outdoor gear Best Hiking Gear For Dogs The Ultimate Guide (2023)
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Best Hiking Gear For Dogs: The Ultimate Guide (2023)

Hiking with your dog is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Spending time in the great outdoors, taking in the beautiful surroundings, and getting in some exercise is a sublime way to spend an afternoon. Ensuring you have the best hiking gear for dogs makes the experience even more enjoyable.

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Best Hiking Gear For Dogs: The Ultimate Guide

Hiking with your dog is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Spending time in the great outdoors, taking in the beautiful surroundings, and getting in some exercise is a sublime way to spend an afternoon. Ensuring you have the best hiking gear for dogs makes the experience even more enjoyable.

Having your best

four-legged friend at your side for the outdoor adventure, particularly if they are a free spirit, is a bonus. It is a great way to lose track of any worries and just enjoy the moment.

If you’ve ever taken your dog on a hiking trip before, the odds are good that you came at least semi-prepared with some water and a collapsible water bowl. Although dogs may not seem like they need much to hike, there is a host of other essential hiking gear for dogs you should consider.

And while doggy poop bags are a must-have, there is a whole host of additional gear that it may make sense to take with you. The best hiking gear for dogs should be functional and provide your pup with everything they need for a safe and successful hike.

This guide will break down the gear for dogs you’ll need for a successful hike. We'll show you the best gear both you and your dog will love, from first aid kits and sun protection to the best harness for your hiking trip.


Best Hiking Gear For Dogs: The Ultimate Guide

Many large dog breeds seem built for navigating rough terrain and hiking. But, just like any domesticated animal, they can benefit from a few extra accessories to help them conquer the great outdoors by your side.

Small dog breeds have a completely separate list of needs. Still, there are basic essentials you should consider as a dog owner.

Basic Gear List - Best Hiking Gear For Dogs

There are some basics for hiking you will definitely want to have with you on the trail, including:


Large Dog Hiking Gear

Most large dog breeds are better suited for hiking. Some owners might actually carry small dogs in a backpack, but you aren't going to carry your labrador or golden retriever. They will have to put in the work just like you do.

With this in mind, you have to make sure they have plenty of water, plus something to hold food, but here is some of the other gear worth considering.

Ruffwear Approach Pack

The Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack is a day hiking and overnight dog backpack that your best friend can wear while on the trail.

The adjustable pack lays over your dog’s shoulders and has two saddlebags that safely and efficiently balance the weight across their back. There are reflective strips for low light or nighttime walks and a padded handle on the top of the pack if you need to lift your dog.

The reflective trim makes a difference because you don't want your furry friend to surprise anyone in the dark. It will also help you keep track of your bud.

The pack is made of breathable mesh material, so your dog stays cool. In addition, it’s a great way to transport small items like toys, extra food, and water without adding to your backpack’s weight.

Many large dogs are working breeds that gain a sense of purpose from wearing their own backpack.

If your dog has never worn a backpack before, you may want to ease them into it by taking walks around your neighborhood with it on.

It is crucial that no matter how large or strong your dog is, you never exceed 25% of your dog’s weight with the backpack’s load, no matter how large or strong your dog is.

There is a reason the Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack is so popular.

Leash and Harness

If you are unsure about the full Approach pack with exterior pockets, you can always just stick to a nice hiking harness.

Big dogs are also quite strong. Because of this, it is of the utmost importance that you outfit your dog with an appropriate leash and harness before hitting the trails.

Harnesses tend to be more secure than a collar for large dogs. Their fit around the body keeps them from slipping away or running off. Make sure that the harness fits correctly to avoid messing with your dog’s gait and keeping unnecessary pressure off their shoulders.

A comfortable chest strap is always preferable to a neck collar.

The best leash for big dogs should be heavy duty. Look for materials like nylon webbing, braided leather, and shock-absorbing bungees to help ease pulling.

If you plan to walk two dogs on the trail, look for a dual dog leash designed to accommodate large dogs. These will have reinforced stress points and a steel swivel to keep the two leashes from tangling together.

Just remember that the best collar will be one that is designed to alleviate neck pressure.


Dog Goggles (For real)

Just like humans, your dog’s eyes can be negatively affected by ultraviolet rays from the sun. They can also be irritated by dirt, sand, and other debris you may encounter out on the trail—strap on a pair of dog goggles to protect your dog's eyes.

It might seem ridiculous, but a pair of doggles like those made by Rex Specs may be worth considering. This is especially true if you spend significant time outdoors (or if your dog likes to hang its head out the window while driving to your hiking destination).

There are several different dog goggles available. We recommend choosing a pair of goggles that:

Introduce the

goggles gradually to build a positive association before setting out on a day-long hike. You might find the goggles particularly helpful if you hike in desert areas where sand may blow into your dog's eyes.


Small Dog Hiking Gear

Small dog breeds love to exercise and hike as much as their bigger counterparts do. But, thanks to their size, they may require a few additional items.

GPS Tracker Collar

Smaller dogs are harder to see off-leash. Fitting them with a GPS tracker collar is an excellent safety measure to ensure that even if they run off the trail, you’ll be able to locate them quickly. GPS tracker collars connect to an app on your smartphone, so make sure you bring that along on your hike as well.

Dog Carry Backpack

Sometimes your small dog will get tired long before the hike is over. You may have to carry them back to the trailhead if this happens. Or, you could bring a pet backpack carrier with you and enjoy hands-free carrying.

You wear this carrier on your chest or back, and the dog sits comfortably inside. They are usually made of breathable mesh fabric, so your dog stays cool. They can accommodate dogs up to 30 pounds and come in a variety of fun colors.


Sweater To Keep Your Dog Warm

If you like to hike during the cold months, a sweater might be helpful for keeping your dog warm. This is especially true if you have a small dog with less flesh on the bone. We've had golden retrievers and cockapoos. Larger breeds such as golden retrievers fare better in cold weather, but those small dogs shiver and shake.

While dog sweaters get a bad reputation because some owners put fancy sweaters on small dogs, a sweater can actually be very practical while hiking. So maybe skip the ugly Christmas sweater for your dog, but we are a big fan of choosing a practical sweater to keep your hiking pal warm, especially if it is for a smaller dog breed.

Do Boots Actually Protect Your Dog's Feet?

If your dog is actually hiking, boots might actually get in the way. Boots are probably more useful for short-term wear, such as taking your dogs outside during the winter. Dog boots help protect sensitive paws from cold weather and snow (and salt on driveways and sidewalks), but the boots aren't as practical for hiking. In fact, the boots could cause discomfort if they don't fit well.

One thing we would say is this: If you are wearing Chacos, don’t have your pet wearing boots.


Are Multi-day Hikes Safe for Dogs?

Multi-day hikes are perfectly safe for dogs, especially if they are a high-energy breed like a Border Collie, Husky, or Australian Shepherd. Most dogs require between 30 minutes to 2 hours of daily exercise, which can fit in perfectly with your daily trail routine.

However, if your dog isn’t used to making long trips through the wilderness, you may want to ease them into it. Consider taking long daily walks around the neighborhood or hitting easy trails, gradually increasing your mileage or walking time to help build up their endurance and stamina over a comfortable period.

Do You Need a Hiking Harness?

Harnesses help keep your dog from pulling and avoid putting pressure on your dog’s neck and throat. A good hiking harness will be durable and made of breathable material to keep your dog cool. They should also have a sturdy handle on the back and at least one place to clip a leash. Make sure your harness has multiple places to adjust the harness, so your dog is comfortable.

A hiking harness is an excellent idea for both safety and security. Hiking harnesses are suitable for dogs that have never been on a hike before, and they are also great for seasoned hikers.

A hiking harness is particularly great for active dogs that like to pull. You don't want a dog's collar to pull harshly at the neck.

As a side note, we like the hiking harnesses that also have reflective strips. This can be helpful for avoiding any confusion at dawn or dusk, and if your dog happens to make an escape, it will make it easier to see them. Of course, your pup would never run away to play, right?!?.


Is a Dog Backpack Safe?

Dog backpacks are safe to use. There are several different kinds as well. The one you pick will depend mainly on the size and weight of your dog.

Front backpacks allow you to carry your dog on the front of your body. These are particularly useful for small dogs weighing less than 30 pounds.

Dog backpacks are typically made from comfortable, ventilated materials. The weight of the material can even act as a type of thunder jacket for anxious dogs. Many packs have extra pockets for storage, and some include lumbar support to help you carry them down the trail.

Basic First Aid Kit

There may come a time when even the most experienced hikers require a first aid kit. The same goes for your dog. While on the trail, your dog may experience scrapes, scratches, paw damage from rough terrain or ice,

In your first aid kit, you should include items like:

  • Paw balm
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze or bandages
  • Scissors, tape, and rubber gloves
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Vaccination records
  • Emergency contact information
  • Hand towels
  • Wet wipes
  • Prescription medicine
  • Over-the-counter medicine (antacids, sedatives, etc.)
  • A favorite toy or comfort item

It’s also never a bad idea to keep an extra collar and leash in your first aid kit in case the originals break during your hike. Having first aid supplies is important for you and your dog.


Dog Food and Dog Treats

If you’re going on a long hike, chances are you’ve brought along some high-energy snacks like granola bars, trail mix, or jerky. If you’re feeling hungry, you can bet your furry friend probably is too. That’s why you should be sure to bring along extra dog food and your dog’s favorite treats.

In recent years, dog energy bars have come on the scene and are wildly popular with avid hikers. They have a higher nutrition content than most regular dog treats, and they are relatively light to carry in your backpack.

Because your dog will be expending a lot of energy on the trail, it's essential to provide them with the right food to make the difference. So bring along food with roughly 25% animal protein, 15% fat, and 50% carbs.

Of course, you should always be mindful of any allergies your dog has and avoid fillers with soy and corn. If you keep your dog on a grain-free diet, you don’t want to start them out on food with grain in it while hiking.

Just keep in mind that your dog may eat more food than would on a non-hiking day, so having extra food and an extra water bottle is important. You always want to keep your best friend well-hydrated, but be extra careful on longer hikes.

Take a Collapsible Bowl for Water

As mentioned above, you must bring a collapsible bowl or travel bottle made for dogs. You don’t have to share that way, and no water goes to waste.

Collapsible water bowls come in various shapes and sizes, and they also are made from materials like polyester or canvas. Make sure you get a bowl that is appropriate for your dog’s size and water needs.

There are also a variety of dog water bottles that allow you to share one water source with your dog. These types of bottles come with a detachable tray that can be filled with water straight from your drinking bottle. Then, when you’re ready to get moving again, simply snap it back on the outside of the bottle. These are a great way to keep your pack light.


Don't Forget the Poop Bags

Be a good steward of the earth and respect your fellow hikers by always bringing plenty of poop bags with you. You may be out in the wild, but it’s considered good manners to curb your dog’s poop and dispose of it properly in poop bags.

Of course, some hiking trails don’t have garbage cans. In that case, you may want to invest in an odor-proof, pack-out bag. These sacks have multiple layers of polyester that block out smells and leaks emanating from poop bags. They also have handy clips you can use to attach the poop bag to your dog’s leash.

Should My Dog Wear Shoes On a Hike?

A dog’s paw pads can withstand strolls on sidewalks and soft materials, but they may not be accustomed to the rough terrain of an outdoor adventure. That’s where a sturdy pair of dog boots may come in handy.

Are Dog Boots Necessary?

Although they may look a little silly, boots are a great tool to help keep your dog safe, healthy, and happy during a long hike. Boots have many benefits, including protecting their paws from hot and cold weather, rocky terrain, and even allergies.

With your dog wearing protective boots, you won’t be limited to only hiking during good weather or the summer season.

Boots also work well for older dogs. As they age, dogs may start to drag their feet, affecting their gait and possibly leading to injuries in their paws, hips, or legs. Boots can help add a layer of cushioning and correct some of the issues they experience without them.

Protect Your Dog's Paws

Dogs’ paws may be built tough, but that doesn’t make them impervious to the elements. Boots help to protect your dog’s paws from snow, ice, sharp rocks, and hot pavement. They also keep your dog’s paws dry.

If your dog has experienced an injury like a cut or scrape, wearing boots can help them heal faster.


Tips To Find Best Dog Hiking Gear

Fear not if you’re not sure where to find the best dog hiking gear. There are plenty of places to start your search.

Ask Other Dog Owners

Dog owners are a pack all their own. They are some of the best people to reach out to if you have any questions about acquiring the right hiking gear. Of course, if you don’t know any dog owners, you can always hop online and look at different dog forums and message boards.

Social media is also an excellent resource. There are hundreds of dog and hiking-related groups you can join on sites like Facebook, and they are full of dog owners who would be happy to answer your questions.

Prepare For Your Outdoor Adventures

Before hopping on the trail with your dog, it is always wise to prepare. This preparation means gathering the appropriate materials ahead of time, from the right leash and harness to a fully stocked first aid kit.

Also, make sure you always have food and water on hand and ID tags and contact information should an emergency occur.

Enjoy Your Furry Friends

The most important thing to remember when taking your best furry friend for a hike is to have fun. There is nothing more rewarding than being out in nature and seeing your dog experience the sights and smells of the outdoors.

Being outside with their favorite person provides them with ample mental and physical exercise, which is essential for a happy, healthy pet. So, make sure you have all of the

essential gear!

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