Here is my review. I will weigh the packs tomorrow at work and include them where indicated. I would also like to include pictures once the draft has been edited. I actually need to take pictures which focus on pack fit, as the ones I have are mostly of the dogs walking around with the pack or lying down.
Thanks, and I look forward to feedback on my review!
Owner Review: Wolfpacks Banzai Dog Backpack
Name: Erin Hamedi
Height: 5' 6" (1.67 Meters)
Weight: 210 lb (95.25 Kilograms)
Email address: ehamedi(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country: Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Date: May 1, 2006
Backpacking Background: I have done many day hikes near the Nashville, Tennessee area since moving here 12 years ago as well as in the Boone National forest in Eastern Central Kentucky within the past year. I have finally starting doing overnight trips in the past year, nearly all of which have been basic car-camping trips. This spring and summer I plan to start getting away from the car more. Last summer my sole overnight backpack trip was a valuable lesson in gear choice, which has sent me to several online forums as well as the reviews on this site. I currently own an REI Taj3 tent, 2 REI Polar Pod sleeping bags (for the kids), an MSR WhisperLite stove, a pair of Leki PA Ti-Air trekking poles, an Exped Downmat 9DLX and a Hennessy Hammock. My dogs often go hiking with us as well.
Bios of Dogs:
Age: 15 months
Girth: 24.5 (0.62 Meters)
Weight: 50 lb (22.68 Kilograms)
Backpacking Background: Happy has gone on nearly all the day hikes and all of the camping trips. She is athletic and ready to tackle any obstacle, swims like a duck, and sleeps in the tent so the puppy eating monsters dont get her!
Age: 2 years
Girth: 26 (0.66 Meters)
Weight: 55 lb (24.95 Kilograms)
Breed: Lab mix
Backpacking Background: Punkin goes on most of the hiking trips and has been on all the camping trips. She is independent and prefers to sleep outside. Where the pitbull is a duck, Punkin is a fish!
Age: 2 years, 6 months
Girth: 29.5 (0.75 Meters)
Weight: 90 lb (40.82 Kilograms)
Breed: Pitbull/Great Dane mix
Backpacking Background: Magnus goes on some of the day hikes, and has been camping once. He gets carsick on long drives, and will camp more this summer, closer to home. Magnus has not yet discovered the joy of water yet.
Manufaturer: WolfPacks, Inc.
Web site: http://www.wolfpacks.com/
Year of Manufacture: 1st size small pack purchased: 2002, color: orange
2nd size small pack purchased: 2002, replaced 2006
Size large pack: 2006
One of the size small packs was ordered through Chinookwind Outfitters
No pack weights are listed on the WolfPacks website. Sizes are given for waist* measurement and pack volume/pannier dimensions:
Pannier Size (Length/Height/Depth
22 - 30
26" - 34"
*Waist measurement refers to a point about 2/3rds of the way back from the front to the hind legs (according to site). If you feel under your dogs belly, you are looking for the sternum, almost where the ribcage ends. The site also has a helpful picture showing how to measure your dog.
Measured Weights: small (include when weighed, in oz/kg)
Large (include when weighed, in oz/kg)
The Banzai is the top end of the three current dog pack designs offered by WolfPacks. The top part is cordura nylon, the bottom half and front are ballistic nylon, with a strip of 3M reflective trim along each side and flat plastic gear lashing loops on the top of each pannier . There are two pockets in each pannier, and one pockt along the top. One pocket is the large main compartment, with a small outer pocket running the length of the pannier. The inner pocket is suitable for larger items such as dog food bag, tent, stove, etc while the outer pocket works well for utensils, keys, poop baggies,or any other relatively flat items. Packs are available in red, royal blue, forest green, orange, and purple.
The other packs offered by Wolfpacks are the Reflector (no ballistic nylon brush guards and no outer pocket) price $59, and the saddle bag (a basic set of 10x7 panniers, no reflective tape or brush guards, and only one size) price $45.
I have owned at least one WolfPacks Banzai for the last 4 years. The packs have gone almost everywhere with us, from short day hikes to the backpacking trip last summer. They have even been used on vacation in New Orleans, carrying the tourist necessities through the French Quarter. During the course of normal use, the packs have been worn while swimming, rolled in dirt and mud, and have passed though uncountable thickets. The oldest pack I have is nearly undistinguishable from the newest, after a ride in the washing machine.
I chose the wolfpacks design after trying out several other manufacturers products. Issues with dog packs mainly involve slippage and chafing, and I wanted a pack that would stay put under load and not leave the dog bloody and raw at the end of the day. Wolfpacks products are designed to keep the weight on or near the shoulders, and the panniers tend to be somewhat shallower and longer as a result. Also there are only 2 straps: a chest strap and a belly strap which hits the dog around the waist. My dogs are all fairly light coated, especially the pitbull and pitbull-great dane mix, and a strap that hits them behind the elbows will chafe. Even a heavier coated dog does not usually have lots of hair behind the elbow, as I have discovered with my lab mix. (I had borrowed a friends dog pack with the 3-strap setup for a trip, and ended up strapping it to my pack after the first day.)
The packs have been used in hot dry weather, hard rain, snow, and everything in between.
The day I received my first pack, I loaded it with two full nalgene bottles and went to the park to hop over rocks and logs. We have a wonderful park here with hiking trails, a creek, and sections of an old rock wall. I led the dog up, down, and over obstacles and observed the pack. While the pack is sensitive to balance weight, there was little slippage forward or listing when the pack is balanced. It stays where it is supposed to whether the dog is walking on level ground, scrambling up rocks or over a wall, or hopping a tree. One of the things I noticed was that the dogs took some time to realize they could no longer fit between the narrow trees or pass so close to people. I expect that this would be true of any pack, however, and it is more entertaining than irritating. When swimming, the pack also stays put. However, on a dog that will take off in the direction of water, never EVER let them carry your phone, camera, etc. (or just keep them on leash!) I was
fortunate that all I lost was a bag of kibble that became dog food goop! The packs also make nice pillows at night when softer items are put into them. The packs are also fairly water-resistant, unless your dog jumps in a river or lake while wearing the pack. Fortunately, they are also easy to clean and dry moderately quickly
The most important aspect of these packs, however, is that even when worn the first time the dogs seem to forget the pack is there. They are comfortable and do not inhibit the dogs movement.
These packs are nearly bulletproof, and have a lifetime warranty. I have had to replace one due to my own stupidity. Never leave treats in the pack, and also leave it where the dogs can get to it! I sent it for repair, and Linda (one of the owners) called me to let me know that it would be $40 to fix right (since the damage was not due to material/workmanship failure, parts of the zipper and pannier were eaten!), or they would sell me a new one for $35. I now have 3 orange packs, instead of 2 orange and a blue. Other than dog teeth, the packs still show no sign of wear in spite of being heavily used. They are easy to clean when the dogs roll in mud while wearing the pack as well.
I love these packs. I have tried others, but these are the ones I will keep buying (if necessary). They are comfortable for my dogs as well as durable and the come in bright orange. When hiking in the fall, that gives some added peace of mind. I would highly recommend these packs to anyone, with a word about size: measure not only your dogs waist, but also measure how the size of the panniers will fit on your dog! When purchasing a pack for my pitbull/great dane mix, I was torn between the medium and large. Waist measurement wise, a large would fit him (He is not as tall as a dane, not so stocky as a pit, but still a big guy). However, the panniers are larger than you might expect, and I am VERY glad I went with the medium for him. On the small packs worn by my pitbull and lab mix you can fit a 32oz nalgene bottle in each pannier with room left over for sandwiches. It would be very easy to overload your dog. The other down side is that the leash tends to hook
under the front corner of the pack, which can be fixed by putting a nylon strap through the gear loops and running the leash through the strap. The pockets are generous, however the 5th pocket on the very top of the pack is somewhat limited in use. Whatever you put in the top is potentially going to dig into your dogs shoulders/spine, so you can only put really flat/soft things in the top (extra spectra cord, soft foldable dog bowl, baggies, etc).
Things I like about the Banzai:
-Fits well on dogs with different body types.
-Extremely Durable (unless your dog eats it!)
-They come in ORANGE and other colors. Other packs have maybe 2 color choices.
-Reflective strip for walking at night.
-2 generous pockets on each pannier.
Things I dont like:
-Price. $74 is a lot for a dog pack, but it is less than the Ruffwear Palisades2. The good part is that the pack will last forever, and the company stands behind its products.
-Gear lashing loops are not D-rings. You have to thread your nylon straps through these, they are the flat plastic kind.
-5th pocket on the small packs is suitable only for things like spectra cord, baggies, or a map. Who wants to let the dog carry the map?? On the medium pack, some larger items will fit in the 5th pocket. This is more than compensated for by the pannier capacity, and most other manufacturers dont offer the top pocket anyway.
-the packs are very sensitive to balance, seeming to have a sensitivity of ounces. This is not so much a dislike, as the way dog packs work. You can use small rocks from the trail to fine-tune the pack balance as you drink from the water bottles in the pack. When I start out or continue after eating/drinking from items in the pack, I generally have to stop once or twice for small rocks or to shift things to balance the pack. Once this is done it is more or less hassle-free.
-the leash has a tendency to hook under the front corner of the pack. A solution to this is a nylon strap or bit of cording through the gear loop (or even a D ring zip tied to the gear loop) through which you run your leash. I think this is an inherent problem with dog pack design, and is not specific to the banzai. Its still a nuisance.
-being hit by the pack when my dog passes close to my leg. Watching them get stuck between trees is entertaining. This is also a common issue with dog packs.
Love cheap thrills? Enjoy PC-to-Phone calls to 30+ countries for just 2¢/min with Yahoo! Messenger with Voice.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]