Pin It

Gearhub: Prep yourself and your pup for a wild time 

Dog days

click to enlarge go-gearhub-dogs-sespe-w2023.jpg


My pit bull has backpacked in Big Sur and beyond, rafted the Owens River, kayaked and snowshoed in the Sierra Nevada, and car camped and hiked all across the Western United States. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and acquired a cupboard full of dog gear in the last 12 years, from life vests and sweaters, to a nose lead we no longer use, and a light I can snap onto his collar.

While reliable gear is essential, the most important thing is to make sure both you and your dog are ready for outdoor activies. You want your dog to be comfortable, not anxious and scared or obnoxious and disobedient, so only include them on the trips they can take in stride.


Before you head into grand adventure land, test the waters. Try a few short hikes, take a couple of car camping trips, and hit the beach. Be sure you understand your pooch, their behavior and their limits, as well as your own, and plan accordingly. Know what the rules are where you’re going: whether pets are allowed and what the leash laws are. Know the terrain, what the water situation is, whether it’s rocky or sandy. Know the weather: how cold, hot, or wet it’s going to be.

A short list of dog supplies should get you started. You can find much of it at your local pet store, on Amazon, or through a handful of outdoor dog-oriented retailers such as Ruffwear and Wilderdog.

A leash and harness

Never leave home without a leash. Even if you think your dog is the obedience king or queen, leashes are required on many outdoor trails and you never know how other dogs will behave. I also prefer a good four-point harness to anything like a nose lead or choke collar—most have multiple spots for a leash to hook into as well as a handle that’s easy to grab in messy situations.

Nalgene bottle and collapsible bowl

I learned the hard way that my dog needed his own water bottle. I often hiked thirsty while he depleted mine, and in the Central Coast backcountry, creeks and streams tend to dry up by late summer. You can purchase a collapsible bowl at any number of stores, from Ross to REI. A light Nalgene or other plastic bottle should do your pooch just fine.

Snacks and food

When you need food, your dog will also need food. Pack some extra jerky for the pup when hiking and a peanut butter dog biscuit, or four. If you’re backpacking, bring along a ziplock bag containing slightly more dog food than they would normally eat. Both you and your pooch are exerting extra energy, so you’ll both be extra hungry.

Doggy backpack

These range from high end to economy, just like human backpacks. Most will work for a short two- or three-day backpacking trip. I opted for an economy version, and my pup packs in his own food and snacks, bowl, poop bags, and towel. Give your dog an opportunity to try it out, both with and without weight, before you commit them to carrying their stuff on a pack trip.

Sleeping bag and/or pad

Just as you want to be comfortable camping on the hard ground in the great beyond, your pampered pet does too. My dog doesn’t have a lot of fur, so he can get cold at night. I purchased a Wilderdog sleeping bag that he can tuck into, but I recommend buying one from Ruffwear if you can afford it. He’s always grateful when I zip him up for the night.


Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Search, Find, Enjoy

Submit an event

Trending Now