The Ruffwear Singletrak is my 3rd backpack and by far the most expensive. I got this backpack mid-March and since then have put well over 100 miles on it so I think I would consider it broke in and ready to review. I normally like to keep reviews short and to the point, but I think pack deserves a lot more of my time so you can get a good idea of what it offers if you are considering getting one. Since I am going into detail I broke the review into different sections so feel free to skip to your particular interest.
Why I chose the Ruffwear and specifically the Singletrak-
To be honest I arrived at my decision to buy Ruffwear by the amount of good reviews I found online for their different packs (maybe you’re here for the same reason), and I like the idea how their harness looked (comfortable). Prior to getting this Ruffwear I had an Outward Hound backpack, which wasn’t too bad, it just had the potential to rub (here is my review). So after reading (well Mom reading to me) a lot of the reviews I have to say I couldn’t really find a review that covered my needs. A lot of the good reviews are done by people that go on all day hikes or camp trips. My hikes range from 1-1.5 hours (5-6 miles) with some of them being trail runs. The reason I really want a pack is to carry my water for the warm days and just to carry weight in general (Mom says I am best when I am tired.. WHATEVER!). Since most of my time on the trail is spent running, jumping, climbing and pouncing on things while off-lease, we really wanted a pack that would hold the water tight against my body and not have it fly up then slam into my side when I jump. For this reason we immediately eliminated the Approach Pack from my list. The Approach doesn’t have a “compression system” to push the water against my body. So since I wanted to stick with Ruffwear I was left with two options, the higher priced Palisades or the lower priced Singletrak. The Palisades does offer that compression system, however the bags are huge and really designed for an all day or overnight trip which is a bit excessive for my needs and I wasn’t sure how well that compression system would work to keep the water from bouncing. Now the Singletrak on the other hand doesn’t have a compression system but it does have small pockets the water bags fit into that is part of the harness, so them means if the bags are full or half empty they would not flop around although they might slosh a bit if you leave a lot of air in the bag. After evaluating my needs we decided the Singletrak would be the best option for a bouncy, trail running, and hiking dog like me, it would give me the option to carry my water and have just enough room for a leash, poo bags and a smartphone.
Where I got the Singletrak-
Second let’s talk about where I purchased the Singletrak (so feel free talk skip this section if you don’t care where I got it). Knowing from previous experience how important fit is I wanted to at least go to a local store to try on Ruffwear. This way I can get my size and not guess and play the return game. So after Mom searched Ruffwear’s website and the internet in general we found a few local retailers which included Sportsman’s Warehouse, Redding Sports LTD and a little shop called Hermit’s Hut. After comparing prices Hermit’s Hut had the backpack on sale so I decided I would visit their shop. Being the person my Mom is, she of course called ahead of time to check with the store to see if they were okay with me coming in and they were (FYI Sportsman’s and ReddingLTD are both pet friendly) so off we went to Hermit’s Hut.
When we arrived at Hermit’s Hut there was a distinct odor of cat urine, now Mom and Dad aren’t the oversensitive type when it comes to smell (I do have 2 cat siblings) but it was pretty strong so I think we must have arrived after a tom-cat left his mark. Other than that, I would describe the store as a small store in a low rent district (but we didn’t feel nervous to be there) with a a lot of outdoor gear. When we arrived their pet section was right by the door, however it was a small selection of pet items. The Singletrak they had in stock was a size medium so it didn’t fit but it still gave us the idea of what it would look like in my size. They did however have a Ruffwear Palisades in stock and in my size (Large/X-Large) that I was able to try on and see. To be honest at this point we still weren’t sure if we wanted the Singletrak or Palisades. After a good test fit, we talked to man in charge about ordering the pack and he said once we decided, we could order it online and leave a note to pickup in store or he could just ship it to us. So after a couple days of thinking over the packs we decided on the Singletrak, placed our order online and decided to have it shipped (it was free shipping). Since it wasn’t in stock it did take 2 days before we got a confirmation it was shipped but it arrived the next day as expected. Overall I would have to say the transaction was smooth, my only complaint is about the store odor, but for the price I would still recommend them and I do hope the odor is gone by now.
Features of the Singletrak-
The Singletrak is a very simple, sleek pack that I believe is a great design for dogs that go out on runs or hikes that are no more than a few hours. Basically it’s for those of us that don’t need to carry food, just water or weight. The Singletrak uses the same type of design as their Web Master Harness (I don’t have one), but basically there is a Y yoke in front that is padded were all parts of the Y meet for the chest piece, a padded strap that goes under the chest and another padded strap that goes behind the chest. The chest strap does not disconnect from the the harness on both sides so has to be slid over your head and you will have to pick up your right leg over part of the yoke so the strap that connects the yoke to the chest strap can fit into place. Overall these straps and buckles are very sturdy and padded. All this padding really shows they thought about those of us with thin fur coats.
The top part of the pack has a large nylon loop that you can clip things to (I assume a leash too, but not sure if I would trust it to hold back a large dog) and a handle. Now mom’s first thought about that handle was that it would be useless on a large dog since she couldn’t use it to assist me going over large objects like intended, but she quickly found a use for it after a few miles. The handle turns out is a great alternative for a short term leash. What I mean is, if you are on an off-leash run like I normally do, occasionally you come across other dogs or people and Mom insists on holding me. So instead of pulling out the leash each time, Mom just grabs the handle and walks me past the distraction then lets go. This really beats having a leash tied to the pack for easy access.
The underside of the harness that rests again my body really shows the quality of this harness that once again that they kept us thin coated dogs in mind. It is nicely padded to protect me from anything put into the pockets that could poke me and cushion me if I have something that wants to bounce in the pack. With this padding I haven’t seen any sign of rubbing and overall it really makes it comfortable. The only down side is, I could see this as a place that could get stinky since it would adsorb, so as mom says, not rolling on dead animals or their poo.
Underside of pack
As far as the compartments, each side has two pockets that are separated by mesh, I mention that just in case you want to carry electronics. If your water pouch spring a leak or you don’t screw the top of the water pouch tight there is no barrier so I would Ziplock electronics to be safe. The main pocket is where the water pouches are stored and there is a smaller pocket that lays on top of these, each with their own zipper access. The main pocket is designed for just the water pouch however you can fit a bit more on there, Mom puts the water bottle and my leash in one side and on the other side is the other water bottle and a couple rocks to balance out the weight. The small pocket is not very deep but mom can just fit her Droid 4 smart phone in (so I can see the crazy miles I put on using the GPS feature) but of course had room lengthwise to shove in some poo bags and other small bits if needed. Bottom line is this pack is meant to carry water and maybe poo bags and treats, don’t expect to be hauling your meals or extra water bottles (besides the pouches).
The water pouches are made of a nice thick plastic with a top that you see on a lot of sports bottles. If you currently haul bottles you will love these pouches, they nicely conform to your body making them much easier to haul around with less sloshing. My understanding (I might be wrong) is the earlier versions of the Singletrak came with pouches that were more like the Camelbak hydration packs where they had a tube the would come out for easy pouring which I think the Palisades still does. I would have loved to have that option, just to pull out a tube so Mom didn’t have to remove the whole pouch for water. I guess from what I read people complained about them leaking, but if I can find Camelbak packs in the right size I may trade these out for that convenience or buy an adapter. Of course I might have to modify the pack a bit, but it really would be a lot faster to pull a tube out than the whole pouch.
I guess before I describe the fit of this pack I should describe myself. I am 70lbs of very lean, mean, red-headed barking machine. I have very little body fat and lot of lean muscle, so from a distance I look skinny, but up close you notice you don’t see any ribs just muscle. Overall this pack fits good, is has just enough adjustment on the rear strap to get around my tiny waist, but if I were any smaller we would have to trim down the padding. To be honest I would rather have to trim padding than not have enough. I think when it comes to the straps that go under my chest and stomach have a lot of adjustment however if I were a big-wide breed dog I might we worried about the yoke adjustment because it doesn’t appear there is a lot but I can’t be sure. So if you are a wide-chested dog it would be a real good idea to try this on in-store to make sure it fits.
The problem I was having with the pack was it wanted to slip sideways. I *think*The Ruffwear Singletrak is my 3rd backpack and by far the most expensive. I got this backpack mid-March and since then have put well over 100 miles on it so I think I would consider it broke in and ready to review. I normally like to keep reviews short and to the point, but I think pack deserves a lot more of my time so you can get a good idea of what it offers if you are considering getting one. Since I am going into detail I broke the review into different sections so feel free to skip to your particular interest.
To Sum it up..
Great for carrying water without it bouncing
Very adjustable so very good odds you should get a good fit
Lots of padding to prevent almost all rubbing
Very study and you know it is great quality the moment you handle it
Price (but I don’t think its overpriced for the quality)
No much room for anything but your water
There might be fitting issues if you are really big chested or even really skinny.
Approx $90, however check around for sales!
Yes, for those of you who are really active but need to carry some water or just needs to carry weight.
Didn’t I give you enough detail?!
Suggestions for Manufacturer:
1. Hook up with Camelbak to improve your water system. What would be great is if you could hook the bags together through a tube system (across the yoke?). It could help to equalize the water levels so you don’t have to worry about trying to take the same amount of water out of each side to balance your load. Overall just having the tube system would be nice so you don’t have to remove the whole water pouch.
2. How about adding another buckles to both sides of the harness for the straps that go under my chest and waist. If you were using cheap ones I wouldn’t recommend it, but you are using quality ones so this would make it more convenient when taking the harness on or off and make it so we don’t have to lift a paw to get into the harness. Not that lifting a paw is hard and I do it out of habit now, but if I hurt my left leg it would be nice not to have to bare by weight on it to take the harness off. I guess I am lucky my running injuries have happened on my right side. Plus it would make it easy to get on/off the harness if you are in tight quarters like the back seat of the car.
3. Add some padding to the bottom strap of the yoke, when I will still test fitting I had it slide sideways it did rub a little in my armpit (I got sensitive skin because of my thin coat).
Time to talk about my 2nd and most used backpack I currently have (new one doesn’t have the miles yet), it is the Kyjen Outward Hound Quick Release Dog BackPack. This backpack is also a hand-me-down much like my first training pack, however this one is a better quality and was purchased back in 2010. Since this is an older model some of the features may have changed but I hope to give you an idea of the pros and cons so you can see if they are improved now.
Starting off with the basic build of this pack. The pack has 2 main compartments, 1 on each side. The compartments are closed with a zipper that has 2 heads which I have both meet in the middle for easy access. There is also an outside compartment made of a net that is not sealed and doesn’t hold anything for very long. The compartments are nice and wide giving lots of room for storage and not too deep to cause sagging when you add weight. The packs are made of nylon and that nylon is also used in the section that connects to each compartment to each other over the back. On the top of the pack (top of my back) there is a large handle, I believe this handle is supposed to be used if I need assistance getting over or through obstacles. This handle might work for an ankle biter, but for a doberman its nothing more than an emergency handle. In front of the handle is a little loop with a buckle, this is used a leash keeper. My leash has two handles for short and long holding so Mom loops each handle into the keeper and it allows me to carry the leash still attached to me but not have to be “on the leash” if we are in a place that allows off-leash. The straps on this leash are the typical adjusting nylon straps with quick release buckles, two straps run underneath (girth) and one around the chest (not a Y strap which I think their newer ones use). The only protection to prevent rubbing is a nylon pad that is attached to pack near the buckles and are supposed to be placed behind the buckles to prevent the buckles from rubbing (so they will easily slide out if you shift). Since this is the only form of protection that means the nylon straps are against the skin. This may be okay if the pack fits perfect and you don’t have sensitive skin, however I am pretty sensitive so this is no enough like it was for Trey. To get around my issues Mom doesn’t strap the girth straps down tight, now this might not work for every dog, it is going to depends on the load and your dog because it could cause more rubbing. For me running with it loose is fine, no rubs and the pack only occasionally slides to the side. If this didn’t work Mom was going to make a fleece sleeve to slide over the nylon then strap it down.
The way the compartments are connected to the pack is by the top part of the pack, this means that the pack fill float out if you go for a swim however is also means they will bounce if you carry a lot of weight. The packs are also removable so you can just take them off before going for a swim without having to unbuckle the harness but to be honest we have never removed them before. If I am on leash I can carry a few water bottles, leashes, and poo bags without any issues because it is a serious walk, but if I am off-leash I am jumping around so much Mom normally just loads the pack with poo bags, hand towels to wipe paws and an extra collar.
Carries decent weight (2 water bottles each side and could have done more)
Durable (lots of miles and no tears or breaks yet)
Pack is removable from harness.
No Y strap on chest (but this might be fixed in newer models)
No protection from nylon rubbing and the buckle protection is a joke
Not breathable, although we don’t sweat it will still retain heat so I don’t wear on hot summer days.
Bounces if you are an active dog
Mom got this for $17 on Amazon.com back in 2010
Yes, for a good mid-range backpack. If you just want to add some weight to your dog when walking or carry a few extra things this pack has served me well. If you have a thin coat/skin then if you find this model I suggest making fleece sleeves to put the straps through. If you are serious about packing weight I would go with a higher range model.
Remember to pack the weight on your dog evenly and check for always check fit during your first several hikes. Also this isn’t my first backpack or my last (I have upgraded!). You can ready about my first backpack here My First Backpack, Dickens Closet Review. I will update this with a link to my review of my newest Ruff Wear backpack when I post that.
Outward Hound BackPack, notice the buckle protector out of place
I’ll try to keep this review short as my normal reviews, but I have to warn you, backpacks are a big deal to me so I might ramble on. I think every pup hitting the trails or road for a good run should have one. A backpack is a good place to carry your spare leash, poo bags, water, nom noms, even a GPS all for yourself, and you can help your human out with their stuff too. A backpack is a good way to burn some extra calories and build muscle during your daily routine, after all who doesn’t want a healthier body?
This backpack was my first and it was actually a hand-me-down from Big Brother Trey that was purchased approximately 5+ years ago and I haven’t seen it in the stores since. Trey put a few miles on this pack so by the time I got it, it was well broke in and starting to show. For a first backpack that will get light use I really have to say it is pretty good despite being cheap (compared to other packs). So lets start off talking about the basic build of this pack. There is nothing special to this pack, like most of the lower end packs there is 1 chest strap that goes around the front under my neck. If you look at higher end packs you will notice they now go with a Y design that connects the chest strap down to one of the girth straps to prevent rubbing at that base of neck (check Ruff Wear packs). It also has two girth straps and run under my chest. These girth straps attach to the bottom of the pack which has ups and downs to this design. The up, is that it keeps the pack from bouncing around when you are jumping around. Other packs only connect the bags to the harness from their tops so they flop loose, the reason is for dogs that might go through deep water with their pack, it allows them both to float up (assuming the load floats) making it easier to swim. I have seen some packs give you the option by only connecting the top, but then having loops at the bottom of the packs that you run the girth straps through if you want the load secured down. Each pack is only 1 big compartment that is closed with a zipper, the compartment is big, however I would not load it down with weight. The height and width of the compartments are decent but depth wise it is pretty deep which I think the fault. If you load to much weight the pack sags down and will still bounce the load around which will not make for a good packing experience.
Now to the material, the part of the pack that touches my back is mesh and the rest of the pack feels like a very light weight neoprene. The soft mesh makes up the part of the pack that goes over my back connecting the packs and makes up the back sides of the packs. This mesh makes the pack nice and comfortable to wear, it conforms nicely to my figure, it’s soft and VERY breathable. The down side of this mesh is that is snags and will pick up loose materials it brushes up against (think running through tall grass or bushes). The outside of the packs are made of this neoprene type material that is also nice and soft but doesn’t pick up material like the mesh. This neoprene also gives it the appearance of being water resistant but just remember the part of the pack against my back is mesh, so it’s not. The straps are made of the typical nylon, however each strap has a some of the neoprene that wraps around it and secures with Velcro so the neoprene should stay between my skin and the nylon straps/buckles however those straps don’t stay in place (look at pic with of Trey wearing it). This brings me to the buckles, CHEAP, yeah so far my review has been fair, but the buckles are a big disappointment. By the time I got the pack one was already broken and not long after a second one also broke.
I now have two other backpacks I will talk about in the future, lets just say I have been working my way up learning what works for me. This one now just sits in my toy box for spare parts and possible use in a future costume.
Great for training if you are worried about a good pack getting destroyed
Buckles really cheap
Wouldn’t carry to much weight
The neoprene wrap that should protect you from rubbing against the nylon doesn’t stay in place
No one remembers the price and it is no longer available new.
Only as a training pack or if you are only looking to carry a leash and doggie bags, it is not something I would trust with weight. So if you can pick a used one up for a couple dollars it would make a great trainer if you pack is with light weight stuff, like towels or even shipping/packing material just to fill it out.
With any pack, make sure you balance your weight on each side. So if you choose to carry water, make sure you try to take equal amounts out of both sides when you stop for a drink. If you are looking for a higher end pack check out Ruff Wear, if you are looking for an in between pack look for Outward Hound packs. I will follow up with reviews of those.
Trey in the Dickens Backpack
Dickens Closet Backpack
Dickens Closet Backpack
Dickens Closet Backpack, notice the wraps that are supposed to keep the nylon strap from rubbing doesn’t stay in place.
Won’t this be great when it is done? It looks like this section of trails with be 12.5 miles, however the overall plan is great! Right now, all they need added is a trail between the Cloverdale Trailhead up to the Oak Knoll Trailhead on Muletown Road or the Placer Connector Trail in that same area. If that connection is made you can go from the Clear Creek Trails all the way to Whiskeytown. Although I imagine they will have issues when it comes to crossing Clear Creek on Placer at the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, it’s not really built for pedestrians.
If you go out hiking/walking/running in the rain or snow you really should get a slicker (its also nice for potty time too). My pink one was purchased from Petco a few years back so we don’t remember the price and we just can’t remember where Trey got his yellow Dickens brand slicker. Both are pretty much the same quality wise the only difference is that Trey’s has a pocket on back. Here are my thoughts, overall it accomplishes what it was made for, keeping me mostly dry during rainy day hikes and mostly dry during potty time on rainy days.
I feel I should explain what I meant by “mostly dry during rainy day hikes”. Perhaps it is because I am very fit with a big chest and small waist (I would be a hot human!) but this coat slips sideways on my constantly while hiking. I have to admit on hikes I am running all over, up and down hills and jumping every which way so I really test the fit of anything I wear. The chest strap on this will not stay in place, it slips back towards my waist area so Mom just straps it back by my waist while hiking. However if I am just going outside for a quick potty or a walk on the leash the coat doesn’t slip as far to the side or as often as it does when I am running like a mad women.
The design does have some strong points, it’s nice that it doesn’t hug the body so rain just rolls off the coat instead of rolling down the side and onto my belly, but that is where the good design stops. First on the down sides is the rear strap that is supposed to keep the coat down on windy days, this is the biggest downfall. First the strap on Trey’s broke after a few uses, mine lasted long but was well stretched and useless before it broke. Trey also has a complaint about the rear strap, he says it is very close to his manly bits so on some males that may be an issue if you choose to use the strap.
As far as additional useless features there is a hole on the base of the neck for a leash to go through, perhaps this would work with a short neck dog, but for my neck, it is no where near my collar and putting the leash through would cause the slicker to ride up. If you are built like me and need to wear a leash with this it just has to go through the front with your face so it might cause the neck part of your slicker to not fully protect your neck. The second useless thing is the pocket on Trey’s slicker. Putting anything in the pocket (if you had something that small) with weight would cause the slicker to shift side to side unless you have a wide back or put something like paper in there.
For wear and tear the chest strap on Trey’s appears to be detaching from the coat itself near the pocket, which means it may be dead by the end of this winter if we ever get rain. Also both Trey and I have torn a small hole in our slickers, however the size of the holes hasn’t changed and probably wont unless it snags and could easily be repaired with duct tape (you could probably even find a matching duct tape color now).
Keeps my back and neck dry mostly dry
Useless back strap
Rides sideways I am really active
Would be nice they could redesign the back leg straps. Perhaps individual leg straps made similar to the chest strap otherwise don’t bother unless it is really windy.
Would I recommend?
Yes… No… Maybe, it’s cheap and it mostly works, if you are just looking to cover yourself during potty breaks or walks on the leash the go for it. If you are really active like me then you might try one, see how it works for your body type. Mom may continue to buy when the previous one is beyond repair but she might consider making me a custom one combining the good features of this raincoat and some of the other types of blankets (she’ll post that if it works out).
A few more notes are that our winters here are not cold, so if you need something that also provides warmth then I would look at other options or you could wear a blanket under this. I am also not sure how well these would work on thick or short necked dogs like rotties or bullies, the neck hole fit me fine, however I have a thinner long neck, so I would strongly suggest short or thick necked dogs go to the store to try it one before buying.
Trey and I in our slickers
Trey and I in our slickers
My Rain Slicker
Trey Rain Slicker
Slicker slides sideways if you don’t snug up the chest strap
I spend a lot of time out on these trails so I thought I would share some sites you can’t see from the road.
This is a waterfall found on the Piety Hill Loop. It can only be seen after we have had a really good rainfall when all the seasonal creeks are flowing, so you probably won’t be able to see it this year. To see this fall you would want to park at the Horsetown trailhead, head across the street. The entrance to trail is right at the end of the bridge next to the Horsetown Clear Creek Preserve sign. You head up the steep hill until you come to an intersection. If you go left you will head clockwise on the Piety Hill Loop, however go straight (counter-clockwise). When you head straight it will take you down a hill, when you start heading down just look straight and slightly to the left out across the gully, you should see this waterfall if it is flowing.
If you continue down the trail, you will go up another hill, then when you start heading down again you will come to that seasonal creek that makes up the falls. If the water is really flowing you may need to get wet to cross it, otherwise if it is barely flowing you can usually step on rocks to keep dry (Hey BLM how about you put in really big rocks, a culvert or bridge? Pretty Please!). Continuing on if you go straight at the next intersection you can follow the seasonal creek all the way up and see little falls along the way.
Below is a picture of Folding Travel Bowl #3. The #3 is not part of the model number but my replacement number. Hey! I know what you are thinking, “Penny stop eating your bowls” but it’s not my fault! These bowls are great because you can fold them up put them in a small pocket for easy storage. The problem is after a couple weeks of regular use they seem to leak more and more. I can see why they are not completely waterproof, after all they are made of nylon and couldn’t be chemically sealed (I don’t want to drink that stuff!). At first if you load up the bowl with water and leave it, it will slowly leak through and the outside of the bowl will get wet. This is not really a problem if you are on a hike, after all we aren’t stopping for a long time period. However after a few weeks of use the leaks get faster, the problem really seems to be with the thin “inner liner” since the water seems to quickly leak to the space between the inner and outer layers. Mom gets water out of her Camelbak and I have to drink fast otherwise I am licking the liner, I probably only get half of what is poured. The previous 2 bowls I had were picked up at Petco and I think were store brand, this new one is from HomeGoods and is the Outward Hound brand that mom got while she was traveling (check out their pet section along with TJ Maxx for killer deals!) maybe a different brand will help, but here are my thoughts based on the Petco ones.
Folds up nicely
Inexpensive (approx $4-$5)
Leaks after a few weeks of regular use
No, not unless you really need something that collapses (like me) or you wouldn’t be using it too often. Now I am going to give this Outward Hound one a try and maybe it will change my mind.
I am open to suggestions, but the replacement need to be lightweight and folding. Until then I might continue to suffer with these.
Here is a little secret about the Clear Creek Trails (at least I can’t find any info on it). If you go to the “Clear Creek Gorge Overlook” trail head and go north on the trail (left from the parking lot) you will hit a series of fitness stations spread out over approx 2 miles. These stations are labeled World Trail and they all are for getting you humans fit. Although up pups can’t use the stations it sure is fun watching you humans try. But honestly us pups just enjoy getting out and the bonus is the trail has lots of access to Clear Creek for taking a dip in the summer.
List of the stations
Warm Up/Cool Down
Step Up Routine
Climbing Wall (not like a rock climbing wall you see in a gym)
Inclined Body Curl
Jump N Touch
This map was done by my mom back in 2010 it show the different stops, some of the point indicate different turnoffs to the creek or trail heads however you can get an idea of how far apart they are.
World Trail Intro Sign
World Trail Warmup Directions
World Trail Cooldown Directions
The 1st station, the others have obstacles or sorts in them
Beautiful Clear Creek Gorge Picnic Area
Clear Creek Gorge, the overlook for the salmon spawning area
You humans are so SLOW! Mom let me carry the cell phone in my backpack and turned on the GPS. You won’t see much of a difference in the map when you compare it to my human Mom’s GPS track because it’s a 4 mile track and I am good about staying on the trail, but check out the amount of time I have to spend stopped waiting for my Mom! Come on now humans, you really need to learn to use those front lets you call “arms” maybe it will help you move faster!
Take in mind these are 2 different days but same route, also on Mom’s track we had to stop for horses and other dogs but on my track we only had to stop for water.