The Best Hiking Gear for Dogs

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Our top picks to keep your pup's tail wagging on the trails

Your gear closet may be overflowing, but you'll want to make sure your dog has the perfect hiking kit, too. So I tested some of the top gear on the market, taking it on a 20-mile backpacking trip through the Rockies and up some favorite local trails, to find the most durable, practical pet products. I've been hiking and camping with my dog Ted for over six years, and now I travel with two pups. Here's the stuff that I think is pretty key for any dog owner, whether you're out for the day or the weekend.

Ruffwear Approach Pack

5 liters off your back

Photo: Ruffwear

I figured it was about time for Ted to carry his own weight. With a zipper pouch on either side, this harness-meets-pack has enough space for his own food, treats, and toys. Its adjustable straps helped me find a perfect fit, and the built-in handle came in handy when Ted needed a boost at river crossings. $80, Ruffwear.com

Flowfold Trailmate Leash

Upcycled from climbing ropes

 

Photo: Flowfold

My other dog, Stella, racks up cool points every time we hit the trails with this environmentally-friendly leash from Maine-based gear company Flowfold. The Trailmate leash is made from scraps of Sterling climbing rope, and at a length of five feet, Stella's never far from my side—no matter how many rabbits there are to chase. Plus, the rope is strong and durable so it'll hold up on longer backpacking treks. $22, Flowfold.com

Itery LED Collar

Keep your dogs safe in the dark

Photo: Amazon

Stella is notorious for wandering from campsite to campsite in search of food. To help me keep track of her and Ted after dark, I invested in two of these light-up collars. They're waterproof, adjustable, and rechargeable, but what I like most about them is that I've been using them for over 15 dog years and they're still going strong. $9, Itery

Sea to Summit X-Cup

For collapsible and light hydration

Photo: Sea to Summit

Although not specifically designed for dogs, the Sea to Summit eight-ounce X-Cup makes for a perfect on-the-go water and food dish. It collapses, so it's easy to throw into my pack—or into Ted's harness pocket—and the silicone material is durable, yet light, weighing in at just over 1.5 ounces. $10, SeatoSummit.com

SealLine Blockerlite Dry Sack

Stronger than a plastic bag, but just as light-weight

Photo: SealLine

I used to carry dog food and treats in a plastic bag, but they kept developing holes over long weekends. That's why I switched to these dry sacks. The packs will keep kibble dry if you get caught in the rain and prevent the rest of your bag from smelling like dog food. The SealLine Blockerlite line offers various volumes of ultralight (weighing in at one to two ounces) dry sacks, so you can find the right size for the amount of food you need to carry. $16-27, SealLine.com

Ruffwear Highlands Bed

So you don't have to share your bag with your muddy companion

Photo: Ruffwear

Secret: I don't actually use a dog bed. My 12- and 25-pound pooches fit snuggled on top of my sleeping bag (or a pile of clothes!) just fine, but my friends with larger dogs swear by them. Shannon Davis, editorial and partnerships director at Hiking Project, has a Ruffwear Highlands bed. He says, "It gave my 90-pound lab a warm, comfortable place to plop when I'd kick him off of my bag, and for my medium size, slightly neurotic cattle dog Lobo, it lets him know where his home is." Plus, it packs down to the size of a burrito and only weighs 13 ounces.  $60, Ruffwear.com

Musher's Secret Paw Wax

For healthy paws in all weather

Photo: Musher's Secret

For Ted's sensitive paws, especially on extra-long adventures, I use this wax-based cream. If I know we're going to encounter snow, ice, hot pavement, or rough gravel, I smear it on to help protect his pads. The vitamin-E-based formula helped him heal and prevented further damage on a three-day trek through New Hampshire's White Mountains a few years ago. $12, MushersSecret.net

Cycle Dog Earth Friendly Pick-Up Bags

Leave no trace

Photo: Cycle Dog

I always try to be a responsible hiker and leave the trails as clean—or cleaner—than I found them. Sure, you can pick up dog waste with any bag, but what I love about the ones from Cycle Dog is their durability (because there's nothing worse than a poop leak in your pack). Plus, they're biodegradable, so I know I'm being as green as possible when I use them to pack out poo. $6, CycleDog.com

Great hiking gear makes for happy campers. Photo: Abigail Wise

Looking for more? Explore dog gear at REI.

Lead Photo: Hiking Project editor Abigail Wise's dog Teddy, after testing the Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack on a 20-mile backpacking trip in Colorado's State Forest State Park

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