The Best Dog Hiking Gear of 2021

Hiking with your best friend? Outfit them in expert-approved dog hiking gear.

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When you hit the trails, you likely have all sorts of favorite gear. You have shoes that fit, probably a durable backpack, and other items that make the adventure safer and more enjoyable. So it makes sense that your canine trail companion would need hiking gear too.

Long-lasting and comfortable items that will help make your outdoor adventure fun and keep your pet out of danger when you explore Mother Nature. We spoke with a dog trainer and researched the market to find the best gear for hiking with dogs.

The Rundown
A bright and durable saddle-bag pack so your dog can help carry the load.
This versatile leash that converts six ways includes several hands-free styles.
These waterproof collars are guaranteed for life, and also makes a donation to pets in need with every purchase.
A lightweight harness with lots of adjustments for a good fit, plus an assist handle so you can help your dog over difficult terrain.
A long-lasting safety light on a simple carabiner for your dog’s collar.
Impact-resistant goggles with good range of vision protect your dog’s eyesight.
Scoop your dog’s poop with the most eco-friendly compostable bags.
Natural protection for your pet’s vulnerable spots.
You hope you’ll never need it, but it's smart to have emergency supplies for minor cuts and accidents.
Bring this easy-to-carry bowl for food and water on the trail.

Best Backpack: Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack

Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack

This bright orange dog backpack is a favorite with campers and hikers. It has five spots where you can make adjustments to ensure a good fit and two places where you can attach the leash. There’s a padded handle for lifting your trail companion over streams or rocky terrain, and the pack has reflective trim to help for safety.

The pack is made of ripstop nylon and has four exterior pockets. Capacity obviously depends on the size, but a medium pack weighs just over a pound and holds 14.5 liters (885 cubic inches) of gear. Because of the saddle bag design, you need to make sure weight is balanced on both sides of the pack for a stable load.

Pro Tip:

“Make sure you practice and build up weight with the dog,” says certified dog trainer and animal behaviorist Susie Aga, owner of Atlanta Dog Trainer. “You can’t just strap all that stuff on the dog and go. You have to slowly build up their stamina.”

Best Leash: Kurgo Quantum 6-In-1 Dog Leash

Kurgo Quantum 6-In-1 Dog Leash

This handy leash converts six different ways, depending on where you move the carabiner. That can come in handy on the trail or at a campsite. It can be a simple 6-foot or 3-foot standard leash, you can loop it around your waist or over your shoulder for hands-free running or walking, convert it into a tether to hitch your dog, or turn it into a double leash to walk two dogs.

The leash comes in six bright colors with a reflective trim. It has a padded handle and adjusts from 48 to 72 inches. It has a limited lifetime warranty.

Best Collar: Wilderdog Dog Collars

Wilderdog Dog Collar

Wilderdog makes colorful rope collars and also waterproof ones. The rubber-coated webbing repels on the waterproof choices helps repel water, dirt, and anything else your pup might encounter on the trail. It also keeps the collar from getting too smelly. The waterproof collars come in pink, teal, olive, and black and are available in three sizes.

The company’s other colorful colors are made from durable rock climbing rope. They are available in three sizes and 16 colors. Wilderdog collars are guaranteed for life, and the company donates a pound of food to shelters and rescues for every order placed.

Best Harness: Ruffwear Flagline Harness

Ruffwear Flagline Harness

Ruffwear has some great harness options for outdoorsy dogs. The Flagline is an updated version of the Web Master harness (view on REI), which is popular with adventurous people and their pets. The Flagline is lighter and longer with an additional front clip, as well as the clip on the dog’s back.

Both harnesses have lots of places to adjust for a great fit. They also have a lift-and-assist handle to help boost your dog up over creeks, crevices, or any difficult surface. There’s reflective trim for safety and it comes in three bright colors.

Best Collar Light: Nite Ize SpotLit LED Carabiner Light

Nite Ize Spotlit

This simple light easily snaps on and hangs from your dog’s collar, making nighttime walks easier and safer. The carabiner light cycles through six colors or leave it on the one you like. It comes in weather-resistant housing and there’s a push “on/off” switch. Keep it in soft glowing mode or switch it to flashing.

The two included replaceable CR2016 3v lithium batteries will keep the light powered for more than 20 hours. It weighs less than a half ounce and is about 2 inches long. With the simple carabiner, you can clip it on your gear or keychain when you don’t need it on your dog’s collar.

Best Goggles: Rex Specs Dog Goggles

Rex Specs Dog Goggles

If your dog is careening through the woods or racing across the snow, goggles are a smart way to protect them from flying debris like rocks and sand, as well as tree limbs, insects, and harmful ultraviolet rays. Rex Specs are incredibly popular with owners of very athletic, outdoorsy dogs. They are also popular with people who have dogs that are light sensitive and need to protect their eyes from the sun.

The lenses are impact resistant and are rated UV400, which means they block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. They also offer very good peripheral vision. The adventure goggles come in six sizes, six frame colors, and have six different types of lenses. They range from clear and smoke to red, blue, silver, and green mirror.

Best Poop Bags: The Original Poop Bags

The Original Poop Bags

Bag your pet’s droppings using compostable poop bags. These are more eco-friendly than biodegradable bags which can take years to decompose. The Original Poop Bags compostable items come in all sorts of versions including rolls that fit in holders or bags with handles that tie that you can attach them to your leash or your gear. They are made in the United States of plant matter including corn, vegetable oils, and compostable polymers and they meet the ASTM D6400 standard for commercial compostability.

When you buy from the You Buy; We Donate line, a portion of sales are donated to support nature-related charities like the Jane Goodall Institute.

Best Dog Sunscreen: Sit. Stay. Forever. Sunscreen

Sit. Stay. Forever. Sunscreen

Most of your dog might be covering in fur, but there are often vulnerable spots such as the tip of their nose. Some breeds are more vulnerable than others to the sun’s harmful UV rays, so sunscreen can help protect them. 

Most sunscreens have zinc and titanium dioxides, oxybenzone, and octinoxate which some people like to avoid because of potential health dangers. This product is made of beeswax, shea butter, and a mix of oils including coconut, olive, raspberry, and hemp. It helps provide a protective layer on your pet’s nose, ears, and other exposed areas. However, one drawback is that the tin is relatively small for the price.

Best First Aid Kit: Adventure Medical Kits ADS Trail Dog First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical Kits ADS Trail Dog First Aid Kit

You hope you’ll never need it, but it’s smart to be prepared for minor cuts or accidents when your pup is in the great outdoors. This basic first aid kit has dressings, bandages, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, antiseptic wipes, alcohol swabs, an irrigation syringe, a saline wound and eye wash, and a tool to remove ticks, splinters, and thorns.

The kit comes with a pet first aid manual to walk you through emergency care. (It’s a good idea to read it before you hit the trails.) The pack itself is compact, waterproof, and lightweight at just 12 ounces. You might want to supplement the kit with a pair of small scissors to cut the bandages.

Best Collapsible Bowl: Prima Pets Collapsible Travel Bowl with Carabiner

Prima Pets Collapsible Travel Bowl

This handy collapsible bowl easily pops open to give your dog water or food when you’re out on great adventures. It’s made from food-grade silicone with a BPA-free plastic rim. It’s dishwasher-safe, so it’s easy to clean when you get home. There’s a carabiner clip to attach it to a backpack or leash.

The small bowl holds 1.5 cups of food or water and the large holds 5 cups. It comes in four colors: gray, purple, pink, and aqua. The wide bottom keeps it stable so it’s not easily knocked over and they collapse into small, flat discs that are easy to stow away.

What to Consider When Shopping for Hiking Gear for Your Dog

Size and Fit

Many products like harnesses, backpacks, and goggles need a secure fit to be safe. Items just fit snuggly, but not so tight that they are uncomfortable or restrict their movement. Measure as directed and use the company’s sizing chart to determine what size product to buy. Always check the fit each time you put the item back on.

Reflective Trim

When you know you’ll be out in the early or evening hours, it’s key to have reflective material on both your and your dog. That way other hikers, drivers, and anyone else who is out won’t miss you. Many items like harnesses, collars, leashes, and backpacks have reflective trim.


Do I need a harness for hiking with my dog?

“It depends on the terrain and it depends on the dog,” says certified dog trainer Susie Aga. On a difficult trail, a simple collar can put pressure on a dog’s neck and even do damage. Especially if your dog pulls on the leash, many harnesses can help with that. Always keep a collar on your dog with ID tags. You can switch back and forth between the harness and the leash if you need, and you always have another secure spot to clip the leash.

What should I do with poop bags while hiking with my dog?

It’s important to leave no trace when you’re hiking or camping, and that includes whatever your dog deposits after dinner. Believe it or not, some people just leave their dog’s poop on the trail or bag it up, but then leave the poop bags behind. Just toss them into your backpack or tie them to your dog’s leash and dispose of them when you get home.

What must I pack to hike with my dog, and what items are optional? 

You always need a leash, a collar, and poop bags when you head out for any walk or on any hike. Add on other gear depending on where you’re going and depending on your dog. Not all dogs need goggles and sunscreen, for example. But it’s probably a good idea to pack some first aid supplies and water and a way to drink it no matter where you’re hiking.

Why Trust Treehugger?

The proud mom of a rescue dog, Mary Jo DiLonardo has fostered more than three dozen dogs and puppies, and taken them on a lot of walks and hikes. She also consulted with a certified dog trainer and more serious outdoorsy people about their preferred gear.

For more than 25 years, Mary Jo has covered a wide range of topics focused on nature, pets, health, science, and anything that helps make the world a better place. She has spent more than six years with Treehugger, formerly under the Mother Nature Network brand.