Ruffwear recently sent us their redesigned Singletrak Pack to try out, which is arguably our favorite product Ruffwear has ever made. Bella has worn her trusty original Singletrak Pack for many hundreds of trail miles, in all types of terrain, and in all kinds of weather. She’s had her current pack for around five years now.
I was actually fairly hesitant to try out the new design, because there is nothing more disappointing than a brand redesigning a well-loved product (that you may or may not have become emotionally attached to when you think about all of the adventures it has been on), only to have it fall flat of what the original version could do. I’ve always been a diehard Singletrak fan, and I had a lot of questions about the new design: sure it’s low profile, but can it hold enough for big mountain runs? Will it vent well without the cutout on the top? Would the brighter colors reflect heat like the light gray did? Could we still fit a Brush Guard or Core Cooler around the straps? Will the weight of the pack still distribute weight and wear well?
Yes, change can be difficult for us two-leggeds, but I took a page from Bella’s book and decided to embrace new adventures with the redesigned Singletrak. To save you the suspense, I will disclose up front that after getting the new design out on the trails, I was pleasantly impressed by the changes and new features.
Why We Love The Singletrak
Before I get into details on the upgraded design, let me geek out on the Singletrak for a minute. Have you ever tried to run down a trail while wearing a standard daypack or even an internal frame pack? It’s incredibly awkward. Larger packs just aren’t designed for the movement of fast-paced activities for extended periods of time…and it’s the same story for backpacks designed for dogs. In my opinion, Ruffwear’s Singletrak Pack is one of the most innovative dog packs ever made, and I have yet to find a backpack for dogs so well-suited to trail running. We have found that it is also ideal for backcountry skiing, hiking Colorado’s 14ers, mountain biking, and for use while crewing friends and significant others at ultramarathons…basically any day trip we go on with Bella where she needs to carry some of her own things.
So why is it so great? The SingleTrak doesn’t have bulky saddle bags that bang around, and your dog can freely bound down narrow trails and through brush without getting snagged. Think of it as a trail running backpack for humans, but designed just for your dog. Bella has never experienced chafing with the SingleTrak, even on big mountain runs upward of 18 miles and several thousand feet of elevation gain. It can easily withstand abuse on the most rugged trails, the handle allows for human assistance around obstacles on the trail or up steep/technical areas, and it comes with two BPA-free water bladders for use in dry areas.
Depending on your adventure needs, the stash pockets can fit a dog rain jacket, ultralight water bowl, empty poop bags, full poop bags, treats, a small first aid kit, a bootie or two, and extra water (you may need to pick and choose between these items to fit everything). If you primarily embark single-day adventures, this is the only backpack you will need for your dog.
What Hasn’t Changed?
- Low-profile design.
- Two BPA free water bladders included. These are also great for use during road trips and with other packs, such as the Ruffwear Approach Pack.
- Optional add-ons such as the Core Cooler and Brush Guard are still compatible with the harness, despite design changes.
- 5-point adjustment system allows for a fully customizable fit and freedom of movement.
- Reflective trim for low-light conditions.
- Padded straps for comfort and fit.
- Large handle for lift-and-assist…we love this handle for quickly getting a literal handle on your dog, especially when trying to pass other dogs on narrow trails.
- Attachment point for Beacon Safety Light (although this was eventually added to the previous version, our super old model did not have this).
Upgrades We Dig
Updated leash attachment point. Primary hardware is now an anodized aluminum V-ring, which is much easier to use with a variety of leash clips than the previous version when on the move. There is also an optional webbing loop for leash attachment at the back of the pack.
- The pack is now available in two great colors: Blue Dusk and Red Currant. This might seem insignificant, but the bright colors actually improve visibility dramatically from the old gray color. When Bella is running off-leash, it is much easier to see her out of my peripheral vision or from a distance (my husband has also commented several times that he really likes how much easier it is to see her new pack from a distance, since he usually runs ahead of Bella and me). I used to have to stop completely while running to get a visual on Bella to avoid tripping on rocks and roots, but I now find it much easier to see her against snow, lichen-covered rocks, and other terrain where she blends in while I’m on the move.
- Redesigned stash pockets. I was initially skeptical of the redesign because the old version had two zippered pouches and I enjoyed the organizational aspect. However, I found that this simplified design is much sleeker without sacrificing storage space. A simple mesh elasticized inner divider keeps water bladders from sloshing around, and other items are easily stored on the other side of the divider. The stash pockets lay flatter on the dog’s back for an even more efficient, low-profile design, and the water bladders seem to fit more easily inside. We’ve also noticed that if we leave a pocket open while Bella is moving around (for example, to get a poop bag), items don’t seem to accidentally fall out while the pockets are open as they used to.
Redesigned harness: the old design was essentially comprised of stash pockets attached directly to a Webmaster Harness. While the new harness portion is very similar, it is more thoughtfully integrated with the pockets. There is no longer a cutout on the top, and the harness is more streamlined and has less overall surface area that covers the dog. I was initially concerned that the new harness might not fit or stabilize weight in quite the same way on the trail, but I haven’t noticed a difference in this regard when Bella runs. Also, I realized that the lack of a cutout on top actually eliminated debris from the trail such as pinecones and twigs from falling into the harness. I used to find little bits of pine trees stuck under Bella’s old pack when I took it off after a long run.
The Singletrak is Best For:
- Day hikes and adventures.
- Faster-paced activities such as mountain biking and trail running.
- Dry areas where extra water is needed.
- Attending outdoor events where you might want your dog to carry water and a few other items.
- We’ve also heard of people using this pack for high-energy or anxious dogs that appreciate having “jobs” while going for walks.
Maybe Not for You If:
- You want a daypack that can also be used for overnight backpacking trips…The Singletrak most likely won’t have enough volume to carry enough food, water, and gear for your dog overnight.
- You are on a budget: the Singletrak isn’t cheap at $89.95, however, in my opinion, it’s the best daypack for dogs on the market. It’s worth saving up for.
- You have a very small dog: the Singletrak only comes in S, M, and L/XL sizes.
The Bottom Line
The Ruffwear Singletrak Pack is a unique dog backpack the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else on the market. It’s a bit pricey, but for the design and included water bladders, you won’t be let down, and your dog will have a highly functional pack that will last for many adventures throughout her lifetime. If you are looking for a backpack for your dog that won’t cramp her style while exploring on day trips, then this is the pack for both of you!