When I first started hiking, it was just my pack and I. Now that I have two adventure-loving dogs, my hikes require a bit more planning but are filled with a lot more fun. My number one priority is making sure that my dogs are safe and happy out on the trails. Here are a few of the dog specific things that I have tried and how they worked out for me.
Dog Water Bottle
Various manufacturers – Approximately $18 – $35
As a gift a few years ago, I received a water bottle designed specifically for dogs. The lid is larger than a usual water bottle and bowl shaped so your pup can drink on the go, and any leftover water can be poured back in to the bottle and conserved. I have found this to be much easier than carrying a pop up bowl because I am not dumping out a bunch of excess water every time we stop for a drink, and I don’t have to worry about fitting a wet bowl back in my pack.
Because Piper is a nervous dog, she can sometimes shy away from drinking water if there are other people around. With this style of bottle, it’s easier to take more short breaks and have more opportunities for her to stay hydrated.
I am seeing quite a few different designs pop up for this style of bottle, and might consider trying a lighter plastic one in the future. While the metal one that I have is durable, it is a heavier item for longer trips. I use it mainly for day hiking and travel.
Ruff Rescue Gear Harness
The Back Country Harness – $89
Weight – 10oz (Size M) – 12oz (Size L)
I feel a little bit bad about this product because I can’t quite figure it out. After carrying an injured dog down a mountain a few years ago, I was thrilled to order a rescue harness and give myself a little more peace of mind. The harness is designed to fit around your dog and equipped with should straps so that you can lift them up and carry them if you need to.
I researched a few different options online and ended up ordering the Ruff Rescue Gear Back Country harness. It comes in a stuff sack that is easy to throw in your pack, and includes a small dog first aid kit as well. The harness itself feels light but well put together.
I was spending a quiet night at a small campsite with my pups when I decided to open it up and give it a try, because it’s always a good idea to test your gear before you have to use it. I opened it up and found a fairly confusing pile of straps and clips.
I called June over and we did our best to figure it out. I even pulled up an online instructional video to guide me. After about thirty minutes of adjusting and clipping and turning it around, we were still at a loss. I am not sure if it’s the fact that I was in a camp setting and not at home, or if I was missing some instructions, but I was a little disappointed. If I found myself in an emergency situation, I don’t think I would be able to get the harness on a dog quickly (or even the right way).
I think some ways for this piece of gear to be improved would be clearer labelling on the individual straps of the harness, as well as larger step by step instructions with photos for its usage. I’m not giving up on it though, and I’ll try again when I am at home and can watch more detailed videos about it. It might be a matter of practicing it until I get the hang of it and adjusting the straps to fit my dogs well before going out on the trail.
Wilderdog Sleeping Bag – $59
Weight – 29oz
Measurements – 36″ x 28″ laid out flat and 16″ x 10″ in the stuff sack
If you are a cold weather camper or adventure with an older dog, a sleeping bag might be a good option ( okay, it might also be a bit of a novelty because it’s so darn cute). I enjoy fall and winter camping, and after a few chillier nights I figured it would be a good idea to get my dogs their own sleeping set up.
The sleeping bag is beautifully made and feels sturdy. You can leave it zipped up as a a lay on top bed or unzipped for pups who like to snuggle in. It provides a nice barrier between the cold ground and a softer place to snuggle up, especially for my older dogs who could use a little extra cushion.
If I was bringing this sleeping bag on an overnight hike I would try to get it into a smaller stuff sack as the bag that is provided is quite bulky, but I have so far used it for camp sites with a short walk-in or car camping and it works well.
Bungee Dog Leashes
Hands Free Dog Leash by F-Color on Amazon – $26 (Orange)
Hands Free Dog Leash by Lanney on Amazon – $27 (Purple)
Both of these dog leashes are a fantastic value and I have gotten good use out of them for two years now. They both come with a hands-free belt and bungee lead, and the Lanney version also comes with a belt pouch for treats/poop bags.
I use these leashes every single day for our walks, for overnight hikes, and even skijoring. They both have handles on them that allow you to adjust the leash length if needed.
I don’t think I will ever go back to a regular leash now that I have used a hands-free one. It’s great to have both arms available for my own comfort, and for added balance on icy days. It also allows me to carry the chihuahua if she is cold or needs a break from walking. The belt loop is easy to clip around trees while on the trail for breaks or at camp.
If I was to choose one to repurchase, it would be the Lanney because I find that the belt stays tight unlike the F-Color one that gradually loosens as you walk. The bungees do lose a bit of elasticity over time, but that is to be expected. Overall it is a great leash.
We had a wonderful summer of hiking and camping, but winter is here now! I am thrilled to get back out skijoring, and we have already managed to make it out for a few frozen lake walks. Life with dogs is never dull.