One of the questions I get asked rather often is which backpack Patronus wears and how well it works, so today I would like to share our dog gear list for hiking with you.
When I first began hiking with Patronus, I didn't buy a bunch of dog gear right away. The more often he and I began to hike together, however, the more I realized just how helpful training him to carry a backpack would be.
First, it provides Patronus with "a job" to do, which his breed thrives on. For items I may need quick access to, it is so much easier to take them out of Patronus' pack than it is to take off my own pack, set it down, and fish through it. If he decides to poop within the first mile of a hike, I'm not stuck using my one free hand to carry a steaming bag of crap for the next 4 miles (or storing it in my backpack). Okay, I think you get the point.
In any case, here is the complete list of dog gear that Luke and I use when we take Patronus hiking.
Ruffwear Approach Pack
We chose this pack for Patronus for two reasons. First, we wanted to choose a pack that would be large enough to carry what he would need for a short backpacking trip, without being burdensome to use on a day hike. Second, being a giant breed dog, I needed to find a pack that would comfortably fit his large frame.
The L/XL size is fully adjustable around the body and the compartments are large enough to easily accommodate two 1-Liter bottles of water, two bowls, several cups of dog food, treats, poop bags, and a chew toy, making it perfect for a short backpacking trip (even for a dog who eats six cups of food per day). The storage compartments aren't ridiculously bulky, so even if they aren't completely full, he isn't wearing an awkwardly saggy pack.
The pack is constructed like a harness with a leash clip built in if you choose to use it, and there's also a sturdy handle on top that comes with a little padding.
Ruffwear Flat Out Leash
While his regular leash was serving us just fine, the Flat Out has the ability to quickly and easily convert into a waist-worn leash, or be strapped to a picnic table or something in case we decide to stop for a break.
The leash contains two handles: an adjustable, cushioned one up at the top, and another one near the bottom, which is perfect to hold while walking in "heel" position. The mechanism used to adjust the main loop is smooth and easy to operate, and the clip used to secure it makes it easy to switch Patronus off to Luke or quickly tie him up if I need to, without unclipping the leash from his collar.
As an added bonus, now that the temperatures are dropping, I can keep my hands in my pockets. WIN!
Ruffwear Quencher Cinch Bowl
I had originally planned on getting Patronus a couple of collapsible dishes, or just using some random old food storage containers, however I ended up opting for this bowl, and I'm so glad I did!
The cinch cord up at the top of the bowl makes it possible to have a bowl of food packed up and ready to go without spilling a single kernel, and making it no longer necessary to waste zip top bags.
Generally while we're hiking Patronus likes to drink from my hydration bladder, but I usually pack a second one of these bowls to put his water in for longer car rides, times we're stopping to visit friends or family, or if we plan to take a long break while hiking because I find them to be less messy than other options. The bowl itself is waterproof, and the cinch top means I can easily fill the bowl up for him to drink and then cinch it up when he's finished to prevent it from spilling everywhere without having to dump the water out. I wouldn't recommend putting a bowl full of water into your pack or turning it upside down, but it's great at preventing innocent spills.
The Large bowl fits an entire day's worth of food for Patronus, if not more (and if you've read this post, you know that's quite a bit).
Black Diamond Neutrino Wiregate Carabiner
Before we started using this leash, I started keeping a carabiner clipped onto Patronus' pack for a couple of reasons. First, it gave me the ability to quickly clip his leash onto my pack or around a stationary object without having to detach it from his collar. Second, it gave me the ability to clip loose objects to the outside of his pack (or mine).
Any carabiner of adequate size will do the job just fine, but I like this one in particular because it's not as heavy as most.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is definitely a must, even for shorter day hikes.
If you don't have a first aid kit yet, I did an entire post on how i made my own DIY first aid kit for hiking with Patronus, and you can check that out here.
Here's a quick list of items that I will often let Patronus carry:
- Poop bags
- Dog food
- Treats (these are his favorite!)
- A toy
- A bandana (for muddy paws, drool, etc.)
- A copy of our map and itinerary
Not only is it easy to access a map by reaching into Patronus' pack instead of taking off mine (or shoving it into a random pocket, or worse, my sports bra), it would also help make it easier for somebody to locate us should he ever get lost. Obviously this does not replace the need for a microchip and name tag, but it does give me peace of mind.
I hope you have found this information helpful. If your dog has any favorite hiking gear, let me know in the comments!
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