The 15 Must-Have Dog Camping Gear Items This Expert Brings on Every Trip

Are you new to camping with dogs or have you done it so infrequently that you forget what essentials that you need to pack?

I’ve been camping with my dogs for years. I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error and have decided that I won’t leave home without these 15 things.

UPDATED: April 1, 2024

This isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s my minimum, must-have list for every camping trip that I bring my dogs on (which is all of them!).

To me, it’s just not pleasant or safe without them.

Note: some of the links below are affiliate links. This means when you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a few pennies at no extra cost to you.

Dachshund sporting a digital ID Tag from

1) Pet ID tag

This might sound like a no-brainer but I’m not talking about just any pet ID tag here.

If your pet gets lost near your home, anyone that finds your pet can call you.

In the woods, it’s very likely that that the finder, you, or both don’t have cell phone coverage so contacting you via phone to return your pet can be impossible.

When I take my Dachshunds camping, they wear a waterproof Dog ID Capsule.

The pod contains a little piece of paper rolled up inside with information on it.

I include the standard “lost pet” information like my phone number (yes, even though, as I said, the finder may not have service to call you) but also list my vehicle make, model, and license plate number.

That way the finder can possibly locate my car in the campground, or at the trailhead, if they are unable to contact me by phone and leave a note.

2) First Aid Kit (with Dog Specific Items)

You should always bring a first aid kit for yourself when camping. Don’t forget about your pup though.

While some of the things in a human first aid kit will also work for dogs, much of it won’t.

For example, bandage tape is unlikely to stick to them because of the fur. And cut paws can be awkward and difficult to wrap.

You can buy a pre-made first aid kit for you and your dog like the Me & My Dog First Aid Kit from Adventure Medical.

Personally, I prefer to buy the separate supplies and DIY my own dog and me first aid kit.

That way I can include all of the things I know I might use and get rid of the extras that I probably never will (like, no one is going to use 10 knuckle bandages on one camping trip)

Some first aid supplies I add for my dog include:

  • Pawz Rubber Dog Boots to make a paw bandage waterproof (order 1-2 sizes up so they will cover the bandage without being too tight and cutting off circulation)
Carlson Portable Pet Pen for Camping with Dogs

3) A Portable Pet Pen

It’s not a good idea to let your dog run free at a campground, especially crowded campgrounds with a lot of strangers, children, and other dogs.

When I want to make sure my dog can’t wander off from camp when I turn my back, my #1 choice for containing my pups is to use a collapsible, portable pet pen.

Our favorite is the dog playpen from Carlson Pet Products because it’s not too heavy, sets up and breaks down in less than a minute, and is sturdy.

If you want to create a larger space, or your dog is larger, try using a foldable metal dog exercise pen (you may have to link a couple together to make the size you need).

Why a pen when I could just tie my dog to something?

Leashes can get tangled, can become a trip hazard, can melt of they get too close to a campfire, and they don’t allow your dog to move around as freely.

4) Dog Bed and Blanket

If you have a small dog, you may choose to sleep with them inside the sleeping bag, or under the blankets, with you.

But they will need a bed and blanket for lounging around camp or if you want them to have their own cozy place to snuggle inside at night.

I always bring a bed and blanket, or dog sleeping bag, camping with us.

These are my favorites:

Dog Beds:


Dog Sleeping Bags:

5) Sound Machine

Both you and your dog will have a more pleasant time if you bring something to help drown out the noise campground or wildlife noise.

When the extraneous sounds are masked, your dog is less likely to bark, more likely to settle at camp, and more likely to sleep through the night.

My favorite is the LectroFan Micro2 sound machine and stereo Bluetooth speaker.

You can choose from several sounds – ocean, brown noise, pink noise, or white noise – or connect to your phone to listen to your favorite Spotify camping playlist.

The rechargeable battery will last the whole night, even in bluetooth pairing mode.

6) Food Dispensing Toy or Chew

Using food dispensing toys or chews are two of the ways I keep my dogs busy at camp so they don’t get bored.

A bored dog is more likely to bark, try to wander off, get into stuff that they shouldn’t, and get in the way.

7) A Safety Light

It’s easier to keep track of your dog at night if they are wearing a light.

That’s important so you can make sure not to step on them or let them get too close to the fire.

My favorite is the Nite Ize NiteHowl Rechargeable LED Safety Necklace.

8) Tick/Mosquito/Flea Repellent

Summer means fun, but it also means bitey insects that can make your dog sick, itchy, or infest your tent (or house).

I actually use this multi-pronged approach against ticks, but at minimum, you should bring a dog-safe spray on repellent.

I’ve been camping and working in the outdoors for 30 years, and this is something I don’t mess around with – a lot of repellents using natural oils just don’t work that great.

At least not when you are in heavily infested areas.

Many people will disagree with me, but after much research, I have decided that I am ok using picaridin-based products on my dogs.

Picaridin is a synthetic version of a natural substance – Piperadine – which is found in plants that produce black pepper.

It has been shown to be as effective as DEET (which is highly toxic to dogs) and is believed to have a wide safety margin and be non-toxic to dogs, BUT there are no specific studies on pets and it is not licensed for use on pets.

One of the best natural mosquito and tick repellants or pets that I have used in Wondercide, but it has it’s limits.

No matter what I use, I spray it on my hands and then wipe it on my dog so they don’t inhale the spray.

9) Microfiber Dog Towel

Dog towels are a must to wipe to dry your dog, and wipe the dirt off, before they get in your lap or in your tent.

Microfiber towels are the best for camping because they will dry quickly when you hang them and they pack down small.

My #1 choice for microfiber towels is the PackTowl Luxe because it feels similar to an actual towel, not a glorified chamois or rough and “sticky” to the touch.

I bring different colors for dogs and people so we don’t get them confused.

Muddy Dog at the Lake
Photo Credit: Depositphotos/Sliper84

10) Grooming Wipes

One key to keeping your tent clean is to “wash” your dog before they get in.

Sometimes wiping them with a towel is enough but sometimes your dog might be stinky or there could be dried mud that won’t come off.

Grooming wipes will take care of that for you.

I prefer the Earthbath Grooming Wipes in mango or cherry (the puppy ones).

They are made with natural, plant-based ingredients, are durable enough to take on muddy paws, and don’t contain parabens, sulfates, phthalates, toxins, lanolin, soap or alcohol.

I use the wipes on myself sometimes too!

If I want to be more environmentally friendly, instead of single-use wipes I have to throw in the trash I spray the dogs down with Skout’s Honor Probiotic Deodorizer and dry them off with a towel.

11) Collapsible Dog Bowl

A collapsible dog bowl is easy to pack and stow out of the way when not in use.

We’ve been using the Dexas Popware for Pets Collapsible Travel Cup for years.

I’ve tried others but always come back to this one because it’s easy to clean, I love the colors, it collapses easily into a small disk, and it’s durable.

Dachshunds at Franklin Falls

12) Dog Jacket

Unless you live in a hot, dry climate where it never rains and stays warm at night, your dog will need a jacket at some point.

My Dachshunds have a lot of different jackets for different weather conditions.

Read our list of favorite dog jackets for a comprehensive look at my dog’s wardrobe.

If you just want the cliff notes though, here are my favorite dog jackets to bring camping in the summer:

13) Cooling Vest

Not every canine camper will need a cooling vest. However, they are great if you will be camping or hiking in the heat.

A cooling vest is made of water absorbent mesh. The as the water evaporates off of the vest, it cools your dog.

Three good choices are the Truelove Dog Cooling Vest (comes in very small sizes) the Hurtta Cooling Wrap, and the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler.

14) Food and Treats

Of course, you also need to bring your dog’s food and some treats.

If we are just going to be gone a couple days, and I can keep it sufficiently cold in a cooler, I bring my dog’s regular raw food.

If we’re going to be out longer, and especially if we are changing campsites every night (like when we go overlanding), I feed my dogs dehydrated raw food or kibble (or both) for convenience.

I bring small, low-calorie dog training treats so I can work on training exercises, like recall training, throughout the day.

15) Walking Essentials

It may seem like a no-brainer to bring a leash, harness or collar, and poop bags with you, but there are some additional things to consider when you will be away from home for a few days or more.

Bring an extra leash and harness (or collar). When you’re on the go, it’s easy for one to get left somewhere, so you will want to have a backup.

For me, this second harness is a different type – one that fits different and has different chafe points.

I’m often more active with my dogs when I am camping, and they often get dirtier and wetter, both which can lead to raw spots on a dog’s skin.

Having a different harness to change into can make your dog more comfortable and also switch up the chafe points so the harness doesn’t keep rubbing the same spot.

I also bring way more poop bags than I think I will need.

I’ve been camping with my dogs for almost 20 years. I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error and have made a list of 15 items I won’t leave home without. ~ camping with dogs ~ dog camping gear ~ dog gear for camping

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m a Dachshund sitter, President of the largest social Dachshund club in Washington State, a dog trainer in training, and I’ve been a Dachshund owner for 20 years. I have over 150,000 hours of experience with the breed. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. This is really helpful! I’m ordering several things (including the first aid kit!) on Amazon right now.

  2. I love the photos, especially the cot! That’s a great idea about including your car info on the tags – we’ll be camping a lot out of cell range this year, so I need to do this for sure!

  3. Lots of people forget a doggie first aid kid. I’m so glad you included it here. As for the doggie bowls, I always take 2 so there is 1 for the food and 1 for water at all times.

  4. This is a great list Jessica! I love the tag idea with car info, and I really want to get my pack cots! And I was shocked how awesome my micro towel absorbs!

  5. Since we’re always moving around, I put a URL on Honey’s tag that goes to a webpage showing our current location. If someone was unable to reach us by phone, they could come right to our boat (if at a dock) with Honey.

    I would encourage anyone doing a long trip where you’re going to many locations to do the same.

    Other than that, I wouldn’t add a thing (well, we use a tether instead of a pet play area because of Honey’s size).

    1. That’s a good solution if you are in an area with internet. We do a similar thing with our PetHub tag (it links to on online profile/website). We are in many, many places without internet or cell service when we are hiking and camping though.

  6. Great suggestions!

    I’d just like to add that it would be a good idea to invest in a sturdy, high-quality harness. You’re probably going to be traversing some rougher terrain that ususal so it should preferably come with handles and attachments that allow you to lift your four legged darling if they’re having some trouble on their own.

    1. Hi Ana. That’s definitely important. Unfortunately for me, Dachshunds are hard to fit. Especially the smaller ones like mine. I have a “secure as I can get” harness for my dogs but harnesses with multiple straps and a handle (like the Ruffwear Webmaster) don’t fit them. I love Ruffwear, and know many dogs that use that harness with great success, but my dogs end up with horrible chafing because it doesn’t fit right. I highly recommend it if it fits a dog though.

  7. What size cot did you get? And how big/small is Gretel? I want to get a cot for my dachshund but they only have small tan the rest are out of stock. Although I might’ve able to get them some where else or something similar I wanted to help you ou by using your affiliate link. My pup weighs 14-15 lbs. Will she fit ok with the small?
    Thank you.

    1. The cot only comes in two sizes – small and large (which looks like two cots joined). Gretel has the small size. She’s 12 lbs and 14 inches long from shoulder blades to base of tail. As for buying one, I really appreciate you wanting to use my link. Unfortunately, the red and green small cot is out of stock even on the main Carlson Pet Products website so the tan. There is a pink one available on if you don’t want tan ( I didn’t really find one anywhere else. Thanks for the heads up though. I’ll check with Carlson to see why they are in such short supply.

    1. Generally. no. I rarely have a need to carry my Dachshund. I do have a little, flimsy backpack for emergencies only if I had to carry her out on a hike. I used to carry my senior dog on walks sometimes but the only carrier on the market that I think is safe for a Dachshund’s back is the Muttmover by Timbuk2 because the dog can lay horizontally. It’s not practical for the types of hikes we do though.

  8. These are great! Some other things I ALWAYS pack are:

    A comb/brush (I have a Aussie and stuff gets caught in her fur on hikes all the time.)

    Hiking boots (this is totally optional but I found it helps save her paws from cuts with all the hiking we go on rocks!)

    And the most important (in my opinion) a headlamp! Sounds weird but I put the headlamp around her neck once it starts getting dark. It definitely helps me and others spot her when it’s dark! So many people have stopped me and said it’s a great idea! It a lot more visible than the little lights that attach near the tags.

    Happy hike/ camping with your 4 legged friends!

    1. Ah, yes, a brush is good if you have a long haired dog. I actually pack a small comb when we go to the desert because my SW friends taught me that is the best way to get burrs and cactus out of a dog’s feet and fur, regardless of the length of their hair. I always have a headlamp wherever I go too but that’s more for me than the dogs 😉

    1. I have tried them but they are not useful for us. Most require a cell signal or they only work up to about 150 feet using Bluetooth. My dogs are almost always on leash and when they are not, it’s in a controlled environment where I am very likely to be able to see/catch them if they tried to run off. In other words, it would only be useful to me if they were truly lost and the range/reception won’t cover them if they are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.