The Things She Carried
When you go backpacking, you have to decide what you want to have on you at all times, for many different scenarios – in one pack. You will be carrying this pack daily, for miles and miles, in various temperatures and terrain.
Many will research for days on end, scope out gear, and even do field tests.
When you decide to go backpacking with your dog, you have to decide if or what they will help carry on them, for many different scenarios- in one pack…or maybe you decide the dog will have no pack. Either way, you will be researching for days on end what you need for backpacking with your dog. Often times, coming up with little to no information out there. Just like every backpacker human that is out there, every dog is different.
This blog will go over what was in Skye’s pack and some things we carried for her. The general guidelines for a dog’s pack weight should range from 10%-25% of their weight and depending on the breed. We tried to stick with 15% or lower for Skye. Remember weight does change the more you hike.
The things she carried – Pictured and described below (from top left corner and counter clockwise).
1. Ruffwear hi and dry saddlebag Rain cover (we found ours on backcountry.com- they usually do really good promotions) weight: 3.5 oz.
2. Ruffwear Palisades’ dog pack (we also got this from backcountry.com) weight: 1.82 lbs. This has seen some stuff but held up pretty good.
3. Ruffwear Highlands bed (pictured packed up and unpacked) – I actually carried this. 14 oz.
4. We started with Kurgo collapsible bowls for her. They broke. We ended up getting some disposable Ziploc or glad type sandwich containers. These worked great if she didn’t eat all her last meal, cover it and go. Cheap, so if something happened to them- oh well, and you could get them at almost any store. However, Ruffwear has some nice foldable bowls, and one does have a cinch to keep food in. We didn’t discover them until after the trip.
5. Lishinu hands free retractable dog leash (got it off of amazon.com). The compartment where the leash is stored (the white piece) has Velcro- which we wrapped around parts on our pack. The leash is retractable so only uses about as much as she needs (about 7 ft.). This did start breaking towards the end but did the job of keeping her on leash when needed. Also, not bulky. Weight: 6.8 oz.
6. A rag of some sort to help keep clean and dry off. We used a silk one from the thrift store. Lightweight and dried quick.
7. Small nail clippers. These were almost unnecessary due to the fact that she would file her nails down naturally on the rocks on the mountain. Handy to have if in less rocky areas, and if she happened to chip a nail or something.
8. A small comb. This helped to keep her fur unknotted and help check for ticks.
9. Musher secret. This worked great for her paws and under her arms where the pack goes. It helps soothe and prevent chaffing. A must in my dog mom eyes. If you run out, amazon can ship it prime to the next resupply or substitute for something like a petroleum jelly type balm.
10. Ruffwear Knot-a-collar (we actually picked this up in Damascus, VA at an outfitter there because hers broke). It’s nice that it doesn’t have a buckle or snap closure to break. She went through a lot of dirt, water, etc that can wear the buckles down quick.
- Nexgard (the best flea and tick treatment out there in my opinion). Nexgard is a chewable treat tablet that keeps fleas and ticks away. If we did find a tick on her, it was dead. We started with a 6 month supply and obviously the weight decreased as we were out there.
- Heartgard- heartworm preventive. The disease is transmitted by certain mosquitos. We got this to help protect her with the high risk of running it to all sorts of new bugs. We started with a 6 month supply.
- Microchip. We got Skye micro chipped and made sure to have our updated contact info on the registration so if for some reason she got lost, they would know how to identify her.
- Dog food. We aimed for a 3-4 lb. Bag of puppy food and mixed it with the pedigree little champion’s wet food pouches. The puppy food is higher in calories, the pedigree wet food pouches are easy to carry. We would typically divide the dry food into two- four gallon reseal able bags and she would carry 2 of them in her saddlebags. The first few days after a resupply – my husband and I would carry the wet pouches (they usually come with 12 in a box), and the extra bags of dry food. As the days went on and everyone’s packs would get lighter, Skye would eventually be carrying all of her food.
- We would frequently buy a lot of cheese, peanut butter, and other dog friendly human foods and share those with her. We dehydrated ahead of time some meat and veggie mixes and would share those with her as well. We tried to feed her as much as possible.
- Turbo pup bars are convenient and good nutrition but expensive. We bought some ahead of time and added them to mail drops. We also always had a bag of dog treats in mail drops.
- We carried Skye’s water, or she would drink from some of the water sources. Of course if you allow this, make sure they go downstream from where people are getting their water. Adding bouillon cubes to the dogs water sometimes gets them to drink more- keeping them hydrated, and also has some tasty flavor and some sodium which can help retain some water.
- There are some areas where it may be too hot, too rocky, too wet, etc. for the dog to carry its own weight. Be prepared to take the weight or send them home or take a break if they need it. Hike the dog’s hike. I have some other blogs that will get into this.
Another great leash is the Ruffwear roamer leash. We bought this at the same time as the lishinu but found the retractable was the way to go. However, the roamer is also hands free and has a bungee effect.
A lot of people always ask me how we get Skye used to her pack, and things like how do we get her to put it on and not run. We don’t have any great tips for this. Skye has been doing adventures with us since she was a pup. She likely associates the pack or (life jacket depending on excursion) with an adventure for all we know. Some wise men have also said that dogs feel a sense of purpose, and like the fact that they have a job when they wear the pack. It always helps to not force things, and just encourage them to be curious of the pack. Let them smell it, pick it up and handle it in front of them, put some of their things in it. Let them know it’s safe and it’s theirs. And of course, the closer they get to the pack- treats don’t hurt a dogs taste buds.
I hope this information helps and be sure to check out prior blog topics and future postings for more information on hiking with your dog!
As always, happy trails, and tails to you.