The Good: Build quality on par with with professional hiking packs.
The Bad: Our dog tester (55 lb Carolina dog) was comfortable, but our human tester (after about 30 minutes) was not.
The Pawtom Line: It’s difficult to carry a 55+ lb dog on your back, but for medium (<40 lb), and DEFINITELY for small (<30 lb) dogs this pack is incredible.
According to K9 Sport Sack this is “THE biggest bag on the dog market.”
How easy is it to use?
This was my primary concern. Especially with a large dog.
How exactly was I going to get her INSIDE a backpack? According to K9 Sport Sack, here’s how:
The directions were simple enough, and surprisingly it only took a few minutes to get the dog situated in the backpack. Keep in mind, it did take two people. For a smaller dog, I think one person would be able to handle this with no problems.
There is one mistake we made the first time we got the dog in the pack: she twisted her body so both of her back paws were facing the same direction. This was probably more comfortable for her legs, but I’m not sure how healthy it would be for her spine (see pick below).
We ended up unzipping the pack and fixing her bottom foot placement. She instantly straightened out. She seemed comfortable in both positions, but I felt more comfortable with her sitting upright.
One feature I really like, which I almost discarded, was the carabiner clip inside the pack that attaches to your dog’s collar. This is a must-use safety feature in my opinion, especially if you have a skittish dog.
Overall it really didn’t take much effort to get her in the pack, and adjust the pack straps. And this was with a large dog breed, if you had a dog in the 10-30 lb range I imagine it wouldn’t take any effort at all.
How comfortable was the pack?
I’ve already mentioned this a couple times before, but our dog seemed happy in the backpack. There are two arm slots that allowed some breathability and the entire top is open, but any dog with a thick undercoat (i.e. Husky) is likely to get overheated depending on ambient temperatures. We were in Florida mid-day in September, so after ~30 minutes she was panting considerably.
What about for the human?
Our tester was about 5′-5″ (female) and 120 lbs, carrying a 55 lb dog. This definitely isn’t an ideal situation. Without some reprieve (i.e. being able to sit down on a subway bench or something similar) this wasn’t doable for more than 30 minutes.
The build quality did alleviate a lot of the comfort issues, as the straps are well padded, and the pack has a waist and chest support straps. In addition the lumbar region of the pack has some added stiffness.
Even with the build quality and ergonomics being well done, I think I’d only feel comfortable with a small to small-medium sized dog. I’m thinking < 30 lbs.
Who is the pack best suited for?
Even though we’re currently living in Florida, most of our experiences at Outdoor Dog World are in Oregon and California, where we’re out hiking with our dogs.
So, at first that’s how we saw the pack, as a potential to carry dogs that couldn’t hike the entire distance, or hike at all in some instances.
However, after testing we reached out to the K9 Sport Sack team and asked them what is the most common use cases for their packs. Here’s what they had to say:
The most common uses for The Rover specifically is public transportation (i.e. NYC, LA, SF, Chicago, etc. that require dogs that travel on the trains or bus to be enclosed in a carrier). The Rover is incredibly useful for that. Also, dogs that get tired after walking for a while, dogs with special health needs, older dogs, or doing fun things that you wouldn’t have been able to before like a bike ride.
Here’s where I think the K9 Sport Sack shines:
Hiking with small dogs. The pack can be used like any hiking pack and then if your small dog gets tired or if you have to traverse harder trail sections you can quickly and comfortably toss them in the pack.
Commuting with small to medium size dogs. Large dogs would work for this, but only if you’re able to sit for most of your commute, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it. However, if you do have a large dog with no other options, then this pack is probably your best bet.
Large dogs. I know I’ve been saying how I really wouldn’t recommend toting a large dog, but here’s the thing. There are no other backpacks (that we know of) suited to carry large dogs like this. We’ll update this post if we find others, but as far as I know the K9 Sport Sack Rover is the only 80 lb capacity pack suited specifically for dogs. Almost every other pack is primarily suited to small dogs (usually < 15-20 lbs).
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