I've been trying to decide on a pack so my dog can carry some of her gear. What features do you look for and do you have any to recommend?
Edit: My dog is about 38 lbs. (and super cute)
Hey there @sgreenler, so excited for you and your dog to get out backpacking! It is probably our dogs' most favorite of all of the outdoor actvities we do together, hope it becomes your pup's favorite too! A lot of backpacking is just like camping with your dog, which you've done! So I tried to think of the things that have gone wrong in our trips (yes that means there are stories to all of these!) and work backwards to how we prevented that the next time.
1. Pause for Paws (I had to do it guys, it was right there): Whenever you stop, check your pups paws. It is the easiest way for a trip to end early. In my experience, our dogs are so excited, they won't stop for minor cuts and irritations. That means if you find them at the end of a 10 mile day, they are now major issues. The most common paw irritants I find are: sap build up, coarse sand or granite punctures, thorns, cracking, burns from hot rocks. I carry a paw-specific cream and a few styles of booties just in case it gets really bad.
2. Dog packs are your best friend: I can't recommend them enough, but there is already a thread going here, so peruse what our community is already talking about!
3. Tie outs let you nap! (this one is dog specific, we have one dog we don't need this for and another we do, so depends on your pup): We bring a long 30ft tie out for our dog who will wander, if left to her own devices. You have to check the regulations for where you are going (some limit leashes to 6ft), but for places where they just have to be under voice control, it's the perfect thing to let you take a hammock nap, while your pup sleeps in the shade underneath you.
If you want more tips, we've got lots in our Hiking or Backpacking with Your Dog article in our REI Co-op Expert Advice. Hope you guys have a great first trip!
Hey @sgreenler, sorry for my delay, we were off in the mountains for a few days!
I swear I've tried all the creams and my two favorites are both mentioned in this thread! I've generally leaned more towards Musher's secret for cold weather issues and burt's bees for hot weather. Though often we are in booties on the hot summer days out here on our granite. Hope this helps!