Dog Hiking Gear Essentials

Before hitting the trails, check out these seven hiking tools to keep you and your dog prepared in the elements.

By Allyson Shulte
Explore Ambassador

This guide is intended for anyone who hikes with their dog, whether you find yourself on a local trail, mountaintop or anywhere in between. Perhaps you’ve got your packing list down but need help figuring out where to start with your dog, or maybe you have been on many hikes with your dogs but you always feel like you’re missing something. This guide walks through a few pieces of gear that I recommend bringing on every hike with your furry friend! 


Waterproof Collar And Leash Set

Once you’ve upgraded to a waterproof collar and leash set, you won’t be able to go back. If you have never heard of BioThane dog collars, I’m here to introduce you to a new world of dog gear! BioThane dog collars are stink-proof, stain-proof, and waterproof. Whether it’s mud or water, the lake or the mountains, BioThane truly stands up to the test of any adventure. Maggie and Airabell have been hiking in BioThane collars for over two years now, and I continue to be impressed by how well it holds up and how easily it washes off every time. On more than one occasion, our dogs have played in the sand, rolled in animal feces or splashed through mud, but our BioThane always looks as good as new after scrubbing with some warm water and soap. This is often reflected in the pricing (especially when compared to pet store collars), but I always think it’s worth investing in quality gear that will last. We always have a BioThane collar and leash on hand, and we also have a long-line waterproof leash. The long-line is especially great for when you want to give your dog a little bit more freedom on the trail or at camp. You can find places that sell waterproof dog collar and leash sets online, but a few of my favorite small businesses are Northbound Dog Co. (pictured above), Sloppy Chops Co. and Harbor Hound. 


Harness With A Handle

Sometimes you come across a spot on the trail that your dog just needs a little help getting over, and a harness with a handle will make both of your lives much easier! Our personal favorites are the Ruffwear Flagline and Web Master harnesses, which both include a padded handle on top. These harnesses are truly customizable to your dog with five points of adjustment, providing a secure fit so you can support them as needed on your outdoor adventures. Another advantage of hiking with your dog on a harness is that if it’s a puller on the leash, there is no pressure put on its neck. This allows for easier breathing for them and a more comfortable day for everyone!


Paw Protection (Booties Or Musher’s Wax)

Whether you encounter snow or warm pavement when you venture outdoors, protecting your dog’s paw pads is something to be aware of. We keep dog booties on our packing list year-round. I get our dog booties on Amazon and have had great success with the QUMY dog booties and Hcpet dog booties. If you’d rather opt for paw protection wax, Musher’s Secret is my favorite! 

Maggie and Airabell wear booties during the winters in Colorado for a few reasons: to protect their paws from salt on the sidewalks, to prevent snow/ice buildup between their toes and to ultimately keep their paws safe from any rocks/ice that could scrape and cut their paw pads on a cold day. In the winter, if our walk or trail is consistently snowy, then the dogs will either get Musher’s wax or dog booties on their paws.

It’s not something everyone thinks of, but dog booties can be especially important in the summer. High temperatures quickly make asphalt hot for your dog’s paws, especially on sunny, dry days that are 78 degrees Fahrenheit and above. In the summer, if the trail has an extended period without shade on a warm, sunny day and/or has lots of rocks (which typically warm up in the sun), I’ll either have our dogs wear their booties or I will pack them in my bag. If you’re not sure whether your dog needs booties, you can try the “seven-second rule” by pressing the back of your hand against the surface for seven seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws! 

Anytime we’re heading out for a hike (year-round), I make sure to research the trail conditions beforehand to decide if the dogs will need their booties.


Water Bottle/Bowl

It’s always important to pack water for yourself, but it’s also important to make sure your dog stays hydrated while on the trail. Dogs can also suffer from dehydration (just like humans!), so make sure you’re offering frequent water breaks when you’re on the trail. While hiking, it’s a good rule of thumb to offer them water at least once an hour. There are a ton of options on the internet for reusable water bottles and dog bowls, but my personal favorites are the Kurgo Gourd Water Bottle and Bowl or a Hydro Flask Water Bottle and collapsible dog bowl combination.


Poop Bag Carrier

Don’t be that person who forgets your poop bag on the side of the trail! It’s never fun when your dog poops right at the start of a trail or adventure and then you’re stuck smelling it the rest of the day. But thankfully, poop bag carriers can help solve that problem! I always clip a poop bag carrier to my leash, backpack or fanny pack anytime I’m heading outside with the dogs. I recommend two options: PupPouch and Doo Doo Tube. PupPouch is a great lightweight option and comes in two sizes, depending on your trip length and number of dogs (aka, how many poops you’ll want to store). The Doo Doo Tube comes in a one-size, durable hard shell but is a perfect clip-on to add to your hiking backpack or go-bag. For most of our day hikes with two medium-size dogs, I will pack the PupPouch Mini or the Doo Doo Tube, and that gives me plenty of storage. Save yourself (and your friends!) from stinky poops while hiking and add a dog poop carrier to your gear list! 


Treat Pouch And Snacks

Since dogs can’t really speak up when they’re hungry, I recommend being intentional about providing your pup with opportunities for snacks to replenish its energy and strength. A treat pouch is a great way to keep their snacks easy to access, while also giving you the opportunity to reward them for good behavior! 

I personally use the Wilderdog Utility Pack, and I love the functionality and features. I’m able to fit a day’s or hike’s worth of treats, along with my phone, keys, an extra leash and an entire roll of poop bags! It’s got space for everything you need and then some. I originally purchased it for hiking, but it’s been so great I even wear it for walks around the neighborhood. My treat pouch is typically stocked with Orijen Dog Treats or Jerky Treats (these ones are great because you can break them into smaller pieces).

When you have a long (more strenuous than your normal routine) hike planned, I recommend packing part of your dog’s daily meal for the road or packing extra snacks/treats for your adventure. Ruff Bars are great for longer days on the trail because they’re superportable and jam-packed with nutrients. For local hikes or shorter trails, I bring my fully stuffed treat pouch. Whenever you pack snacks for yourself, grab some snacks for the dogs, too! 


Dog Rescue Harness/Gear

Although we never want it to happen, sometimes dogs will get injured on the trail. And if you don’t have a means of getting them out yourself, you might find yourself calling in search and rescue resources to evacuate your dog off the trail. Instead, I recommend investing in a new piece of gear that can basically live in your hiking backpack: a dog rescue harness. We own the Ruff Rescue Harness, and while it’s never been used for the purpose of carrying the dogs off the trail, we have tested it around the house and are very pleased with the quality and features. It’s comfortable to wear for both the human and the dogs and has a customizable and secure fit. 

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