Ruffwear Approach Pack Review

Ruffwear Approach Pack ReviewI've been reviewing products for over 8 years and in those 8 years I've really learned what quality is. One thing when it comes to pet gear, 90% of what I've looked at is not made to the specs I'm used to. Me, I like a product to be worth the money you're shelling out for it.


Ruffwear Approach Pack ReviewThis is not the case with a lot of outdoor gear these days and when it comes to our little friends' gear, often it's priced high but the quality is low! After reviewing this Ruffwear pack, they have really set the bar for which all dog gear is measured! When I first received the Approach Pack, I was shocked at the quality! I've been looking at dog packs for years and the quality has been mediocre at best in a lot of cases. Take stitching for example, they often do the bare minimum and when it comes to a pet that's playing in the woods, mud and brush, you need something that's going to last!

Ruffwear Approach Pack ReviewWith Ruffwear you get a product that is on par with other companies for price, but their quality and attention to detail is off the charts, as you can see from the photos. All the stress points on this pack have been stitched so well that it rivals some Military spec packs I own.


Ruffwear Approach Pack ReviewThis version of the Approach Pack I have is the Medium in campfire orange, which fits dogs with a girth of 27 to 32. Something I've experienced with a number of my family's dogs, is sizing is hard. When it comes to dogs most items you buy kind of fit, but this Approach pack fits my dog like a glove. Fit for me is very important, because your dog can't tell you if it hurts, or doesn't fit.

Ruffwear Approach Pack ReviewWhen it comes to sizing I've found over the years this is one of the hardest parts about buying dog gear. Ruffwear has a number of videos and sizing charts that you can check out to really get a feel for the product you're ordering and how it fits. I used their charts and videos, and when the pack came in the mail it fit perfectly, this has never happened to me with dog gear, so I feel that's saying a lot. I think it really helps to take the guesswork out of buying online because I'm one of those people who like to try it on my dog before I buy!

Ruffwear Approach Pack ReviewFor the strapping system you have a three strap design which is high quality webbing, one is a Y strap that goes around the neck with a padded chest guard and a strap that goes just behind the front legs, which opens up on the side with a buckle. This strap also has padding to protect the chest. Then you have another strap that goes over the belly, this is also fully padded for comfort. This setup is pretty much perfect, it's fully adjustable and once it is adjusted you can take the pack off and on in seconds. This is important if you're hiking, to be able to get the pack off fast if the dog should fall in the water or get caught up on trees. All the straps have quick-release buckles and even on one side there's a retaining strap that holds the strap to the side pack, also with a quick-release so if you need to get the pack off quickly it won't get hung up on this loop.

Ruffwear Approach Pack ReviewThe harness part of the pack is made from a full one piece construction with the webbing flowing through the back to help stabilize the load. This is important as this part can be touching your dog day after day, and the smoother It is the less likely its going to bother him or her. They have also included a very reinforced loop and grab handle along with a metal leash loop. Again I have to rave about how well made this pack is, I was able to pull this grab handle and lift my dog right up without any damage or tearing. I wouldn't even try such a thing with other packs, the handle would surely rip clean off!

Ruffwear Approach Pack ReviewThe underside of the pack is fully smooth with no protruding webbing or fabric points that can cause abrasions. As a little bonus Ruffwear has added a little spot for you to put your dog's name and phone number, in case he or she wanders off on their own adventure!


Ruffwear Approach Pack ReviewCapacity for these packs depends on the size of your dog; the pouch size runs from 2 liters all the way up to 16 liters for the L/XL version. The version in the review is the medium and holds 12 liters with two large pockets and two smaller pockets, one of each on each side, which is an ideal size for my dog; it doesn't over-burden him at all. Ruffwear has also added piping all around the pack and along the saddlebags that are reflective to help aid in visibility if you're traveling at night or your dog is!

Ruffwear Approach Pack ReviewOn each side of the pack at the top of the saddle bags you have a half inch piece of webbing running the full length of the pack, you can thread a piece of bungee cord through this webbing side to side, and use it in the same way you do on packs for carrying small light items like coats or jackets.



The only improvement I can find that could be done is that I would like to see something like the Bungee added; not just for lashing, but as a way to pull the saddlebags tight. As they are now, when the pack is half full they have some play in them, and if you have anything heavy it can shift around and it would be better if you could pull the pouches snug like you do to a backpack so the weight doesn't shift around! When the bag is full it's not an issue as the straps connect directly to the bags as well, but when the bags start to empty the fabric has play and can move up and down. I think some lightweight strapping around the bags would eliminate any movement when the pack is empty or half full. Something also to think about is the pack only weighs a pound and half empty so it would be easy just to take it off and hang it on the back of your pack.

Now when it comes down to weight, you really don't want a heavy pack, as it will weigh down the dog before you get anything in it. As well made as the Approach Pack is, it's also lightweight. By using fabric like ripstop nylon it allows Ruffwear to keep the weight down but the quality high. Even thought the quality and materials are excellent, you get a pack that is (in my case as the pack is a medium) only 1.15 lb. This is important as you need to remember you're not carrying this pack your little buddy is and he's much smaller than you, so the lighter the pack, the more he can use the weight to carry his goodies.

When traveling, I was fully expecting the pack to move around, but even under a load it stays right in place and this is important as your dog is just like you; a moving pack can cause sores and can really harm a dog over time with a pack that is moving around causing him to lose his balance.

I knew Ruffwear made good gear, this is why I picked them to review, but I was not expecting quality on this scale! Would I recommend Ruffwear? Not only would I recommend them, but also if the Approach Pack is any indication, I will be looking to Ruffwear first, before I buy anything in the future for my dog!


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