Black dog licking top of his snout after swimming in river during outdoor adventure.

Essential Items for Outdoor Adventures With Dogs

Adventuring with your dog is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your furry friend. There’s a lot to take into consideration before you hit the trail or wander off into the woods together. That’s why I’m here to share with you what I pack for outdoor adventures with dogs.

Plus, I include a few tips and tricks to prepare your pup for the fun that awaits them!

Checklist of What to Pack When Adventuring with Dogs

There are a few things that I carry with me at all times when I take the dogs out on an adventure. These are my non-negotiable items to pack. This list of gear has helped me make it through some of our more strenuous activities.

We want to ensure our dogs are safe and in good adventure shape while we’re on the trail or paddling down the river.

Two leashed dogs sitting for a rest after enjoying an outdoor hiking adventure
Image credit: Erin Maxson

Related Reading: Camping and Hiking with Dogs

Adventure Dog Checklists

A shopping list with direct links to my recommended items is included at the end of this post.


This is my list of essential items for adventuring with dogs:

  • Dog First-Aid Kit. Yes! They make dog-specific first aid kits.
  • Extra Water. We like the hydration packs that came with our Ruffwear harnesses.
  • Tweezers. These are great to have in case your dog steps on a cactus or thorn along your hike.
  • Training Treats. Bring treats as an incentive to keep your dog focused on you when things get a little stressful. These are also great to have if you need a distraction when applying first aid.
  • Collapsible Water Bowls. These are lightweight and prevent me from wasting too much water when we’re outside together.
  • Poop Bags. Never leave home without them!
  • Backpack. I always pack everything in my backpack or have the dogs carry their own packs, depending on the length of time we’ll be away. I love the REI Trail 25 backpack for day hikes with the pups. It has a ton of pockets for storing treats, leashes, and bowls, among other essential outdoor gear and supplies.


In addition to the essentials, there are other things that I like to bring with me. This list may vary slightly, depending on the type of adventure we’re planning.

The following list includes a few of the things I like to bring based on the climate and terrain.

  • Dog Booties. Whether it’s hot in the desert or snowing on the mountain, little dog booties help keep the pup’s paws safe from the elements.
  • Dog Poop Trash Can. This little trash can has served me well. It allows us to put the poop on the outside of the car instead of inside when we leave a hike.
  • So we always pack it out while also keeping the car smelling fresh and clean.
  • Dog Sweaters. We like to camp with the dogs throughout fall and winter. Occasionally the temperature will dip down to 30 degrees or less at night. So, I have several doggie sweaters on hand in case it gets too cold.
  • Bones & Toys. If we’re camping or on extended road trips, I always pack a few bones or toys to bring with us. My dogs love the Benebone Fishbone, a chew toy that lasts a long time!
  • Bandanas. Bandanas are one of my favorite dog accessories because 1) they’re adorable and 2) they provide your dogs with a good way to cool down when they are overheating.
  • I like to bring a couple of bandanas and dip them in my water pack when the sun is beating down on us and we won’t have any shade overhead. This helps your pup stay cool for a bit until you can find some shade or get off the trail.
  • Air Horn. This isn’t something I always bring with me, but as I’ve added more dogs to our pack it’s become something I think about bringing more often. Air horns are great to have on hand when you’re frequenting areas that are heavy with wildlife or other people and their pets.
  • From dog bites to unwanted wildlife encounters, the air horn is one of the only things that I’ve seen that works when things get hairy on adventures with your dog.
  • I love a safe way to deter unwanted encounters in the outdoors because more often than not, you’re not prepared for interactions like these which can lead to more accidents or injuries if you attempt to handle these scenarios with force.
Author's dog wearing life jacket standing on rock along shore of river.
Image credit: Erin Maxson

Top Tips to Prepare Your Dog for Outdoor Adventures

Some dogs take to the trail or kayak easily, while others need more time to adjust. One of the biggest challenges that comes with training your dog to love adventures is just that…training.

With two more dogs in our pack, it’s been interesting to see how each dog reacts to learning new things related to our adventures.

Here are a few of my tried and true tricks I use to help the dogs adjust to adventure trips outside:

  • Practice at Home First. It’s always a challenge to have your dog take to a new adventure hobby like cycling or paddle boarding outside in the elements.
  • I always practice at home with a ton of training treats on hand to get them used to the idea of running beside or behind the bike, as well as getting them onto new surfaces like a kayak or paddleboard.
  • Help New Dogs Learn From Experienced Dogs. With dogs who are less confident, it’s important to show them they are capable of participating in the adventure. My dog, Asta, often struggles to do new things by herself. Now that she has two sisters on hand to show her how it’s done, she picks up new activities with ease after simply watching the other dogs take charge.
  • Use a Leash or Harness Handle. Depending on the dog, sometimes all you need is a little safety net. Holding onto a leash or a handle on your dog’s harness can provide them with a feeling of safety when they’re learning new skills like swimming or climbing.
  • Just like humans, your dogs should always feel safe before you drag them into a new adventure. If they trust you and your guidance, your dog will easily follow you anywhere!
  • Be Patient (and Take Breaks!). As a dog mom of three, it can be hard to be patient when all you want to do is hit the river or hike miles on miles. But not all dogs learn at the same pace.
  • Some dogs can become more stressed than others when it comes to learning new things. It’s important to go at their pace and make sure you’re not increasing their anxiety. The more stress you add to an activity, the less successful (and more dangerous) you’ll be at getting your dog to learn a new activity.
  • Don’t Force It. If you feel like your dog isn’t ready or will never be ready for an outdoor activity of your choice, it’s important to advocate for your dog and not push their limits. Your dog is your friend and family member, not an athlete that needs to hit your goals.
  • I’ve had to avoid certain activities with my dogs when they don’t feel comfortable with it. But, I’ve found other outdoor adventures that they love, such as hiking and paddling.
Image credit: Erin Maxson

Shopping List for Recommended Outdoor Dog Gear

To help you easily find these must-have items to pack for your adventures, I am including direct links to the products I recommend. These are based on my many years of camping and hiking with my dog family. I hope this list helps you get out there to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle!

Get Outside With Your Dog

Once your dog is comfortable with outdoor adventures, the only thing left to do is get outside! And enjoy the journey!

Let us know your favorite ways to adventure with your dog. We would love to hear from you!

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