Last month I wrote about transitioning my chocolate lab, and hiking partner, Coco to the Merrick Backcountry raw infused dog food line. That spurred a flurry of emails and questions via social media asking about hiking gear and packing lists for dogs. I was making preparations to take Coco on a short hike right as I was publishing the last blog post, so I figured that I’d use that as an opportunity to pull together a list of what I usually take on a trip with her. To my surprise it was more than I realized.
Carry Weight Considerations for Dogs
As a general rule of thumb a dog can comfortably carry approximately 25% of their [ideal] body weight. Coco weighs 86lbs so that would mean that her overall skin out weight would be in the region of 21lbs and would include her backpack which weighs 1lb 12oz. This rule of thumb is based on a gradual ramp up of weight over several trips and also assumes that the weight is evenly distributed. Dogs love to have a sense of purpose and duty, so I try to let her carry as much of her own gear as she can.
Big Things First
I usually start my packing routing by looking at the largest, bulkiest, or heaviest components first. In Coco’s case, and I’m sure this will be true for most dogs, that’s going to mean her backpack and her food. Those are easily the two biggest weight considerations. Dog food is not only a heavy component of a doggie’s packing list, it can also be rather bulky one depending on the type of food they are used to and the duration of the trip. For the latter reason I like to limit the length of the trips I take her on to one or two days.
Coco’s Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused dog food is a dry kibble mix that weighs 6.5oz for two cups. She normally eats four cups a day (two in the morning and two in the evening) so that’s 13oz of food per day not accounting for any snacks. For a two-day trip I like to have enough food for two full days even though I know that part of the beginning and end of the trip will be driving to and from the hike – it’s easier for me to factor this way and typically results in a little left over. This is what two days of her dry kibble looks like – I bag it in serving sizes of two cups each and make sure it is all in water tight bags, dogs (especially labradors) LOVE water! In addition to carrying her own food I like to have her be responsible for a few of her other things such as: her tennis ball, furry toy, and her collapsable food bowl. Other than the collar that she wears, I carry pretty much everything else that she needs.
A Typical Dog Packing List
If you’re not sure what a packing list for a dog looks like here’s what I typically take with me for a trip with Coco. A few of these are optional or adjustable depending on weather, distance, and duration.
- Ruffwear Palisades Backpack 1lb 20z (worn)
- Ruffwear collar 2oz (worn at all times for ID)
- Dry food for two days 26 oz (she carries)
- Mountainsmith K9 Food bowl 2.5 oz (she carries)
- Tennis ball 2 oz (she carries
- Fluffy toy of some kind 1.5 oz (she carries)
- Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping pad 14oz (I carry)
- Ruffwear leash 6 oz (always available, I carry)
- Ruffwear Grip Trex boots 8 0z (optional, I carry)
- Ollydog water bottle and tray 7 oz (I carry)
- Doggie First Aid kit 3-4 oz (I carry; will share more on this in later post)
I also make sure that I am the one carrying her treats and I store them in an easy to reach location like my pants pocket or the hip pockets of my backpack. Positive real-time praise followed up by a treat makes for a loyal and well behaved pup! Always make sure that you have a toy for fun, like a tennis ball, and a comforter for sleeping at night.
What Does Your Doggie Packing List Look Like?
I’m always interested to hear feedback on how others do things. My doggie packing list for hikes has evolved over time based on the trips we’ve gone on, yours may be vastly different. If you have tips or tricks to share, leave a comment and/or photo below – I’d love to see. I have a couple of other posts planned related to hiking with dogs, if there is something in particular you’d like to know about be sure to mention that too.