As we’ve been trying to prepare for some upcoming backpacking trips, I realized I needed another dog pack.  The one I use for Rama is her therapy vest with some detachable panniers/bags.  It’s pretty sturdy and it has worked fine, but the times I put it on Cairo it was obvious it was way too big for her.   She is not done growing but she isn’t going to be near the size Rama is, so I needed to find a suitable pack for her.  I came across Groundbird Gear on one of the hiking pages I frequent online and right away I loved that it was a small business, owned and run by a woman who was also an experienced thru-hiker.   They’ve been tested on the trail.  The packs she makes for dogs are custom made–each one is made to your dog’s own specs and measurements.

THIS.  This seemed really the only way to do it.  I was excited to learn more.

I contacted them and asked to be part of their product testing team.  Marie (aka Bobwhite) was super nice and accommodating.  I liked her right away.   I provided her with Cairo’s measurements and chose the colors as well as the type of pack I wanted.  She makes packs for weekend/urban trips as well as long-distance treks.  Even though I do a lot of day hikes and shorter trips, I knew I was going to be heading north for some more serious backpacking and so I wanted the mac daddy pack–ultralight, comfortable and functional.  Cairo’s comfort was paramount.  I’d read online about dogs having their sides or under their front legs rubbed raw from ill-fitting packs and I definitely did not want this.  Poor Cairo had had enough discomfort after having OCD surgery.  I wanted her to be comfortable yet able to carry her own gear without it causing her to be rubbed raw anywhere because it was ill-fitting.

I chose the Trekking Roll Top Pack.  The fact that the bags zip then roll all the way down and clip shut is just awesome.  Genius!  From the Groundbird Gear website:

    – Pack weighs around 10 ounces
    – Durable: constructed from polyurethane coated and DWR treated 400 denier packcloth
    – Super tough #5 tooth-style zipper closure
    – Pack clips to the harness with buckles and is stabilized with double layer Velcro tabs
    – Roll down the pack to the size you need and clip it on either side with buckles
    – Ladder lock adjuster (under the logo) allows you to cinch up the bottom of the bag
    – Elastic belly strap joins the packs to keep them from bouncing
    – Reflective tape runs along the bottom edge
    – Bridge connecting the packs is fully breathable

Below is the first day we got it.  I took it out of the package and tried it on Cairo to check for proper fit.

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The fit was perfect!  Next I had to see how large these bags actually were.  When you unroll them, they are really roomy.    From their website:  Large Size: 9″ wide x 11″ tall x 4″ deep. Can fit 20 cups/ 5 lb kibble per side: 40 cups/10 lb total.  PicMonkey Collage

 

There are reflective strips along the bottom of the bags and buckles with which to secure the harness to the bags as well as large, strong velcro strips to reinforce the two separate pieces becoming one.   I was in complete awe of the stitching on this pack.  Very sturdy and clean-looking.PicMonkey Collage2

To test the pack out on the trail, we headed to the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area, a 30,000+ acre wildlife area with over 60 miles of trails not far from where we live.

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Map at the check-in area.

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Lookin’ pretty snazzy!

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Although she did not carry dog food, she carried water and first aid supplies.  At one point I also clipped my water bottle to her.  The pack stayed put and there were no signs of chafing.  We were only out for a few hours, so next time we go it will be for a few days and I’ll get a better idea of performance on a longer trip.   So far I really love this pack.   You can’t beat the fit of a pack made especially for your dog.

Marie also has a blog that chronicles her hikes and has some wonderful photos.  If you love hiking and living vicariously through others hiking in gorgeous places like I do, you’ll want to check it out.  I’ve already added some new places to my Hiking Bucket List!