If you’re like me (i.e. completely obsessed with your dog), then a hike isn’t as satisfying without your dog, and a backpacking trip doesn’t mean as much unless your dog is sleeping under the stars with you. The happiness I experience on the trail is significantly swayed by the happiness my dog is experiencing. Luckily, if my dog is on the trail, then she is most likely happy, and, not surprisingly, the same came be said for me.
That said, if I have to carry my own gear on the trail, then so does she. It’s a tough life, but she survives. A good, sturdy dog pack is hard to find, though. It has to fit well, distribute weight fairly evenly, and have enough space to be worth it. Not all dog packs are up to par. The previous pack that I used for Colby (the coolest dog in the world, who is also my dog) constantly slid to one side of her body, which I can only imagine is supremely awkward and uncomfortable. It also only had one pocket on each side, which didn’t allow for much storage.
Enter the EzyDog Convert Harness.
As soon as I heard about the Convert Harness, I knew it was different. It’s a popular harness among working dogs, and it even allows owners to order custom labels such as “Working dog” or “Please don’t pet.” For those who have awesome dogs that aren’t working dogs, “Wonder Dog” and “Coolest Dog Ever” are also options.
One of the features that I enjoyed most about the Convert Harness is that the saddle bags can actually detach from the harness when they’re unnecessary. That means you get a stylish harness that tells people how cool your dog is and you get saddle bags for those long hikes and backpacking trips. It doesn’t really get better than that, does it? Not for dog lovers, it doesn’t.
The harness has two straps, one that goes over the front of the dog’s chest, and one that goes around the barrel of the dog’s chest. Usually my experiences with front chest straps end with an uncomfortable dog being choked by the strap. However, EzyDog has designed the straps on the Convert Harness so they fit snugly, but comfortably, on the dog. Colby, fortunately, avoided choking with this harness.
The bags attach and detach through a thick plastic loop system and Velcro. At first I was worried that the bags wouldn’t be secure since they weren’t attached permanently, but they fit as if they’d been sewn on. Also, each saddle bag has one large compartment and one smaller compartment, which has waterproof zippers and other smaller pockets.
On the Dog and On the Trail
Well, on paper the Convert Harness sounds great, right? But what about in reality? Does it actually perform? Yes, my doggie-loving friends, it sure does.
One of the most important things to me, when it comes to dog packs, is that the pack can distribute weight fairly evenly. I say fairly evenly, because whenever you’re dealing with a system that uses separate packs on each side of the body, there’s going to be a weight distribution issue. We can’t expect miracles here, people… but the Convert Harness does come close. The only time we experienced a lopsided backpack is when we carelessly packed one saddle bag full and the other with significantly less weight. For the most part, the harness was able to keep its form without sliding to one side or the other.
The saddle bags themselves were great as well, because they offered so many different storage options. The large compartments are great for food, securely-sealed water reservoirs, jackets, and pretty much anything else you can stuff in there. But the smaller compartments allowed for easy organization for smaller items. It really came in handy on the trail.
Pros and Cons
As mentioned above, what I most enjoyed about this harness is its ample storage spaces and its ability to distribute weight. That, along with the convenience of detaching saddle bags, makes this harness one of my favorites.
Although I loved using this pack, there are a couple of things that aren’t perfect about it. One of the things that I didn’t like about this harness is how wide the saddle bags get after you pack them. Of course, with any bag, after you pack it, it’s going to be a lot bigger than it was when it was empty. But these bags get slightly wider than normal, probably because they aren’t attached to the harness, and so they don’t hang down like other packs. It’s not a huge problem, but it is a slight inconvenience when you’re trying to get through tight spots.
The only other problem I found with this harness is that when it’s fully packed, and you’re going down a hill, the bag tends to slide forward. This is a fairly normal problem with most dog packs, but I think it’s a little more of a problem with this one because the framing of the harness is a little more rigid, so it doesn’t mold to the dog’s back as well. This is good, in that it kind of works like a mini dog pack frame, but it does make going downhill a little more uncomfortable.
I would definitely recommend this dog pack/harness to any dog owner out there. Although there are a few minor problems, the benefits outweigh them by far. The convenience of having a harness for walking and short hikes during hunting season, that doubles as a backpack for longer trips, is incredible.
The design of the harness makes for a comfortable fit, and the design of the saddle bags makes for plenty of storage. The Convert Harness will definitely become you and your dog’s best friend.
MSRP: $94 (harness & bags)