Ever wonder what to bring on a backpacking trip with your dog?  Here are our suggestions of the best gear to bring–enough  for a couple days in the backcountry; with a combined weight that won’t exceed the recommended 25-30 percent of your dog’s weight.  For more packing tips and product weights, see our post “pack in, pack out.”

Total Weight (size Medium): 10lbs, 10.9oz (4.84kg)


1. Palisades Pack™ (size Medium), 2 lbs, 4 oz / 1.02kg

Why Bring It: You’ve got a full load carrying your own gear, so why not have your dog carry their gear in a Palisades Pack?

Tips: A dog can pack up 25 – 30 percent of its body weight in a pack, so that’s a lot less sweat off your back.

2.  First Aid Kit, 13 oz, 369g

Why Bring It: Remember that what you pack in, you pack out.  This includes a long, heavy hike back with your dog on your shoulders if they can’t walk.

Tips: We pack along the Ruff Wear First Aid Kit (available through select online retailers), but you can opt to make your own.

3.  Food, 1 lb / bag or 454g / bag

Why Bring It: Don’t forget energy snacks for Fido.  How much dog food to bring along depends on your dog’s eating habits. Keep in mind that your dog is likely to expend more energy than normal on a backcountry adventure, so you should consider packing a bit extra.

Tips: Sealing your dog food in a Ziploc bag will help keep moisture and critters out.

4.  Flat Out™ Leash (2011 patterned version), 3.8 oz  / 108g

Why Bring It: Even though you may be headed for a canine leash-free haven, you never know when you will need to restrain your dog from distractions such as squirrels, other dogs, people, or unfamiliar sounds.

Tips: Choosing a leash with a handle conversions (like the Flat Out™ Leash) offers versatility in leash length, convenience of a waist-worn option, and convenient tie-out on the trail .

5.  Poop Bags, .3 oz / 8.5g

Why Bring It: What you pack in, you pack out…yes, even dog poop.  Some places allow dog waste to be buried, in which case a trowel is very handy.

Tips: Try double-bagging to reduce stink.  We recommend biodegradable dog waste bags.

6.  Grip Trex™ Dog Boots (size Medium), 7 oz / 198g

Why Bring Them: Grip Trex boots protect paws and keep dogs going farther, longer. Boots also provide traction and comfort.  Recommended when going long distances; in areas where cheatgrass and other paw irritants exist; or on hot, cold, or jagged terrain.

Tips: Bring along the storage bag (included with Ruff Wear dog boots) and store boots inside the bag when not in use.  This will keep dirt and debris in the bag, and out of the pack.

7.  Water, Water (2.2 lbs / liter) (998g / liter); Bladder (3.2 oz / bladder) (91g / bladder)

Why Bring It: Some dogs hesitate to drink water in a new environment because it tastes different.  Even if they love the taste of the water from that river, lake, pond, or puddle, the potential exists for that water to be contaminated, so bringing along your own water is the best option.

Tips: For tips on how much water to bring, click here.

8. Collapsible Bowl, 2 oz / 57g

Why Bring It: Though you can train your dog to drink water out of the bladder, that can add up to wasted water on the ground.

Tips: The Bivy Bowl™ is not only lightweight, but is single-walled, making cleanup a snap.  Just rinse, and shake out; no drips or crumbs left behind. Check out this video on choosing a backpacking bowl.


9.  Highlands Bed™, 14 oz / 397g

Why Bring It: The Highlands Bed adds an insulating and waterproof layer of comfort between your dog and the ground.  Plus, it gets the dog off your sleeping bag, on onto their own.

Tips: Though the Highlands Bed fits in the pockets of the size Medium and Large Palisades Pack, you can attach it the top of the Palisades Pack using the gear loops and some e-cord.  Another option is to carry your dog’s bed in your pack, leaving the space in and on their pack for your heavier (or more often accessed) items: camera, cell phone, GPS, water bottle.

3 thoughts

  1. So how about that “kit” you were thinking of offering with the pack, first aid kit, and some other essentials? I know it was discussed on here a while back.

    1. We love that idea and we are trying to find a way to package it on our website. The biggest issue is making packages that can accommodate different sizes of boots, packs, and leashes. For example, a dog may be a small boot and a large pack.

  2. Brilliant – I’m scratching at the door desperate to get some time of so I can head to the Hills again with my tent and my dogs.
    Have just bought a ruffwear backpack for the spaniel – he can carry his and his buddys food etc – the rest of the stuff is a good idea. Thanks, Jo

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