Dog Gear: The Groundbird Gear Trekking Pack “2.0”

Pickle in his GBG Trekking pack.

Pickle in his GBG Trekking pack.

Groundbird Gear‘s Marie “Bobwhite” Sellenrick was nice enough to send me an updated version of her Trekking Pack for dogs. I’d previously reviewed one of her earlier models, which quickly became Pickle’s backpack of choice, so I was excited to see what she did with the feedback she got from me and other testers. Since my last review, GBG has begun offering the Trekking Pack’s saddle bags in a size “Small”, instead of just “Regular” and “Large”. Because variety is the spice of life and Pickle’s current pack was a “Regular”, I asked for the new test pack to be “Small”.

Pickle in his GBG Trekking pack.

Pickle in his GBG Trekking pack.

The custom harness from Pickle’s previous GBG pack still fits perfectly, so Bobwhite made a pack to fit on that platform. After the customary 2-3 weeks of lead time (fairly standard in the Cottage Industry), the pack arrived. Pickle and I took it out for testing that very same day.

Top of harness.

Top of harness.

Underside of harness

Underside of harness

The very best improvement on this new version of the Trekking Pack is on the roll-top closure. GBG ditched the zippers on the saddlebags and went with a simpler hook-and-loop (AKA Velcro) closure. Since the bags would be rolled and clipped closed anyway, I always felt that the zipper on the earlier packs was overkill. It seems that my not-so-gentle complaining was heard, and this new closure is exactly what I hoped it would be! The change saves some weight, and even makes the roll-top function better. Without the chunky zipper in there. I think it rolls flatter and looks much nicer when the pack is closed.

One side of the GBG Trekking Pack, unrolled.

One side of the GBG Trekking Pack, unrolled.

Another nice addition was the optional shock cord attachment system, which can be used to fasten a sleeping pad or other small item to the outside of the pack. This was a surprise item that Marie added on for me, and I think it’s a good idea.

IMG_5264

The shock cord attachment system

I’m glad I ordered the small pack! The pack fit 8 TurboPUP bars (2 days worth of food for Pickle), a leash, and dog booties quite nicely. This means it would be perfect for summer weekend trips, when we won’t need the extra pack volume for Pickle’s coat.

IMG_5263

Overhead view of the GBG Trekking pack with the bags rolled closed.

All in all, this pack is a nice improvement on an already good dog pack. The changes listed above, as well as improved stitching and quality of construction, make for a beautiful and functional piece of gear. Coming in at 6.8oz on my scales (without the harness), this pack is about as ultralight as it gets.  If you’re in the market for a dog pack, the Groundbird Gear Trekking Pack is definitely worth a serious look. It’s price competitive with the big brands, chafe-free, and custom made by hands that care.

Disclaimer: I received this pack from Groundbird Gear for free, but I was not obligated to write this review. All opinions stated herein are my own, and GBG had no editorial control over this post.

Pet Gear: Stunt Runner Leash

My dog Pickle is typically pretty darn good when he hikes off-leash, as he sticks to the trail and doesn’t molest other hikers or wildlife. However, there are times when local rules, trail conditions, or other factors may require me to leash him. Since these are rare occurrences for me, I had made a very lightweight DIY leash out of an old collar, some paracord, and a light carabiner. While light, this (and just about every other leash I’ve ever tried) is annoying to use while hiking with trekking poles. If the dog tugs, you could end up swinging that pole wildly. An erratic turn could get your pole tangled in the leash. It’s always bugged me. Enter the Stunt Runner Leash by Stunt Puppy.

This hands-free leash was designed for runners, but I thought it would work just as well for hiking and backpacking. The leash is made up of two parts: An adjustable waist belt and a stretchy, flexible connector. The manufacturer states that the adjustable waist belt fits people with waists from 26″-42″. I wear size 36 jeans. Judging by the remaining slack, there is still plenty of adjustment to get to 42″.

Waist belt with several inches of adjustment remaining.

Waist belt with several inches of adjustment remaining.

The stretchy connector stretches from 35″-51″ depending on how hard your dog tugs on it. At it’s longest (4.25 feet), it more than conforms to the 6-foot leash rule in many parks and municipalities. This stretch also acts as a bit of shock absorption. At the end of the connector nearest the dog’s collar, there is a section of doubled-over webbing that serves as a handle. This is useful in case you need to get close control over your pet.

Hand grip for close control.

Hand grip for close control.

At 7.7 ounces, this is significantly heavier than the DIY leash that Pickle normally carries, but I thought the benefits might “outweigh” the weight penalty in Pickle’s pack. Adding this leash will not overload him in any way, so I thought I would bring it along for a little testing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

I didn’t actually have to use this leash too much, but it did work well when I did. When I hike fast or run, Pickle keeps pace with me, so the leash worked perfectly. When I stopped, he wanted to roam around and pull me, so I ended up having to put a hand on the leash anyway. One night at a very busy campsite, I did use it to tie him to a tree beneath my hammock, so he wouldn’t go “visiting”. It worked OK for that, too.

All in all, I think I will continue using this leash for a while, at least when space in Pickle’s pack isn’t at a premium. I’ll update this review if I discover something I particularly like or dislike about it in the future.

 

Disclaimer: I purchased this item at full price with my own money. I was not asked to write this review. All opinions stated here are my own.