What Your Pup Should Pack For Your Weekend Hike

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

March 10, 2016

We know Spring is in the air or at least we hope it will be soon. But, when we start thinking about our next hiking trip we know it’s getting closer and closer to that precious outdoor season. You’re not the only one who has been cooped up all winter and who better to bring on your first hike of the season than your dog. As your researching new trails or thinking about hitting an old standby you’re probably planning out what to put into your own pack but, maybe, you should consider what you should pack in your dogs pack as well.

Photo by: Joe Giordano

From extra large Pitties to small Jack Russell’s all dogs will get a kick out of carrying some of their own gear. There are tons of backpacks to choose from and the most important thing to consider when researching is your dogs fitness level and breed(s). You can choose from smaller and thinner packs for smaller dogs or dogs that don’t have the stamina for a long haul hike and bigger packs for the larger and higher fitness dogs out there.

Ruffwear Backpack

Now that you have your pack it’s time to do some trail research. First things first is to make sure that the trail is dog friendly, some national parks don’t allow dogs. Weather and terrain are important factors as well and will help you decide what to put in your dogs pack. Here are a few suggestions for you:

Whether it’s traveling or a sunny day in the park, this collapsible water bucket ($36) has durable double duty. Fill in cool water or you pup’s kibble, either way, the bucket still looks smart and snappy.

Making sure your dog is hydrated is ultra important even if it is a mild day and an easy hike taking along a collapsible water bowl will be a life saver. Plus they are easy to keep clean and ultra compact, and come in a good amount of sizes so you will be able to find one to fit in your dogs pack.

Note: You might be thinking, what about the water? Humans can pack the water: pups pack the empties.

Red Collapsible Water Bowl

Don’t forget the all-important compostable poop bags ($7.50). Need to keep the trails clean, no?

poop 2

Rough rocks, questionable trail conditions, and hot surfaces could all come into play on a hike so make sure to pack some booties ($74/95) just in case.


Even if your hike is one the shorter side bringing along some of your dogs regular food for when you stop for lunch will keep up their stamina. Maybe pack along something special too. May we suggest the some Nutrient Rich Gummies ($10), mmm!


Most trails and national parks require you to have your dog on a lead. Not only is it safer for your dog but other people and their dogs too. If you want to give your dog a little more room consider packing a longer lead or if the trail becomes crowded pack a shorter one ($62), that way you can keep your pup close by.

Orange Rescue Dog Leash

If you are doing an overnight hike or thinking of taking on a bit of a challenge on a longer one maybe consider carrying a jacket or vest for colder nights. Hiking to a lake? Pack a ball or toy like a tether tug ($50) that will keep your dog occupied and having fun while you’re relaxing at camp.

barkshop tether tug

First aid kits are not only important for you but your dog as well. If you are compiling a kit of your own don’t forget, tweezers and/or small scissors, gauze, peroxide, ice pack, and sterile eye-wash. There are also dog first aid kits ($29.40) easily available.


You can have your dog carry a number of things but make sure you consider two important rules when packing: (1) That for most dogs they should only be allowed to carry 10%-12% of their body weight in the pack; and (2) Packs should be filled evenly on each side. You don’t want the pack to slide around to one side, which can cause some damage to your dogs back and joints. Lastly if your dog has never worn a backpack consider taking them on a couple of daily walks with it on and one small water bottle on each side so your dog can get used the feel and weight of carrying a pack.

Featured image via Joe Giordano/Flickr

Sources: Cesars Way, Backpacker, REI

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

March 10, 2016

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