Ruffwear Singletrak Review (Backpack)
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.
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).