Backpacking with Dogs
3 Things to take camping with a dog

3 Things to take camping with a dog

hiking with a dog on trails

Camping with a dog is great fun and not overwhelming for you or your dog if you do it right. First be prepared and take it easy the first time, plenty of first night camping is done in a tent in the backyard. Second, create a space for your dog that they know is theirs, a bedding spot. They are part of your pack and you are the leader, they trust and look to you for safety and stability.

Getting Started

If you are going to be hiking with a dog to the campsite, you should begin by bringing the 7 things to bring when day hiking with a dog:

Key Day Hike List

  • Leash for Control and Safety
  • Harness/Backpack for helping carry the load
  • Hydration & Bowl
  • Nutrition
  • First Aid for Dogs
  • Fleas, Ticks, & Insect repellant
  • Grooming and Cleanup equipment

In addition to equipment for the hike, there are a few key items to make the overnight portion of camping suitable for your dog. These are helpful at the end of a hike or at the end of a drive when car camping.

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  1. Lighting

When I camp I keep flashlights handy so that I can see what I’m doing.  Dogs don’t need the light to see what they’re doing but a light on your dog is useful for knowing where your dog is at all times. A rechargeable USB LED dog collar is a cost effective and reliable solution. They also have clip-on versions to attach to their collar. Both work effectively and the clip-on might have more utility in the long run. Here is a review of the various options available.

If you are in a campground or staying over in a trail shelter, keeping a collar light on your dog will help calm others who might find the dark shadow approaching their tent a little alarming.

  1. Thermal Sleeping Pad & Bag

Like us, dogs can lose a lot of heat by sleeping on the cold ground so a foam pad as a thermal barrier is a must for sleeping if the ground is cold.  Plus a sleeping pad clearly denotes your dog’s area and helps create a routine.  A foam pad will also absorb any damage from your dog’s nails, saving your tent. There are specialized dog pads like RUFFWEAR sleeping pad but I bought a new Thermarest for myself and shortened my old pad by a few segments and designated it for my dog.

If the temperature is low enough either bring some blankets or look into dog sleeping bags. Many people get away with blankets.

Its okay if your dog doesn’t use a sleeping bag!

Dog next to dog bed

Even when spending a few nights in primitive cabin, my dog doesn’t always make it to the bed. So if I am really going light weight, I bring a sturdy blanket and call it done.

  1. Dog Backpacks

Once you have all the basic requirements for your dog the next challenge is transporting the additional items and weight to the campsite.  Unless you are car camping, a dog backpack is very useful to get the items to the campsite.

Dog packs range from day packs to expedition packs and come in sizes to match your dog. I recently tried a couple of harnesses and a bag so I’ll be sure to write a review and guide about my purchase shortly. Ruffwear Backpacks make a lot of consideration lists and ultimate recommendations, so check them out first. I have a review of the Palisades backpack here.