The Ultimate Dog Hiking Gear Guide

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We’re hitting the road and taking our furry friends with us on our excursions. But when you explore the rugged outdoors with your dog in tow, keep his needs in mind. We’ve got the gear and the goods you need to have a happy four-legged hiker.

The Ultimate Dog Hiking Gear Guide

From booties to backpacks, it’s all here in the ultimate dog hiking gear guide.

Protect Those Paws

Although your dog’s calloused paw pads can handle a stroll on the sidewalk or beach, rocky and rugged terrain is another story. Paw pads aren’t shoes, after all. Protect those paw pads with doggy hiking boots. They’re great for cold or hot weather.

“Not only will it protect their paws in rugged terrain, it can also help with hot asphalt on a warm day,” California dog trainer Beverly Ulbrich adds. “And shoes will even protect from broken glass in city streets.”

Trex boots are highly rated and available at REI or online.

One of the highest-rated lines is Trex by Ruffwear (pictured above), which makes a range of paw protectors for all weather conditions and terrains. The rugged outsole can hold up to wear and tear and the breathable mesh keeps dirt and bugs out while keeping your dog comfy.

Every dog is different, so you’ll need to find the fit for his paws. Measure by marking from heel to nail and side to side to find your dog’s LxW size. There may be some trial and error, so make sure you can exchange your items if they don’t fit properly. For most dogs, putting shoes on for the first time will be a little uncomfortable.

“The main thing would be to get them used to it because a lot of dogs might find it strange to not have the feeling of their paw pads on the ground,” Ulbrich explains. “They will feel like they don’t actually have good footing. They have to learn to trust the shoe and trust the traction of it.”

You’ll have to ease your dog into wearing the shoes, but once he is used to them, he shouldn’t mind them at all. In fact, he’ll probably get excited when you pull out his shoes, knowing he’s going on a trip.

We’ve got the lowdown on more dog bootie options right here.

If your sun-loving adventure dog is starting to show signs of dry dog skin or cracked sand burned paw pads, check out our article, Our Favorite Treatments for Dry Dog Skin: Butters, Salves, and Oils, Oh My!

Gear Up and Carry Supplies

While you’re trekking through nature, you’ll need water, snacks, and other supplies. Also consider a canine first-aid kit, as well as a hiking pack (for you and your dog).

These doggy backpacks strap around his back and are typically padded for comfort and are moisture-resistant (like the Kurgo Dog Saddlebag Backpack pictured above). Just make sure not to weigh your dog down too much.

Some packs, like Ruffwear (pictured below), come with reflective strips so you can easily spot your dog in low visibility in the wilderness. Availability of Ruffwear gear in recent months has been touch and go, but when they’re in stock, an item such as the Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack (pictured below) retails between $50-$80, depending on the size you need.

Don’t forget the dog hiking gear basics: a good outdoor leash and collar. We review some to the best in the videos below.

For more details, check out our article, The Top 3 Outdoor Collars Reviewed.

For more details, check out our article, The Top 3 Hiking Leashes for Dogs Reviewed.

Strap ‘Em On

Want to take your dog on your hike but aren’t sure he can physically handle the trip? No problem—just carry him.

In the video below, Rover pup Coconut tests out the K9 Sportsack dog-carrying backpack, which is available in small to extra large sizes.

For other dog-carrying backpack ideas, check out this fun yet practical article.

Whenever carrying your dog in a backpack, make sure he’s secure and cannot jump out or wriggle free, which can cause serious injury to both you and your pup! Be wary that carrying your furry friend like this can put quite a bit of strain on your back, and “consider if your dog is comfortable, too,” Ulbrich says. “The packs where they are lying down aren’t contorting them as much and are more comfortable for the dog.”

If you’re both uncomfortable, it’s worth reconsidering the idea of hiking with your dog in this way. Sometimes it’s better to leave the pupper at home or camp with a friend while you blaze a trail solo.

Dog Hiking Gear: What Else Should You Bring?

Hikers who like to adventure with their dogs are likely familiar with some of these essentials. When backpacking or hiking with your dog, other things to pack include:

If your dog will be going for a swim, consider a waterproof and more importantly, stink-proof collar. And even if your dog is an experienced swimmer, it’s a safe bet to get him a personal flotation device, especially in a river where currents can be deceiving.

If the weather is going to be especially hot on your hike, remember your dog is wearing a fur coat. First off, brush up on what dog heatstroke is, and how to prevent it, as well as tips for keeping your dog cool and hydrated.

Then, consider a cooling vest to keep him comfortable; drop the vest in water, wring it out, and fasten it on your dog for instant relief from the heat. But you don’t have to go high-tech to help your dog cool off.

“If you don’t have access to cooling vests, you can just wet their fur as needed,” Ulbrich adds.

The Bottom Line

Dogs love spending time outdoors. But when you go off-road, make sure you’ve got the gear to keep your furry friends safe, cool, hydrated, and happy!

For more about hiking and camping with your dog, check out one of the articles below.

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