All dogs are unique, but a backpack load of less than 25% of their body weight is the max.


Take special care with Seniors and Puppies. That’s any dog under 3 and over 7.

Justin over at TheHikingAuthority has put together a fantastic resource for understanding just how much your dog can carry when you’re all on the trail with a backpack.

We’ll give you the highlights here, but seriously. Go read his guide. It’s top notch.


In Justin’s article, he makes the statement that we often overestimate how much our dogs can carry, and we absolutely agree! The general rule of thumb for an active, adult dog is that they can carry no more than 25% of their body weight.

Appropriate Pack Weight Lookup

And if you think about that for a second. One-thousand-one. You might weigh 150 lbs, and 25% of your body weight is just under 40lbs. That’s a pretty heavy pack. You definitely won’t be running around the woods like you would be without a pack that heavy!

The point being, our dogs are gifts that we don’t deserve, but they don’t have super-canine strength and we need to tamper our expectations of what they can carry. Or, like us, they’ll get injured.

Justin goes on to talk about the effects of different packs, some of his favorites are from Ruffwear (which we also like and carry!) and even discusses what to expect from different breeds.

For those of us that like bullet points, we can summarize:

  • Don’t overload your dog; stay under 25% of their body weight
  • Your dog’s fitness will affect how much they can carry
  • The right gear can make all the difference
  • Balance your load
  • Some breeds are just better at carrying more weight
  • Puppies and Seniors need lighter loads