Dog Hiking Gear: Trail Essentials for Your Pup

A dog can be a great trail companion. No matter if you are a day hiker or want to tackle a long distance backpacking trip with your pup, there is dog hiking gear for you and your pup’s needs.

Planning a hike with your dog is like planning any other hike. There are always factors to consider. Make sure to choose a trail that your dog can physically handle. For instance, consider your dog’s physical ability and age. The weather will also pose a factor in choosing dog hiking gear. Take into consideration the temperature and terrain.

Before you even think about dog hiking gear, you must have three things that every dog owner should have. An identification tag (or microchip) on your dog, high quality food and waste bags are necessary. These three things should be taken on nearly every hike. If you are a dog owner, which I’m sure you are because you are reading this, than those three things are no-brainers. With that being said, let’s get into dog hiking gear recommended for life on the trail.

Collapsible Bowl

Ruffwear Quencher Collapsible Bowl

Photo Credit: Ruffwear

You dog must stay hydrated on the trail just like you. Therefore a collapsible dish or bowl is not only easy to carry but also lightweight. Collapsible bowls can be used for both water and food. Do keep in mind that dogs are also at risk of contracting giardia. Therefore always filter your pup’s water

Shop Collapsible Dog Bowls


Dog Pack

Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack

Photo Credit: Ruffwear

For backpacking trips or long day hikes, allow your dog to carry some of the load. Dog packs are made so that dogs can carry their own gear. However always consider your dog’s weight. A dog should not carry more than 20% of their weight. It is even recommended that some breeds not carry more than 10% to 15% of their weight. Smaller dogs may not be suitable to carry a pack at all. When choosing a dog pack, always consider your dog’s size so that the pick fits perfectly during running and hiking. There are a number of packs on the market for dogs. The pack you choose will depend on your lifestyle. Packs made for backpacking will have more cushion and a bigger volume size. Just like hiking gear for humans, some packs are even made with a waterproof barrier.

Shop Dog Packs


Vest and Coats

Ruffwear Cloud Chase Dog Coat

Photo Credit: Ruffwear

Vests and coats for your pooch come in handy during inclement weather. When it’s cold, a dog coat is necessary. Dogs, like humans, find it cold when temperatures drop. If you are hiking in especially wet weather, choose a wind- and water-resistant vest or coat. When it comes to deep snow however, seek a coat that covers your dog’s underside. Another option for your pup during cold days is a bodysuit, which covers the entire body and legs. This can act as camp and sleeping attire for your adventuring pooch. Alternatively, a vest can be a great alternative from a coat for more mild temperatures. Consider a vest even for hot environments. A vest can actually cool your dog off if soaked in water.

Shop Dog Coats


Dog Boots

Ruffwear Polar Trex Dog Booties Boots

Photo Credit: Ruffwear

If you plan on hiking with your dog during the winter or on rugged terrain, dog booties are recommended. Boots for your dog are meant to protect your dog’s sensitive paw pads. Now your dog might not like booties all too much. However after some practice, your canine will learn to appreciate them. When it comes to finding dog boots, make sure to purchase ones that are sure to stay on. Most boots cinch around the ankle for a snug fit and have traction at the bottom.

Shop Dog Boots


Dog-related Medical Supplies

Adventure Dog Series Medical Kit

Photo Credit: Adventure Medical Kits

Anything can happen while hiking so it is always best to be prepared. Therefore carry a few medical items in your first aid kit that are catered to your canine. Many things in a dog-related first aid kit are similar to humans. For example, always bring gauze, adhesive tape, tweezers and wipes. However consider also bringing hydrogen peroxide and a large plastic syringe. These two items can help induce vomiting if Fido eats anything poisonous. Also, a brush and a tick remover are highly recommended. Some ticks carry deadly diseases that can be dangerous for your pooch. Therefore it is beneficial to always check for ticks. 

Shop Dog First Aid


LED or Reflective Collar

Nite Ize LED Collar

Photo Credit: Nite Ize

For nighttime walks and time at camp, an LED or reflective collar can come in handy. Light-up collars will help you find your dog during times of low visibility. If an LED or light-up collar is not in your budget, a reflective collar is still recommended. Alternatively, there are LED lights that are made specifically to clip onto a dog’s regular collar.

Shop LED Collars



Ruffwear Flat Out Waist Leash

Photo Credit: Ruffwear

A leash is an important dog accessory, even during hiking. Some parks and natural areas require that dogs stay on a leash. Choose a leash that is strong and durable. If you want to be hands-free, consider a waist leash. A four- to six-foot leash is recommended for running and hiking. If your dog is excitable and not necessarily leash trained, a dog harness may be beneficial. A dog harness reduces the risk of trachea damage on your dog.

Shop Waist Leashes

Shop Dog Harnesses


Not Necessary But Recommended:

Sleeping Bag

If you do plan on camping with your dog, especially during colder temperatures, a sleeping bag may be necessary. Some dog owners choose to carry a child’s sleeping bag or a double-person sleeping bag to accommodate their pooch.

Seat Protector

When you get back to the trail head, you might have a muddy, messy dog on your hands. To protect your car from a dirty pooch, consider purchasing a seat protector. Seat protectors shield the entire back seat, so you don’t have to worry about the mess.

Shop Seat Protectors

GPS Locator

This piece of tech could become very handy if you ever lose your dog out on the trail. The Garmin Alpha, the most notable dog GPS tracking device, comes with a vibrating tracking collar.

Shop Garmin Alpha

What dog hiking gear do you recommend? Tell us your suggestions in the comments below!
Madison Dragna

Madison Dragna

Madison is a long distance hiker and devoted yogi. She completed the Appalachian Trail in 2013 and Corsica's treacherous GR 20 in 2014. When she's not traveling, she enjoys life as a freelance writer in Fort Collins, Colorado.
See all Madi's Blog Posts
Follow Madi on Instagram @madidragna
Madison Dragna

Latest posts by Madison Dragna (see all)