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DIG: All About the BackTrak ™ Dog Evac Kit

Welcome back for our next D.I.G. (Design, Innovation & Gear) story, this time digging deep (real deep) into the all-new BackTrak™ Dog Emergency Evac Kit.

Sometimes getting out there with our dogs means really getting out there in the wilderness – where solitude and beauty are plentiful, and cell service or emergency support are scarce.

Part of exploring the outdoors responsibly is being prepared and having a plan in place to answer “What would I do if…” should the unexpected happen. It was this mindset that sparked the design journey we went on to create the BackTrak™ Evac Kit.

Person holds the BackTrak Evac Kit and the first-aid muzzle


The BackTrak™ Evac kit is designed to aid you in carrying your dog if an emergency situation comes up and your dog is unable to get back to the car under their own power. 

It includes a first-aid dog muzzle and a human vest with a built-in emergency dog carrying sling so you can be prepared for the unexpected and confidently venture out with your dog. 

Just like with any piece of outdoor equipment, it’s helpful to know a bit more about what it’s designed to do, how to use it, and when to use it before putting it in your pack. We’ll cover all that, plus a few tips for introducing the gear to your dog and how to know if it's right for you and your dog.


In this video, see the kit in action with Ruffwear Pack member Kristen (and her sidekick, Emma) as they walk through the different features of the kit and how to use it with your dog. You’ll also get some good tips for adjusting it and how to get your dog used to it.


Before packing this kit away in your pack and hopefully never having to use it, here's how to make sure it's ready to go should you have to. 

This process takes time, and dogs will progress through the different steps at different paces. You know your dog best – stay in tune with them as you go.

STEP 1: Introduce
Start building positive associations with the first-aid muzzle and sling by showing your dog the gear, letting them sniff both components while getting lots of treats and praise.

STEP 2: Fit & Adjust
Put on and adjust the human side of the sling first. Once adjusted to you, take the sling off and adjust the dog side with your dog. This is another good opportunity to build up positive associations with treats and praise.

STEP 3: Practice
Acclimate yourself and your dog to the first-aid muzzle and carrying harness in non-stressful environments first (home, backyard). Start with slow and short sessions with frequent breaks and lots of praise and treats to keep things positive.

STEP 4: Pack It Up
Ideally, it's the gear you'll always have in your pack but never have to use. Occasionally revisit steps 1-3 to keep your dog familiar with the gear during long periods of time not using it.

Person wearing an emergency dog sling to carry their dog


Wondering whether or not the Backtrak™ Evac Kit is the right solution for you and your dog? Here are a few things for you to consider.

Am I physically able to lift, carry, and walk with the weight of my dog? The BackTrak™ is designed to support and aid in the carrying of your dog. Consider whether lifting and carrying the weight of your dog is doable without injuring yourself. If you’re unsure, check with your doctor.

How do my dog’s height and my height factor into whether or not it would work for us? The sling works best when the top of your dog’s back falls at about your waistline or lower. If their back lines up with or reaches higher than your waist line, this is likely not the best solution for you. The placement of where the sling holds your dog likely wouldn’t be high enough to actually lift your dog off the ground once you stood up.

Person carrying dog in an emergency sling

How much weight can the BackTrak™ Evac Kit Carry?
The BackTrak™ can support dogs weighing up to 103 pounds (46.7 kg). While the sling can carry that load, make sure to consider whether or not you can do so without injuring yourself.

What size dogs does the kit work for?
The BackTrak™ is available in three sizes, based on the girth measurement of your dog. The human vest measurements are the same for all three sizes: the chest strap fits up to 67 in (170 cm), and the waist strap fits up to 79 in (200 cm).

Why is there a first-aid muzzle in the kit? Can I use this first-aid muzzle for other things?
Using a first-aid muzzle is common practice as the first step when working with a dog that is injured or in pain. No matter how well you know your dog, the stress and discomfort of an emergency situation can sometimes lead to a dog inadvertently injuring a person.

The muzzle is especially important in the initial phases of examining your dog, picking up your dog, and for procedures like splinting or bandaging. The muzzle may need to be removed to allow the dog to pant freely and drink water throughout the evacuation, depending on conditions.

This first-aid muzzle is designed specifically for these scenarios and is not intended to be used outside of an emergency or injury situation. Consult with your veterinarian to learn more about using it with your specific dog.

Person puts first-aid muzzle on a dog

Is the BackTrak™ comfortable? There are strategic design choices we made to build in comfort where we could while focusing on the intended use: a lightweight and packable solution for emergency evacuation.

Those details on the dog side are the adjustable in the leg loops and a hammock-style sling designed to disperse weight and support the dog's chest (where the bulk of their weight is). On the human side, it's the chest and waist straps to help support the load and some light padding on the shoulder straps.


We can't say it enough: emergency preparedness and how this kit can support specifically you and your dog in an emergency scenario are great conversations to have with your veterinarian. 

Until then, we turned to the pros – medically trained veterinarians – to help us share some general guidelines to know.

When to avoid using a muzzle:

  • The muzzle prevents the dog from breathing freely
  • If the weather is very hot and the muzzle is tight enough to prevent effective panting, it should be removed and/or used for the absolute shortest time
  • In dogs who are in respiratory distress, especially brachycephalic (or "squashed faced") breeds. 
  • Dogs with labored breathing (blue/purple gums)
  • Dogs who are actively vomiting/regurgitating

When to avoid using a carrying sling:

  • Dogs that are actively seizing
  • Dogs in respiratory distress
  • Dogs who are very stressed and frantic in the sling
  • Dogs experiencing uncontrolled bleeding

Family hiking with a dog


It's a phrase shared often in wilderness medicine classes, and it feels fitting as we wrap up this deep dive on a piece of gear we hope you'll never have to use. Planning ahead, packing the right gear, and being prepared are the best ways to avoid having to use this kit.

Even then, things happen. This kit is designed to have your back if they do. Our designers obsessed over the details and design so you can focus on the task at hand.

If you have any more questions about the BackTrak™ Evac Kit after reading through this and watching the video, please don't hesitate to reach out at