The Ruffit has quickly become a popular carrier backpack for dog owners. With its durable and forward facing design, it’s particularly well-suited for activities such as hiking. Is this really the best dog carrier though? And who should buy it? Keep reading our Ruffit dog carrier review to find out!
Important Note: The Ruffit appears to have been discontinued. We’ll leave this full review of the Ruffit Backpack Carrier live for reference purposes, but make no guarantees about it’s accuracy should the product be relaunched in the future.
The Ruffit isn’t a normal carrier backpack though. The biggest difference isit’s forward facing. This means your dog is on your back (it isn’t a front facing backpack with the dog on your chest) but faces forward.
This might not sound like a big difference, but most carrier backpacks enclose the dog and only have rear facing windows. See the picture below for how the Ruffit works.
The Ruffit also puts the dog in a “normal” sitting position and holds them securely. This is unlike many backpacks, where the dog isn’t secured. While there are drawbacks to this position, the security could mean your dog is more comfortable during more vigorous activities such as biking or hiking.
Note: I’m not a big fan of cycling with your dog on your back. There are thousands of bike crashes each year, and your dog has very little protection should you fall off. The Ruffit is still a potentially excellent option for hiking though – and many people will still use it for cycling regardless.
In this Ruffit dog carrier review, I’ll take an in-depth look at the product to see whether it lives up to Ruffit’s claim of being the “best dog carrier.” My goal is to help you decide whether it’s right for you and your pet. So let’s begin!
Overview: What is the Ruffit?
Before we get to the in-depth review, let’s take a look at the Ruffit’s features to see what makes it such an interesting carrier backpack.
- A dog carrier backpack designed for active people and their pups
- Front facing design so your dog sees what you do (can also be used as a frontpack)
- Built for dogs under 25lbs and a maximum of 18″ across the back
- Mesh sides to increase airflow and help prevent overheating
- Durable design that can withstand travelling
- Adjustable chest straps with a quick release buckle
- Four sizes ranging from small to extra large
- Sides can be expanded to accommodate pets of varying sizes
- Padded dog straps to increase comfort for your pet
Who Are Ruffit?
Ruffit is a relatively new company that was founded by Jonathan Rivera (who also designed the carrier). After his dog, Mojo, was badly injured while on a mountain biking trip, he came up with the idea of a front facing backpack. The goal of the Ruffit is to allow dog owners to take their beloved pet on a variety of activities without being limited by the dog’s stamina, age and safety.
Now you know the basics of what’s included with the Ruffit, let’s take a closer look at its features.
Appearance and Design
From the appearance of the Ruffit, you can instantly tell it’s designed for vigorous activity rather than just the occasional shopping strip. The black design, padded straps and breathable sides also indicate that it’s built for both you and your dog’s comfort.
The shoulder straps are adjustable and come with a front strap for extra stability. Your dog is secured using overlapping padded straps that go over both of your pup’s shoulders, providing a secure fit that’s locked in place with an additional buckle. Your dog’s bottom half is enclosed in the backpack which puts him in a seated position.
I really like the design of the Ruffit for hiking or even just walking around town. If your dog is only able to walk a short time before needing a rest, the secure and front facing design of the Ruffit could make it a great choice. Your dog will also enjoy looking over your shoulder.
Putting your dog into the Ruffit is straightforward. The dog straps move out of the way, allowing you to place the dog’s hind legs into the backpack. You then put the straps over each front leg and secure them. The video below shows how to do this.
Overheating is a common problem with dog backpacks, so the sides of the Ruffit are made with breathable mesh. This helps to keep your pup cool while he’s on your back.
As you would expect, the Ruffit is designed with your dog’s safety in mind. If you choose the right size for your pet, he should be held securely with a cushioned belt. This ensures he isn’t thrown around when going over rough terrain.
One thing that’s missing from the Ruffit dog carrier is a storage pocket. Even a small pocket would have been useful – especially as the backpack is designed for hiking.
Note: Dog carrier backpacks are not suitable for water-based activities. The risk of the dog being held underwater is too high.
The Ruffit is designed to be durable – which is important as it’s meant to be used while hiking or for longer trips.
It’s clear the product has some issues with durability though. While it seems well-made, there are a number of complaints online from buyers about the durability of the straps and zipper. This wouldn’t be a big problem – as there are also plenty of positive reviews – if it wasn’t for the restrictive returns policy (more on this later).
Both the shoulder straps and dog straps can be adjusted to get a tight-yet-comfortable fit for you and your doggy friend. The sides of the backpack are also expandable, to provide a snug fit for almost any small dog.
Additionally, the front strap can be adjusted to ensure the backpack is securely held on your shoulders.
I like how easy the Ruffit is to use and adjust. Your dog might need a few tries to get used to the backpack – especially if he’s never been in one before – but the simple design makes it convenient to use.
Dogs can get dirty quickly – especially when on walks – so a washable design is essential for any carrier.
While the Ruffit is washable, it is not machine washable. Doing so can damage the product. Instead, it can only be hand washed with a light detergent. Once washed, it needs to be hung to dry so it doesn’t lose its shape.
The Ruffit is a small carrier, so it won’t take long to hand wash. Even so, this is a drawback compared to carriers that can be machine washed.
Sizing the Ruffit Dog Carrier
One of the most important decisions when buying a dog carrier is getting the right size. The good news is Ruffit provides a handy size guide on their FAQ page.
The key is the measure your dog’s back length. To do this, start at the base of the tail and measure to the collar. Use this measurement to decide which size to get:
- Small – 10-11.7 inches
- Medium – 12-13.7 inches
- Large – 14-15.7″ inches
- Extra Large – 16-18″ inches
The maximum weight for all sizes of the Ruffit is 25 pounds. This means it’s only suitable for small breeds – although you probably wouldn’t want to carry a heavier dog on your back anyway.
Company, Returns and Warranty
It’s always great to support small and independent companies – especially when the owner seems to be a genuine dog lover.
The returns policy is a problem for me though. If there’s a manufacturer’s defect, the product can be returned for a full refund within 14 days – but only if it’s completely unused. This seems to imply that if there’s a defect that’s only apparent when you put on the harness for the first time, Ruffit won’t pay for a refund.
Ruffit also won’t refund the full amount if you are returning the harness for any reason other than a manufacturers defect. Instead, they charge a 20% “restocking” fee. So if your dog just doesn’t like the Ruffit, you’ll still be charged 20% of whatever you originally paid.
When you consider other dog brands offer full refunds for any reason within the first three months, this returns policy is a big drawback.
Another issue is that Ruffit currently doesn’t have a customer service number. The only way to contact them is via email or social media. I appreciate they are a small company, but this could make them difficult to contact if there’s a problem with your dog carrier.
Who Should Buy It?
With an RRP of nearly $100, the Ruffit isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive dog carrier backpacks on the market. Is it worth the money though?
In my opinion, this depends on what you want to use it for. For short trips, there are plenty of dog carriers that are much cheaper and can do a great job. If you want the forward facing design, or need a dog backpack for hiking, then the Ruffit could be a great choice.
There are a few reasons I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it though. The 14-day return period is one of the shortest I’ve seen for a dog product, and seems to show the manufacturer doesn’t have much confidence in the product. This appears to be backed up by the complaints online about the long-term durability of the product.
Summary & Final Verdict
The Ruffit backpack dog carrier is an interesting product. As the first forward facing carrier, it could be a good choice if you need a secure way to take your pup hiking without worrying about him getting tired. It also has a simple design that’s easy to use.
There are some issues with it though. It’s an expensive product for what is essentially a simple backpack – although the unique design somewhat justifies the price. It can’t be machine washed and there are issues with the durability. This is why I haven’t placed it on our list of the best backpack carriers.
Even so, the design of the Ruffit is excellent, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it if the company had a more reasonable returns policy. As it stands, however, I can only recommend it with the caveat that I have concerns about its long-term durability.