Dog Camping Gear: 10 Must-Have Items for Your Next Adventure
Are you new to camping with dogs or have you done it so infrequently that you forget what dog camping gear you should bring?
I’ve been camping with my dogs for years. I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error and have decided that there are 10 things I won’t leave home without.
UPDATED: May 17, 2021
This isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s our must-have list for every camping trip. 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.
Dog Camping Gear Items You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without
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 or you can just add dog specific stuff to yours.
Some things I suggest adding are various Pawflex Bandages to help wrap difficult areas like paws, ankles, and elbows, Vet Wrap self adhering bandaging tape (excellent for you too), 3% hydrogen peroxide and a syringe to induce vomiting (ask your vet about this first), and a TickEase Tick Remover.
3) A Portable Pet Pen
It’s not always 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 camping with us. There are several different ones I like though.
I bring a bed and blanket from this favorites list:
- Kurgo Waterproof Dog Bed
- Whyld River Dog Sleeping Bag
- Elevated Dog Bed (Cot) from Carlson Pet Products
- Rumpl Puffy Outdoor Camping Blanket
- Kelty Bestie Outdoor Blanket
- Tall Tails Premium Fleece Dog Blanket
5) 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 the texture is like an actual towel, not a glorified chamois, but the fibers are not loops that feel weird to the touch or “sticky” .
I bring different colors for dogs and people so we don’t get them confused.
6) 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) or the PawGanics Citrus Grooming Wipes.
Both 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.
7) 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.
8) 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:
9) 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.
My favorites for Dachshunds, and other small dogs, are the Hurtta Cooling Wrap or the Hurtta Cooling Vest (XXS-S sizes have an attachment loops for leash – cheaper if you can get it on closeout).
Note: I’ve heard good things about the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler too but mostly from works well but mostly for people with standard Dachshunds or larger dogs.
10) 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 for convenience.
A couple of my favorite go-to freeze dried dog food meals are:
I bring small, low-calorie dog training treats so I can work on training exercises, like recall training, throughout the day.
What are some of your favorite items to bring for your dog?
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.
This is really helpful! I’m ordering several things (including the first aid kit!) on Amazon right now.
Glad you found my article helpful 🙂
Great suggestions! We haven’t been camping in 7 or 8 years now, but all of these things are useful when camping with dogs.
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!
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.
I also take two, although I didn’t specify that in my article. Thanks for mentioning it.
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!
I tried to convince my hubby to switch to the PackTowel Luxe and home. He said no ;”
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 Chewy.com if you don’t want tan (https://www.chewy.com/carlson-pet-products-portable-pup/dp/54383). 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.
Do you use any type of backpack to carry your dachshund in if they get tired?
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.
This is a great and comprehensive list! I’ve never used a cot for my dog before but you’ve convinced me to give it a shot!
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!
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 😉
I found your article incredibly helpful. I have several items put in my Amazon cart thanks a bunch
Have you tried the dog GPS tracker tags/collars? My friend swears by this for his dog.
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.