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Discussion Starter #1
I was just curious who backpacks with their dogs? Here's a thread we can share stories and tips to making it a fun and safe experience for everyone.

Do you have your dog carry a pack?

What seaons do you backpack in?

What terrains do you backpack in?

What are your "must bring" items?

How do you cut down on weight when packing for an extra creature?

Just a few questions to get people started. Add what you want!

I think I'm getting spring fever and seriouly itching to hit the trails. Hubby had his ACL replaced in Novemeber and he can't do much of anything still with all the snow on the ground (creates to unstable of a surface if it's anything but a hard packed trail). I would love to go climb a mountain right now!!!
 

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I usually take my SAR 3-day pack with me when backpacking as it already has everything in it that I need other than food and then I usually toss in MREs for the number of days I will be out. I have a harness with pouches for Ze'eva as well that I plan on having her carry her food, water, and first aid items in. Not much weight but a little bit.
 

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I was just curious who backpacks with their dogs?
Stark and I are avid hikers, have been since the day he came home. He started wearing an empty pack very young - around 6-7 months maybe?

Do you have your dog carry a pack?
Yes. Right now, at 22 months old he carries a few pounds in his pack. He could probably do more, and I plan to allow him too this spring/summer but we haven't done long enough trips to really need to bring anything else.

What seaons do you backpack in?
Spring, summer, fall and winter. We hike year round and therefore Stark will wear his pack year round. This winter his pack was too small to wear - he actually has a chest now! But I will be placing an order in a few weeks time for a new one.

What terrains do you backpack in?
Rocky ledges, bush trails (smooth dirt), pretty much anything. I have also had him wear it while just out for a walk around the neighbourhood or to festivals/farmers markets.

What are your "must bring" items?
- poop bags
- keys (with his rabie tag and license)
- water
- water bowl (collasable)
- long lead (15-20ft)
- wipes for me or hand sanitizer

How do you cut down on weight when packing for an extra creature?
Haven't had too yet.

Just a few questions to get people started. Add what you want!
I started adding 'real weight' (ie. water bottles) around 16-18 months old. Start off by getting them use to wearing it and then start adding weight over a LONG period of time and make sure to condition your dog before doing any major hikes with it on.













I think I'm getting spring fever and seriouly itching to hit the trails. Hubby had his ACL replaced in Novemeber and he can't do much of anything still with all the snow on the ground (creates to unstable of a surface if it's anything but a hard packed trail). I would love to go climb a mountain right now!!!
I have been hitting the trails all winter but I totally know how you feel. I want to get out there right now!
 

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Do you mean backpack or hike?

We hike a lot with our dogs, but haven't gone backpacking (hiking for overnight trips) with them yet- looking forward to it, though. Haven't figured out how things like sleeping will work though...2 GSDs in a tent might be a little cozy!
 

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We hike all the time.....I am very anxious to buy a pack for Jake, but I fear his chest is going to get a lot bigger. I think I am interested in pack for him that is like a camel pack to only carry water in a bladder style bag. Does anyone have a recommendation? Seems easier on the dog to carry water that way...
 

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Backpack, but hiking talk is good too :)
Ooops.. lol.

Anyways - I MAY, this is a big MAYBE try backpacking with Stark this summer but I have issues with bugs and my sleeping quarters... I'm kinda OCD when it comes to the place I sleep so I am not sure if *I* can handle it.. we will see.

We did rent a cabin in the middle of nowhere the first weekend in May right on Lake Huron and I plan on doing day trips down the shoreline and into the bush... does that count?

But I will be able to shower and sleep in a nice clean bed.. lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
No problem, Elizabeth! Just like talking about dog and outdoor stuff either way!

We have the Ruffwear Singletrak for Elsa and backpacking.
Ruff Wear Singletrak Hydration Dog Pack at REI.com
Seems weird we use the smallest pack for backpacking, but we backpack in the Adirondack High Peaks the most, and the terrain is very rocky and brush-laden, so the bulkier packs tend to get hung up between boulders and on branches a LOT and Elsa ends up pretty miserable because she's constantly being knocked around. With the Singletrak, I can fill the water bladders up and put one meal in each side if I spread it between 2 baggies. Also fits some poop bags and that is about it.

We only take one bowl for backpacking and use it for both food and water. I ued to bring along the collapsable nylon bowl until I discovered this rubber one...
Guyot Designs Squishy Pet Bowl - 36 oz. at REI.com
It is much lighter and easier to squeeze into tight space (we carry it until the water bladders get emptier).

Either hubby or I will also carry 1 Nalgene for Elsa that we refill as needed from streams for her. Since she's a dog, I don't worry about stream debris and just treat the water when we fill it up.

This is the tent we use for backpacking.
Marmot Limelight 3 Tent at REI.com
Hubby carries all the tent weight and I usually carry food (UGH--and the bear canister...stupid fing black bears). I think it fits 2 people and 2 dogs nicely. We haven't backpacked with 2 dogs in it, but we did bring a foster along camping once and he got to stay in the tent for awhile (when we finally tucked in for the night he had to go in the car in the crate). Since it has 2 nice vestibules on either side, we just bring the clothes inside and leave the packs and any extra stuff out in them (if it's a clear night can even leave clothes out there, but of course we never have those in upstate NY). When backpacking, I feel like the dogs are so freaking tired at the end of the day that they are knocked out and don't cause much of a ruckus in the tent.

We use the same first aid kit for both her and us...

I usually bring 2 leashes. 1 4' leash that is always attached to her for when I'm naughty and have her off-leash if we are on a less-traveled path. The Ruffwear Roamer leash is a necessity for where we go
Roamer? Dog Leash ? Hands-free, Stretchy Lead Lets Dogs Roam - from Ruff Wear
for the times she has to be onleash, but there are a lot of big ledges and boulders we're going up and down when we have to jump up first or last.

Hmmm. OK, I think that is all my backpacking wisdom that is dog related at the moment.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I believe each bladder holds 1/2 liter if memory serves correctly (too lazy to go check right now :) )
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Not for an overnight in summer--that' why we have the Nalgene we can refill as well. We don't take the pack out much for hikes, but I bet it would be enough for a long day hike depending on how much your dog drinks.

Also, with the rubber bowl it's easy to squeeze the lip and pour it back into the bladder. I definitely find I waste a LOT if I don't pour it back into the bladder (or back into the Nalgene if I'm hurry--it does take some skill to get it back into the small top of the water bladder).
 

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Here it's gets in the 90's with high humidity so all of us having a lot of water is important even for a few hours out there....I am from NJ, the heat down here is a killer.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yeah, in the south I would definitely treat thoe bladders as only being part of the water supply for the puppers. It definitely helps keep the load off your back even if it's just "some" of what you need. For overnights, hubby and I each have a 100oz. Camelbak plus a Nalgene each, then Elsa's Nalgene.

Water isn't too nasty around here if it's treated, so we just use chlorine dioxide if we need a refill on anything in an emergency (have refilled Elsa before, but if we ever do as well I'm not too worried about it--giardia is the only worry). Streams are a-penty here, though.
 

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you are very lucky......most trails we hit 5 miles from here in a huge state park has basically no water around once you get in the woods.....last year Jake was a baby so we didn't hike him more than 2/3hours in that heat...but this fall/winter we are going a lot further with him. I am just scared which size I need....he still has a good bit of filling in to do. I may wait until fall to make the investment and haul his on my back.....
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Ick--yeah, that is one thing we're spoiled about here. But, I grew up in NM so I definitely know what it's like to be short on water that is even remotely drinkable (ew--Rio Grande!).

If you go with a larger pack so you can fit more water, DEFINTELY get the Nalgene cantenes or something..
Nalgene Wide-Mouth Cantene - 96 fl. oz. at REI.com

Actual water bottles are horrible when going long ditances for the dogs--they slosh and bang around way too much. Elsa always sounded so off centered. The platypus bladders have helped tremendouly with that issue.
 

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That is exactly what I thought....that's why I figured a bladder pack would be so much easier for them to carry. I am glad you made this post. Thanks for all the good help!
 

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We take our dogs hiking and backpacking. Mutt has the Kelty K9 Chuckwagon. DH's dog, Millie, doesn't carry a pack (lucky slacker). I'm grooming Pistol and Clemie to be my hiking companions because Mutt's just weird. After 2-3 miles she's just DONE. She's always been like that...no matter how slowly I try working her up to more. Pistol and Clemie will each get a Ruff Wear Palisades pack for their first birthday.
Ruff Wear Palisades Dog Pack at REI.com
I like this pack because it does have bladders (although the reviews on the bladders aren't great so I may rip them out and just carry the roll/fold up platy bottles instead. The bags on the pack also separate from the harness. I find that a plus if I need to just use the harnesses or if we're crossing water and I need to keep something dry.

When they are about 6-7 months I will start putting Mutt's pack on them empty to get used to it. They're already wearing plain harnesses to get used to wearing straps without eating them.

I've always wanted to thru hike the Appalachian Trail, but DH is worried about me going it alone (who really hikes it alone anyway...the trail is never empty!). Pistol and Clemie are my answer to that when they are developed enough. We'll probably go the spring following their second birthday. There are a few parts on the trail that dogs are not allowed on... I will probably skip those parts and go back to do them when DH can join me.

For my backpacking tent I have a 2p Marmot tent that holds DH, me, Mutt, Millie and our gear snuggly. I think it will hold me, Pistol and Clemie and our gear comfortably. We also take the dogs drive up camping, but in that case we have the kennels and the big 6p tent.

As far as what the dogs carry (will carry in the case of the pups)...bags, food for up to 2 days, some of their water...that's really it right now. I found some beds online at a shop in Austin I want to look at the next time I make it up there. They look light enough and like that pack small enough that the dogs could carry them. They're more mats than beds, but anything to protect the floor of the tent!

Attached is a photo of Mutt and I getting ready to hike out on an overnight at Enchanted Rock SNA last year.
 

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