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Ruffwear Front Range vs. Switchbak, Singletrak, and OneTigris: Dog Pack Review

by John Buckley
May 16, 2024

Introduction

If you’ve decided, like I have, that it’s time for your four-legged friend to start pulling his/her own weight around the hiking trails, perhaps it’s time to invest in a dog pack.

I recently purchased the Ruffwear Front Range Dog Day Pack and put it to the test with my border collie, Winnie. What follows is our review, along with some researched alternatives for similar dog pack products on the market.

My border collie, Winnie, wearing the Ruffwear Front Range Dog Pack
Winnie carrying her own food up the trail

I encourage you to stick around for the full review, but my quick assessment is that while I am happy with the purchase overall, having put it to the test with my medium-sized border collie, I might opt for one of the more compact alternatives listed below with the benefit of hindsight and the (post-purchase) research for this review.

As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases made through the links provided in this review. Rest assured that these affiliate links do not affect your purchase price.

Overview & Summary

  • Ruffwear Front Range: Great design and construction. Lots of storage space (maybe too much for smaller dogs).
  • Ruffwear Switchbak: Same great Ruffwear construction and materials as the Front Range, with less storage space. This comes with a sleeker, more compact design, perhaps better for smaller dogs or shorter adventures. This would be my choice if I had a do-over.
  • Ruffwear Singletrak: Similar design and construction to the Switchbak but includes 2, 0.6-liter water bladders. Has the highest price tag, but maybe the most utility.
  • OneTigris Y-Shaped Dog Pack: The cheapest of the options reviewed, with perhaps less sturdy materials but still a good design and a nice option for those not looking to break the bank on a famous name brand.
Ruffwear Front Range - Basalt Gray

Essential Information

The durability of the Ruffwear Front Range Dog Day Pack is evident in its high-quality materials. The pack is crafted from rugged and water-resistant fabric, making it suitable for outdoor adventures in various weather conditions. This ensures that the pack can withstand rough terrain and daily wear and tear.

Ruffwear Front Range Dog Day Pack leash attachment points
3 Leash Attachment Points: chest, mid back, and rear back

The Front Range Dog Day Pack is designed with multiple attachment points strategically placed for convenience and functionality. The primary attachment point is located at the back of the pack, allowing you to easily connect your dog’s leash for walking or hiking activities. This ensures that your dog remains secure and close to you during your adventures.

I like to let Winnie’s “freak flag” fly out on the trails yet quickly bring her back in when people are coming, and I found the leash attachment quick and easy to access.

In addition to the back attachment point, the Ruffwear pack also features a durable aluminum V-ring on the padded chest panel. This chest attachment point offers another option for leash connection, providing better control and stability, especially on challenging terrain.

Ruffwear Front Range Dog Day Pack view of handle and primary leash attachment ring

Moreover, the pack includes reflective trim and a light loop for enhanced visibility in low-light conditions, making it safer for you and your dog during evening walks or hikes. These additional features add an extra layer of security and peace of mind when exploring the great outdoors.

Overall, the harness and leash attachment points on the Ruffwear Front Range Dog Day Pack are thoughtfully designed to prioritize functionality, comfort, and safety for both you and your canine companion.

Price

The list price for the Ruffwear Front Range Dog Day Pack on Amazon is $79.95. I don’t pretend to understand how Amazon pricing works; prices seem to fluctuate. At the time of writing, it can be purchased for $63.96, so I think it’s safe to assume you can find it between $60 and $80.

Colors

The Front Range Pack comes in 5 distinct colors. I went with Aurora Teal because the wife has final authority over such matters, though my personal bent would lean more towards Basalt Gray.

Aurora Teal

Ruffwear Front Range - Aurora Teal

Basalt Gray

Ruffwear Front Range - Basalt Gray

Blue Moon

Ruffwear Front Range - Blue Moon

Red Clay

Ruffwear Front Range - Red Clay

River Rock Green

Ruffwear Front Range - River Rock Green

Sizes

The following is the sizing guide for all of the Ruffwear dog packs and harnesses. We purchased the size small for our border collie, which fit well, though the pack itself seemed a bit too bulky for the size of our dog (see video review below).

Ruffwear Sizing Guide for Dog Packs and Harnesses

Video Review

Video Review: Ruffwear Front Range Dog Pack
Colorado Saram Unisex Tee with Hangul Text

Shop

If you liked the shirt in the video, feel free to check out my online store for similar products that I design around travel, skiing, hiking, dogs and more!

Photos From the Trail

Border Collie in Ruffwear Front Range Dog Pack
Border Collie in Ruffwear Front Range Dog Pack
Border Collie in Ruffwear Front Range Dog Pack
Border Collie in Ruffwear Front Range Dog Pack
Border Collie in Ruffwear Front Range Dog Pack
Border Collie in Ruffwear Front Range Dog Pack

Trail-Tested Review

After testing the Ruffwear Front Range Dog Pack on the trail with my Border Collie, Winnie, and subsequently conducting research for this review, I have come to the conclusion that I may have been better off with one of the alternatives listed below, namely the Ruffwear Switchbak.

That said, I’m happy with the purchase and was primarily impressed with the sturdiness of the materials and the sleek design that I have come to expect from the Ruffwear brand.

It’s a well-designed pack with all of the features you would need for a backpacking trip with your dog. My slight buyer’s remorse comes not from wanting more but from actually needing less.

If you watched the video review, I explained that while I am from Colorado and have many past backcountry adventures with golden retrievers at my side, I now live in South Korea with a smaller, less gregarious border collie.

The Front Range pack would be ideal for long, full-day hikes or camping trips in the Colorado Rockies, where every ounce in your own pack can make a difference. However, on the shorter-day hikes that I do in Korea, I really don’t need to be too judicious with my packing.

In the video, you can see that I only packed a bit of dog food, a rubber dish, and some poop bags in Winnie’s Front Range Dog Pack. Carrying these things on the two-hour hike in my own pack really would not have made much of a difference.

Additionally, you can also see in the pictures that, with a dog the size of Winnie, the pack is a bit cumbersome, even when it is not fully loaded.

Though the harness straps fit well, I found it fell lopsided to one side, which probably could have been remedied with better load management or spending a bit more time on strap adjustments.

Winnie didn’t seem to love being put to work and stood motionless for the first few minutes before I prodded her up the trail. However, once she was on the move, she did just fine with it.

In hindsight, the Ruffwear Switchbak may have been the better choice for my and Winnie’s needs. It has basically the same harness design, but the pack compartments are smaller and more compact. This leaves less room for packing, but if you’re only asking your dog to carry a few items, it seems to be more than enough space.

For a complete breakdown of some alternatives to the Front Range, please keep reading.

Alternatives

Ruffwear, Switchbak Pack & Harness Hybrid

Ruffwear Switchbak Dog Pack and Harness Hybrid

Price

The Amazon list price of the Ruffwear Switchbak Dog Pack is $69.95, although at the time of writing, the price has been reduced to $55.00. Generally, it seems you can expect it to be about $10 cheaper than the Front Range model.

Description

The Switchbak Dog Pack is a more compact and lightweight option, ideal for day hikes where your furry companion doesn’t need to carry a lot.

Unlike the Front Range version, which offers more storage capacity, the Switchbak prioritizes mobility and comfort. With its streamlined design and two zippered pockets, it strikes a balance between functionality and freedom of movement for your adventurous pup.

It comes in 3 colors (as opposed to 5 for the Front Range): Red Sumac (pictured), Blue Moon and Granite Gray.

Review

The Ruffwear Switchbak is essentially the same concept and quality design as the Front Range, with less storage volume in the side packs.

As mentioned in my review of the Front Range, I don’t view this as a negative, as my dog is not exactly Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, we’re not exactly summiting 14ers over here in South Korea.

It has one fewer leash attachment point, but to be honest, I don’t see much need to use anything other than the primary ring attachment at the top of either pack.

The Switchbak is more compact and a bit sleeker, meaning that a smaller dog like Winnie can be a little more agile on the trial. The Front Range gave her a set of “wings” that she didn’t seem fully comfortable with.

For bigger breeds, I’m sure the Front Range is fine, but my little princess didn’t seem to love the bulkiness.

For my needs, and since it is about $10 cheaper than the Front Range, if I had a do-over on my purchase, I would go with the Ruffwear Switchbak.

It has the same high-quality design and durable materials but is more compact, making it more suitable for the day hikes that Winnie and I embark on in Korea.

If I were to buy a gift for my brother back in Colorado and his large Golden Retriever, I’d go with the Front Range.

Ruffwear Singletrak Dog Pack with Hydration Bladders

Price

The Singletrak is listed on Amazon at $101.00, making it the most expensive option in my review. Again, prices tend to fluctuate, so you may be able to find it slightly cheaper on certain days or at different outlets.

Description

The Ruffwear Singletrak Dog Pack is a sleek, low-profile hydration pack designed for dogs ready to tackle any adventure, from day hiking to trail running. It features two collapsible water bottles stowed in side pockets, allowing your dog to carry their own water supply.

The customizable fit, with five points of adjustment, ensures comfort during extended wear. With its dual hydration bladders, this pack keeps your dog well-hydrated on the trail, making it an excellent choice for active outings.

It only comes in two colors: blue dusk (pictured) and red currant.

Review

The Ruffwear Singletrak is an intriguing option, as water is probably the heaviest of the backpacking items to carry.

The Singletrak comes with two 0.6-liter water bladders that fit into the side pockets, making it a great choice for those who would like their dog to carry their own water (or even water for the hiker).

The attributes that attracted me to the Switchbak are also present in the Singletrak, but with a higher price tag. It has the same sleek design and is less cumbersome than the Front Range. However, with two water jugs tucked inside, it’s debatable how much my little princess Winnie would be up for the task.

Generally, I’m happy to let Winnie drink from a mountain stream or lake, and if one is not available, reliable old dad always has water to share.

So for me personally, I don’t see the need to invest around $20–$30 more for the water bladders, although I can definitely see them being a valuable asset for campers or hikers who don’t come across natural water very often.

I’m sure there’s an internet debate out there about the safety of letting your dog drink from a stream, but I’m not going to ‘wade’ into that discussion.

If you value the ability to access clean drinking water without having to carry it all yourself, this could be the pack for you.

OneTigris Y-Shaped Dog Pack

Price

The OneTigris Dog Pack is the cheapest option in my review, listed on Amazon at around $32.00.

Description

The OneTigris Y-Shaped Dog Backpack combines practicality and comfort. Its Y-shaped harness design prevents slippage while evenly distributing the weight of loaded packs.

With multiple sizes and adjustable buckles, it ensures a customized fit for your dog. In comparison to the Front Range, the OneTigris prioritizes mobility and practicality, making it an excellent choice for shorter outdoor adventures.

Review

The OneTigris comes in as the most affordable dog pack in my review, and that might just make it a winner.

Like the Switchbak, it has less storage volume than the Front Range, but I’ve already established that I view that as a benefit for my dog and situation.

So at roughly $30 bucks, the OneTigris is definitely worth consideration.

The only drawback that I can see by just eye-balling the product images on Amazon is that you can tell the materials are lower quality and probably less sturdy than the industry-leading Ruffwear brand.

That said, if you’re like me and only plan to use the dog pack on a handful of outings a year, it may be a wise decision to invest less money.

If I were in control of all of the dog accessory decisions, and not my wife, this is probably the direction I would head. Alas, I am not.

Conclusion: TLDR

If you have made it this far, I think you probably already have my opinions on the Ruffwear Front Range, Switchbak, and Singletrak dog packs, including a OneTigris dog pack.

However, here’s a summary:

  • Ruffwear Front Range: Great design and construction. Lots of storage space (maybe too much for smaller dogs).
  • Ruffwear Switchbak: Same great Ruffwear construction and materials as the Front Range, with less storage space. This comes with a sleeker, more compact design, perhaps better for smaller dogs or shorter adventures. This would be my choice if I had a do-over.
  • Ruffwear Singletrak: Similar design and construction to the Switchbak but includes 2, 0.6-liter water bladders. Has the highest price tag, but maybe the most utility.
  • OneTigris Y-Shaped Dog Pack: The cheapest of the options reviewed, with perhaps less sturdy materials but still a good design and a nice option for those not looking to break the bank on a famous name brand.

Thanks for reading!

Atop a hill, above the Batti Cafe grounds is a nice swing for a photo.

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Border Collie Life in South Korea

John Buckley

Welcome to Colorado Saram! I'm from the ski resort town of Vail, but now I live in South Korea with my wife Lucy and dog, Winnie. I continue to live and value the Colorado lifestyle, but I do so while following my passion for international travel. I write about skiing, hiking, traveling, and more. I hope you'll find this helpful, and please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.