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Favorite Trail Running Gear for Dogs & Humans

Favorite Trail Running Gear for Dogs & Humans

I have been trail running for over 20 years, 10 of which have been with a dog by my side. In that time, I’ve tested a ton of different trail running gear for both dogs and humans and know well what works and what doesn’t work for us.

Trail running is my primary method of high cardio exercise and my dogs are my training partners.

The basics of running with a dog remain the same for the most part, however, heading into the mountains means leaving the house prepared for changes in weather, long hours on the trail, and the ability to carry plenty of water.

Switching from pavement to dirt doesn’t require a huge amount of transition, but the list below includes our human and dog trail running gear essentials for runs in the mountains.

Switching from road to trail means bringing along a few extra items. This post highlights our go-to trail running gear for dogs and humans.

Trail Running Gear for Humans

Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta

I’m not sure how I ever survived long distance trail running without a running vest. I used to have one of those waist belt water bottle holders and it caused me unbelievable chafing. I then switched to a handheld water bottle, but I like having my hands free, especially if I am running with a dog.

Now that I have my running vest, I can bring all the water and gear I might need for me and my dog, chafe-free, and hands-free. In addition to the two 1-liter hydration packs, I might bring along a rain jacket, snacks, a water bowl for the dogs, my phone, a rain jacket, and trekking poles.

These small vests can pack a surprising amount of gear!

The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta is available at REI and Amazon.

Topo Athletic Terraventure 2 Trail Running Shoes

I am an incredibly dedicated running shoe-wearer. For years, I wore the Brooks Adrenaline GTS series. And then one day, they just stopped doing their thing for me. So I bounced around a bit after switching before finding my new trail shoe love, the Topo Athletic Terraventures.

Similar to Altras, they have a wide toe box to accommodate my dang bunions and prevent them for the rest of you, a 3mm heel drop, and flexible forefront rock plates to add protection on trails. Best of all, they tackle muddy trails like a champ.

Both the men’s and women’s version of the Topo Athletic Terraventure 2 Trail Running Shoes are available at REI and Amazon.

Depending on the length, bringing the appropriate trail running gear means a safer and more comfortable outing.


The key with trail running is, particularly if you’re in the mountains, is to be prepared for any kind of weather. Systems can roll through in an instant and you’ll want that extra layer or gloves with you.

Now, you’ll see that I only have women’s gear here. That’s because I am a female and because Dave isn’t nearly as picky about his running gear as I am. Therefore, I don’t feel that I can speak for the guys here! As you’ll notice, like my shoes, I’m pretty loyal to specific brands!

Trail Running Bottoms:

I used to fear compression shorts. They’re so tight and short and show off everything. But one day, I said, I don’t care and gave them a try. And now they are my go to for long runs. Oiselle knows what they’re doing and these shorts are designed by women for women.

They don’t ride up or chafe and keep everything in place. Plus, they make me feel fast.

Moisture-wicking Shirts

I am super picky about the shirts I run in. I hate that polyester feel against my skin. It feels gross and sticky and wet and just ick. Instead, I look for a soft feel that doesn’t matte to my skin. I need a shirt that dries quickly and keeps me warm if its cool and cool if its warm.

Before I became vegan, merino wool was my go to for this department. Since then, I’ve had some trouble finding suitable replacement items, but the list below include a few favorite shirts that hold up when I run long. Long sleeved shirts offer sun protection and can be a great substitute using suntan lotion.

My go to shirts include:

Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket

Though I’ve spent the majority of my running years in places like Seattle and Portland where we all know the winters are filled with rainy days, I never used a rain jacket. It wasn’t until a trail race required one that I got one. Now I’m not sure why I ever ran without one. It’s just silly, really.

The Ulta Jacket is perfect for me. It rolls up into a tiny ball and fits great in my vest. The interior breast pocket fits my phone and still allows for easy access. Vents allow for plenty of breathability, so I don’t have to take the jacket off and on when the rain stops and starts, and finally, the sleeves contain little mittens to keep the hands dry in a downpour.

Most importantly, it’s waterproof!

Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR GPS Watch

I currently use an older Ambit 3, which I love, however when I upgrade, I’ll likely go for the Spartan Trainer. It uses the wrist pulse to measure heart rate, records various sports, is water resistant up to 50m, records ascent and descent values during workout, and you can upload gpx files to follow routes.

It also has a breadcrumb feature, so if you become lost on the trail, it will redirect you back to the starting point. Though when we are running trails, we rarely go without the offline map on our phone. (our favorite app is Maps.ME)

The Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR GPS Watch is available at REI and Amazon.

For runs on hot days or over long distances, make sure you bring enough water for you and your pup.

Trail Running Gear for Dogs

Portable and Compact Water Bowl

We try to plan longer runs where we will have access to water fountains or streams along the way so the dogs can take a drink as needed, however it doesn’t always work out that way. If that’s the case, I bring along either the Ruffwear Quencher Dog Bowl or the Dexas Popware Travel Cup and make sure to carry enough water for us both.

I love the compact size of both of these bowls, as I can stash them easily in my running vest. If we’re just going out for a shorter run and I don’t bring my vest, I take the Ruffwear bowl because it folds down into a tiny size and I can easily stash it in my waist belt or shorts pocket.

In hot weather, it is especially important to bring more water than you think you’ll need and take frequent water breaks, especially if it’s the beginning of the season and you and your dog have not yet acclimated to the warm temperatures.

The RUFFWEAR – Quencher Cinch Top is available at REI and Amazon.

The Dexas Popware Travel Cup is available at Amazon.

Tip: Know your dog well and understand how to keep them cool in warm temperatures to avoid serious illness like heat exhaustion.

Harnesses can be great for trail running, especially for dogs who pull.

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

Until we achieve a more consistent recall with Laila, we run with her using a harness. I was against harnesses for the longest time because I didn’t want to teach her to pull, however it made a huge difference in our running.

She was going to pull regardless and the harness kept her safer and also gave me a nice little boost on the uphill.

The Ruffwear Front Range Harness is available at REI and Amazon.

Kurgo Dog Go Shower

After muddy or rainy runs or for those who have swamp monsters, the Kurgo Dog Go Shower is a huge help for keeping the car clean. Simply fill the bag with water and hang from a tree or your car and let gravity to the work. The flow is strong enough to get a lot of mud off your dog.

We even use it ourselves for showing when we camp. The bag inside is black, so it attracts the heat from the sun if left outside. This is a total luxury of trail running gear, but it’s so refreshing to wash up when you’re chaffed and tired.

The Kurgo Dog Go Shower is available at Amazon.

The Ruffwear Trail Running system means hands free running when you have to have your pooch on lead.

Ruffwear Trail Runner System

On trails, I like to be hands free, so I can balance over rugged terrain and just have a more normal gait. The Ruffwear Trail Runner System is my favorite way to run with a dog on the trail. The belt includes a zippered pocket that fits my phone, a pouch to carry treats and bags, and a spot to carry water. Water bottle and spring leash included.

If you’re just out for a shorter run, stay hands free with our favorite leash.

The Ruffwear Trail Runner System is available at REI and Amazon.

Compact First Aid Kit for Dog + Human

This is one of those things that is kind of annoying to carry, but you have to do it anyway in case of an emergency. I’ve fortunately never had to use one trail running, but I never want to be without it when I need it.

The one listed here is a small day hike kit that fits into my running vest easily. It’s made for humans, but you can easily make a few adjustments to  make it dog-friendly as well.

The I GO Compact First Aid Kit is available at Amazon.

Miscellaneous Items

  • Sunblock (your dog may need sun protection as well)
  • Hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Dog booties
  • Poop bags
  • Gloves

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Trail Running Gear for Dogs and Humans Pinterest Image