
The Singletrak costs more than the other dog packs I’ve tried. But its build seems more durable, it provides a better fit, and it’s much lower profile than the other dog packs on the market.
Room for Improvement
There’s not much that I don’t love about this dog pack. There’s only one thing I’d change about the Ruffwear Singletrak: it has a single buckle on the chest strap. So to strap on the pack, I have to lift the dog’s right leg into the chest strap before buckling in the left leg. It’s a minor inconvenience. A second buckle on the chest strap would make the process easier.
Ruffwear Singletrak: Bottom Line
I really love the Ruffwear Singletrak dog backpack. Keeping Jake hydrated on the trail is easy with this pack. Jake doesn’t seem to notice he’s wearing it, which is great – and it seems built to last.