The Best Dog Gear for Hiking

Whether you’re a die-hard hiking enthusiast or a weekend warrior—you know how important having the right gear and a little prepping can be to the success of your adventure. You’ve got everything you need for the rigorous trail that lies ahead but have you prepared your dog in the same way?

Hiking with your dog can be amazing. But people tend to romanticize the idea of exploring the outdoors with their furry friend. Don’t get me wrong—dogs make amazing companions and are great for bringing on any type of outdoor adventure. The unfortunate reality is that most people are simply ill-equipped and ill-prepared to take their canine counterpart on a hike in the great outdoors. But with just a little bit of planning and a few key pieces of dog gear, you and your dog are guaranteed to have a healthier, happier and more comfortable outing, allowing you both to do what’s most important—soak in the magic of mother nature.

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A Little Prep Goes A LONG Way

Get to know the terrain and make a plan. Hop online and check out the dog-specific rules and regulations of the trail beforehand.

Questions to Ask Before Hitting the Trail:

  • Are dogs allowed?
  • Are there seasonal leash regulations?
  • What’s the foot traffic usually like for the time of year?
  • What’s the likelihood you’ll run into other people-pooch pairings?
  • What are the current conditions like?
  • Are the trails, muddy, rocky, rooty?
  • What type of predators have been spotted in the area?

Answering these types of questions pre-hike will not only help put your mind at ease when out on the trail but will help inform what gear to bring, for both you and your four-legged friend.

A German shepherd and a man enjoy sunrise in Santa Branca, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Adventure Gear Your Dog Deserves

Your dog would most likely follow you to hell and back, but that doesn’t mean that they’re actually prepared for the arduous journey. The dog gear industry has come a long way over the past decade, and today there are some pretty awesome companies, making some pretty awesome pieces of equipment to keep your dog happy and healthy in mother nature’s unforgiving playground.

So, what are the essentials when it comes to outward-bound dog gear?

Below are a few great pieces from Ruffwear, an innovative performance dog gear company based out of Bend, Oregon, that are guaranteed to enhance both you and your dog’s experience in the great outdoors.

You’ll notice that your list of items will start to quickly add up when packing for a hike, for both you and your dog, and the last thing you want on an extended hike is to be adding more weight to your pack. You’ll need to bring a leash, poop bags, water, food, maybe a small towel to dry your dog off after diving muzzle first into a nearby pond. That’s why one of my favorite pieces of dog gear are packs designed for dogs to carry all their own supplies. Gear like The Ruffwear Singletrak Pack is a great option for long days on the trail. It’s a low-profile hydration pack that features two collapsible water bottles, two stash pockets for adventure essentials, and five points of adjustment for a customizable fit. You can even have your pup carry around some of your gear if there’s space available.

Leashes like The Ruffwear Quick Draw can be incredibly handy when trekking along a busy trail. The Quick Draw clips onto any collar, wraps safely around your dog’s neck and is secured with a hook and loop closure. This gives your dog the off-leash freedom they love and gives you the option of a short restraining leash when needed. All you need to do is pull the tab to go from off-leash to on-leash.

Dog boots are one of the most overlooked, and underrated pieces of outward-bound dog gear. Gear like Ruffwear’s Grip Trex Boots helps protect your dog’s paw pads by preventing cuts and bruising. Not only will your dog be able to hike all day in comfort, but wearing them will also reduce their recovery time, allowing for a quicker turnaround for your next adventure together. The boots feature a rugged and resilient Vibram outsole that provides exceptional traction on varied terrain. A breathable mesh upper provides ventilation and keeps dirt and debris out. It also has a closure system that combines hook-and-loop with hardware, cinching around the narrowest part of your dog’s leg to provide a secure fit.

And as an added perk—your dog will look pretty damn adorable in those lil’ booties.

Dog on a log

Know Thy Dog

Not all dogs are made for adventuring. The stubby, (albeit delightful) little legs of your corgi aren’t exactly designed for trekking several miles along rugged trail. Compared to let’s say a high-energy, athletic Vizsla or Border Collie who are trail-ready, your corgi might be better suited to enjoy the hike from the comfort of your backpack.

The trail might not be the best place to bring a poorly trained dog or a hyper, inexperienced puppy. The dog will be getting into all sorts of no-good and you’ll be constantly barking unheeded commands. Most dogs are just fine exploring with you, but being realistic about your dog’s abilities and having a strong sense of awareness regarding their personality will help you both have a better hike—no matter where you go.

Our four-legged friends are at their very best outside. They’re in their element—stopping to sniff every wildflower, chasing birds and chipmunks, honing in on every subtle twig snap, watching the wind rustling through the trees. They soak up every ounce of life and help us access the part of ourselves that falls in love with the little things. That just being outside, with the wild world in front of you is sometimes all you really need. So treat them like you treat yourself, or better. Equip them as you equip yourself and you’ll both be tired and happy when you return to your car after a long day of exploring together.

Sources Referenced in this Blog:

Outside Online - Best Dog Gear of 2018

Ruffwear: Performance Dog Gear

K9 Sports Pack