Gear Review – Blackdog Wear Backpack

August 5, 2008

Kaylee’s new backpack arrived (last month) and has undergone a few outings worth of stress testing now, so I figured it was time to post a review.

Purple and black pannier-style dog backpack

Blackdog Dog Pack in Purple

The testers: Kaylee (17 month old rough collie, 23″ at the shoulder and 48 pounds), Strauss (4 year old GSD, 28″ at the shoulder and 85 pounds), Grady (7 year old Dalmatian, 22.75″ and 50 pounds) and Caden (15 month old Dalmatian, 23 7/8″ at the shoulder and 60 pounds)

The gear: Blackdog Dog Pack in Regular size, purchased here. $49.98AU.

General notes: This pack is small but ULTRALIGHT and well-made. The material is very durable, the seams are all nicely finished, and the overall fit and finish of the product is very nice and far superior to other entry-level products. The zippers, hardware, and stitching all seem to be very high quality. The panniers are shallower than any other pack we’ve seen on the market. Marketed as a ‘day pack’ sized to prevent overloading, we do have to agree that it’s excellent for that. The size is perfect for sticking a handful of business cards and some poop bags in- but not a lot else.

Our Experiences As a service dog pack, this would be suitable for someone who wanted their dog to carry materials to hand to gatekeepers, a keyring, and perhaps a small pill bottle, but not much else. The low profile panniers are really nice, and don’t add to the dog’s bulk when the dog is under a table or a transit seat. Adjustability, however, was an issue. The breastcollar and girth are each adjustable, with a very wide range of measurements, but the width of the pack is completely fixed due to the solid nature of the back. This presents a small problem- if your dog is at the lower end of the range this pack is sized to fit (Kaylee is 48 pounds and very deep-chested; Caden is somewhat broader.) the back between the panniers will be wide, causing the panniers to ride somewhat low, which seems to promote the slipping to one side or another. In addition, this slipping was exacerbated by the texture of the fabric, which is very slick. Our test dogs had a variety of coat types, and on all of them, the slick material tended to slide around badly on their hair. (This was particularly noticable on Kaylee.) Even with nothing in side it, we found it difficult to keep the pack from slipping to one side or the other.Putting a small but heavy object in each side (a cell phone in each pocket) helped somewhat. Packs should always be as perfectly balanced as possible but in general, slight differences in weight shouldn’t cause so much problem. The Blackdog pack’s light weight (and low price, although the prices have recently incrased) is possible due to a very flat, unfitted structure. Other small packs (Weneha Jogger, Ruffwear Approach) have significantly more to their harnesses, which seems to help compensate for a slightly unbalanced pack (for example, putting keys and meds on one side and the cell phone and law cards on the other.

I really wanted to like this pack! Black Dog is an AWESOME company, staffed with friendly and knowlegable people who are themselves very active with their dogs. They also make an excellent head halter (and y’all know I hate those!) which solves one of my objections to them (the leverage/spinal torque issue) called the Infin8, which is also known for it’s great adjustability for hard-to-fit dogs such as boxers (no muzzle) and collies (no stop).

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All ratings are out of 4. Although the pack was very well made, the lack of adjustability and tendency of the pack to slide was a deal breaker for us.
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This product was made of VERY high quality materials- prior to the recent price increase, this pack FAR surpassed anything else in the same price catagory (Outward Hound, Dickens)
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This product looks fantastic and comes in great colors.
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This product was not very adjustable and even our dog who fit it best based on measurements, had difficult with the slipping issue.