Tree’s “favorite things” list was such a hit, I thought I would make a list for Sage, my thru-hiking dog. Here are some of the things that make hiking with a dog a little easier for me.
1. Turbo Pup Bars
On trail, Sage loves that he gets one extra meal a day, in the form of a TurboPUP bar. They are basically meal replacement bars (think ProBar) for your dog. They are 500 calories, weigh a little over 4 ounces, and pack much smaller than dry dog food. Depending on what brand of food you buy your dog, these bars (he prefers bacon flavor) can be half the weight and volume of kibble! They go into each resupply box.
2. Groundbird Gear Packs
Sage’s favorite pack is made by Groundbird Gear, a dog pack company started by a long distance hiker. He has tried 3 other brands of packs and they always rubbed his armpits raw after about 1.5 weeks on the trail. The GBG packs are custom made to fit your dog and they are light weight. I like the roll-top version–as Sage eats through his food on a stretch, it is easy to reduce the size of the pack and makes it less likely to snag on bushes.
3. DogBooties.com Boots
DogBooties.com makes really inexpensive (a set of 4 is $12) and light weight dog booties used by mushers and polar explorers. Sage likes them because, unlike the other brands he has tried, they are less built up and they stay on far better. It seems like they are less cumbersome to him than the ones with rubber soles. One thing I will say, though, is that they will wear down pretty quickly if your dog is off-leash and sprinting back and forth in them all day. You will want to order the heavier denier model, and have a backup or two in the pack if that is how your pooch hikes.
4. Tyvek Ground Sheet
While I like the Gossamer Gear Polychro groundsheet for me, Sage likes his more durable soft-structured Tyvek. Cheap, light, durable, water resistant. When I lay it out for him at the end of the day, he runs right over to it and curls up on top of it.
5. Custom Made Sleeping bag
Sage is a wuss when it comes to the cold. I will wake up and reach over to him during the night and he will be shivering if it is below 45F out. On those nights, I will lift up the top of his custom made sleeping bag and he gladly snuggles right into it. His daddy used a damaged men’s sleeping bag and shortened it. It weighs about 10 oz.
Before the sleeping bag, I used a size XS down vest on him at night. That worked out okay, too.
Also, these sound like a great lightweight idea!
6. Backpackers Pantry Pack Bowl
The Backpacker’s Pantry Pack Bowl is a cheap and light (0.8 oz. when cut to size) flat-folding bowl. They are similar to what you would have if you cut the bottom off a Platypus bottle, but with a larger base. It also has lines on it to help me measure out his kibble. When this thing comes out of the pack, Sage gets excited!
7. Pack Towel
Okay, I won’t lie. Sage could care less about his pack towel. But I like it a great deal, so I infiltrated his list. This thing has come in handy drying Sage off after a Colorado rainstorm, and once when Sage decided to roll in something nasty.
8. Gossamer Gear ThinLite Pad
Again, Sage is a wuss in the cold, so he carries a square of Gossamer Gear Thinlight foam insulation. He enjoys the insulation from the ground at night. Mommy likes the seat pad during her lunch break. Win, win.
Thanks for reading. Keep following for upcoming articles on “Nutrition” and “Selecting a Trail” for Long Distance Hiking with Dogs.
Sage the Wonder Dog has hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail, the Colorado Trail, and the Bigfoot Trail.