$10 Dog Backpack




About: I get restless, so I make things.
Dog packs are insanely overpriced. A dog pack is basically two fanny packs attached to a dog harness. Why not make your own? You can reuse existing material instead of making something new. This pack is greener, cheaper and totally awesome.


Step 1: Closet Check

Check your closet for any old laptop cases, purses, backpacks, camera cases, etc.

Some things to look for:
  • Velcro
  • Zippers
  • Buckles
  • Snaps
  • Nylon Strap
If you don't have enough nylon strap to complete the pack, check your local army surplus store. They will also have buckles and other fasteners. 

Check thrift stores for purses and pouches that can be used as saddle bags. See the Step 3 for qualities to look for during bag selection.

You will also need:
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • A dog willing to wear a pack
  • Very basic sewing skills

Step 2: Harness the Beast

I won't give exact measurements, this is a custom pack for your dog.

To make the harness that will hold the pack:
  • Cut three nylon straps with the following lengths:
    1. Measure the circumference below your dog's neck, add 6".
    2. Measure the circumference of your dog's waist, add 6".
    3. Measure the length between the dog's waist and shoulders, add 12".
  • Using the lighter, melt the ends of the straps so that they don't fray.
  • Sew the pieces together to create a harness (see photo). Use a buckle for the chest strap and Velcro or another buckle for the waist strap.
  • The straps don't need to be tight, weight in each side of the pack will hold it on the dog.
  • If in doubt, make the straps longer, they can always be shortened later.

Step 3: How Dorky Is Your Dog?

I didn't have anything suitable to use for the saddle bags at home so I started checking thrift stores. My dog is clownish, so I selected two multi-colored purses with pictures of cats and makeup on them. The two purses cost me $7.

You will need two bags of similar size. Good qualities to look for while you search:
  • Waterproof Rating (dogs are not careful about crossing creeks)
  • Pockets
  • Zippers
  • Length (should be similar to the distance between the neck strap and waist strap)
  • Height (use common sense)
Don't expect to use what you find as-is. Modify the bags as necessary.

Attach the saddle bags to the harness, sewing to the chest strap and the waist strap on each side of the center strap.

Step 4: Test Drive

Kona's has already traveled 40 miles with her pack on! I wouldn't change a thing about it.

Please post pics if you make a custom pack for your dog!



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    13 Discussions


    3 years ago

    A few VERY important things to consider. This design has no padding for protection from rubbing so do not take the dog walking for too long with this on & preferably not at all in hot weather. Secondly, if the design has some people's dogs peeing on the bag & having to modify something is drastically wrong. NO BACKPACK should be anywhere near the back end of the dog. This can cause serious spinal damage as can any badly made/designed backpack. The pack's weight should be on the shoulder area not the back end. Do not use bags that are too big. The bags in the pictures of Kona look much too big to me. You do not want to put too much weight on a dogs back, they are not naturally built to carry it. A bigger bag encourages too much loading and also bad weight distribution. The bags should be small & sit high up on the dogs side not hanging down with the bottoms reaching to below the body. Finally, the SHAPE of the pack is vital for proper weight distribution. DO NOT USE RECTANGLE SHAPES!! For guidance check the better brands - you'll see they are mostly circular shapes.


    3 years ago

    This looks super cool! I think I'm gonna try it with my pooch!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I used older dog collars for the straps and added some velcro and two reuseable nylon lunch bags for the sacs (hes a golden retriever). The packs hold his poo bags ( repurposed store bags, lol) a foldable water bowl I found at dollar tree, a baggie of treats and two water bottles and some rope in case I gotta tie him to something or whatever.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Whew, I just saw this, and thought: turn a dog into a backpack ? NO ! :-) Glad it was a backpack FOR a dog, rather then made of dog.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I had been thinking about this for awhile, and after seeing this, I made one for my dog on a Saturday morning with items found around the house. After the first test run, I made some alterations so the dog would not pee on the bag. Second test run successful, but yet to field test it. It's not pretty, but cost was $0.00.

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Step 4

    Wow! To be honest i thought "That's going to fall apart FAST! the bags will be heavy and fall right off! I bet its hard to sew that harness too without the thread breaking."

    Wow this looks way easier and maybe even more practical than the other doggy backpack i saw here on Instructables. ( "Doggy Cooling Vest/Backpack (from cargo pants)" )


    5 years ago on Step 3

    So i guess for a smaller dog like my boyfriends weenier ( ha.ha.) You could sew those small cosmetic bags onto the harness.


    5 years ago on Step 2

    paid 20+ dollars for a harness....*glares at pet store* NOT cool bro!


    7 years ago on Step 4

    I imagine that the things in the dog's pack are things the dog uses? Dog food, dish, etc...


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm curious what you put in the backpack for your test drive? I've made a couple of backpacks for our Weimeraner. And when I test drove, with a little weight, they slipped one side or to the other so she was lopsided and I was constantly adjusting.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Kona carried a blanket in one side and her food and food dishes in the other. The weight was pretty balanced.