We have camped so many nights in our tent, that sometimes it feels more comfortable than our own bed. Our gear is always ready to go at a moment’s notice for any last-minute camping adventures. Even Sora has her own dog camping gear bin.
If you’ve ever moved abroad, then you’re well aware of the process of setting aside about 125 lbs of your most coveted items to carry on your back and pack carefully in a suitcase. In our case, we also had to include Sora’s travel gear in our weight, which reduced the number of personal items we could chose to bring along. We laid out our prized items, packed, weighed, reduced, weighed again. Rinse, lather, repeat.
This exercise forced us to bring the dog camping gear that we can’t live without. Keep in mind, this is not a complete list of everything we bring when we camp. Easily replaceable items like a first aid kit or towels, we left behind to purchase in Spain. Below, we list our nine most essential items for Sora’s comfort and safety when we go on our adventures.
This is one item Sora would never let us leave without! We stuffed our bike boxes, corners, and carry on bags with as many treats as we could. She is super treat-motivated and we rely on treats to get her to recall if we have her off-leash, to practice doggy etiquette on the trails, and to take all of the fun photos you see on Instagram.
Our favorite treats are Zuke’s, of course. They come in a variety of flavors and sizes. I love the mini’s for training because they’re low calorie and great to grab a bunch to keep in my pocket or treat pouch for easy access. When I really need to keep her on target, we bring her favorite cords or hip action treats along so I know she’ll come back to me 100% of the time. Plus, they’re made without corn, wheat, or soy and have wholefoods like berries and turmeric in them.
A hands free leash is one of my most essential items when I hit the trails with my dogs. Whether I’m running or hiking, I love having my hands free to help with balance, climbing over rocks, or so I can easily reach a snack.
I have a few favorites that I use on rotation. I’ve mentioned before how much I love the Ruffwear Slackline leash several times on this blog, including in my review. It is my favorite do everything leash. When dog owners ask us if it’s a good idea to leave your dog on a leash, I say it depends on the leash. With the Slackline, I clip it around my waist when we trail run, tie it to trees when I’m setting up camp, attach it to my belt when we’re backpacking, and use it as our everyday leash.
It’s super strong, has a reflective trim, can adjust to about any size you like, and my favorite feature is the talon claw. If you’re going to leash your dog, it should be easy to use right? The talon claw is by far the best leash attachment device I’ve ever used. I don’t have to fidget with a tiny trigger release when it’s cold or stuck after a trip to the beach. The Flat Out Leash, also by Ruffwear is almost identical, but does not come with the adjustment pull. I love it almost as much.
Another favorite hands-free leash is the Quantum Leash from Kurgo. This handy leash converts to a variety of different sizes with a simple clip to one of the loops on the leash.
Buy the Kurgo Quantum Leash on Amazon.
Dog Travel Bed
We have a slight problem with dogs beds, in that we have several and I love them all for different purposes. The key to picking a good dog bed for camping is to find one that is water resistant, rolls into a small size, and is easy to clean.
A few favorites include:
Ruffwear’s Highlands Bed
The Highlands Bed weighs practically nothing and rolls up into a compact sack, just like a sleeping bag, only it’s about the size of a camping pad. The insignificant weight makes it easy for most dogs to carry on their own by attaching to their backpack. It’s probably best for warmer months or for dogs with thicker coats, as it’s thin, but the portability makes it an excellent option when camping with dogs.
Buy on Amazon.
Ruffwear Mt. Bachelor Pad
For something a bit thicker from Ruffwear, the Mt. Bachelor Pad is a great choice. It rolls up into a compact size and the microsuede surface is easy to clean and soft. I can easily attach it to my bag or a larger dog’s backpack with the velcro straps for easy carrying. The base is waterproof and keeps water from seeping through to the bed layer.
Whyld River Doggy Bag
Designed after a mishap on the trail when her dog experienced extreme cold, founder of Whyld River created the Doggy Bag so her pup River would never be uncomfortable again. The Doggy Bag is one of our favorite dog gear items period.
The thoughtfully-designed bed acts includes a number of innovative features, such as plastic snaps that make the bag convert from travel bed to sleeping bag, DWR treatment to keep your pup dry and warm, a draft sleeve liner on the inside to keep out the cold, and reflective logos for easy location at night. If you’re still not convince, Rachel donates one bag for every 10 sold to charity.
Buy at whyld-river.com.
Kurgo Wander Loft Travel Bed
Soft, fluffy, and packs down to a transportable size. We bring the Kurgo Wander Loft Travel bed camping, on the plane for Sora when we fly, and line her trailer with it for comfort. Heck, we even make her share with us sometimes because it is that cozy.
It’s fairly thick, so adds a nice cushion when camping on harder surfaces. Plus, the bottom is waterproof, which comes in handy when Sora knocks over her water bowl or our camp spot isn’t dry. Additionally, it comes with a stash pocket to keep a few essential items in easy reach.
To see more about what we think of this bed, check out our review.
Buy on Amazon.
Eye Protection for Dogs
If you spend time in high altitude, the beach, the desert, or just about anywhere else where there is a lot of bright sun, consider getting your pup a pair of Rex Specs. Like humans, dogs need eye protection to, to prevent diseases such as Pannus.
Not only will your pup look pretty rad in these goggles, but you’ll be doing them a favor in keeping debris, grasses, and harmful UV rays out of their eyes. Add this item to your dog camping gear collection and as a bonus, people love seeing your dog wearing goggles.
Learn more about why you might want to consider purchasing a pair for your dog, in Why You Need to Think about Sun Protection for Your Dog.
Car Seat Cover
I’m not sure how we ever lived without a car seat cover for so long. Looking back, our old Subaru was embarrassingly always full of dog hair, because Sora just sheds so much and we couldn’t keep up with the vacuuming as we needed (as in daily cleaning with the amount of fur she expels).
Finally, we just went ahead and ordered one and our lives are changed! It’s super easy to quickly clean with a shake out, or toss in the washing machine after a muddy outing. The car is exponentially easier to clean, especially with fabric seats. It’s also easy to bring along if you’ll be renting a car to keep it as clean as possible when you travel. This is a must for us when car camping with dogs.
Collapsible Dog Bowl + Water Bottle
Whether we’re running, traveling, flying, in the car, or out to eat, I always have a collapsible bowl with me. Our favorites are the Dexas collapsible travel cup and the Collapsible Travel Feeder (see why in my review here).
They come with a carabiner, so I can clip it to my bag and have it at the ready whenever Sora needs a sip. They’re super durable and perfect for any travel and dog camping needs. Dexas makes a ton of items that make it easy to pack food when traveling with a pet.
As far as water bottles, we either bring an insulated water bottle or a bladder that fits in a dog backpack. If we’re car camping, insulated is the way to go and we love both Klean Kanteen and Hydro Flask water bottles.
They keep the water cool in hot conditions and are super durable.
If we’re backpacking, then a collapsible water bottle like this one from REI is the way to go. HydraPak makes collapsible water bottles in a variety of sizes to suit your dog’s carrying capabilities.
Waterproof Dog Collar
You probably don’t think much about washing your dog’s collar, do you? I know we didn’t. It’s not often something many of us realize, but collars get super dirty from the oils in our dogs’ fur and also from all the play they do in dirty areas.
Kurgo’s Muck Collar comes in a variety of cute patterns and can be easily cleaned with the swipe of a sponge to look shiny and clean again. Made from waterproof and stink-free materials, none of that mud or dirt will stick to or become absorbed into this collar, allowing your dog all the muddy play she wants.
Don’t forget to include an id tag on your dog! You never know when they’re going to survey other campsites for left over yummies. Yes, we know this from first hand experience.
Buy on Amazon.
Treat Dispensing Toy
Sometimes when we’re cooking or setting up the tent, we need a babysitter for a short period of time. Enter the Gnawt-a-Rock by Ruffwear. This is a multi purpose treat dispensing toy that is perfect keeping your pup busy when you need a moment. This fun toy holds plenty of dog food or treats and bounces around in an erratic manner, making it fun toy that dogs love. In fact, Ruffwear makes a whole series of fun, durable toys for adventure dogs.
For hot weather camping trips, a cooling vest will be an essential item to keep your dog comfortable. I kinda wish they made them for humans. A cooling vest is simply a light-colored vest you get wet, squeeze out, and put on your dog to keep them cool. Since dogs can’t sweat, this is one way help them prevent overheating during the summer heat. We’ve used both the ones from Kurgo and Ruffwear and are happy with each product.
Get the Kurgo Core Cooling Vest on Amazon.