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Published on June 3rd, 2011 | by Rita

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Ruff Wear: Smart Hiking For Dogs

One of my fa­vorite things to do is hike. Liv­ing in Hawaii makes hik­ing a year-round ac­tiv­i­ty for me, and in the last few months I’ve found my­self in the com­pa­ny of a very sweet grey­hound/col­lie named Nai’a. She al­so likes to hike, and so it has be­come some­thing of a sta­ple in our week­ly rou­tine.

Some of you may re­mem­ber that I am al­so a rock-climber, which means that Nai’a has of­ten found her­self hik­ing up very steep in­clines, and over large boul­ders. These types of ac­tiv­i­ties cause ev­ery­one in­volved to huff and puff a bit hard­er than nor­mal, and drink far more wa­ter than your av­er­age walk in the park.

The peo­ple I hike with all car­ry Camel­bak hy­dra­tion sys­tems, and we have all mused that it would be great if Nai’a could do the same. Need­less to say, ev­ery­one was quite ex­cit­ed to have the Sin­gle­trak Pack from Ruff Wear show up for Nai’a to wear.

The Sin­gle­track Pack works much like any hy­dra­tion back­pack sys­tem, ex­cept it’s specif­i­cal­ly for dogs. It comes in three dif­fer­ent sizes, so you will need to get out a flex­i­ble tape mea­sure (the kind you sew with is ide­al) and take a few mea­sure­ments be­fore or­der­ing one of these for your own pooch. The har­ness sys­tem has five points of ad­justa­bil­i­ty for a cus­tomized fit, and buck­les in two dif­fer­ent places. While the straps are a bit fid­dly to fig­ure out, once you’ve got it ad­just­ed there is near­ly no need to read­just. Don’t wor­ry about pulling straps snug—each strap around the waist, ribs, and chest are all very well padded. In fact, you’ll find that the bag works best when fit well; too loose means it will sag to one side or the oth­er. The ma­te­ri­al is de­signed to be very breath­able, and the over­all fit of the bag is slim. Nai’a had no trou­ble adapt­ing to the ex­tra width.

Two blad­ders come with the Sin­gle­track, both are .5L Platy­pus bot­tles, which are BPA and taste free, with a sport-bot­tle type valve, that pop open and close. They fit nice­ly in the zip­pered pouch­es on the flanks of the pack. For short­er hikes we fill one bot­tle and put a zi­plock bag­gie of food and her bowl in the oth­er. (Ruff Wear of­fers sev­er­al dif­fer­ent pack and har­ness op­tions, so if you need a bag that can hold enough stuff for a mul­ti-day hike be sure to look through all of their dif­fer­ent packs.)

Clean up for both the pack and the bot­tles is easy. The pack is ma­chine wash­able in cold wa­ter on a gen­tle cy­cle, and I hang dry it, much like all of my oth­er bags. The wa­ter bot­tles get rinsed and washed in mild soap, in­flat­ed and set out to dry com­plete­ly af­ter each hike.

Ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits of this bag aside, some of the best fea­tures of this pack are dis­cov­ered on­ly by field use. There is a han­dle on the top of the har­ness that works ex­treme­ly well for help­ing Nai’a up and down larg­er boul­ders and jumps than she might be com­fort­able at­tempt­ing on her own. Wear­ing this pack has both in­creased her con­fi­dence lev­el in her own abil­i­ty, and has al­lowed us to take her in­to val­leys and up to wa­ter­falls that have been strict­ly off-lim­its be­fore. Ev­ery­one has no­ticed that she re­quires less help as she gets stronger as well. It’s worth men­tion­ing that you shouldn’t ev­er have a dog car­ry more than 25-30% of their own body weight, and it’s best to work them up to a full load. Much like peo­ple, dogs need time to con­di­tion and build up strength.

The Sin­gle­track Pack can be found on the Ruff Wear web­site for about $90, and on Ama­zon for a lit­tle over $100. It comes in two col­ors, both or­ange (good if you’re hik­ing in ar­eas where there may be hunters) and brown, and both have 360 de­grees of re­flec­tiv­i­ty, help­ing to in­sure that your best four-legged friend will be vis­i­ble, even in the dark. Hap­py trails!

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About the Author

Professionally in healthcare, and semi-professionally a photographer, former student at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, and full-time student of human nature, Rita has been writing for Truly Net for many years. Born and raised in the Midwest, she spent years on Oahu, and has formed some very strong opinions about all things knitting, pie, and the best places to climb. She really enjoys good food, music and friends, and is perfectly willing to write about, and photograph any or all of those things.



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