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My wife and I are big into backpacking and hiking. I have never hiked/backpacked with a dog a i have never been the primary owner. I would love to take my V. Not sure if anyone out there could help with some size information. I am looking to to get a pack from REI.com was looking at getting the Ruff Wear Singletrak Hydration Dog Pack Medium, but not sure on sizing typically found on dog packs. He is roughly 7 months (51 lbs.) and still has some growing to go. Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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I'm glad you posted this question, because my boyfriend and I will be hiking soon in the Smoky Mtns & I've never taken a dog hiking either. Are you taking any special food for the dog during the hike? I suppose I should take some basic first aid equip, anything else?
 

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Although I never took our V (too young) backpacking, instead we went with a GS dog.

No special food (kibble is dry - so it's lighter than wet food).
Hiking one day should be no problem for most dogs.

Water is important. Overheating is a major problem.

Water is heavy and it should be distributed as evenly as possible. Perhaps small bottles.

Also, I would avoid backpacks that look like vests (during summer).
Also those that have dedicated compartments for water can be hard to keep clean of bacteria.
A backpack with multiple pockets is desirable, as you mentioned first aid is nice to have.

Leash length and weight is also a consideration. We used 12' flat training lead and reeled him in as needed.
No problem if dog walked in front (at least for us). Pulling is not allowed although handy if traveling upward :p.
If he pulled we tugged gently 2, 3 times.
 

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We got the Ruff Wear Approach pack from REI for our V. She's only 4 months old right now, but we got a medium and it looks like it should fit her fine when she gets bigger, if it doesn't then we've left all the tags on it so hopefully we can exchange it for a large without any issues.
http://www.rei.com/product/812465/ruff-wear-approach-dog-pack
We also saw the hydration pack, but we just couldn't justify spending $80 right now on a pack that would only carry water. So that's why we went with the Approach pack, it seemed like it would be a good size for Abby.

We are going to get 2 of the platypus collapsible bottles
http://www.rei.com/product/797977/platypus-softbottle-with-closure-cap-34-fl-oz
so she can carry her water and the pockets are still deep enough in the Approach pack that she can carry her dry food a small toy (she loves her green frog) and a collapsible water bowl. For us we thought this would be a better fit for her for overnight and up to 2 day hiking trips. The hydration pack although was nice because it was very slim, just wouldn't carry much besides water and it came with the exact same kind of Platypus collapsible water bottles I think they just were a different brand. We may eventually get the hydration pack for her later on so she can wear it for a day hike but if you are doing an overnight or longer hike I would look at the Approach pack.

Good Luck!!
 
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