Everything You Need to Successfully Go Camping With Your Dog
Collapsible water bowls? Doggie boots? All that and more.
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A few weeks ago, somewhere in California’s High Sierra Desert, I was unpacking my truck at a dispersed campsite when a friend rolled up with her dog in tow. Our plan was to spend a few nights in the area, hitting local trails by day and crashing at our campsite by night, savoring the final weeks of summer.
But as we began to set up camp, it became apparent that this was her first time camping with a dog. Hyper and overly excited, it yanked on the leash in the hopes of breaking free as she struggled to find a water bowl amid her pile of gear. The look on her face suggested she was tired and annoyed, reflecting on her decision to bring a newly-adopted pandemic dog on a camping trip. Meanwhile, I pitched our tent, wondering what the coming days would bring if this was only the first impression.
Her experience at that moment shed light on a problem that’s all too common: people adopt dogs, take them camping and have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. For that reason, I figured it was time to compile a comprehensive list of the gear you’ll need if you take your dog outdoors, beyond the local park. I’ve included a few pieces of gear that I use with my dog, alongside recommendations from canine-camping veterans. Stock up on the necessary supplies, secure a campsite that allows pets and enjoy the next outing with your four-legged friend.
The Best Camping Gear for Dogs
Finding the right leash for your dog is kind of like finding the perfect pair of pants — it’s a process of trial and error, but it feels so good when you get it right. Even if your current leash gets the job done, consider the Knot-a-Leash from Ruffwear. It’s made with durable kernmantle rope for big adventures and features a locking carabiner on one end, as well as an accessory loop near the handle for pick-up bags and small items. The rope’s reflective detailing enhances visibility in the dark.
Collapsible dog bowls are a must from local to national parks. This one, from Filson, is lined on the inside with a layer of water-repellent nylon for food and water. Unlike collapsible plastic bowls that pack like a pancake, Filson’s version packs down into a practical size that fits in your pocket, but there’s also a hanging loop if you’d prefer to clip it on your pack or belt.
For years I failed to pick up my dog’s business in the woods assuming it would decompose, but I’ve since understood the error of my ways. Dog poop, though seemingly harmless, contains a plethora of bacteria, parasites and other contaminants that are detrimental to our health and the well-being of other animals. To dispose of your dog’s waste, pick up these Earth Rated Doggy Bags scented with lavender. The extra-thick, leak-proof plastic reduces unwanted mishaps and the packaging is made with recycled materials.
Yeti, the maker of all things indestructible and cool, also has a line of outdoor-inspired pet goods. That includes the Trailhead Dog Bed, which comes as a two-in-one system featuring a large bed and a removable travel pad in the center. The bottom uses waterproofing to prevent moisture from seeping in at the campsite, and the entire setup is machine-washable, which comes in handy when your dog discovers a nearby mud puddle.
Once you accept the fact that your dog is going to get dirty, you need only worry about cleaning them off. To that end, we recommend jumping in the nearest body of water with the Soggy Doggy Super Shammy that’s ultra-absorbent and easy to pack. The microfiber fabric holds up to seven times its own weight in water, reducing the likelihood of wet-dog funk, and built-in hand pockets make it easy to dry those hard-to-reach areas before your dog escapes for another roll in the mud.
Keep an eye on Fido when they wake in the night to use the bathroom with this LED spotlight from Nite Ize. The replaceable lithium batteries last up to 20 hours and the housing is weather-resistant to withstand your pup’s rowdy outdoor shenanigans. Choose from six different colors or let the light transition through colors in Disc-o mode.
Dog backpacks, like the Approach Pack from Ruffwear, pull double duty by improving your pup’s behavior on the trail while making life a little easier for you. Not only does a backpack give your dog a task, but it also builds their strength and improves concentration. As for you, pockets store treats, toys and other gear in the weight-forward design that’s stabilized via a durable harness, so you won’t have to schlep your dog’s goods in your pack.
I’ve witnessed firsthand what can happen when a dog isn’t wearing boots over rough terrain, and the outcome isn’t pretty. Protect their paws with a set of Muttluks that come in a wide range of sizes and feature a reflective strap to improve nighttime visibility. The mitten shape offers a flexible fit while the stretchy cuff prevents the boots from slipping off, even when your pup picks up the pace.
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