Gear Up: {Pack-a-Paw Emergency Rescue Harness For Dogs}

Stay prepared for emergencies when hiking with your dog with the Pack-a-Paw harness.

Gear Up
By Joanna Lee
Gear Up Ambassador

What is it?

The Pack-a-Paw dog-carrying harness is an essential item to have in your backpack if you hike with your dog. Have you ever considered how you would get your dog back to the car safely and quickly if it hurt itself or was exhausted while hiking? This harness allows you to carry your dog securely and comfortably in case an emergency ever arises.

(Photo: Joanna Lee)

What sets it apart?

There are few options for emergency dog-carrying harnesses, but Pack-a-Paw is lightweight, reliable and affordable. It was developed by an avid hiker and trail runner from New Hampshire whose dog joins him on all his adventures. After hearing too many stories about people who abandoned their injured dog on a mountain, he knew he needed a reliable, safe and easy solution to this seemingly common problem. His goal was to share this creation so no one ever had to face this difficult decision again.

How do I use it?

The Pack-a-Paw harness comes in a small carrying case designed to fit in your backpack with your other first-aid equipment. It comes in two size options with a weight range of 30 to 140 pounds. There are video instructions on their website so you can practice at home, which I highly recommend. The harness wraps around the dog, with four leg holes and a cradle under its belly. It has shoulder straps that are designed like a backpack that can be worn on your front or back, so you have full use of your hands. The straps have a tightening technology to hold your dog in place while you walk.

How much?


Joanna’s insight:

This is an item that I carry on every single hike and trail run; it is non-negotiable. I cannot imagine how hard it is for a person to abandon their dog on the side of a mountain because they physically cannot get it down. I also know I couldn’t carry either of my dogs (45 pounds and 50 pounds, respectively) off a mountain, safely or comfortably. Living in Colorado I have heard too many stories about dogs getting injuries while hiking, from paw pad rips to broken legs. In most areas of the United States, search and rescue organizations are volunteer-based. Because they are limited in personnel and time, they will not activate a mission to help a dog in distress. If you are hiking with your dog, it is your responsibility and duty to get it home safely. 

The Pack-a-Paw harness is the smallest and most lightweight option on the market for emergency dog-carrying harnesses, which is one of the reasons I picked it. It weighs 6 to 8 ounces, depending on size. It fits in the bottom of my backpack and doesn’t take up much space. While it is made from lightweight material, it is very strong and durable. There are two sizes, and it is designed for dogs 30 to 140 pounds, making it more of a universal fit. This means it is unlikely to be a perfect fit for your dog but will work in an emergency situation, which is its purpose. It is admittedly not the comfiest thing to wear, but I think it is important to think about the task it was designed for, which it does great at accomplishing. The straps do not have any padding, but they are wide to distribute the weight. I do highly recommend doing a test run at home before putting it in your backpack and hopefully never needing it. The first time you set it up, you will want to be looking at the instructions and videos, not in an emergency situation with an injured dog. Overall, I highly recommend this product. While I think some similar products on the market may offer more padding or a different design, this is the most lightweight option. It is also very affordable and designed by someone who truly put it to the test.

More information:

Related Articles

Always be ready to go with the Go Out{side} Email Newsletter

Don’t miss out on new Go Out{side} news, tips and tricks.