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Best dog camping gear – seven essential items

A dog smiles while hiking

When it comes to backpacking, camping, and other fun outdoor activities, we tend to love our gear! We say we like to “rough it” but some good gear that helps make roughing it a little easier is kind of nice. And since our dogs are our fur babies, we want to make it easier on them too. I have compiled a list of the best dog camping gear that I, or well Caddie, uses for camping and backpacking trips.


The Knot-a-Hitch by Ruffwear is probably one of the best pieces of gear I have invested in. When I go camping with my family, we generally have two dogs, and sometimes three. We used strong tie-out cables to hitch them to trees so they stay around the campsite. These work great, but the dogs were constantly getting tangled in them.

a close up of the knot-a-hitch is shown as a piece of best dog camping gear

The Knot-a-Hitch is a tie-out cable with a carabiner that hooks to a leash. This way the dog is tied up high and doesn’t get as tangled around chairs, the picnic table, and other dogs.

Puffy coat

Next on the list of best dog camping gear is a Ruffwear’s insulated jacket. I don’t understand how my dog loves to borough under the covers in her bed at home, but can’t get the concept of burrowing into a sleeping bag.

Caddie sports her puffy coat as a piece of the best dog camping gear

Ruffwear and other outdoor dog brands do make dog sleeping bag; however, Caddie has difficulty understanding them. But the Puffy Coat keeps her core warm through the night and she can’t wiggle out of it.

Did I mention that Caddie is a bit of diva and gets super cold quickly? So the Puffy Coat works well for chilly evenings around the campfire and cold winter hikes as well.


Well because Caddie is a diva and likes extra gear, I make her carry her own gear. But Ruffwear makes great backpacks for dogs. I went with an off-brand once. It never stayed in places on her and would throw her off balance.

Once after a long hike, I noticed she had burn marks under her arms. The burns were caused by my constant tugging on the pack to even out her load. After that, I ordered the Ruffwear Approach. Ruffwear makes two types of dog backpacks – the Palisades and the Approach. I chose the smaller of two because I felt it was plenty big enough to hold all of Caddie’s supplies.

Caddie sports her Approach backpack
Caddie wears her Approach backpack. I got bright orange so she will be visible during deer season.

One aspect of the Palisades I really like is that the pack detaches and can be just a harness. It also compresses to just the right size. However, I felt it was too much pack for what we need. I still use her Approach pack for a harness so I can pick her up over downed trees and such if needed.

Whether you choose the Palisades, Approach, or another brand, a backpack is definitely among the best dog camping gear because it allows your dog to carry their own weight.

Small down throw

So because Caddie, doesn’t quite get the concept of a dog sleeping bag, I use a small down throw. This gives her some plushness in the cooler months and some extra warmth in the cold months. I use down because it rolls up tight to fit in her pack and it lightweight.

Medical kit

Another item that is definitely among the best dog camping gear is a first aid kit specifically for your dog. You can either put your own together or purchase one like the Adventure Medical Kit specifically designed for dogs. This kit comes with items like dressings, bandages, and tick and thorn removers.

Just like you need a first aid kit, your pup needs protection too. If you create your own, you want to find bandages that are specific to dogs, like self-adhering bandages which won’t stick to fur.

Best Dog Camping Gear

On a solo hike once, I found myself wishing for a dog medical kit. I was hiking with Caddie and an off-leash dog came running up to her. She did not like the dog in her personal space, and we had nowhere to go and get away. So she got growly at the other dog, which made him mad. A fight began and Caddie ended up getting bit.

When I got back to my car, the only thing I had was my bandana, which I tied around her leg where she was bleeding. Fortunately, she wasn’t hurt badly.

Sawyer Promethium

Ticks, chiggers, and mosquitos irritate our pups just as much as they do us. Sawyer makes wonderful insect repellent and it is safe for your dog! Swayer Permethrin Insect Repellent also controls fleas. When applied, it repels and kills ticks, chiggers, mites, and more than 55 other kinds of insects and lasts for 35 days.

Bonus: You can use it on your clothes to keep bugs away from you too.

Sea-to-Summit bowls

Outdoor dog brands like Ruffwear make dog water and food-specific bowls. However, I simply use Sea-to-Summit collapsible bowls. I use the X-Bowl for Caddie’s food and the X-Mug for her water. I like them because they are lightweight and fold up flat.

The X-Mug fits well in the side pocket of my backpack, which makes it easy to get it out while hiking and give Caddie water. When we are lounging at the campsite, Caddie knocks it over with her feet often. So I like the small bowl because she doesn’t spill so much water and it’s small so it stays out of her way a little bit better.

Best Dog Camping Gear

This is a list of gear that I use. But other types of gear can be helpful, like boots to help with grip on slick rocks. You can also purchase beacons that light up to help you keep an eye on your pup in low light or bad weather.

What piece of dog camping gear do you use the most? Do you have a favorite piece?

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Best dog camping gear – seven pieces of gear that I, or err, Caddie my pup, love to use to make camping and backpacking trips more comfy.

2 thoughts on “Best dog camping gear – seven essential items”

  1. Love your favorite items! Ruffwear tends to be my go-to brand for my dog. I have a pack and boots for him from there. In addition to what you said, I have a cheap Thermarest sleeping pad that I cut down to size for my pup to sleep on. When it gets cold up in the CA mountains, the ground sucks the warmth out of him just like it would for me. So he sleeps on a mat in addition to having his jacket and a down throw. One other thing I always like to point out is: WE need more calories when backpacking and so do our dogs. My dog normally eats breakfast and dinner, but when backpacking, I always bring lunch for him for each day.

    1. That’s a great point! I’m so terrible about forgetting to bring extra food ?‍♀️ I love the idea of feeding three times a day! I also love the idea of trimming the Thermarest! I have an old one that I think I will cut down to size for her!

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