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I've been having a really hard time getting a backpack to fit Caeda properly, I've tried a few on her that are available in town here and adjusted 6 ways from sunday and nothing works. Biggest problem is that they slide forwards if she bends down to sniff, a good walk/hike is partially about her getting the chance to explore, the current options aren't acceptable, and I don't want to order one online and go through returning them 10 times before I find the right fit.

So, I'm going to try making one. I've got good quality webbing, clips, adjustment "thingies" etc. I'm pretty handy on the sewing machine, and have done some sewing on webbing already. Still debating on materials for the actual packs, may salvage the ones from the current pack we have just to make the $$ useful for something :p

The current "fit" problem I'm seeing is that she has a big neck, big ribcage, long back and a tight tuck, giving her a tiny waist

Questions for those of you who might have any ideas:
Two belly straps or one?
Neck/chest strap with a V to a belly strap, or just straight around the base of the neck/chest? (I'm worried here about interfering with her front legs, will placing it higher work or will that hurt her throat?)
What are the thoughts on building a harness with removable packs vs. the pack as part of the "structure" of it? I think it would be handy, but if there are downsides I'd like to know them.
I've got 1inch webbing right now, would 2 inch work better (keeping in mind Caeda isn't tiny, but not huge either).
What is the best placement for the packs, I'm not planning on lots of weight, but I don't want to hurt her back....pack starting forwards over the shoulder blades or behind them?
Thoughts on using some elastic on the belly straps, I'm thinking it might allow for better freedom of movement while still keeping it snug and comfortable.

Any other design issues anybody can point out would be great too, or even post a link to a pack that you've found has a "perfect design" for reference for me I'd appreciate that.

Another note on my intentions with this: I will NOT be using it as any kind of restraint harness, she'll be on lead by her flat collar. I'll put a D-ring on it "just in case" but I have no intention of using it to lead her.

If I manage to make this I'll post pics, I know the prototype will look pretty horrid, and probably won't have all of the necessary padding, but I'm going to use it for a pattern to make one that looks and fits good. I'll also try to make notes as I go along in case anybody else wants to make one (assuming I'm successful!). Heck, if I'm really successful I might try making them for others.

Hugely appreciate any input everybody :)
 

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I've been having a really hard time getting a backpack to fit Caeda properly, I've tried a few on her that are available in town here and adjusted 6 ways from sunday and nothing works. Biggest problem is that they slide forwards if she bends down to sniff,...
This makes me think the belly strap may not have been tight enough or in the right spot. Did these packs have two straps or three? It could just be her body type too, like you said. I know there are packs out there that fit Dobes though and it seems like she may have the kind of body type of a Dobe?


The current "fit" problem I'm seeing is that she has a big neck, big ribcage, long back and a tight tuck, giving her a tiny waist
If the pack has two straps then ideally the second strap is right behind the widest part of the rib cage so when she bends forward this strap helps hold the pack in place. Is this where you were strapping it?

Have you seen the packs with three straps? Might be more logistics but if her problem is that it slides forward, three straps might work to keep it back. Here is a picture of what I am talking about




As for making it one piece or two pieces (saddlebags + harness), I like the one piece personally. I haven't worked with a two piece but for me, more pieces mean more possibilities for breaks, tears, weakness in the structure, etc. Plus, on a backpacking trip I don't want something to happen where the saddlebags get lost or something breaks and we have to end the trip. That's just my reasoning though.

The saddlebags should either be over or start at the dog's shoulder blades. You want the weight over their front feet so you aren't stressing their back by having it over their weaker midsection. You also don't want saddlebags that hang down really low because it adds pull (side to side) when they walk and it just isn't as stable. The low saddlebags can also mean that the dog's ability to walk/run is hindered as their elbows keep hitting it. I like my saddlebags high and forward on the dog.

This is the Wolfpack Banzai pack, it is forward with condensed saddlebags to give the dog more motion. It has two straps, the second one goes a little past the widest partof the ribcage to stop forward motion of the pack when the dog sniffs or goes downhill:


Here is a Wenaha dog pack. The pack starts real up high above the dogs shoulders and stretches down it's back. This is a good design because the dog's shoulders and front end support the pack.


Here it is on a Malamute


This, in my opinion, is a good "what not to do". The pack is way too far back on the dog and is just going to stress the dog's back. The saddlebags aren't a bad size though.



*I do not own any of these pictures.
 

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Ruffwear's Palisades Pack is my favorite.

I love the Websmaster harness that is the base of this pack and I found the harness to be very durable, escape proof and doesn't shift much. Fits Chester's deep chest and tucked belly well and there are many points of adjustment on the harness.
You could also consider buying just the Webmaster harness (about $40-45 online) and making packs to fit it. Bonus is that the harness (with or without packs) can be used on the lead or a tie-out unlike many backpacks.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
OOh, great info! Nil, the top pic is the basic design of what I'm considering, but with larger pockets. Getting the right size belly strap (the furthest back one) will probably make the biggest difference! Also thanks especially for pointing out how it shouldn't be balanced over the middle of the back....its kind of what I figured, but I wasn't positive.

The main problem I'm having with fit with the packs accessible in town is the neck straps end up completely (or almost completely) extended and the belly strap is totally shortened and in one case, couldn't be shortened any more and was still a couple of inches too big (but the neck fit perfect, smaller size was too small on the neck). The three strap one I tried wasn't as bad but it was expensive (about $60-70) yet cheaply made, junky zippers, cheap fabric etc.

The one reason that I'm considering the two piece harness+pack setup is if/when we do go on longer excursions I can easily take off the pack and lighten her load if we have a rest without having to take everything off completely. Having it get lost/caught would suck, but there is an upside to that, if she somehow gets stuck somewhere, if it comes off she might end up safer.

Shell, that Palisades pack looks FANTASTIC! Even if I was sure it would fit its unfortunately a little out of the price range at the moment or I'd say to heck with it and buy one!

I'm tempted to try making a basic harness for her first, get a better hang of "dog body mechanics" before I plunge into the full scale backpack. Plus I've had similar problems getting her a harness that fits properly.
 
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