Running Adventure Pup means I spend a lot of time on the trail with my pups! We hike up mountains, through forests, across deserts, and around water. We’re outside in the heat, in the rain, and in the snow. Over the years we have experimented with a lot of tools and have found some we love and others we could do without. Below is a list of the tools we can’t live without! I have added some link to specific brands, but you’’ll be most successful if you find things that work specifically for you and your pups needs. Keep in mind their breed, build, limitations, and personality. Think about how the two of you interact with each other and the natural environment.
Collars, Harnesses, & Leashes
It’s always smart to keep a collar with an ID tag & licenses attached when you are outdoors with your pup. Anything can happen when you’re on on the trail, keeping up to date contact info on your pup will help keep them safe if they get away from you. I prefer dog tags that jingle so I can hear my pup wherever they are, but if the noise bothers you, you can get a tag that slides onto the collar and lays flat. Or you could get a collar with your number stitched right in. It’s always smart to keep your pup’s license and rabies tag on them as well, to avoid any tickets or fines.
When on the trail I prefer that Link wear a comfortable harness. It’s not only more gentle on his body than a collar while on leash, it also offers more control and is a safer option when an emergency occurs. If your pup slips down a hill, or gets stuck in the river, a harness offers a handle for you to help them out, rather than just tugging on their neck. I like a harness that offers even distribution across the body. Something with a wider chest and back plate are a little more comfortable than a simple nylon strap harness. I prefer a harness with a front and back clip for more versatility and control.
I also like to carry two different leashes, a five foot leash and a longer leash. The length of the longer leash depends on the trail. If there are a lot of trees and bushes to get tangled in, I will use a 10 foot lead. But if the trail is wide open I will use a leash as long at 30 feet. A long leash gives your pup more room to roam and sniff, and helps avoid pulling.
I think hiking packs are the item I have gone through the most. So many uncomfortable and impractical option out there, it’s been a difficult journey to find what works.
I’m going to be real, most backpacks and fanny packs have been created for a man’s body. They sit uncomfortably on a women’s shoulders and hips. I have chronic back pain from ill-fitting packs. If you try to look for women’s hiking packs, you’ll come up with a lot of pinks and purples, but no difference in structure. It’s important to find a pack that properly fits your unique body shape, and having more than one option will help alleviate fatigue. I like fanny packs that you can wear around various parts of the abdomen and hips so I can shift it around when my body needs a break. I also like fanny packs that I can carry as a shoulder bag when I need to shift the weight. I prefer a backpack that has across the chest straps to keep the weight evenly distributed across my shoulders. I also like one that has a lot of room for adjustment, one that you can wear up on your middle back or down on your lower back.
Other than a proper fit, it’s important to have room for all your trail needs. You’ll need your regular human things; wallet, phone, keys, etc. You’ll also need room for water, a first aid kit, any emergency supplies, treats/snacks, dog supplies, and any extra gear you like to bring along.
You can also get a pack for your pup to carry. If they aren’t used to carrying weight, start them off with an empty pack and slowly add weight as they get used to it. Make sure the pack fits them so it’s snug enough that it doesn’t slide all over when they walk, but not too tight to rub and chafe. You’ll also want to pay attention to where your leash attaches to the backpack to make sure it works with you and your pup’s walking habits. It’s always a good option to try on different packs before you settle on one.
Clothing & Shoes
Clothing depends on the weather and environment. If it’s hot out you’ll want to consider some practical shorts and a top, but if you’re in an area with snakes, ticks, or poisonous plants you’ll want to either wear pants or high socks to protect your legs. If it’s cold or wet out, consider wearing a base layer under your clothes to keep you warm and dry. An extra pair of socks is always recommended in case your feet get wet, and bringing a light jacket can come in handy in a variety of situations. A hat and sunglasses will keep the sun, rain, and slow out of your eyes. If you get a hat with a neck flap you’ll be protected from the weather and the bugs. A bandana or neck wrap can also help with this, and soaking one in water will keep you and your pup cool on hot days
Shoes always depends on who’s wearing them. I have gone through a lot of hiking shoes. Boots, runners, sandals, you name it. I appreciate a shoe that supports my ankles and protects my toes, since I am never walking on even ground. I do not like mesh fabric or stretchy spandex material, as it deteriorates very quickly. I have also found that elastic shoelaces break after just a few outings, so I always replace them with heavy duty boot laces. I have a pair of hiking sneakers, a pair of water sandals, and two pairs of hiking boots; one that goes over the ankle and one that goes below. I like to have a few options for every season so I can switch footwear and avoid blisters and discomfort.
Clothing always depends on the wearer. I like a loose-fitting shirt with a comfortable neckline. I’ll bring a flannel, sweater, or jacket along in case the weather calls for it. Long sleeves protect against sun, rain, snow, wind, bugs and tall bushes. The same with pants; something loose-fitting that protects against the elements. If it’s hot out, I like shorts with high socks. I am a big fan of pockets. Even though I always carry a hiking pack, I like to have easy access to certain items, so pockets are a must.
Bright colors or reflective gear will ensure others can you see, and will keep you extra safe during hunting seasons. This goes for your pup too.
Food & Water
Water is a must, but I am also a big fan of carrying snacks along, for both me and my pup. Be sure to bring more than enough water for you and your pup to have throughout your outing. You’ll want to have extra, in case of an emergency. Water is necessary for hydration, but it also comes in handy when it comes to flushing out wounds or irritated eyes. I like to carry a water bottle for myself and one for my pup. I also like to keep a whole lotta backup water in the car. Be sure to get a hiking pack that allows you to carry enough water. You could get something with a water bladder and add as many extra water bottles as you need.
Snacks are up to you, but be sure to bring something for both you and your pup to enjoy! I like bringing high-value treats along on a hike, like cheese/chicken/hotdogs. High-value treats help me keep my pup’s attention and I don’t have to compete against chipmunks, deer, smells, etc. My favorite human treat to bring along is a snack bar that doesn’t melt or freeze, and a small piece of fruit like an apple or nectarine. If I’m on a long hike I like to bring along a freeze-dried snack to provide me with more energy.
You should always have an emergency first-aid kit on you while on a hike. There are a lot of options out there, but I recommend getting a kit that has supplies for both you and your pup. You can get a kit and add anything you need, and you can adjust your supplies depending on your outing. The further you are from your car, the more supplies you should bring along. Bandages are one of the most used items in an emergency situation, so make sure you have plenty of gauze and vet wrap.
An emergency lift is a great way to get peace of mind when you’re on a long hike. If you travel far from the car and your pup gets injured, you’ll have to carry them back to the trailhead. With an emergency lift you’ll be able to hoist a dog of any size onto your back and carry them back down the trail.
A good whistle will come in handy in an emergency. It will help your pup find you if they’ve ventured off the trail, and it can help others find you if you get hurt and can’t continue your hike. I like a whistle that can give off a variety of pitches. Keep in mind that three sharp, high-pitched blows on a whistle indicates that you are in an emergency situation and need help.
I recommend carrying along an animal deterrent spray on every outing, no matter how long or short. I would steer clear of bear spray (unless you’re in an area with bears) because if you accidentally spray yourself or your pup you’ll be in a whole other emergency. A simple citronella spray will deter most other animals. An air horn works better, but it will effect both you and your pup’s ears so be aware. It could frighten your pup off and if they aren’t leashed you could lose them. A citronella spray will keep other dogs away from you, as well as some wild animals. If you want to make a loud noise, I recommend using your voice.
The most important thing to keep in mind in case of an emergency is where your closest vet clinic is. Whenever you go on a hike, do a quick Google search to see where the closest clinic is to the trail. Be sure that they are open during the hours of your hike. Covid has greatly changed the hours of vet clinics, and a lot of clinics are not open during their normal hours. Jot down their phone number so you don’t have to worry about stumbling around the internet on your phone while on the trail in an emergency situation. It’ll save you a lot of grief in an already very stressful situation.
The gear you carry is completely up to you. I like to be prepared, and prefer having too much gear to not having the necessary gear. Whenever you go out without an item, you’ll most likely find that you need it so it’s always best to bring all the essentials. I always recommend testing out new gear on short neighborhood walks before you take them out on the trail. That way you’ll know what works for you and what doesn’t. There are a lot of hiking companies out there, both for humans and dogs, so you’ll have endless options to chose from. Getting recommendations from friends and dog care professionals is a better option than getting them from social media or Google. Thrift stores are great places to find used gear that you can test out for less money. You can find brands and styles that work for you under a budget, and then you can spring for brand new items once you know what you like.