Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack Review

The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack is ideal for through-hiking and multi-day trips with large saddlebags that easily detach from the harness and practical, hard-wearing design and materials.

Ruffwear, Palisades Dog Backpack, Multi-Day Hiking Pack with Saddlebags and Hydration Bladders, Red Sumac, Medium
  • 3 Sizes and 5 Points of Adjustment
  • Detachable Saddlebags
  • Stabilisation System

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • For Short Trips, the Large Pockets Are Bigger Than Needed


If you regularly go through-hiking or on multi-day walking trips with your dog, then this is the dog backpack for you. The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack has big pockets with plenty of room for everything you need to take care of your dog in the backcountry. Thought has been put into ensuring that your dog can carry his load comfortably and safely, with stabilization systems to make sure the saddlebags don’t move or bounce around.

The adjustable straps and choice of sizes give you plenty of options to ensure a good fit. The saddlebags detach from the harness, so giving your dog a break and a chance to cool down is easy. This is one of the more expensive dog backpacks available, but you get your money’s worth with a well-designed piece of gear made to a high standard with durable materials. These are some of reasons it ranked so highly in our best hiking dog backpacks round up. 


This backpack has clearly been designed by people who regularly go backpacking with their dogs, and they have tried to incorporate all the features needed. They also listen to customer feedback and regularly update their design. The ‘flopper-stopper’ is a clever idea to help hold down the saddlebags so they are not flapping against your dog’s sides. The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack also has a cross-load compression system, so as the contents of your dog’s backpack are used up over the trip, the empty space in the pockets is compressed, reducing the bulk of the saddlebag. The removable saddlebags are a great design feature. Having a good harness you can use on its own is very useful. On a long trip, being able to remove the saddlebags means that when you stop for a rest and take your backpack off, you can easily give your dog a break, too. The materials used are durable and well able to cope with conditions on the trails while still providing your dog with comfort and breathability.

Performance Comparison

To assist you when considering if the Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack is suitable for you and your dog, we have listed and assessed the principal characteristics.

Your Dog’s Comfort

Time and effort have been put into making the Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack comfortable for your dog to wear. There are padded sleeves on the two girth straps and the point where the three chest straps meet. The choice of three sizes and five adjustment points ensure a good fit for your dog. The pack is designed to direct the weight to the front of the pockets where it sits over your dog’s shoulders. This is the best way for a dog to carry weight, as it does not put undue pressure on the spine.

Adjustable Straps

The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack comes with fully adjustable straps. Two straps go from the front of the harness over your dog’s shoulders to meet on the chest. This meeting point is padded, and a single strap goes from here and between your dog’s legs to the front girth strap. The front girth strap goes around your dog’s ribs, while the rear girth strap goes around the belly. These straps clip into the harness under the saddlebags.

To put the harness on, you put it over your dog’s head and then pass one of his legs through the loop. To do this, you need to extend the chest straps to their full length and undo the buckles on the two girth straps. You then fasten the buckles and tighten the straps once the harness is correctly placed on the dog. You adjust the chest straps by sliding the adjuster away from the point where the three straps meet. You tighten the girth straps by sliding the adjuster down. Any excess webbing can be tucked into the padded sleeves on the harness. Don’t pull the straps too much – you should be able to slide two fingers between your dog and the strap.

Materials and Durability

Ruffwear uses technical fabrics that have been designed for athletes in their products. The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack has a frame composed of laminated, moulded bonded mesh and perforated foam. The foam has embossed channels to provide more flexibility and a better fit. The perforations in the foam increase the breathability and help to stop your dog from overheating.

The backpack is covered in 150 denier ripstop polyester that is splashproof, UV stable and resists fading. It comes in Red Sumac – a bright red that makes it easy for both you and others to see your dog. To clean the dog backpack, handwash it with a mild detergent and leave it to air dry.

The four pass-through buckles that secure the saddlebags to the harness are made of Hypalon reinforced with aluminium. The leash attachment point is made from anodized aluminium. The zips are coated reverse-coil zippers which close smoothly and are waterproof. The backpack is not fully waterproof, though, and items in the pockets could become damp in very wet conditions.

The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack comes with a lifetime guarantee against defects in materials and craftsmanship. It is very well-made, and it should last for a long time.


There is a handle situated on the top of the harness towards the rear. A hole fits over the handle when the saddlebags are fitted, so it is still straightforward to grasp. The handle can help with balanced manoeuvring and assisting dogs up and over obstacles.

The handle on the Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack has been redesigned to be more low profile, and it now has padding to make it more comfortable to hold.

Leash Attachment Points

There are two leash attachment points on the Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack. At the back of the backpack, where the handle joins the main chassis, there is a loop of reinforced webbing to which a leash can be attached. In front of the handle, there is an aluminium V-ring that is also a leash attachment point. These are both connected to the harness but still easily accessible when the saddlebags are attached.


The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack has been specifically designed for multi-night trips. The pockets are larger than average, providing plenty of room for your dog’s supplies. As your trip progresses, you will use up some of those supplies, which is why the pockets have a cross-load compression system for when saddlebags aren’t full. Tightening the straps pulls the sides of the saddlebags in and makes the backpack more compact.

Ruffwear also has designed something they call a ‘flopper-stopper’ that brings the saddlebags closer to the dog’s body and stops their gear from bouncing around. Underneath the saddlebags, you will find a loop that hooks onto the girth strap. You then open the stash pocket and pull on the cinch cord to secure the pocket.

One of the most popular features of this dog backpack is the detachable saddlebags.

To attach the saddlebags, push the four pass-through buckles on the harness through the four openings. The logos line up to help guide you. If the handle doesn’t slot through the gap designed for it, you have put the saddlebags on backwards. Being able to easily remove the saddlebags means that if your dog is too hot or tired, you can simply remove the saddlebags without having to carry an additional harness.

The backpack includes two 1-liter collapsible, BPA-free hydration bladders for carrying the water your dog will need on your walk. For low-light walks, there is reflective piping on the sides of the saddlebags and the triangular meeting point of the chest straps. You also have a loop on the handle that can be used to attach a light.


There are four pockets on the Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack. Taking inspiration from how hikers organize their backpacks with water and heavier items near their bodies, there is a vertical stash pocket on each side. These are easier to access and keep the weight close to your dog’s back. Outside of the stash pockets are another two roomy, radial-cut pockets.

All the pockets have zips for simple access. The backpack also has internal mesh pockets and a row of external gear loops on each side to help with organizing your equipment.

Hikers often use their dog’s backpack to carry essentials such as sun cream, compasses and bandanas so they don’t have to remove their own backpack. Bear in mind that the pockets are not entirely waterproof, and there is the possibility of your dog banging the saddlebags against trees and rocks, so it wouldn’t be a great place to keep something fragile, such as a mobile phone!

Storage Capacity

This is the storage capacity of the three sizes of the Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack:


  • 854 cubic inches (12.5 liters)


  • 1,068 cubic inches (17.5 liters)

Large/Extra Large

  • 1,465 cubic inches (24 liters)


This is how much each of the three Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack sizes weigh. Your dog should never carry more than 25% of its body weight and ideally only 10 -15%. When calculating the weight of your dog’s load, remember to include the backpack’s weight. It might be prudent to consult your vet before deciding how much weight your dog would be happy carrying.


  • 75 lb (0.8 kg)


  • 85 lb (0.84 kg)

Large/Extra Large

  • 15 lb (0.98 kg)


The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack comes in three sizes – small, medium and large/extra-large. Each size can be adjusted by five inches. If your dog is between sizes, it is best to order both sizes to see which is most suitable for your dog’s size and shape. Check with the guides online to make sure you are measuring your dog correctly.


  • Chest size – 22 inches (56 cm) – 27 inches (69 cm)
  • Dimensions – 18 inches ( cm) x 13 inches ( cm) x 2 inches ( cm)


  • Chest size – 27 inches (69 cm) – 32 inches (81 cm)
  • Dimensions – 20 inches ( cm) x 15 inches ( cm) x 2 inches ( cm)

Large/Extra Large

  • Chest size – 32 inches (81 cm) – 42 inches (107 cm)
  • Dimensions – 20 inches ( cm) x 15 inches ( cm) x 2.5 inches (cm)


The main drawback of the Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack is the cost. It is not cheap. However, the functionality and high standard of manufacture compared to more affordable models make it worth the extra expense if you regularly go backpacking with your dog. The detachable saddlebags mean that as well as a backpack, you also have an excellent harness.


The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack is a well-made, practical backpack ideal for multi-night trips. It is designed to let your dog help carry his own equipment for longer trips in comfort and style. The detachable saddlebags give you the option to remove them if you feel your dog needs a break without having to carry an additional harness. The flopper-stopper and cross-stabilization systems keep the pockets streamlined and stop them from bouncing about, making it more comfortable for your dog. The range of sizes and the five adjustment points on the straps mean the Ruffwear Palisades Dog Backpack can adapt to many different shapes and sizes of dogs. Overall, if you like hiking and camping with your dog, this is the perfect dog backpack for you.

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