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Ultimate Adventurer’s Guide To The Best Dog Rescue Sling

Pawd in Fido Pro Airlift

There’s nothing quite like hitting the open trail, your faithful four-legged companion bounding alongside you, their tail wagging with pure joy. Every rustle in the underbrush is an adventure, every new path a chance for discovery. 

But imagine, if you will, a sudden shift in this idyllic scene. Your dog yelps, pulling up short with a paw held off the ground or showing signs of a snakebite. The trek back to the car is miles away and undoubtedly further than your pup can manage.

That’s where a dog rescue sling comes into play. It’s a piece of gear you may never need to use, but it could be a lifesaver if the time comes. In this post, we’ll give you dog rescue sling reviews by comparing 5 of the best dog rescue slings so you can choose the one that fits your fur baby the most.

This post includes affiliate links but rest assured that we only recommend items we would use ourselves. And if you choose to make a purchase, we receive a small commission. No sponsorships, just the truth about our favorite finds.

Before we begin, here’s an overview of the five dog rescue slings we are recommending:

Dog Rescue SlingPrice (2024)Weight of SlingDog Weight CapacitySizing Based On
Fido Pro Airlift$958oz – 9.5oz20lb – 150lbDistance between front leg and back leg
Mountain Dogware Pack-A-Paw$996.7oz – 7.8oz30lb – 140lbDistance between front leg and back leg
Ruff Rescue Gear Pup Traveler$9910ozUp to 30lbDog’s weight
Ruff Rescue Gear The Back Country$89 – $9910oz – 12oz40lb – 125lbDog’s weight
Saker K-911 Rescue Sling + Ascension Extension$27.95 + $124.951.07lb – 2.19lbUp to 600lbOne size fits most
Ruffwear BackTrak Dog Evacuation Kit$119.95Not specifiedUp to 103lbChest girth

Fido Pro Airlift

Fido Pro Airlift emergency dog resuce sling.

The Airlift by Fido Pro emergency dog rescue sling sets the standard for dog rescue slings. It packs down small enough to fit into a day pack and works with almost any dog size.

The story behind the Fido Pro Airlift is remarkable. While on a skiing adventure with his dog, owner Paul Hoskinson accidentally clipped his dog’s leg with the tip of his skis, rendering his faithful companion unable to walk.

It made him think about other adventurous dog owners and how they would get a large dog out of the backcountry if injured. Thus, the Fido Pro Airlift was created. And in case you were wondering, his dog made a full recovery!

Pros

  • Easy Setup: The sling is straightforward to set up and adjust.
  • Lightweight: The Fido weighs just 8oz (9.5oz for XL). Besides the Pack-A-Paw, it’s the lightest rescue sling.
  • Fits most dogs: The Fido Pro fits many sizes and types of dogs, from 20lb up to 150lb. It even has an XL accessory that allows a second person to help carry the dog.
  • Made in the USA: You can feel good about supporting a company in the USA.

Cons

It can’t all be good, right? The Fido Pro Airlift is what we use as a dog rescue sling, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless. Here are some of the downsides to the Airlift:

  • Comfort: The Airlift isn’t very comfortable for the person or dog. There’s no padding, and the material that holds the dog feels similar to a tarp.
  • Specific sizing unavailable: The sizing is based solely on the length from your dog’s back leg to the front leg and nothing else, so the sizing isn’t specific to the shape of your dog.

Best Uses For The Fido Pro Airlift

The Fido Pro Airlift is excellent for any rescue situation, but it’s beneficial for these activities:

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Cross-country skiing

Check out our in-depth look at the Fido Pro Airlift for a closer look at this dog rescue sling! Also, consider checking out their Panza Harness as an everyday harness for your pup.

Mountain Dogware Pack-A-Paw

The creator of the Pack-A-Paw may not have experienced an accident firsthand, but when he read about a dog that broke its leg and was left behind, he knew he had to do something.

Thus, he created the Pack-A-Paw rescue sling so no dog owner would have to leave their faithful companion behind. Let’s check out the pros and cons of this life-saving piece of dog carry gear.

Pros

If the Fido Pro sets the standard, the Pack-A-Paw is pushing the boundaries of a dog rescue sling. They put your dog’s comfort and safety ahead of everything.

  • Lightweight: The Pack-A-Paw is the lightest dog rescue sling on our list. Size M weighs 6.7oz, while the L weighs 7.8oz. 
  • Easy to use: The setup for the Pack-A-Paw is similar to the Fido – straightforward, simple, and uncomplicated.
  • Front or back carry: You can carry your pup on your back or front with the Pack-A-Paw.
  • Free shipping: Each purchase comes with free shipping.
  • Made in USA: When you purchase from Mountain Dogware, you support a business here in the USA.

Cons

Every dog carrier sling comes with its downsides, though the Pack-A-Paw has few. It’s a solid, good-quality sling.

  • Sizing: There are fewer sizing options for the Pack-A-Paw than there are for some of the other slings. However, it does work on a vast range of weights.
  • Comfort: This dog rescue sling is meant for emergencies and is not designed for comfort.

Best Uses For The Mountain Dogware Pack-A-Paw

Mountain Dogware’s Pack-A-Paw is an excellent emergency dog rescue sling. Consider using it for the following activities:

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Ascending/descending ladders and stairs

Ruff Rescue Gear Back Country

Ruff Rescue Gear has two dog rescue slings on our list: the Pup Traveler and The Back Country. In this section, we’ll talk about The Back Country, their original emergency rescue sling.

The Owner of Ruff Rescue Gear is an outdoor enthusiast with experience as a rafting guide, kayaker, ski patroller, backcountry guide, and rocky mountain adventure instructor.

When he got his first dog, Ruger, he knew he needed to translate all of his outdoor survival skills into keeping his dog safe in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains. Enter Ruff Rescue Gear Back Country sling.

Pros

With so much experience in the Rocky Mountains, this rescue sling is designed for outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Price: The size medium is the cheapest dog rescue sling on our list at $89. The size L is $99, which is average compared to our other slings.
  • Added comfort: For an additional $10, you can add shoulder pads to make the sling more comfortable. Additionally, there are no rear leg holes, preventing any tourniquet situations if you carry your injured pup for long periods.
  • Free shipping: If ordering from the continental United States, you get free shipping!
  • Made in USA: Support a small, Colorad-based business with every purchase.

Cons

  • Sizing: The Back Country can support dogs 40-125lb, the smallest margin of all the dog rescue slings on our list. However, the Pup Traveler supports dogs up to 30 lbs and can be purchased from the same company.

Best Uses For Ruff Rescue Back Country

Like any rescue sling, the Ruff Rescue works great in emergencies where your dog is injured and needs to be carried. It’s especially helpful during these activities:

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking

Ruff Rescue Gear Pup Traveler

Ruff Rescue makes a smaller dog rescue sling called the Pup Traveler. It’s superb for little pups up to 30lbs. 

The sling is meant to carry your injured pal on the front. It considers Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), which is common in older dogs or certain breeds like dachshunds. 

Pros

The Pup Traveler is great for small dogs and has many fantastic qualities, making it one of the best dog rescue slings for our compact canines.

  • Targets smaller dogs: Some dog rescue slings are more geared toward larger dogs. This is the only sling on our list specifically made for small dogs.
  • Color: The Pup Traveler offers many color choices, making it one of our list’s most customizable dog rescue slings.
  • IVDD: The Pup Traveler is rated as IVDD safe, giving better support to older dogs with back problems and breeds that are more vulnerable, such as those with long backs.
  • Comfort: The shoulder and back are padded for added comfort.
  • Free Shipping: Like the Back Country, the Pup Traveler offers free shipping on every purchase.
  • Made in USA: Crafted in the great Colorado Rockies.

Cons

  • Size: The size of the Pup Traveler is specific to small dogs and will not fit any large dogs. However, the Back Country will fit large dogs and is made by the same company.
  • Front carry: The Pup Traveler is meant to be carried on the front, which may become uncomfortable if carried for an extended period.

Best Use For Ruff Rescue Gear Pup Traveler

The Pup Traveler is best used in the following activities:

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Walking
  • Carrying up stairs or steep inclines

The Pup Traveler is a great choice, even for those who aren’t so adventurous with their pups and want a way to carry around their fur babies when they grow grey in the muzzle or to haul around an airport or busy bus station.

A pug in a back pack.

Saker K-911 Rescue Sling + Ascension Extension

If you’re into extreme outdoor activities like rock climbing, cross-country skiing, or backcountry camping, then the Saker may be a good choice.

Inspired by the tried and trusted adventure companies of Arc’teryx and Patagonia, the Saker K-911 Rescue Sling is the toughest rescue harness on our list.

Pros

  • Made for adventure: If you love adventuring with your dog, the Saker K-911 is the rescue dog sling of choice. Made with highly durable, rugged materials for any adventure.
  • Comfort: With built-in foam shoulder pads, the K-911 is a dog rescue sling with comfort in mind.
  • Adjustable: 6 adjustment points help it fit any dog and any person.
  • Wide design: When combined with the Ascension Extension, the K-911 rescue sling has a wide design to help with stability over rough terrain.

The Saker also has many harness accessories that can be purchased to customize your adventure gear. You can visit their harness accessories shop for a closer look.

Cons

The biggest complaint about the K-911 is the complicated nature of the sling. It must be combined with the Ascension Extension or the Dog Pack to become a rescue sling.

  • Complicated: The K-911 Rescue Sling must be combined with the Ascension Extension to become a dog rescue sling. Combining the two can be complicated, especially in an emergency.
  • Price: The Saker is the most expensive dog rescue sling on our list, with a combined sale price of $152.90.
  • Weight: When the rescue sling is put together, it weighs up to 2.19 lbs, making it the heaviest sling on our list.

Best Uses For Saker K-911

The K-911 dog rescue sling is incredibly durable and well-crafted. It’s meant for a wide variety of activities:

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Protecting your pup in the car

Ruffwear BackTrak Dog Evacuation Kit

Unlike some other companies on our list, Ruffwear offers more than rescue slings on their site. They craft top-of-the-line harnesses, leashes, boots, jackets, toys, bowls, and more.

The BackTrak is just one of their many innovative pieces of gear meant to keep your dog safe, comfortable, and happy while joining you on adventures.

Pros

  • Easy setup: Color-coded straps make putting the harness together in stressful situations easy.
  • Muzzle: The BackTrak Kit has a lightweight muzzle that can be used if your dog is in pain and may become reactive during first-aid procedures.
  • Front and back carry: The BackTrak can be worn on the front or back, giving you adjustability based on your and your dog’s needs.
  • Comfort: The straps are lightly padded, giving the carrier some comfort without sacrificing weight.

Cons

  • Price: The Back Trak is a little pricey at $119.95. It’s not the most expensive, but it’s over the average.
  • Weight: Besides the Pup Traveler, the BackTrak supports the lowest weights at 103lbs. While this is satisfactory for most dogs, XL dogs cannot use this sling. 

Best Uses For The Ruffwear BackTrack

Ruffwear’s gear is meant for most outdoor activities. It’s thoroughly tested in the field to ensure it’s sturdy enough to stand up to any adventure and durable enough to last.

The BackTrak is best used for these activities:

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Camping
  • Skiing

Why You Might Need a Dog Rescue Sling

A dog rescue sling is a piece of gear you can use to carry your dog in an emergency, such as if they get injured and can’t walk. The slings usually pack down pretty small so that you can fit them right in your hiking bag.

Speaking of hiking bags, if you’re wondering what else to put in your hiking bag for your pup, check out our guide on dog hiking gear essentials.

So, when might you need to bust out your dog rescue sling? Unfortunately, if you have to use the sling, chances are your pup is in a not-so-great situation. Let’s check out some scenarios.

Injury

Hiking with your dog can mean anything from a smooth paved path to the wilds of the backcountry. The terrain is varied and often unpredictable, from rocky and root-filled to dirt and mud. 

As your dog explores the path and its surroundings, the terrain might get the best of them. Here are some common injuries that may require you to carry your dog back to the car:

  • Paw injury: Your dog may step on a piece of broken glass, a sharp rock, or a splintered twig.
  • Sprain/Strain: If you’re hiking on rough terrain, your pup may sprain or strain their leg. This can happen if they jump from a tall rock or ledge as well.

You’ll be glad you brought a dog rescue sling in these instances, especially if you hike with a large dog.

Wildlife Encounters

As you strap on your boots and leash up your pet to explore a new trail, be aware that you are stepping into the home of wild animals. Wildlife can be unpredictable, especially when raising young or when food is scarce. 

Curious dogs may get injured in a conflict with wildlife such as deer, moose, coyotes, or even bears and mountain lions. Hey, our 80-pound pittie was attacked by a mountain lion – It happens! Don’t worry; he lived to tell the tale and was a local hero.

On these extremely rare occasions when wildlife encounters turn nasty, a rescue sling can be used to carry your injured pup out of the wilderness. Check out our guide on what to do if you see a wild animal on a hike for more advice on dealing with wildlife on your hike.

Snake Bites

There are over 3,000 species of snakes worldwide, with hundreds calling North America their home. About 30 of those snakes are venomous, most being rattlesnakes.

When your dog is bitten by a snake, you should avoid letting your dog walk on their own if you can. You want their heart rate as low as possible and to take off any pressure on the bite site.

A rescue sling can help you get your pup safely back to the car and immediately to a vet (don’t wait!). You can read more about what to do if you see a snake on a hike here.

Extreme Temperatures

Our canine companions are just as susceptible to extreme temperatures as we are. Whether you misjudged how well your dog can tolerate the heat or cold, or the weather suddenly changed, your dog may not be able to handle it.

A dog rescue sling won’t warm your dog up or cool them down, but it can assist you in carrying your furry friend back to the car if they are suffering from heat exhaustion or cold stress.

A dog rescue sling is an opportunity to be prepared for any scenario while hiking with your dog. It gives us so much peace of mind when trekking miles into the forest or up a mountain!

How Does A Dog Rescue Sling Work?

There are many types of dog rescue slings, all of which work slightly differently. At its fundamental core, a dog rescue sling immobilizes your dog and allows you to lift it and carry it either on your back or in the front.

There are a few similarities between every dog rescue sling:

  • Adjustable shoulder straps to carry the dog (front or back)
  • A device to hold your dog (usually with leg holes)
  • A small stuff sack to pack the sling in and place in a hiking pack

The major differences are in the finer details, such as the layout of the sling, whether or not it has back leg holes, and whether you carry it in the front or on the back.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dog Rescue Sling

Even though you may never need it, it’s essential to choose your dog rescue sling carefully. Many factors can affect your decision, so take your time and pick what’s best for you and your canine companion.

Here are some things to consider when picking out your dog rescue sling:

Size Of Your Dog

Some rescue slings are more specific to your dog’s size than others. For example, the Ruff Rescue Gear Pup Traveler is specifically made for smaller dogs. The Fido Pro and Pack-A-Paw are more geared toward larger dogs.

The shape and breed of your dog are also something to consider. Is your dog exceptionally tall, like a Great Dane? Or exceptionally wide and short, like an English bulldog. 

Check out how the rescue sling measures your dog – is it the circumference of its chest? Distance between legs? Or based solely on weight. This will give you a better idea of how to fit a dog rescue sling to your specific pup properly.

Your Activities

Think about what adventures you plan on taking your canine companion. Are you more of a casual day hiker or a hike-the-entire-appalacian-trail hiker? Do you ski? Rock climb? Camp?

Some rescue slings are made tougher than others for more adventurous outdoor activities such as the Ruff Rescue Gear Back Country and the Saker K-911. Others, like the Fido Pro, are universal.

Ease Of Use

One of the most important aspects of a dog rescue sling is its ease of use. You don’t want to waste time struggling to put the harness together when your pup is injured.

The BackTrak from Ruffwear has color-coded straps to help with quick assembly, making it one of the easiest to use. The Saker K-911 is the most complicated, as you must attach two different items together to make a rescue sling.

Comfort

Comfort may be low on your list of priorities when your furry pal is injured or sick. However, it can make a bad situation even worse when the rescue sling is unbearably uncomfortable, and you have to walk in it for miles back to the car.

Rescue harnesses aren’t cheap, so investing in one you and your dog will love is vital.

Some rescue slings include built-in padded straps like the Ruff Rescue Gear Pup Traveler, Ruffwear BackTrak, and the Saker K-911. Others, like the Fido Pro and Pack-A-Paw, are minimalistic and have no padding.

Picking the best dog rescue harness involves many considerations. So, take your time, research, and pick what best suits you and your adventure dog.

Fido Pro Airlift dog rescue sling in front of a waterfall.

Packing Up The Best Dog Rescue Slings

You never hope to use a dog rescue sling, but you’re glad you have it when the situation arises. Dog injuries have a small window of time when they go from mildly problematic to serious.

Dog rescue slings are helpful in emergencies and give us pet parents peace of mind when taking our doggos on adventures. It’s essential to do your research and choose the best dog rescue sling for your specific pup. Please consider your dog’s size, needs, and the sling’s comfort and ease of use. 

Do you use a dog rescue sling? Are there any tips we may have left out? Let us know in the comments below! We love hearing from our fellow adventurous pup parents.

After all, our dogs are our family, and we want what’s best for them. Consider investing in a dog rescue sling to keep your pup safe on your next adventure! 

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Welcome to the ultimate guide, where adventure meets four-legged companionship! Whether scaling remote peaks, exploring meandering trails, or enjoying the freedom of the open road, ensuring your