Get Away with Dre: What is Dogpacking?
“Dogpacking” it’s not an official term. It’s a new term, but it best describes what’s involved. It’s basically bikepacking with your dog.
Bikepacking or bike touring basically loading all your multi-day gear onto your bike (tent, camping gear, food, water, tools, clothes, etc) and cycling from A to B. It involves camping, or in a more modern world, sleep-in accommodations along the way. It’s self-contained travel on your bike.
If we’re going to get technical about cycling terms, the term bike touring has been around since the 1800s and refers to the travel on bike on all terrains with your gear. In 2007 bike designer Eric Parsons launched Epic Designs and made ultra lightweight and endurance products for bike touring and used the term bikepacking. They stripped the gear down and made it for multi-day cycling competitions, and that’s where the terms bikepacking and bike touring got muddled and mixed in together, and the meanings got lost along the way.
However you want to call it, or however you do it, there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s such a nice way to explore the area you’re in. Unlike walking, you cover more ground to explore more, and it keeps you super fit.
Bikepacking is huge overseas. People are bikepacking through North and South America, Europe, Eastern Europe, and a few Asian countries. In Australia, trails are opening up everywhere, we did the entire Canberra Centenary Trail earlier this year over 4 days, and rail trails are also popping up nationally. Old railway lines have been turned into cycling routes, with governments and local councils pouring money into enhancing rail trails because now those cycleways promote the local businesses that have lost tourism since the rail line closed down.
But what is dogpacking?
Get all of this and add your dog to the adventure! That’s “dogpacking” and it sounds better than “dog-touring”. You get to explore the outdoors with them, burn the kms and kgs, and when they’re tired they hop back on the bike and enjoy the ride. Dogs are fundamentally outdoor creatures and certain dog breeds love running with the bike on the trail.
How do I start dogpacking?
- Build your skills on the bike
Build up your endurance and work on your general fitness. You will be carrying extra weight on your bike. This avoids injuries, and you will have your dog on the bike too, so you have to make sure they will be safe.
- Trail your dog in a dog backpack (if your breed allows)
Dogpacking isn’t just for you. It’s for your dog to enjoy too. If they don’t enjoy it, just go bikepacking on your own. As with a lot of things, it may take a while for your dog to get use to it and start enjoying themselves.
We eased both our dogs in (mini Australian shepherd and Australian kelpie) by popping them in a dog backpack while we ride so they get use to the motion of being on a bike, your speed and the sounds of the bike.
There’s different brands out in the market and sizes for all breeds (probably not for a greyhound or Afghan Hound). Once you see them start to enjoy the ride, you can progress onto a crate.
- Kit your bike up to include your dog
The law in Australia states that dogs should be attached to the back of the bike. Having a dog attached to the front is illegal because it impairs your sight and manoeuvrability of the bike. Unless you have a cargo bike or front trailer. Having your dog behind you is safer and more comfortable for them.
Attach a rack to the back of your bike – be mindful of the load weight and the weight of your dog, and if you’re thinking of dogpacking the extra bags you’ll be carrying as well. Pop a crate on the back, make it comfortable and safe. Get your dog a harness and attach the harness onto the crate – so they don’t jump out.