If back country camping seems like your idea of fun, it’s even better with your best four-legged buddy by your side! If you’ve never tried camping with a pup, first try a drive-to camp site to see how everyone does in a tent before heading out into the wilderness. Start with shorter trips out at designated camp sites with a water source and pit toilet, and try to go with a friend for your first outing. There are lots of locations (and seasons of camping) where wildlife like bears are a problem and travelling in groups makes it safer for everyone. Before you head out, make sure you’ve left a detailed plan of where you are going, who you are going with, what you are wearing, and when you plan to be back.
As for your dog(s), make sure you both have experience hiking and the training necessary to deal with whatever comes up in the wilderness. Whatever you are bringing for yourself, your dog likely needs a dog-version of the same equipment (i.e. if you need a sleeping bag/pad, your dog might need the same, or to share yours). Of course everything is breed specific and you’ll have to make adjustments depending on your pup’s comfort level, their size, age, and body type; Huskies won’t need sleeping bags, and smaller dogs are not likely to carry backpacks. On shorter trips I’ll carry an extra sleeping bag for Whiskey (mostly day use) but at night she tends to crawl into my sleeping bag and it’s much more efficient to carry one larger bag for the two of us, than two separate ones.
Don’t forget the safety equipment: a first aid kit for a human, with some extras for dogs (paw balm, Vetericyn, honey), an extra set of dog booties, lights for night use (no one wants a dog sneaking up on them at night!), extra batteries, and clothes in case of bad weather. An extra blanket and some rope can go a long way in terms of keeping everyone safe and warm during unexpected weather. I always hike with dog treats, because hiking and camping is a perfect place to practice training, and keep your dogs’ attention away from prey animals, cliffs, or other dangers. New locations and environments can induce stress and protectiveness in dogs, so make sure that you’re reassuring your dog by staying calm, and in control.
The more that you keep going out with the tent, the more routine everything is. As soon as I pull the tent out of my backpack, Whiskey lies right on top of it (before it’s even up!) She knows it’s home and will happily stay inside the sleeping bag until I call her out for dinner if we’ve had a long trek. The best part of the whole experience is waking up the next morning to the most beautiful view, warm with my personal dog-heater, and having the entire location to myself all morning before the hikers roll in! Please use “leave no trace” practices, camp responsibly, and help others out. Maybe even take out an extra piece of trash you find!
Here’s a generalized list for back country camping (and links to some of the gear I use):
–Dog sleeping bag (could be shared with yours)
–Bowl (recommend collapsible)
–Food (recommend freeze dried for lightweight solution)
-First aid kit (shared with human, add paw balm, Vetericyn, honey, extra booties)
-Clothes (something waterproof and warm)
-Towel (small, microfiber)
-Booties (if needed)
-Light up collar/led
-Dog training treats
-Great worked-in hiking boots
-Human sleeping bag (for sharing I recommend oversized, extra wide ones)
-Sleeping mat (recommended insulated mats)
–Food (love Good to Go)
-Clothes (recommend merino wool)
-Maps/ GPS/cell phones/ batteries
-Water, filter/ hydration bags/ bottles
-Sunscreen/ bug spray
-First aid kit
-Garbage bags/containers/poop bags/baby wipes
-Bear spray/air horn (if needed)
-Smell-proof/waterproof/bear proof bag
Have you gone back country camping with your dog? Tell us your tips in the comments!
Adele is a photographer, adventurer, visual effects artist, entrepreneur, and most importantly, mom to Whiskey. Whiskey is a Hungarian Vizsla, one of the most active breeds, and captain of all hiking, camping and roadtrip adventures. Follow their adventures on @mywhiskeygirl on Facebook and Instagram or their blog, The Dog Walks Me.