The Best Hiking Gear for Dogs of 2023: Staff Picks

Our four-legged trekkers set paw to trail to bring you their favorite products for outdoorsy pups.

Maren Horjus|Updated October 30, 2023

3 reviews with an average rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars
A dog enjoying an urban hike with their human.


You have good gear—why shouldn’t your best friend? Whether you’re in the market for a new leash or your fluffer’s first pack, find the perfect addition to Fido’s kit among these 13 staff picks.


Best Collar

Looking to upgrade your pooch’s necklace? Look no further. These collars from Wolfgang Man & Beast are constructed with abrasion-resistant polyester (and pull-tested at 800 pounds, which seems excessive, but neat). The massive buckle is easy to operate with one hand, and the single D-ring is great for clipping licenses and a leash. Each size has up to 8 inches of play via the easy sliding adjustment.

Best Harness

Do you prefer harnesses? The venerable Ruffwear Front Range is light and airy enough for everyday wear and also burly enough for backcountry adventures. It’s made of ridiculously tough, 300-denier ripstop polyester (mine has survived everything from ski edges to teething puppies with nary a snag) and is padded with plush, closed-cell foam for all-day comfort. It has two leash-attachment points on the back and chest and comes in enough colors to satisfy the pickiest of hoomans.

Best Leash

Speaking of leashes: This 6-footer from Ruffwear can be worn around your waist—perfect for hands-free trail running, backpacking or hiking. A lengthy bungee section absorbs shock and gives your pal some give, and the talon-style clip is easy to thumb on the move. A clever loop along the handle is great for stashing pick-up bags.

Best Night Light

About the size of half a table-tennis ball, this basic key chain from Nite Ize is perfect for nighttime walks or hanging out at camp. Clip it to your dog’s collar via a mini carabiner, and squeeze the housing to turn it on or double press for the rave flash mode. You can adjust it to one of four colors or let it automatically cycle through the rainbow in Disc-O mode. Nite Ize claims 5 hours of burn time on the rechargable batteries. (Micro USB charging cord not included.)

Best Bowl

Stuff this collapsible bowl from Ruffwear into your pocket, the pick-up bag loop of your leash or the tiniest crevice in your pack so you’re always ready to give Snoopy a water break or trailside snack. The Quencher comes in a couple of sizes—the medium holds a Liter, the large 2.5 Liters—and weighs next to nothing. A wide base and rigid rim help keep it upright on uneven terrain, even when multiple puppers plunge their snouts inside.

Best Day Pack

If you subscribe to the everyone-carries-their-share mentality, get your floof on board with a modest load in the versatile Ruffwear Approach™ dog pack. The saddlebags are fixed to the harness, which has a convenient grab handle (should your little mountain goat need a lift up a tall boulder or into the car) and a strong aluminum V-ring for connecting a leash. My dog carries his own water and first-aid kit on either side, plus a lightweight PackTowl and his food. He is also responsible for carrying out his own poop.

Best Overnight Pack

Have a four-legged backpacking buddy? Go with something more voluminous like the Ruffwear Palisades dog pack for overnight pursuits. It uses a two-part system: The saddlebags, which are big enough to accomodate a sleep system, connect to an included harness, so it’s all but impossible to Titanic the load with uneven packing. Pockets on each side swallow smaller sundries, and the pack comes with two collapsible water reservoirs. (Tips: Never pack the Ten Essentials in your dog’s pack, and try not to load it up to more than 25% of the dog’s body weight.)

Best Jacket

If you’re chilly, she’s chilly. And of course you both want to look stylish whether you’re walking down the block or day hiking down the trail. The Ruffwear Overcoat Fuse is lightweight but polyester fleece–lined, making it perfect for light activity in shoulder seasons and as activewear for winter jogs and more strenuous hikes. As a convenient combo of jacket and harness, the Overcoat Fuse eliminates the need to fiddle with layering one over the other, and has a weather-resistant shell to protect your pooch from precip on those less-than-perfect days. The jacket features two leash attachment points and a pair of sleek zippered pockets on either side for extra waste bags or other small essentials. (Of course we mean treats—what else could possibly be essential?)

Best Eyewear

Help protect your dog’s peepers from debris, sunshine, glare and haters with Rex Specs. The strap system loops under the dog’s muzzle and behind its ears for a secure, bounce-free fit. The lenses, which are interchangeable (each pair comes with clear and dark options), are spherical for a wide field of vision. My pup pawed his doggie goggles at first but came to associate them with impending adventure and now places them as an offering at my feet when he’s itching to get sendy—transition your dog into the goggle life slowly and patiently.

Best Booties

Shield your pooch’s paws from granite, spiky desert floor, snow, ice, melt chemicals and more with the Ruffwear Grip Trex booties. They slide on easily with a hook-and-loop closure and boast a tacky Vibram outsole that’s on par with what’s likely on your own shoes. There’s a learning curve for the first-time wearer, but it tends to result in a funny video, so keep your phone handy. Note: The Grip Trex are sold in pairs because your dog’s front and back paws may be different sizes.

Best Storage System

There’s no right way to get your buddy ready for an adventure, but one way to make it easier for yourself is to have a “go bag” ready. Any small luggage will do, but I like these modular packing cubes from REI Co-op. Keep a spare leash, a first-aid kit, a bowl, enough kibble for a few meals and a water bottle inside, along with whatever accoutrements are unique to your doggo (chew toys, bones, tennis balls, training treats, meds, etc.). The Expandable Packing Cubes stand on their own and have handles for grabbing on the go.

Best Blanket

Dirty dogs aren’t great tentmates. Whether you’re picnicking, watching a Little League game or taking a trailside snack break, having an established outdoor, dog-friendly blanket can make life comfier and cleaner. This packable throw from REI Co-op has synthetic fill to insulate from the cold ground, plus a Pertex nylon shell with a DWR finish for shedding dirt, light precip and dog hair. (You could even keep the Camp Blanket in your Expandable Packing Cube for maximum convenience.)

Best Trailer

OK, who lives to serve whom in this relationship? Cart your king or queen around in style with the Burley Tail Wagon, a two-wheeled bike-only trailer that hitches to your bike so all members of the family get to enjoy the outdoors. The cockpit has mesh windows on all sides, plus a secure fabric cover for weatherproofing or letting your pal feel the wind in her face. Note: The weight capacity is 75 pounds.

Buying Advice

When choosing hiking gear for your dog, you’ll first want to make sure they’re ready to hit the trail. Then, consider their size, the type and strenuousness of the activity, the duration of the activity and the acclimation period they might need for the right gear. 

Make Sure Your Dog Is Ready to Hike

Before heading out, you’ll want to ensure that Fido is fit for the trail. Dogs are especially vulnerable to injury and illness before they’re fully grown, which might be a year for smaller breeds and up to 18 months for larger ones. Additionally, you’ll want to consult with your vet about your dog’s immunity development based on their age, size, breed and vaccination schedule: Unseen hazards like giardia, E. coli, Leptospirosis and parasites can lurk in contaminated water or trailside dog waste that hasn’t been properly disposed of. Read Hiking or Backpacking with Your Dog for more information about how to keep your buddy safe.

Measure Your Dog for a Safe and Accurate Fit 

Since dogs aren’t allowed to try on gear and clothes in-store like we are, you’ll want to make sure you get accurate measurements before buying fitted gear or apparel like jackets, harnesses, collars and packs. While most dog gear and clothing are labeled as small, medium, large, etc., in order to ensure a safe, secure and comfortable fit, experts from Ruffwear recommend taking specific measurements, particularly of their neck, chest and full body length. You can use a soft measuring tape or a long piece of string that you can mark and measure against a ruler or yardstick.

  • Neck Wrap the measuring tape or string gently around the base of the neck, directly above where it meets the shoulders. The tape measure should be close to their fur, and you should be able to fit two fingers underneath the tape. This allows for a close but not constricting fit.

  • Chest Wrap the measuring tape or string around your dog’s rib cage and over their shoulder blades. Again, you should be able to fit two fingers underneath the tape for a comfortable fit.

  • Length For length, you’ll want to measure the distance between your pup’s shoulder blades (right where they meet the neck) and the base of their tail, where it connects to the rest of their body.

Remember that if your dog is young, they may not be done growing. Depending on the breed, some dogs may take as many as 18 months or more to reach their full size. Rather than try to guess how big they might be, it’s best (and safest) to follow garment and gear sizing for their current measurements. Some gear may be adjustable as your pal grows. If your youngster falls smack dab in between two sizes, it’s generally a good idea to size up. (And remember that it’s not recommended to take a still-growing pup on a hike or backpacking trip.)

Help Your Dog Get Acclimated to Gear

Just like you want to make sure your clothes, boots and pack fit before you head out on the trails, you’ll want to make sure your dog is prepared to wear and haul everything you’ve bought for them—before you try to get them out the door. 

Introduce new gear and clothing to your dog gradually: Let her smell them and inspect them before you try to force them over her head, and make sure that you give praise and treats while she checks them out. Once she’s comfortable with them laid flat, gently ease into getting them on her, one item at a time. (Don’t jump right into layers, and always start with empty packs.) With plenty of treats and praise reinforcements, let her wear them around the house for a few minutes at first, then progress into longer periods indoors or short walk outdoors. 

Care and Repair

Dogs play ruff—er, rough—and sometimes they roll and run where they’re not supposed to, causing their gear or apparel to get dirty or damaged. 

Harnesses and leashes are as much safety gear as accessories, so if you notice tears, rips, bent or damaged clips or any other structural issues, it’s better to replace them than take any risks. 

Hand-washing dog gear and clothes is recommended not only because you can give everything a closer look in the process, but also because you don’t want them accidentally getting tossed into the drier, which can shrink or damage some commonly used dog-gear materials. 

Dog jackets and packs can be cleaned and repaired much like their human counterparts. See How to Clean a Backpack, How to Patch a Down Jacket, Durable Rainwear Repellent (DWR) Care and How to Fix a Jacket Zipper for more information.


We asked REI Co-op staff, members and their fine furry friends what dog gear, treats and clothes get their tails wagging. These are the items that earned two paws up.

About the Author

Maren Horjus

Maren Horjus is a former associate editor for Expert Advice and Uncommon Path, presently chasing powder and a humidity-free lifestyle in Boulder, Colorado. REI member since 2012.