Those looking for a bargain pack that ticks most of the boxes will be glad to find the Kurgo Baxter. With all the standard features, an adjustable design, and built-in comfort this pack offers a load of value so long as capacity and durability are a lower priority.
✅ Harness adjustability
✅ Multiple harness buckles
❌ Weight-to-volume ratio
❌ Saddlebag adjustability
❌ Pannier capacity
- Weight: 0.8 pounds
- Volume: 3.75 Liters or 7.5 Liters
- Material: Polyester/Nylon
- Sizes available: Baxter and Big Baxter
- Number of Pockets: 4
- Number of Straps: 3
- Leash Attachment?: Yes
- Handle?: Yes
- Dog Tester’s Weight: 75 pounds
- Dog Tester’s Size: Baxter pack
The Kurgo Baxter is excellent for hikers looking to introduce their dog to wearing a pack without a large investment. It is best for day hikers and backpackers who want their dog to wear a pack without carrying much weight. With multiple straps and buckles, this pack offers many options for adjustability to the point where it is easy to customize it for different dogs. In turn, this feature aids in making the pack quite comfortable, a pleasant surprise given the low price.
However, the price does have its trade-offs. The Baxter has less capacity than most other packs and the materials are of noticeably lower quality than other options on the market. All in all, the Baxter is a solid choice in many situations, but may not be the right fit for all situations or uses.
For other dog backpack reviews, read our post on the best dog backpacks.
Performance Test Results
What We Tested:
How We Tested:
My dog, Prima, and I tested out the Kurgo Baxter in the Four Corners region of Colorado and Utah. The pack was used on a canyon hike with multiple creek crossings and a bit of bushwhacking. It was also used in spring melt conditions in the foothills of Colorado.
At 0.8 pounds on the scale, the Kurgo Baxter is right in line with almost all of its competitors when it comes to weight. Unfortunately, given the smaller capacity panniers, open-air design, and simple features this pack should probably be lighter than its competitors.
The heavier weight-to-volume ratio of this pack can be attributed to heavier materials and more straps for adjusting the pack. While the heavier materials are not ideal, the straps are worth their weight. All in all, this pack is on the heavy side given the features it offers.
Weighing at 0.8 pounds, this pack should have been lighter that its rival given its smaller capacity and basic features.
One area where the Baxter really shines bright is price. This pack is anywhere from $15 to $190 cheaper than other comparable packs on the market. When it comes to why this pack is so cost-effective, it is likely a mix of the simplicity of the design, materials, and branding.
This pack does not offer quite as many bells and whistles as some other packs out there, similarly, the materials used are middle-of-the-road. However, for many folks, this pack could be an absolute steal and overall is a good value.
The Baxter pack is a good bargain and a real steal for the price of $59.95.
Storage and Capacity: 5/10
One thing that was not clear to me when ordering this pack online was the vast difference in pack capacity based on size. The Kurgo website has a sizing guide based on neck and chest measurements, but when I received this pack in the mail and looked at the tag there was a slightly different guide on the tag that referenced the storage capacity.
This is important because there is a fairly big difference in storage capacity between the Baxter and Big Baxter packs. The Baxter pack comes in at 3.75 liters of total capacity with some of this being side pockets that are difficult to use.
I found the main compartment of the saddlebags on this pack to be quite small for backpacking- I was only able to fit a 1-quart bag of dog food and another small item such as a plush toy or paw wax on each side. For my dog, this equates to two days of dog food. On one hand, this could be a positive as it makes it difficult to overload the dog.
However, this was absolutely the smallest pannier I have used for backpacking with my dog, and it was a bit of a challenge shoving things inside. I typically go with the smaller-sized pack when my dog is on the cusp of two sizes, but I would recommend sizing up to the Big Baxter for anyone looking to use this pack for backpacking with their dog as that size comes with 7.5 liters of capacity.
The Baxter pack has a 3.75-liter overall capacity. The primary pocket of the saddlebags is quite small though for backpacking.
I was pleasantly surprised with how comfortable the Baxter appeared to be for my dog. Even after a 15-mile day with around 200 creek crossings, some requiring swimming, my dog never showed any signs of discomfort or chafe. Compared to some other dog packs that lack a true harness, the Baxter has thicker padding and the spine strip is large enough to conform to the dog’s back. There is also padding on the chest divider and multiple buckles to adjust the pack.
This pack did not have any padding beneath the pannier buckles, but the smaller volume of the saddlebags makes this a bit less necessary. The smaller saddlebags also meant the pack didn’t stick out very far or catch on shrubbery.
In my experience, this pack was the most comfortable pack with an open-air design that I have used so far and overall appeared to be about as comfortable if not more so than most other packs I have tried with my dog. She didn’t even appear to notice that she was wearing it most of the time.
Design and Features: 8/10
Kurgo’s interpretation of the dog backpack is middle of the road when it comes to features. Most features are standard across dog packs in general such as pockets, a handle, reflective trim, loop attachment points on the harness, and a metal leash attachment point.
One feature that sets this pack apart is the three different harness buckles which enable the user to put the pack on without requiring the dog to step through any loops. The way Kurgo went about this was a bit unique: rather than having buckles on both saddlebags, there is a buckle on the chest piece and that strap attaches to the chest strap.
This took a bit of getting used to at first but works almost as well as the former style. The biggest struggle I dealt with was the straps getting tangled when trying to buckle them back on. A feature that I found to be a bit unnecessary is the bottle opener on the chest piece of the harness. All in all, this pack includes the standard features found on most harnesses.
One benefit to the open-air design that Kurgo has used for the Baxter harness is the added adjustability this allows. There are adjustment points found on the chest piece of the harness, the straps connecting the panniers to the back piece, and buckles for changing the length of the chest straps. This allows the user to have control over the position of the saddlebags on the side of the dog as well as how far forward or back the pack rides on the dog’s back.
All of the adjustment points include standard plastic buckles. It did take me a bit longer than I would have liked to change the strap lengths with these buckles, particularly when Prima did not want to stand still. Some other things to note include the lack of adjustability in pack size and removability.
While I did not find it necessary to condense the unused space with the smaller capacity pack, it would be nice with the larger version. Likewise, the panniers are not removable due to the integrated pack-harness design which means the whole pack must be removed during breaks. Compared to its competitors, the Baxter offers more harness and pack position adjustability, but less ability to change the capacity.
The Baxter has more harness and pack adjustment than its rivals, but less capacity adjustment flexibility.
When used in wet conditions, the Kurgo Baxter demonstrated some water-resistant abilities but quickly wetted out. It was easy to see the water bead up on the outside of the saddlebags during creek crossings and the waterproofing test.
Unfortunately, anywhere significant amounts of water came into contact with the pack it would penetrate the pack and make the inside compartment soaked. Users could place gear in baggies or dry bags, though this could make it challenging to fit everything in the smaller panniers.
In my experience overall I found the Baxter to be some of the weakest water resistance of any pack I have used. It should stand up to some light sprinkles but don’t expect it to stay dry during a torrential downpour or during water crossings.
I waterproof test the Baxter and found its water resistance was among the lowest of any pack I've ever used.
The Baxter proved to be more durable than what I was originally expecting. That said, there is a tangible difference in quality between this pack and more expensive packs. The panniers are made of generic nylon and the straps are webbing that does not appear to be anything special. The buckles are made out of plastic and are one of the most likely areas to fail.
All that said, I did not find any evidence of wear or tear, even after bushwacking through willows on a trail-less hike. The panniers looked brand new and the buckles did not have any scrapes.
The metal leash D ring and bottle opener both appear to be well made and the stitching looked strong all around the pack. This pack will hold up to some abuse and should last if well taken care of; however, do not be surprised if it does not last as long as some of the packs with more expensive materials.