Dog Camping Gear: 6 Essentials You Need to Pack
Getting out into nature is the perfect balm for stressful times—especially when you bring your dog along. That’s probably why nearly 30 percent of pet parents who choose to vacation with their pets go on a camping trip together (1). But camping with dogs isn’t as simple as just showing up with a tent. If you’re one of the many pet parents who are planning to camp with their pups, make sure you’re well prepared—from choosing the right dog camping gear to learning the most important safety and health tips.
Our Top Picks:
- Dog Camping Tent: Coleman Evanston Dome Tent with Screen Room
- Well-Fitted Dog Hiking Harness: RUFFWEAR Front Range Dog Harness
- A Collapsible Dog Bowl: Prima Pets Expandable/ Collapsible Silicone Food & Water Travel Bowl with Clip
- A Portable Dog Cot: K&H Pet Products Original Pet Cots
- A Dog First Aid Kit: Adventure Medical Kits Me & My Dog Canine First Aid Kit
- A Camping Blanket for Dogs: Kelty Bestie Blanket
Best Camping Gear for Dogs: 6 Essentials to Pack
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When it comes to dog camping gear, these are some of our favorite items:
A Dog Camping Tent
As every experienced camper knows, having the right tent can make or break your trip. It’s no different when camping with a dog. Our pick for the best dog camping tent can hold the whole family (six people total, or there is also a larger eight-person version), with a separate screened front area that’s perfect for pups who prefer to sleep out in nature while still avoiding bug and tick bites or sticky pine needles.
- A separate screened area that’s perfect for pups
- Designed to keep you cozy in all types of weather
- Company says setup only takes about 15 minutes
- Spacious interior can hold two queen airbeds
- Coleman is one of the best-known brands for camping gear out there. The company has been around since 1900!
Things to Consider
- The design may allow wetness into the screened front area on rainy nights
- A few reviewers reported durability issues with the poles or fabric
A Well-Fitted Dog Hiking Harness
Our pick: RUFFWEAR Front Range Dog Harness
Lisa Gallegos, a certified professional dog trainer and owner of CollabDogTraining.com, says it’s crucial to bring a harness that your dog can’t slip out of, but that also isn’t so tight that it restricts motion or causes discomfort. She loves this Ruffwear model, which comes in a rainbow of colors and sizes from XX-Small to Large/X-Large. It’s also lightweight and ultra-adjustable, allowing for a customizable fit even within a given size.
- Four points of adjustment help create a custom fit
- Foam padding across the chest and stomach make this dog harness soft and comfortable
- Offers two leash attachment options: a V-ring in the back center for everyday walks, and a front chest clip to help redirect leash-pullers
- An ID pocket allows for easy tag storage
- Ruffwear is committed to sustainability, and is even a founding member of the Outdoor Industry Association’s Climate Action Corps.
Things to Consider
- This harness is on the pricier side compared to some others on the market
- A few reviewers had trouble finding the right size and adjustments for a comfortable fit on their dogs
A Collapsible Dog Bowl
Whether you’re out on a hike or just hanging around your campsite, collapsible dog bowls are a must-have on any list of dog camping gear. Folding down to less than half an inch thick, the Prima Pet travel bowl is perfect for stashing in a daypack, and you’ll find yourself toting it along on plenty of non-camping outings too.
- Made of food-grade silicone with a BPA-free plastic rim
- Available in two sizes: small (holds 1.5 cups of food) and large (holds 5 cups of food)
- Lightweight and ultra-thin when collapsed, requiring minimal room when packing
- Includes a carabiner so it can easily attach to a leash or backpack
- Available in several bright colors
Things to Consider
- Some reviewers said the carabiner wasn’t as strong as they would have liked
A Portable Dog Cot
Our pick: K&H Pet Products Original Pet Cots
No pup who’s used to the comforts of home will want to spend an entire camping trip lying on hard sticks or spiky burrs. That’s why a dog camping bed is great for keeping your buddy comfortable. K&H’s raised cot makes a perfect camping dog bed, and the company offers several accessories that add to the cot’s longevity and functionality. It’s a sturdy place to rest but also lightweight for carrying.
- Its elevated design keeps dogs off cold or wet ground
- The breathable mesh center is perfect for hot summer nights
- Comes in multiple colors and four sizes, ranging from small to extra-large
- Setup doesn’t require any tools
- K&H makes a number of accessories for its beds, including replacement covers, cushy pads, and an attachable canopy
- Based in Colorado, K&H uses high-quality materials and works closely with MET Laboratory to ensure safe products for pets and homes
Things to Consider
- Some reviewers with heavier dogs reported that the stitching and frame did not hold up well to their dogs’ weight—but the company does provide a one-year warranty
- The larger sizes of this bed can get fairly expensive
- A few reviewers also reported that the fabric is not a good choice if your dog likes to chew
A Dog First Aid Kit
You never know when injury or illness may strike out in the woods, which is why Tanya Roberts, a certified professional dog trainer and director of training and behavior for the Oregon Humane Society, says it’s important to pack a good first aid kit for your dog (and yourself). Adventure Medical’s well-stocked kit comes with over 30 items that you or your dog might need in a pinch. That includes an emergency blanket, cold pack, splinter and tick remover, and even a triangular bandage for muzzling your dog if necessary before treating his wounds.
- A full slate of first aid supplies (including medical instruments, cut and wound care, sprain and strain supplies, and pain and allergy medications) for both humans and their dogs in a single bag
- Includes a pet first aid reference guide, as well as a wilderness and travel medicine guide
- Watertight bags keep your supplies safe and dry in any weather
Things to Consider
- One reviewer wanted organizational pockets, rather than the two waterproof bags that hold the supplies
- A few people felt additional items should be in the pack, including a quick-stop bleeding powder for dogs’ nails
- As with most kits, you may save money assembling this on your own, or simply adding dog-centric items to your existing first aid kit
A Camping Blanket for Dogs
Our pick: Kelty Bestie Blanket
It’s always a good idea to have something soft and cozy for your dog when traveling, especially if he’s used to a house full of blankets. Kelty’s Bestie Blanket is spacious and soft, and stuffs down into a petite travel bag that’s under a foot long.
- One side is meant to use as a waterproof picnic blanket, the other is made of soft brushed fabric
- It’s made to last, with durable materials and quality stitching
- You’ll probably find lots of uses for this versatile blanket beyond camping
- Founded in 1952, Kelty is a top name in camping gear. They’re also a founding member of the Conservation Alliance and all of their products are PFC-free
Things to Consider
- At 43 by 76 inches, it’s on the smaller side for a blanket, but still plenty big for most dogs
- Built for lightweight warmth, its insulation may not be enough for extra-chilly nights of camping
Camping with Dogs: Expert Tips
Camping is always an adventure, but bringing your dog adds an extra layer of strategizing (along with extra joy!). Before you pack up and hit the road, you’ll need to fully consider your pet’s safety, behavior, and medical needs.
Roberts suggests having a checkup at the veterinarian before your trip to make sure your dog is fit and healthy, and to see whether he needs any vaccines or extra parasite protection (ticks, heartworm, mosquitoes) out in the woods. She also advises pet parents to research veterinary hospitals close to where you’ll be staying in case of an emergency.
If your dog will be sporting a new harness or other gear he’s not used to, start getting him acclimated well before the trip. “These things can take weeks for the dog to adjust to,” Roberts says.
You’ll also want to look closely at the weather forecast. During summer, “dogs can overheat, get sunstroke, and burn their paw pads and any exposed skin,” Roberts says. In fall weather, cold nights can lead to the shivers. (Find out What Temperature is Too Cold for Dogs.) Be sure to scope the forecast and plan accordingly to keep your dog comfortable. And if you’re preparing for hot weather, Gallegos recommends researching signs of overheating in dogs, and what to do if that happens.
Gallegos also suggests brushing up on your dog’s recall and other basic commands before a camping trip. “Even if your dog will be on-leash the entire time, you never know when you’ll need it,” she adds. “They could slip out of their harness, roll around and unclip themselves off of the leash, or rush out of the car. The last thing you’d want is for your dog to run off into the wilderness.”And before you light up a campfire at the end of the day, Roberts recommends checking your dog carefully for ticks, injuries, cuts, and sore paw pads to catch and address any issues early on. “Often,” she says, “you don’t notice until the injury is advanced.”