Home » Essential Gear: Backpacking with your K-9 Companion

Essential Gear: Backpacking with your K-9 Companion

So you want to take Fido with you into the backcountry? Fantastic! Like you, your K-9 companion needs to gear up with the proper equipment before venturing off into the wilderness. Below you can find a list of essential K-9 backpacking gear that is tested, tried, and true.

1. Adventure Medical Kits ADS Me And My Dog First Aid Kit

First things first, you need to think of your dog’s safety. Though it is no fun to imagine, being prepared for probable bumps, bruises, scrapes and cuts really is the best investment you can make. Not to mention you also get some peace of mind. This first aid kit from Adventure Medical will cover both your needs and the needs of your dog, so you don’t have to carry extra weight. The case is built out of ever-durable nylon and the contents include but are not limited to the following: 

  • SOL Emergency Blanket to treat shock and hypothermia 
  • Emergency Cold Pack to reduce swelling of sprains and strains
  • 10 CC Irrigation Syringe to effectively clean wound and prevent infection
  • Splinter Picker/Tick Remover to remove ticks from your dog’s paws and body
  • Triangular Bandage for multi-purpose use
  • Cohesive Elastic Bandage which doesn’t stick to fur to easily wrap injuries

See the full product description for a comprehensive list of contents

2. Ruffwear Palisades Dog Pack

Chances are you are going to need some help carrying all that extra food and water. A dog pack is the perfect solution for this problem, but just like you, the proper pack is imperative. Ruffwear Palisades Dog Pack is the crème de la crème of dog packs for multi day backpacking trips due to its large capacity and adjustable fit. It includes removable saddle bags, two collapsible hydration bladders, and a cross load compression system. This dog pack comes in three separate sizes and includes comprehensive directions for accurate sizing. The pack itself is constructed out of nylon ripstop and nylon webbing to ensure durability for maximum trail blazing opportunity. If it is within your budget, consider adding in a brush guard for extra stability and comfort. Additional features include:

  • Two points of leash connections
  • Stash pockets and external gear loops
  • Low-light visibility with reflective trim

Please do not load this pack with more than 25% of your dog’s weight to prevent unnecessary strain and injury. 

3. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad

It goes without saying that inflatable sleeping pads are out of the question, right? Right. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad, though not specifically made for dogs, is the most economical and comfortable pad on the market. After a long day of packing it around, a comfortable place for your dog to sleep is paramount. If you happen to have an older version of this pad laying around you can cut it down to size or even opt in for a smaller version of this pad if your K-9 companion is of the tiny variety. It is lightweight and provides an R-value of 2 which makes it an ideal option for cool weather. As alluded to before, the closed-cell foam prevents any unfortunate interaction between nail and pad. Even more ideal, the pad can be strapped to your dogs back without adding too much additional weight, coming in at just 14 ounces (or less if you cut it custom). 

4. Ruffwear Highlands Dog Sleeping Bag

Many people opt to share their sleeping bag with their dog, but if you would like to treat your dog to their own bed, and yourself, this bag from Ruffwear is a good option for cooler weather backpacking. It includes an insulated neck baffle in order to minimize drafts and a compression sack that is designed to fit into the Ruffwear Palisades Dog Pack. The exterior is water resistant (DWR) and durable while the interior includes synthetic insulation to keep Fido warm on cold nights and a water repellent liner for especially adventurous pups. It is one of those products that you won’t know you need until you try it. See the specifications below:

  • Shell: 75 denier cire polyester with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish (bluesign® approved)
  • Insulation: Synthetic down
  • Lining: 40 denier nylon with WR (Water Repellent) finish
  • YKK reverse coil zipper
  • Stuff sack: 100% 70 denier taffeta nylon (bluesign® approved)

5. Ruffwear Grip Trex Dog Boots

Multiple days out in the elements can lead to some tired and worn paws, especially when trekking on abrasive surfaces such as granite or hot sand. Equipping your K-9 companion with booties is a good call for longer treks and can prevent unnecessary injury. These Grip Trex Boots set a standard for dogs who love to play outside. They include vibram soles, breathable upper material, low-light visibility reflective trim, and a gusset design for easy application. Most dogs’ front and back paws differ in size so Ruffwear offers the packs in a set of two or four. Learn how to measure your dog’s paws accurately here and read some useful tips for breaking those boots in.

6. Ruffwear Pack Out Bag

No, this isn’t everyone’s favorite topic, but it is your responsibility to abide by Leave No Trace Principles in addition to the local guidelines. Sometimes that means packing it out- packing it ALL out. This Ruffwear Pack Out Bag in tandem with some earth friendly bags makes that task a little bit more manageable. An adjustable belt can allow waist worn option or pack attachment. If packing it out isn’t required in the area you are venturing into, try this lightweight trowel that can be stowed in your or your dog’s pack to make quick work.

7. Guyot Designs Squishy Dog Bowl

These silicone dog bowls are ultra durable and lightweight. Choose two different sizes to create a nesting option for easy packing. Truly, no more research is required.

8. Nite Ize Nitehowl LED Safety Necklace

If you are venturing out into the night and have a wandering companion, this luminous collar is very helpful. You can keep your eye on your dog and get some peace of mind. It is durable, made with a weather resistant and flexible material lit with bright LEDs. Three replaceable batteries total 60 hours of run time. 

9. Roamer™ Bungee Running Dog Leash

While your dog will be off leash most of the time, having one with you is a necessity. In events such as wildlife sightings it is in fact imperative to control your dog for your and their own safety. This leash from Ruffwear is a top choice! The adjustable stretch webbing allows for shock absorption and can be worn around the wrist or waist for ease of use. The Talon Clip and Uniloop are constructed out of aluminum, making this a good lightweight option for long trips in the backcountry. It also includes a convenient accessory loop for pick up bags or small clip on items.

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