Our List of Must-Have Dog Hiking Gear

March 28, 2024

Often, man’s best friend enjoys hiking as much as we do. Traveling, camping, and exploring with pets can be a rewarding and fun experience, but just like hiking by yourself—or with fellow humans—there are steps to take to prepare and do it properly. Because just like humans, dogs are prone to accidents, exhaustion, and anything else the elements might throw at us. From first aid to comforting accessories, here is the must-have hiking gear for dogs.

What Do You Need to Hike with a Dog? Start With This Dog Hiking Gear!

Female tourist with backpack and mixed breed dog on a leash walking outdoors.

1. Leash

First and foremost, the most vital item to bring along is also one of the most vital items to take pretty much anywhere. Leashes are always crucial for the safety of dogs, even those who are well-behaved and highly trained. Campgrounds and national parks have strict leash rules, for instance, and even if you’re out in the remote wilds of nature, with no technical “rules,” it’s equally important to ensure your pup is always leashed. It’s for their safety, as well as the safety of other animals and the environment. Nature is unpredictable, and you never know what small critter might trigger your dog into a blind chase, or what delicate flora they might inadvertently trample. With a durable leash like this one, you’ll be able to recreate safely — both you and your furry best friend.

A young woman cleaning up after her dog with a poop bag.

2. Poop Bags

Whether you’re walking on a city sidewalk or deep in the woods, the same guidance applies: leave it better than you found it. For those hiking with dogs, that means picking up their waste and carrying it out to dispose of properly. Fortunately, poop bags like these are lightweight, convenient, and easy to stow along in any hiking bag.

A dog receiving a drink of water from a collapsible while out on a long walk.

3. Travel Water Bowl

Of all the vital items to bring with you, water is tops. The same goes for dogs, who need to stay properly hydrated no matter the length of the hike, nor the forecast. Since you’ll need to supply water for yourself and your dog, the first thing to keep in mind is to bring extra water, and extra water bottles. Then, of course, you’ll need to bring something for them to drink from, like these collapsible water bowls equipped with convenient carabiners for easy storage.

Young happy couple gives their dog a treat while hiking through the woods.

4. Snacks

Fuel for your hike is of equal vitality. For humans, this might mean trail mix or beef jerky. For dogs, this could mean a wide range of nutritional treats. What you bring largely depends on their breed, age, and size, and it’s always helpful to consult with your veterinarian beforehand for specific guidelines, but some healthy options include probiotic-rich yogurt sticks, protein bites, and jerky-like chicken sticks. Avoid sharing your snacks with your dog, as human food often has salts and sugars that are unhealthy for our fluffy family members.

A couple crouching down with their dog on a trail.

6. Dog First Aid Kit

When in nature, accidents happen. Sometimes, even emergencies arise unexpectedly. Just as you’ll want to come prepared for yourself, you’ll want to do likewise for your dog. That’s where travel-ready first aid kits for dogs come in handy, providing a safeguard with items like tweezers, scissors, antiseptic, gloves, cotton swabs, and emergency thermal blankets. Check out this one for all of the above, and more.

A mixed breed black dog on a hike in Golden, Colorado.

7. Dog Cooling Vest

Dogs are just as susceptible to weather extremes as we are, so it’s important to pack prepared for anything Mother Nature might throw at you. For many, hiking with dogs occurs in the warmer months, which means it’s important to stay cool and hydrated, and preempt signs of heat exhaustion. In addition to bringing ample water, one handy tool that makes a world of difference in warding off heat is a cooling vest. Made with cooling technology and SPF sun protection, all you need to do is dip the vest in cool water before snapping it in place and enrobing your pup in a refreshing, protective layer. Added bonus: it comes in a wide range of sizes, from small breeds to extra large, so there’s a vest out there for every breed.

Close up portrait of a Jack Russell dog in a yellow coat.

8. Coat

Conversely, it’s just as important to keep your dog warm when hiking in cold weather. As much as some breeds might love the snow, icy weather can sneak in to detrimental effect. Preempt any problems with an insulating hiking coat for your dog, like this one, a durable and waterproof fleece equipped for snow, sleet, rain, and wind. It’s also reflective, which comes in extra handy at night and provides added visibility.

A doberman pinscher in shoes is exercising outdoors

9. Booties

Paws are among the most sensitive parts of the body on dogs, directly exposed to the elements and bearing the brunt of its impact. No matter the weather, when exploring the wilderness with your dog, it’s a good idea to shield their paws with snug dog boots like these, which offer catchall protection against everything from icy trails to hot pavement, sharp twigs, gravel, and anything else that may arise unexpectedly. Plus, they’re super cute!

Close-up view of tick on human finger against dog lying in grass.

10. Tick Medicine

Lastly, another necessity is one that’s best used before you even hit the trail. Tick medicine is a preventative measure that, when consumed ahead of time, will help ward off harmful pests that might show up along the way.

Born and raised in New Hampshire, Matt Kirouac grew up with a love for camping and the outdoors. Though he’s lived in Chicago since 2006, he’s always on the lookout for new adventures. He writes about travel and food for outlets like TripExpert, Money Inc, Upventur, DiningOut, Food Fanatics magazine, Plate Magazine and Zagat, and he currently serves as Chicago editor for What Should We Do?! He’s the author of The Hunt Guides: Chicago (2016) and Unique Eats & Eateries of Chicago (2017).


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