Anyone that’s spent any time here at Outdoor Andrew knows how much of an avid hiker I am. But it’s not just me, my dogs have always loved to go hiking with me, and I strive to do everything I can to make it better for them.
In this article, I’ll take you through the most important dog hiking gear categories and some of the items I personally use. Even if you already have your own hiking gear sorted, you need to make sure you have everything you need for your dogs, too!
I’ve hiked hundreds of miles and countless trails with dogs in my life, and I’ve loved every second of it. Over the years, I’ve tried lots of different products and items and, between myself and other hikers with dogs, we’ve come up with this complete list of all the essential dog gear and items you need for a fun and successful hike.
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If your next hiking adventure is part of a camping trip, make sure you check out my complete guide on how to go camping with dogs. It also has a few tips and pointers for taking them hiking as well!
But without further ado, here is the best hiking gear for dogs on the market so you take your furry friend on your next great outdoor adventure.
Dog Hiking Gear Essentials
Harness and Leash
When you’re hiking with your dog, you should always keep them on a leash whenever possible. This is not only the case if you’re at a national park or state park that has leash laws, but it’s just a good rule of thumb so they can’t run off somewhere, chase after wildlife, or bother other hikers.
Most leashes will do just fine, but I’ve always preferred a hands-free leash that has some leeway built-in like this one from Pet Dreamland. By wrapping it around your waist, you’ll maintain the use of both hands, ensuring you’re always ready to brace yourself if you fall. Additionally, the stretchiness is great for trail running because it won’t pull on them as much as a normal leash.
No matter which leash you go with, you should always use a harness when hiking with your dog instead of just a collar. A quality harness made for an active pup such as the Embark Adventure Dog Harness allows you to keep your dog close without straining its neck. The padded straps on the harness are comfortable for dogs and it has multiple leash hookups to make it easy to use.
Collapsible Water Bowl
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when hiking with dogs is not bringing any way to give them water during the trek. Just imagine going on a hike yourself without having any water. Sounds miserable, right? Don’t put your dogs in that position, especially on hot days or during longer hikes.
That said, you don’t want to carry around their normal water bowl with you. It’s way too heavy and bulky. That’s where a collapsible water bowl comes in, which is a cheap and easy addition to your dog’s gear. I’ve always just used affordable silicone ones that collapse flat and have built-in carabiners to hook onto your backpack.
Bowls like these are super easy to use and make sure your dogs will stay hydrated the entire hike.
Dog Hiking Boots
If you’re planning on doing any hiking in the dead of summer or over any sort of rough terrain, you need to think about your dog’s feet. Sure, dogs’ paws might be a lot tougher than ours and they can handle hiking better than we can, but a quality pair of dog boots will protect their paws and keep them hiking for longer.
If you’ve looked at any other dog hiking boot recommendations, you’ve probably seen the Ruffwear Grip Trex touted as the go-to.
Don’t get me wrong, these are awesome dog boots that provide rubber soles for protection and grip, high-visibility reflective coloration, and more. But they’re also a bit costly, and it’s important to note that they’re typically only sold in pairs, so you’ll have to buy a quantity of two to get all four!
Another option I’ve had good luck with in the past is the QUMY Dog Shoes which are a fraction of the price of the Grip Trex and still get the job done. They’re waterproof, durable, have a snug fit, and will protect your dog’s paws on just about any trail or trek you take them on.
If your dog has never worn shoes or dog booties before, don’t just slap these on their feet right before you go on a hike. Give them a few trial runs at home and let them get used to wearing something on their feet before you go. Plus, it’s always worth a few laughs watching dogs wear shoes for the first time!
Dog booties might help protect your dog’s paws from the heat, but what about the rest of their body? With their fur coat, hiking when it’s hot can wear them out and lead to heat exhaustion, which is something you never want your dogs to go through. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to keep them cool with the right gear.
One easy way to keep them cool is with a cooling neck gaiter. All you have to do with this gaiter is soak it in water before your hike and then wrap it around your dog’s neck. Through its absorbent inner layers, the neck wrap will hold water while it evaporates to help keep your dog cool.
The neck gaiter works great, but for an even fuller cooling experience, you can get a complete cooling vest like this one from Ruffwear. Working in the same way as the gaiter, just soak the vest in water then put it on your dog. It’s compatible with most harnesses and leashes, so it should be pretty plug-and-play with the rest of your dog’s hiking gear.
You probably carry a hiking backpack with you when you go for a hike. They’re pretty much essential as ways to carry your phone, water, maps, snacks, and anything else you take on a hike with you. When you’re hiking with dogs, you can gain a bit more storage space and give them an added sense of purpose by giving them a dog backpack of their own.
With something simple like the OneTigris Dog Backpack, you can gain an impressive 2L worth of storage space that’s perfect for carrying dog food, poop bags (more on these next), and even your phone. Just about any dog backpack also doubles as a hardness with a leash hookup, so you can knock out two items in this list with one purchase!
Collar Light and High Visibility Dog Gear
The last bit of wearable hiking gear you should get for your dog is going to make sure they’re visible to not only you but also to everyone else on the trail and in the areas where you’re hiking.
For any early morning or late night hiking, you should consider getting either a collar that lights up itself or a small lantern that you can attach to the collar. Either option lights them up so they’re easy to see even in the dead of night.
I personally use these rechargeable lanterns that have integrated carabiners that are perfect for a dog collar and your backpack so you’re both visible. This is one of those things that’s great for both your dog and your own gear.
While a light or glowing dog collar will help for hiking in the dark, it won’t do much during the day. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to pick your dog up a high visibility vest like the SafetyPUP Reflective Vest with multiple reflective strips.
This is especially important if you’re hiking anywhere where there are motorists nearby or hunting. It’s also great just to keep on your dog while they’re at the campground to be extra safe.
Dog Poop Bags and Carrying Case
This one might not be quite as fun as the rest of the cool hiking gear for dogs we’ve been looking at, but it’s an absolute necessity. Any time your dog goes to the bathroom during a hike, you should always pick up the mess. I use Earth-Rated Poop Bags since they’re biodegradable, super affordable, and the box comes with 270 of them, which lasts quite a while!
The biggest reason that some people leave their dog’s poop on the ground during a hike is that they don’t want to deal with carrying it for the rest of the hike. Accidents happen and while I agree it’s gross to carry, you don’t actually have to just the waste in your hand for the rest of your hike.
With something like the Stash Bag Mini, you will not only have a place to carry the roll of poop bags, but you can easily cinch the full ones using the drawstring, preventing you from having to carry it around.
Dog First Aid Kit
The last piece of dog gear that you should always have with you is a dog first aid kit. While it’s always a good idea to have a regular first-aid kit available for yourself, with at least some bandages, wraps, ointments, etc., everything that works on us is not necessarily the best choice for your dog.
Any basic pet first aid kit will likely work great, but I’ve always just used the Adventure Medical Kit Trail Dog Kit any time I go camping or hiking with dogs. It weighs less than 1.5 pounds so it’s easy to bring along, and has lots of supplies that are perfect for taking care of your dog on the trails including:
- Various bandages
- Fur-friendly wraps
- Common dog-friendly medications
- Splinter/tick removal tool
Car Seat Cover
Lastly, let’s finish off with something that’s actually more for you (and your car) than your dog, but it ties in perfectly to taking your dog hiking. I’m talking about a car seat cover here, and something like the Active Pets Dog Seat Cover will protect your entire backseat from dirt, mud, and debris while giving them a comfortable place to lay down.
This backseat hammock simply hooks onto the front and rear headrests and provides complete coverage over the whole backseat. After a hike, your dog’s feet will likely be dirty, their entire bodies could be wet, or they could even be covered in mud.
Sure, getting your car dirty is part of having a dog, but this affordable seat cover will make it a heck of a lot easier to keep clean!
Get Out There and Hit the Trails With Your Dog
If you’ve read this far, you should have all the gear you need to go hiking with your four-legged friends.
Lots of people make the mistake of taking their dogs hiking without having the proper gear, and I’ve seen countless dogs struggling over the years. Between their feet hurting, being dehydrated, or even just overheating, it’s sad to see a dog stuck on a trail barely able to get by.
But if you have the right dog hiking gear, you can do everything in your power to keep them happier and safer along the way. No matter if you have a small dog or multiple large dogs, they all need the same hiking essentials we went over in this guide.
Since a lot of my hiking trips coincide with camping trips, I’m going to assume many of yours do as well. So if you’re planning on camping with your dogs, make sure you check out my list of essential dog camping gear. While a few items will overlap, there are some extra items you’ll need to pick up to give them the best camping experience possible!
- The biggest things to remember when you’re going hiking with your dog is to make sure they have plenty of water and they’re always on a leash in case of wildlife or other hikers.
- Pay attention to your dog and listen to them if they’re struggling; never push your dog too hard while hiking or they could overheat, get hurt, or get dehydrated.
- Please remember to bring poop bags and other dog waste supplies so you don’t leave any of it on the hiking trail!
- If you’re going camping and hiking, you’ll need to grab a few more items to keep them happy, safe, and content at the campsite. Find everything you need in the complete guide linked above.