Must-Have Dog Hiking Gear

By Caro V


Hiking with a dog is a very long walk. In addition to a leash, collar or harness, and poop bags, dog hiking gear can make walks safer and more comfortable.

Hiking gear is more robust than usual dog walking gear. In addition, visibility is an asset, whether it is a bright color that stands out in the forest or reflective tape that shines in low light. Hands-free options for those full doggy bags are a must and helpful with a leash.

Drinking stream or lake water can give a dog giardia or other illness so some kind of dog bowl is necessary. And now that you’ve got all that stuff, why not make the dog carry it with a backpack.

Rugged terrain can be hard on animals too and may require a jacket, booties, and even dog goggles (doggles). Well, here’s a list of all the dog hiking gear you might need and some top picks.

Dog hiking gear

1. Leash For Hiking

Do you need a special leash for hiking? Of course not but there are features that you might want like water-resistant material, reflective strips, and/or a swiveling connection. Hands-free leashes worn around the waist are also great for hiking because if you’re like me, having both hands free prevents falls. Here are three leashes that work well on the sidewalk and the trails.

Comfortable + Hands-Free Hiking Leash

Ruffwear Crag Dog Leash (formerly The Slackline Leash)

Is it the cheapest leash? No. Is it the best leash? One of them. Here’s why:

  • Hand held or clip around the waist
  • Padded, ergonomic handle
  • Easily adjustable between 3.5′ and 6′
  • Reflective trim for low light conditions
  • Swiveling Talon Clip can be attached with one hand

Most Adaptable Leash

Kurgo 6-in-1 Quantum Leash

This leash is similar to the Ruffwear Crag but has some differences. It can be used in more ways but uses a carabinier clip to adjust the settings.

  • Can be used hand held or hands free around the waist or crossbody
  • Padded handle
  • Adjustable from 4′-6′ (including the handle)
  • Can be used with two dogs
  • Reflective trim for low light conditions

Best Leash For Dogs That Pull

SparklyPets Hands-Free Bungee Leash

Many dogs pull at the leash and the bigger the dog, the bigger the pull. This bungee leash absorbs those shocks for you and your dog, allowing you both to maintain your stride. The jarring pulls of my Doberman kept me from taking him on long hikes but this leash has made the journey more comfortable for both of us.

  • Flexible + shock absorbing bungee
  • Comfortable rubber handle
  • Safe handsfree option with separate belt that clips to leash
  • Adjustable waistband from 28″-47″
  • Reflective strips for low light conditions

2. Dog Harnesses + Backpacks For Hiking

Many dog parents prefer a harness to a collar. In that vein, dog backpacks also function as a harness with space to carry snacks, water, and the aforementioned full poop bags. They are also colorful, for added visibility. The harness is definitely a must-have piece of dog hiking gear.

In general, a dog can carry a maximum of 25% of its body weight. Depending on the age and fitness level, 10% and up may be more appropriate. Start light and go from there. And always remember to put equal weight in both sides of the doggy backpack.

Something to look for is the leash attachments locations so you can clip onto the front of the chest or back of the harness.

Most Popular Dog Harness

Ruffwear Front Range Dog Harness

This harness resists pulling and includes padding to be more comfortable for you and your pooch on hikes. Customize the fit with 4 points of adjustment and stay safe with reflective accents.

Hiking Harness With Pockets

Ruffwear Switchback Harness

With low-profile pockets, this is somewhere in between a harness and a backpack. There are five connections to customize fit to all dogs. Attach the leash at the front or back of the neck. It also has a grab handle and reflective accents.

Most Stylish Dog Backpack

One Tigris Hoppy Camper Dog Backpack

This tactical-style pack is as rugged as it looks. It is made of durable cotton canvas fabric with mesh lining for breathability and D-ring leash attachments on either side of the grab handle.

Budget Dog Backpack

Outward Hound Lightweight Dog Backpack

One of the cheaper dog backpacks but doesn’t skimp on quality. It uses cooling compression mesh webbing material and has adjustable belly straps to fit all sizes and breeds. It also has a handle and D-ring leach attachments points at the chest and back of the neck.

3. Dog Poop Bags

While it seems like dog poop is natural and therefore can be left in nature, it is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as an environmental pollutant. As meat-eaters, dog poop contains parasites, bacteria, and viruses that are harmful to people and the watershed. It also soil changes the soil, helping non-native species take over the ecosystem.

Leaving just one poop behind doesn’t seem like a big deal but there are so many dogs out there, that the volume and contamination can add up quickly.

While compostable bags are available, dog poop must be composted in industrial facilities. Many areas prohibit any animal feces in the green bin so follow the local instructions.

4. Poop Bag Holders

It’s not enough to bag the doggie dirt. It also needs to be packed out. Here are some alternatives to carrying a stinky bag for miles. Decide whether you want to conceal the bag or just carry it hands-free. If there’s only one item of dog hiking gear you get, this is the most important.

Biggest Dog Poop Bag Holder

Wag & Wander Smell Proof Waste Bag

Wag & Wander is based in Denver, Colorado, where there is a large overlap of nature lovers and dog owners. This is a dry bag adapted for carrying full dog bags.

  • Waterproof outer layer and smell-proof liner
  • Rolled handle can be carried or clipped to a pack, dog backpack, or harness
  • 2L capacity is dog walker approved for 5-8 dog bags (or 5 dirty diapers)

Most Stylish Poop Bag

Ruffwear Pack Out Bag

It looks great on the outside and does the dirty work. This pouch is water-resistant inside and out to minimize odors and be easy to clean, just in case.

  • Water-resistant shell with waterproof lining and zipper
  • Clip and adjustable belt can be worn around the waist or attached to a pack.
  • M size holds .9L, L size holds 1.65L

Plastic Poop Bag Holder

Doo Doo Tube

Instead of nylon, this is a hard plastic container with a lid. For dogs under 55lb, there is also the smaller 14-ounce Poo Vault.

  • Hard plastic container with locking lid
  • Attached carabiner
  • 20-ounce capacity

Bag Dispenser + Holder

Hilihali Poop Bag Holder

This is the simplest and cheapest solution to hands-free poop carrying. It is a metal piece with a slit that holds a knotted bag. The poop bag and smell are not concealed but you’ll also never run out of space.

  • Two slots for multiple bags
  • Carabiner can be attached to the leash handle or elsewhere

Simplest Bag Holder

Okydoky Dog Poop Bag Holder

This clever design is a simple rubber loop with a flexible X that holds a knotted bag.

  • Loop attaches to leash, bike or any handle
  • Available in a regular and extra-large sizes

DIY Dog Poop Holder

Finally, a cheaper or free option is to use an old Nalgene bottle, if the wide mouth is adequate. We would cover it in stickers.

5. Water Bowls + Bottles For Dogs

Hounds need to hydrate on hikes too, so these items are definitely important dog hiking gear to bring with you. Options include travel water bowls, dog water bottles, and a water bottle for you and your furry friend.

Travel dog water bowls and water bottles

1. Asobu Dog Stainless Steel Water Bottle With Dog Bowl

This clever design allows you to share water with your dog.

  • Stainless steel
  • Bottom screws off as a water bowl
  • 33-ounces

2. lesotc Dog Water Bottle

This water bottle combines a travel bowl and water into one. Just squeeze the bottle and water flows up into the attached bowl.

  • HDPE water bottle and BPA-free, food-grade silicone bowl
  • Bowl flips over into a lid when not in use
  • 18- and 21-ounce bottles

3. MalsiPree Dog Water Bottle

Instead of an attached bowl, this dog water bottle dispenses water into a small trough. It just depends on what your dog prefers.

  • BPA-free water bottle and ABS trough
  • Leftover water can flow back into water bottle
  • 12- or 19-ounce bottles

4. SLSON Collapsible Silicone Dog Bowl

It’s an Amazon product but it’s cheap and works. Fold it up and clip the carabiner to a backpack or harness. The small size is suited for very small dogs. For very large or multiple dogs, this bowl holds 34 ounces.

  • Silicon bowl with plastic rim
  • Folds up
  • Attached caribiner
  • Holds up to 12 ounces

5. Ruffwear Trail Runner Bowl

Designed for trail runners, this is the smallest and lightest dog water bowl. The 6-inch wide base may not be big enough for very large dogs.

  • Folds up into a 3″x2″x1″ cube that fits into a pocket, vest, or runner’s belt
  • Weights 0.8 ounces
  • Holds up to 32 ounces

6. Boots

Like humans, dog hiking gear includes boots. Long hikes, sharp terrain, or cold weather can be too much for some dog paws. They also need protection from hot pavement and snow salt. And as a bonus, you’ll get to enjoy that funny dog-wearing-boots walk.

Toughest Dog Boots

Ruffwear Grip Trex Dog Boot

These rugged dog boots have Vibram outsoles, just like many hiking boots for people. They protect paws in all types of terrain. The boots are sold in pairs so you’ll need two sets. The advantage is that different sizes can be bought for dogs with larger hind feet.

Most Breathable Dog Shoes

XSY&G Waterproof Dog Shoes

These soft, washable, and breathable booties come in 8 sizes. The boots are made of leather, waterproof material, and durable rubber. They also velcro shut and have a reflective strip.

Most Flexible Dog Booties

BarkBrite Neoprene Dog Booties

These flexible neoprene booties conform to dog paws and maintain natural movement and ground feel. They are easy to put on with velcro and feature a reflective strip. Available in 5 sizes, these booties come in a pack of 4.

7. Dog Jackets

Dog coats aren’t just for looking good. They protect from the rain, wind, and cold. For hot climates, try a cooling vest to extend the temperature range that is safe and comfortable for dogs. For sensitive bellies, a chest protector is a must-have dog hiking gear.

Most Stylish Dog Coat

Carhartt Dog Chore Coat

We’re not saying hiking is a chore but it is work. With Carhartt’s duck canvas and quilted lining, this dog coat keeps out rain and wind and adds warmth. For the fashion-minded, this jacket also has a stylish contrasting corduroy collar. Now the question is are you going to get the matching Carhartt pants, overalls, or jacket?

Budget Dog Jacket

ThinkPet Dog Winter Jacket

It’s cheap, easy to put on, and blocks the wind, rain, and snow. A two-way zipper on the back makes it easy to attach the leash to a harness.

Cooling Jacket For Hot Days

Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Dog Cooling Vest

First, the light color reflects heat, which especially helps dark-colored dogs. Most of the cooling comes from evaporation. Dip the vest in water and wring it out before putting it on. This vest makes it possible to take dogs out safely in even 100-degree weather. Obviously, a must-have dog hiking gear item for hikers that live or travel to very hot climates.

Most Protective Dog Jacket

Filson Dog Chest Protector

This upside-down jacket protects the chest from rough terrain, scratches, and water. The brightly colored exterior is tear-resistant and repels rain.

8. Doggles

Not all dogs need to wear goggles but some pooches are sensitive to the sun and wind. Get your dog used to them by starting with goggles and no lense, then the clear lens, and finally a colored lens.

Rex Specs Dog Goggles

Like human goggles, these are impact-resistant and block 99.9% of UVA/UVB light. They also come with a clear and a smoke lens. The goggles come in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes.

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