Cool Backpacks | Hiking With Man’s Best Friend

cool backpacks
Having Fido Along Makes For A Great Hike

Cool backpacks mean exciting adventures for a hiker.  If you have a fur buddy you want to take along, because you do practically everything together, here‘s some advice that will increase the odds of a successful hiking experience for both you and your best friend on the trail.

Age, Fitness And Immunity; Key Trail Hiking Factors

It makes good common sense to only take your dog if he is fit and healthy. We’re not talking about puppies here, because they aren’t capable of carrying weight yet, and their bones are not fully developed.  They also need to build up their immune system first and get their shots during their first year.  Dogs that are used to long walks on different terrains should ace a hike with you without a problem.  However, if he’s just used to quick walks around the neighborhood streets to do his “business”, it is advisable to gradually build up the time spent walking and introduce different surfaces to him, such as crushed stone, rocks and dirt.

Easy Does It Initially On First Few Backpack Trips

Cool backpack trips should be eased into gradually just like you needed to build your stamina in your early hiking days. If you start out with an hour hike, you can assess at the end whether your dog seems exhausted, still raring to go, or somewhere in between with his energy level.  Adjusting the time you hike by his energy level, the next time you hit the trails, you can increase the time by 20-30 minutes with subsequent hikes thereafter.

Plan Ahead For Your Additional Hiking Companion

cool backpacks
Your Dog Will Enjoy A Hike If You Plan Properly

Environment instances should be explored before taking Fido on an overnight camping hike. Why not set your tent up in the backyard a few times and practice sleepovers in the wild at night?  Your tent should not be a one person pop up. Giving Fido some room will make for a more comfortable sleep for both of you. You’ll need to carry a foam pad and blanket for his bed. Make sure to trim his nails to prevent puncture holes in your tent floor.

 Outdoor sounds and nocturnal animal noises can startle a dog that is used to sleeping on your bed with doors and windows shut. If Fido hears anything outside your tent, he will become protective and start barking.  That may be a good thing if he scares an animal intruder away.

Just make sure you are not anywhere near grizzly bear territory on your backpack trip. Your dog’s barking and aggressive behavior will represent a challenge to a grizzly the bear, which he will not back down from.  Most likely it will make the bear more aggressive. An aggressive grizzly bear is not a good thing to encounter either on the trail or in your camp. Some places in Montana and around Glacier National Park do not allow dogs on the hiking/camping trail for this reason. It’s wise to check the area you’ll be hiking in to prevent disappointment for both you and Fido.

Dog Behavior Is Key; A Dog Who Obeys Orders Is Welcome On The Trail

Leave No Trace When Hiking With Your Dog

Planning cool backpacks treks, you’ll need to establish whether your dog, leashed or not, is allowed on the hiking trail. Make sure he follows your commands at all times, because the hiker is always responsible for the actions of his pet.   Trail etiquette should be followed to the letter.  Even though he is on a leash, he needs to be non-aggressive when other dogs pass by. You will be expected to yield to the right of way to other hikers, horses and bicycles by stepping off the trail as they pass by.

The Leave No Trace rule applies to humans and dogs. You’ll be required to bury Fido’s waste, just as you would your own, or double bag it for the return home if you are on a day hike. It’s incredibly rude to leave it bagged at the trailhead for someone else to pick up. Lead your dog away from water sources whenever possible when he urinates.  Urinating near camp will create a scent that will draw wild animals right to your tent.

Dogs Need Plenty Of Food And Water During A Long Hike

Keep Your Dog Well Hydrated During Your Hike

Hiking Water

If you are hiking where water sources are readily available, that is most ideal. You may want to bring along a small collapsible dish and share your fresh water. Make sure you bring enough for both of you so that neither of you get hydrated.  Don’t plan on just enough for you and sharing some with him.

Be aware of the water you let him drink.  Many hikers give their pets the same filtered water they drink to eliminate bacterial pathogens in fresh water from a pond, river, lake or creek.

Hiking Food

Larger dogs may drink between ½ ounce and 1ounce of water per pound of their body weight per day.  Dogs that are 20 pounds and lighter will be closer to 1.5 ounces per pound per day.  Offer water to him frequently whenever you are thirsty because he most likely will also.

When considering how much dog food to bring, start him with his usual meal amount plus an added cup for every 20 lbs of his weight. He will need more nourishment, just like you will, when you are hiking.

Consider Potential Pet Trail Hazards During A Backpack Trek

Man Goes Hiking With His Dog

Cool backpacks doesn’t just mean sharp looking, it means having cool features and heat reduction against your skin when you wear it. A vented and mesh hiking bag is most comfortable for humans as well as pets. Make sure your dog is not overheated by too much weight if you have him carry a pet pack. 

Protect Fido’s feet against sharp rocks, thorns and heated trails in summer that are asphalt or cement surfaces.  If it’s hot for your bare feet, it’s hot for theirs. You may want to consider dog booties, and if so, pack spares in case they get wet or torn.

You may want to consider a cooling collar during hot summer temps. All dogs struggle to dissipate heat.  This collar is a soak and wrap accessory that will keep your dog from overheating.

Pay Attention Hikers To Plants And Grasses

Don’t let your pet randomly chew on grass.  It could contain Foxtails which have barbed seedpods that will snag on your dog’s fur, They can affect sensitive areas such as nasal passages and eyes.  These pods are dangerous because they can work their way into a vital organ and be fatal.  If your dog comes in contact with the pods, remove them with tweezers right away.  Most hikers know to carry tweezers in their hiking pack because they are invaluable when needed.

Chewing on plants is also not advised because some are poisonous or tainted. It would not be pleasant to encounter poison oak, ivy or sumac, just like for humans. If you are going to be hiking in a heavy insect area, consult your vet for the best measure of flea and tick protection. Check your dog on rest stops for ticks so you can remove them immediately.  Some spray-on repellents for clothing that contain permethrin are also safe for dogs. Read your label.

Can Your Dog Swim?

Be safe around water even if your dog is a good swimmer. Don’t let him loose in a big lake or the whitewater section of a creek. A PFD pack meant for dogs is the best for preventing drowning if your dog is tired from the hike and his strength is diminished.

If you want to have your dog carry a dog pack, he will need to “practice” wearing it at home or out on brief walks.  Start with the pack empty, then add 1-2 lbs. to begin.  After that you can add gradual weight until you establish his tolerance.  A guideline for maximum carry weight would be 25% of his body weight, but considerations like his age, strength and size may alter that guideline. 

Make sure it fits properly and the load is distributed evenly on both sides of his body.  A pack with a top handle grip helps because it will be easier to grab him if he attempts to stray, or to keep him safe on creek crossings during backpack hikes.

Dogs Love Being In Nature

Cool Backpack Hikes; To Take Or Not To Take Fido?

Many factors play into the decision to take your dog hiking with you. Having the knowledge and information to prevent problems beforehand is key to a successful encounter. Clearly it is not a matter of simply bringing the dog along with you without preparation. Many great hikes have happened with man’s best friend tagging along, as any dog owner will agree.  If you have comments regarding tips or situations you had while hiking with your dog, fellow readers would love to hear your comments below.  Happy hiking from Nature Trail Backpacks.


We love the great outdoors, backpack hiking, fishing, camping and experiencing nature's beauty.

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