We knew when we got our dog last summer that he’d be coming with us on all of our hiking, camping and trail running adventures. Consequently, we started looking for a saddlebag-type pack so we didn’t have to lug his food, water and other necessities in our own bags.

We decided on the Baxter Dog Backpack from Kurgo for a couple of reasons. One was fit. Our dog, an Australian Shepherd mix, is friendly and athletic and also crazy fast. He runs. He jumps. He runs and jumps. He runs and jumps and crashes. We needed a pack that was going to stay on him while still allowing the freedom of movement for him to do his thing.

The Baxter comes in two sizes: the Baxter for dogs 30 to 85 pounds and the Big Baxter for dogs 50 to 110 pounds. We chose the former, since Sawyer weights about 50 pounds and has a lean build. The pack features fully adjustable harness-style shoulder and chest straps that hold it securely in place, plus padded spine support designed to help keep him comfortable when he’s carrying weight. (Sawyer has yet to complain of discomfort.)

What’s also nice is that, because of the harness straps, rear-mount leash hook and large handle on the back, we have good command of Sawyer in almost any situation. Because, if you’re reading through the lines above, our wonderfully active and crazy fast dog can also be a bit precocious. It makes us feel comfortable to know we have immediate control of him in potentially dangerous situations (rock scrambles, water, wildlife encounters) without having to rely on putting all the pressure on his collar, and therefore, his neck.

The second reason we chose the Baxter is because of the construction. We wanted something that would last, and so far, after more than a dozen outings, including a couple of 10-mile trail runs, we’ve not been disappointed. We haven’t noticed any rips in the fabric or tears in the seams, something we’d read about in some reviews. But, since all Kurgo products come with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects, if something does happen, we know we’re covered.

The pack has four reflective trim stripes for increased visibility in low light and comes in several bright color options, which adds peace of mind should Sawyer wander or somehow become lost.

The saddle bags on the Baxter size fit 3.75 liters of stuff, which might be a little on the small side if you’re anticipating longer backpacking adventures, but for our day trips and overnighters, we’re usually good with his food, water, a collapsible bowl and maybe some of our own small items that we sneak in there when Sawyer isn’t looking.

After all, a dog’s got to pull his weight. Am I right?

Author: Brad Kovach is the editor of Terrain magazine