I will not even grace Blue Jay's post with a response.
The handle feature-pretty impractical for a larger dog, but it can give a good indication of the fit.
The fleece is for chafing- nylon webbing can be harsh if it rubs enough. Pretty miserable stuff when wet. I believe the neoprene body of the ruffwear pack really aids the fit.
I would definitely try as many configurations and price points as possible-- the stores I have dealt w/have been fine about returning packs after a trial hike. I've noticed the difference in fit/carry as the weight increases. With little packed, they all seemed pretty good. Add a few pounds per side and hike a couple of miles- things change.
To be honest- I started w/the cheaper packs hoping they would work for me, just ended up w/the current one b/c it worked out best.
With all of them I found that loads need to be well-balanced.
I prefer consistently loading set weight objects as opposed to consummables b/c I can get the weight balanced really well. Normally I pack 'softer' items which compress and conform as opposed to harder items which can be angular or unforgiving in the event of a bump or while taking a break.
Hope this helps.
As for the squawking-
Don't know about yours, but my dog lets me know about *any* discomfort she is having. Then again, I have a good relationship w/her and she is well taken care of. I bet it is the same for you.
Anyone ever think about the Indians' way of moving their camps before they had horses? For thousands of years dogs packed gear on their backs and by pulling trevois (sp.) And not just a dozen pounds or so. I mean a lot of weight. An elk or buffalo hide weighs a lot. Sew several of these together, for part of a shelter, and you are adding serious weight.
Fastforward to today and we have the fitted, padded dog packs. My dog loves her's. I take it out of the closet and she knows it is time for fun. I load her with a couple bottles of water, food and collapsable dish and she is happy as a clam.
We went out for a short hike last weekend and I had to walk her through the deepest snow I could find to wear her out.
That being said Outword hound is what she wears.
I've done a couple of treks during the winter with the pooch carrying a loaded Kelty K9 chuckwagon. The fit is perfect and the only downside was the material used. Maybe we were just to rough on the gear but - we're at our third set of dog packs in 2 years. Good thing REI's got a great return policy.
You can never appreciate the shade of a tree unless you sweat in the sun.-- Author Unknown
Thanks for the info. I am looking for something with fleece on all strap surfaces. I prefer carrying his water and food myself, but I do like the have alternatives for those high and dry hikes and overnighters. Nessmuk suggested I get fleece seat belt covers to wrap the straps. I think finding a pack with a good fit and fleece already in place would be better. I am eyeing the Palisades and Approach that REI has on sale., but would like to see Granite Wear and Mountainsmith Packs.
Maybe your dog doesn't communicate to you b/c you ignored or missed it's efforts and he gave up trying. Or, maybe your dog does communicate to you and you just don't know how to read it.
My dog communicates very well with me. But I pay attention to him and he knows he can trust me to get him out of an uncomfortable situation (ie. he's been playing with a kid for 15 min. and is tired, he yawns and turns his head away from the kid and starts to act disinterested, I see it, I stop the play session and make the kid leave him alone for a bit, if I miss it, or if he doesn't trust that I'll pull him out of that situation, he may feel he has no other choice but to resort to biting b/c his other forms of communication went unnoticed).
You should learn to read your dog's signs - yawns, full body shaking, scratching at his neck with his back paws, lip licking, direct or indirect eye contact, open mouth, ear position, tail position, etc... all are forms of communication and there are many more not listed. Only an inexperienced owner doesn't know this.
The front Y-straps do not come with fleece cozies on the Approach, both underbelly straps do, though. They cover the entire length under the pack. As I mentioned previously, I really like that the straps buckle on the side of the pack, not underneath. Easier (& safer, imo) to cinch.
Good luck w/your selection & please send your impressions of whatever pack you get.
It does1 I just got 2 small pallisades packs & they are way to big for my beagles, despite them fitting w/in the listed specs. I'm bummed. Anyone got any recommendations for smaller dogs?
They do however seem to have great customer service & they told me they have a few new packs coming out April 1st.
Not sure why the discrepancies in their products, I would think the sizing would be similar from one product to the next.
Maybe just not the pack for me, er, for my pup.
BTW, packs have been popular with non-hiking dogs. Some trainers have been recommending them as they keep the dog "working" and focused.
In fact, I think 90% of them sold are being used for dog training, and not hiking.
The pack has been a god send. I have been able to pull her over lots of stuff, that I would have had difficulty doing before. Consequently I have been able to take her scrambling with me.
Oh yeah, that's bad. I forgot REI doesn't allow the dogs in anymore. This was a local store that is mostly whole pet food type. The guys are very nice nice and crazy about Torie.
We have several small pet stores not in chains, but maybe some places don't. The packs at Petsmart are awful-- same for Petco.
I have found the better packs only at privately owned outfitters in my part of the state. MRO, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Rockfish Gap Outfitters, Back Country. Never seem to find the right size in the right pack, in the store, though.
I've used the Pallisades II pack, Approach II pack and the Wolf Packs Reflector pack extensively. I got another Catahoula last weekend (my 4th overall, my second current dog). Tomi (my new boy) and Beau (my "flagship" dog) both wear a Medium in Ruff Wear and Wolf Packs. I currently only have the Ruff Wear packs (My brother has one of my old Ruff Wear packs for his Catahoula, Jake, a brother to Beau). I purchased a Medium Approach II for my parents' Catahoula, Arie. Arie and Jake only do day hikes with their families, but Beau has done weeklong trips with me. I'm hoping to take Tomi out with us as well.
I want to see what the new Ruff Wear packs will be like, but I also wanted to stick with a sure thing-- the II packs fit Beau very well and I'm happy with them. I also wanted the option of swapping packs on the boys during a hike if I need to (Tomi is almost 2 and Beau is almost 8). I figured this way the harnesses would be adjusted to the individual dog, but the packs themselves could be traded in minutes.
In the past I made several backpacks out of horse saddlebags-- the kind that fit over the saddlehorn/pommel. I added straps across the chest and under the belly. Once I got really good packs for my crew I gave the saddlebags to a local trainer who trains assistance dogs through a prison. Like an earlier poster said, it gives the dogs a feeling of doing something, so they have a better attention span. Even on the trail they tend to mind better when they're wearing a pack than when they're just walking along.
This is a little off topic, but can you share a little about the Catahoula as a trail/working dog, and in-the-home pet. My hunch is they are very smart and independent.
I am guessing because they have not been over-bred, that they do not have many of the health problems other breeds have.