Adventuring outdoors with your BFF (best furry friend) is one of the best ways to spend time in the summer. Whether you’re deep in the wilderness or close to home, spending the night under the stars with your dog is an experience to be had. We went to the experts, @dogsthathike for the best advice on how to make the most of your camping (or backpacking) trip.
Here are 10 tips from 10 Instagram dogs who love to camp:
Do your research! Utilize forest and mountain maps and hiking websites that you have access to. It’s helpful to read into recent trail reports, road conditions, and to pay attention to other information like: will there be water sources along the route, do you need a permit to camp, have there been recent bear or other wildlife sightings? All of this information is helpful in fully preparing yourself for an adventure because you never know what’ll happen once you’re out there in the wilderness! If you’re willing to put the time and effort into your research, chances are you will find a stunning spot to pitch your tent away from other people and noise! Hidden gems in the wilderness do exist. Go find them!
Being prepared is key. But also do not over pack. I learned my lesson the hard way when hiking 2.5 miles to our campsite. Try to only bring the essentials for you and your pups. I found it useful to utilize Murph’s hiking back pack (it’s not just for looks!) and had him carry some of his own things like poop bags, treats and even a little first aid kit. I also just had my first experience with freeze dried food – Mountain House. It tasted great and made for an easy meal – just add water!
Make a list. A detailed list helps us stay organized and pack smart. First up is a small first aid kit tailored with dog-friendly meds and salves. Next is making sure enough food is packed, remembering that a dog adventuring more than normal and potentially carrying a pack may need more than usual (freeze dried is great for this!) Add options to keep them warm and comfy at night and you have the recipe for a great trip.
Check the forecast. Find out what the weather is supposed to be but also be prepared for any kind of weather. Weather can change in an instant, especially in the mountains where we most frequently camp. We always bring along a little extra gear to ensure our pup is comfortable even when the weather is extra hot, extra cold or extra wet.
Bring a long line. This way your dog will remain near your campsite. If you know that they are prone to wander too far, this will be great for you.
Safety first. Remember to pack appropriate safety and first aid gear for your trip. Research the wildlife in your area ahead of time to know how to safely handle an encounter. Let family and friends know where you’ll be camping if you’ll be camping off the grid.
Be ready for a mess. Let’s face it—dogs like to run through and roll in pretty much everything on the trail. My dogs carry in their own gear, but I always make sure everything I put in their packs get an extra layer of waterproofing. I also bring dog wipes so I don’t have to share a tent with whatever dead animal or poop Kodi or Kuma rolled in that day. And I always bring dog booties with us—I’ve had to stuff a 50 pound dog in my pack for the hike out when Kodi cut his paw on a backpacking trip.
Give wildlife space. Beware of wildlife while hiking and camping. Make sure you keep food under lockdown when you are not actively cooking or eating. No one likes to tangle with a curious grizzly so make sure you remove all food and smelly items from your tent before falling asleep under the stars! It’s best to cook away from your sleeping area to further deter wild critters from poking their noses into your sleep zone. Make sure to educate yourself on the wildlife in your area and take appropriate precautions (e.g. bring bear spray in bear country). Remember to keep your distance and never approach or feed ANY creatures while out exploring in the wild!
Proof your recall. If you are going to be camping in an area that allows your dogs to be off leash make sure they have good recall. Hiking, camping, or backpacking, you always need to know your dog can come when called no matter what’s going on around them. Especially in the backcountry when they can be off leash and encounter numerous animals, people, or dangerous terrain.
Be adaptable! It’s always important to be flexible when camping, especially when dogs are involved. Be ready to drive down extra dirt roads to find that perfect, secluded location. Be ready to pack bonus food, because sharing is caring. Be ready to change your hikes based on the weather. Be ready to have your sleeping stolen. Be ready to adapt any and everything to ensure that your dog(s) is safe, happy and loving the adventure as much as you!
Hopefully these tips help you enjoy a fabulous time in the woods. At the end of the day your camping (or backpacking) trip is about having fun so relax and enjoy your time with your pup.
Cover Photo Credit: @trustyourtail