updated 05/13/2010 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/14/2010 AT 7:45 AM ET
Some people might feel guilty about turning their dog into a domesticated pack animal. Luckily, I’m not one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dewey, but I also love not carrying things. And in my defense, the label on the package of the Singletrak Pack mobile hydration backpack by Ruff Wear clearly states, “Let your dog carry the water!” so obviously, this thing was designed to make my life easier.
First, on a strictly functional level, the pack ($89.95) works pretty well. The two main adjustable straps were intuitive and easy to use. The three smaller adjustable straps that go around the neck area were a little trickier to fine-tune, but you only need to do it once assuming your dog is fully grown. When completely filled, the pack wasn’t that heavy, but it tended to roll off to one side. I feel like better, and maybe tighter, strap adjustment on my part would have fixed that though, and once most of the weight of the water was removed toward the end of the hike, it balanced fine. At first, Dewey didn’t seem too happy when faced with the reality that he was now my unpaid sherpa, but after about 10 minutes he seemed able to do all the things he normally does on a hike; run, jump and, most important, poop without being bothered by the pack.
When you fill the two plastic Platypus water bladders and fit them snugly into the two side pockets, there isn’t much room left in the other two smaller side openings. I used them for things like camera batteries, memory cards, my cell phone, a few simulated bacon-like snacks (for him), a power bar (for me). I could have fit my car keys and wallet in there, but sometimes Dewey likes to take off at the end of our hikes and disappear for 20 minutes, so I decided to hang onto the more important things. I also put my flattened coffee cup in there after I finished drinking – I carry in, he carries out!
If you’re the kind of person who likes to use their dog as a conversation starter, or to meet eligible singles, this pack definitely has an attention-getting factor. Every person I passed stopped to ask about it. In my informal poll of seven random hikers, the guys tended to admire its functionality, while the ladies seemed drawn to its appeal as a stylish accessory. Either way, it was a good icebreaker. If you’re more of a “leave me and my dog alone” kind of person, you might want to carry your own stuff and skip the pack.
It’s functional and cute: What’s not to like? I wound up giving most of the water to Dewey because I felt guilty and, well, he looked thirsty. With two full water bladders, though, there was plenty for him and me. Plus, I snuck one of his bacon snacks, which wasn’t half bad.
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