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The best camping gear for dogs we’ve tried and loved

The best camping gear for dogs we’ve tried and loved

Part of the reason I adopted a dog was to have a buddy with me at all times on camping and hiking trips. For the past year, my border collie mix rescue pup, Miso, has been my constant companion — indoors and out.

As the dog of a shopping writer and avid camper, Miso has tried pretty much every piece of outdoor dog gear that exists, from Ruffwear’s classic life jacket to numerous pairs of dog boots, harnesses, and leashes. While there are tons of fancy products out there for the dedicated outdoorsmen (and outdoorsdog), I’ve put together a list of all the basic products Miso and I have used on camping trips over the last year that have made our lives easier.

The gear on this list has been tested and approved by Miso.
Credit: Jae Thomas

Black dog snuggled in a dog sleeping bag.

Credit: Jae Thomas

I bought all the products on this list for my own personal use (with the exception of the dog first aid kit), and I think every piece is worth the cost. We only recommended products that haven’t had any quality or durability issues after using them for one year.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of every piece of dog camping gear that exists, but these are the products that kept us both happy and comfortable during a year packed with car camping, road trips, and hiking. If you’re ready to take your pup to the campground this season, scroll down for our gear recommendations, or read on for the answers to some commonly asked questions about taking your pooch camping.

How to take your dog camping

Before you shop around for dog gear, take these tips into account to make your camping trip with your canine companion a bit smoother:

  • Plan to spend some time getting your dog used to their camping gear before heading on a trip

  • Check the dog policy on any campground or hiking trail you’ll be on

  • Prepare to stay leashed up to keep your dog and other dogs safe

  • Pack plenty of food and water for your pup for the duration of your trip

  • Keep your vet’s and emergency vet’s phone number on hand in case of any accidents

Can I take my dog to a national park?

Nearly every national park in the United States allows dogs, but there are many parks with specific restrictions for where they can go within the park. With the exception of task-trained service animals, most parks only allow leashed dogs on paved roads, unpaved dirt roads, and at campgrounds, but a select few — like Acadia National Park — have miles of trails and carriage roads that dogs are allowed on.

Before you set out to take your dog camping at a national park, be sure to check the individual park’s rules on pets. If you’re planning on doing long hikes in your park of choice, ensure your dog can tag along with you, or else you may have to replan your entire trip.

Does my dog need boots to hike?

Your dog doesn’t need boots to hike, but they can help reduce the risk of paw injuries and assist with traction on slippery trails. For dog parents who are planning on spending time in the outdoors during the warmer months, note that if the weather is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit, pavement, asphalt, and even dirt may be too hot for your dog’s paws. This level of heat may cause blisters on dog’s paws if they’re exposed for too long. In these cases, a pair of dog boots can ensure your pup is safe while having fun during the summer.

Black and white dog wearing boots laying on a rock in the shade

Ruffwear’s Grip Trex boots keep my dog’s paws cool and safe from any sharp rocks, twigs, or debris.
Credit: Jae Thomas

Black and white dog wearing boots laying on a rock

Credit: Jae Thomas

Paw injuries are some of the most common injuries dogs face, and dog boots will drastically reduce the risk of your pup hurting a paw pad. Especially when in the outdoors, dogs may step on sharp sticks, rocks, glass, or break their nails while running or playing, so a good pair of boots keeps their feet secure while hiking, camping, and romping outside.

Not all dogs take to boots quickly, though. We’ve all seen videos of a pup forgetting how to walk normally when wearing boots, so be sure to allow time for your dog to get used to their new footwear. Positive association and slow desensitization are key for helping your dog learn to love wearing boots.

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