Dog Camping Gear

Taking your dog camping is an exciting adventure and there’s no such thing as bad camping conditions when you are equipped with the right gear. Having the right gear for you and your dog will ensure your camping trip is a safe and successful adventure to remember.

We will break down the list of dog camping gear in three categories: Essential, Strongly Recommended, and Nice to Have. For each item you’ll see when and why your dog may need that gear so you can decide if it’s right for your camping style.

Each item also has expert advice on what features or functions to look for when selecting your gear so you and your dog can camp like pros.

Ready? Let’s go!

Check out the complete guide on camping with your dog for added info and insight.

Dog Bed

Why: Give your dog a comfy space to sleep that is safe from the ground and predators

Importance: Essential

Having a dog bed for camping is right up there with food and water on the list of essentials because sleeping on a cold or wet ground can be uncomfortable and dangerous for your dog. Sleeping outdoors is also dangerous because dog must be tethers to a line and predators hunt at night.

Dogs should sleep with in the same shelter as the humans, whether that be a tent, RV, or under the stars next to you.

Like humans, dogs like a feeling of safety and home when they sleep. Aim to have your dog’s camping sleeping situation reflect their sleeping accommodations at home.

If your dog has a padded bed at home, sleeps with you, or likes to burrow, try to recreate those comfy and familiar settings when selecting a camping bed for your dog.

Expert Advice: “Look for a bed that is washable and has a tough bottom at a minimum. You won’t want the bed absorbing all the camping dirt and smells. The stronger and more waterproof the bed’s bottom is the better it will insulate your dog from the cold ground and resist dirt.”

Collar and Tags

Why: Dogs wander off and may get lost when camping. Having updated collar and tags ensures your dog can be identified in an emergency.

Importance: Essential (Legally required, too)

No one hopes for a lost or loose dog, but things happen. Having tags with updated contact information enables you to to be confident that if someone finds your dog, they know how to get a hold of you.

Expert Advice: “Order a few extra tags and place them on all your dog’s camping gear now so no matter what gear, collar, or harness your dog has on you know the correct tag information is there. Having a tag on all your dog’s gear also saves you time because you don’t have to stop and move the tags from one collar to another every time you need to change your dog’s gear.”

Reflector or Light

Why: To help you, people, and vehicles see your dog in the dark

Importance: Strongly Recommended

One of the best parts of camping is being away from all the city lights and civilization, and the glow of the campfire is not always enough light to keep your dog safe from people, animals and vehicles.

Having a reflector harness or light-up collar helps your dog be visible in low light settings.

Expert Advice: “Don’t assume your dog will be facing the person or vehicle that needs to see them. The larger the reflector area or light can be the better. If your dog has longer hair, it may cover or interfere with the visibility of a reflector. Light up gears works best on long hair dogs. ”

For more information on dog camping safety, click here.

Tie Line

Why: Dogs must always be on a leash or line in most parks and campgrounds. Tie lines are easier and hands free when at your campsite. Here’s a list of dog rules to expect.

Importance: Essential (often legally required)

The rules and laws for camping with a dog require dogs be tethered to a line or leash at all times. Leashes are meant for walking your dog, not for your dog’s movement around your campsite.

A tie line, also called a tie out, is a leash for your dog when on your campsite.

Connect one end of the tie line to your dog’s collar as you would a leash, and connect the other end to an anchor like a picnic table or a tie out stake you put in the ground. The anchor should be strong enough that if your dog should pull on the line your dog cannot break the anchor free and run off.

Expert Advice: “I recommend a tie line that is weather resistant and strong. Fabric lines will get dirty and wear down after one or two uses. Uncoated chains will rust and kink. Spend a few extra dollars to get the right one the first time.”


Why: Leashes are great for walks and hikes.

Importance: Essential

The tie line is for use at your campsite or resting spots and the leash is for your walks and hikes.

Expert Advice: “Find a leash that works both in your hand and hands free. You’ll have the flexibility of having a leash to walk the dog and a way to free your hands for longer hikes.”

Water & Food Bowls

Why: Access to food and water is important for your dog when camping

Importance: Essential

Food and water are essentials for your dog and your dog may have increased thirst when outdoors. Having a separate bowl fro water and food ensure you dog has access to water at all times and that waster can remain free of food contaminants.

Wildlife like raccoons and skunks have an affinity for dog food; be sure to clean up after each of your dog’s meals to avoid unwanted critters.

Animals also appreciate the ease of a water bowl and you may find wild animals drinking from your dog’s water bowl.

Dangerous dog diseases, like canine distemper, can source from raccoons and skunks and be transmitted via a food or water bowl. To keep your pup safe, clean your dog’s food and water bowls regularly and put them away when not needed.

Expert Advice: “Depending on your camping style, opt for dog bowls that are outdoor-friendly, puncture proof, and dishwasher safe, like stainless steel, or bowls that collapse and are made of lightweight materials for easy portability, like Ruff Wear’s.”

Dog Jacket

Why: Dogs are susceptible to cool temps. Thinner dog coats, like wired haired dogs, may get cold in temps as warm as 60s.

Importance: Weather/ Temperature Dependent

Like humans, dogs can get hot or cold. Depending on your dog’s temperature tolerance, temperature you are ok with may be dangerous for your dog.

Breeds with longer thick hair like huskies are more comfortable in colder weather, where dogs with thin or wired hair may begin feeling cold in temperatures as warm as 60s F/ 16C.

When camping, you and your dog will be outdoors for linger periods of time than you are for a walk or potty run back home. This may make your dog feel cold when camping in the same temperatures that are ok for a quick potty walk at home.

Expert Advice: “Avoid sweaters and fabrics that will absorb dirt and smells. Spring for a lightweight water-resistant dog jacket that is machine washable.”


Why: Dogs can overheat in hot weather or high energy activity. Buffs can help keep them cool and can be wet to give your dog added relief.

Importance: Weather/ Temperature Dependent

Just as some dogs can feel cold based on their hair type and temperatures, dogs can also overheat. Dogs with thinner coats and hair fair better in warmer temps than their log and thick hair friends.

Watch out for signs that your dog is overheating or uncomfortable. Commons signs of heat distress include heavy panting and their tongue sticking our further than normal. Give your dog a break and find them a shady and cool space to rest.

Your dog may instinctually look to rest on cool wet ground like mud or moist soil if they are feeling hot.

You can also bring a buff and put it around your dog to help them cool off. Like humans, a wet buff around the neck may feel nice and cool their body temperature faster.

Expert Advice: “Most Buffs are elastic free, but some have elastic. Avoid Buffs with elastic in them or ones that are tight or snug on your dog. They may cause your dog discomfort. or cut off air and circulation.”

Dog Rain Jacket

Why: Camping means enduring all kinds of weather and wet dogs may not have the time to dry off before bed.

Importance: Weather/ Temperature Dependent

If your dog has long hair they will need more time or drier air conditions to dry. This could result in having a wet dog who becomes dangerously cold if temps drop too fast, or, most likely, a wet dirty dog who will bring that wet dog smell and dirt into your tent.

Expert Advice: “Dog rain jackets are amazing; however, the hoods on them are not designed for all dog head shapes and ear sizes. Don’t assume the hood will fit your dog, or get a rain coat without a hood altogether.”

Dog Towel

Why: From mud, to walking through a puddle or river bed on a hike, your dog’s paws are bound to get dirty and wet.

Importance: Strongly Recommended

Humans don’t feel the natural water in soil, the morning dew, or the water of that shallow stream you just hiked through because of our shoes, but your dog doesn’t wear shoes like we do.

This means your dog’s paws are bound to get wet or damp on even the best weather weekends and wet paws means dirt, mud, and smell in your tent.

Having a towel designated for your dog gives you something you can wipe off your dog’s paws with, an should the weather turn rainy, you know you can dry your dog off.

Expert Advice: “Go for function, not comfort when selecting a camping dog towel. Soft and fluffy towels can collect dirt and hold onto moisture longer where a quick dry towel will dry quickly, resist more dirt, and take up less space in your gear. “

Booties or Dog Shoes

Why: Booties help protect your dog’s paws from hot and cold ground, rough terrain, and mud. Paw protection ranges from thin rubber to heavy duty soles.

Importance: Strongly Recommended

Dog paws are amazing pads that protect your dog’s feet on walks, but they are not infallible. There are three scenarios when camping that not having booties or dog shoes for your dog may result in harm to your dog and even a vet visit:

  • Cold Ground
  • Rough Terrain
  • Wet Paws on Normal Terrain

Cold Ground. The ground holds water and is often cooler than the air. Humans wear shoes to protect us from this moist cool feeling where a dog’s paws are direct contact with the ground.

Cold ground can cause your dog’s paws to become uncomfortable, make the pad harden and stiffen, or even lead to frost bite. Dog’s paws can become uncomfortably cold in temperatures as warm as 60s F/15 C depending the the breed.

Rough terrain. Dog paw pads are more durable than human feet, but small and sharp objects like thorns, stick, and rocks will harm both human and dog feet alike. Having dog shoes with you on your trips, you can protect your dog’s feet from object that may puncture the paw’s pads.

Wet Paws. Dog feet get wet all the time in rain, sprinklers, morning dew and more. Where wet paws can become dangerous for your dog when camping is when the moisture causes the pad to become tender and even scrape off.

Like human skin, when a dog’s pads get wet, the skin softens loosing it durability and strength. Wt skins wipes or scrapes much easier the dry skin. This is the same for your dog’s paw pads.

If your dog has wet paws and walks on something as simple as asphalt for a few minutes, the roughness of the asphalts texture could scrape off your dog’s foot pad exposing your dog’s paw directly to the rough terrain. This is painful for your dog and could lead to an infection.

You can protect the comfort and integrity of your dog’s paws by packing a pair of dog shoes or booties with you when you camp.

Expert Advice: “Pick paw protection that is best for the terrain you will be on and be sure your dog is comfortable walking in dog booties. Dogs unfamiliar with wearing booties may struggle, particularly in thicker soles.”

Place to Rest

Why: Your dog will need a place to rest outside of the tent to cool off and relax throughout the day

Importance: Nice to Have

Your dog’s bed is where they will sleep every night during your trip, but where will they rest during the day? Without something to rest on, your dog will sit and lie in the dirt of your campsite.

Having water and dirt resistant mat or chair for your dog will give them a comfortable place to rest.

You can double your dog bed as their resting mat if you don’t mind bringing the bed in and out of your tent each each day, or accidentally leaving the bed in the rain.

Expert Advice: “Some dogs like low lying chairs to rest in, others like mats. Know your dog and get them a waterproof, washable version of their favorite resting spot. My dog likes his water resistant mat, but loves a low lying chair that elevates him from the ground even more.”

Dog Wipes

Why: Wipes are a quick and easy way to clean your dog up when camping.

Importance: Nice to Have

Dogs and humans get dirty when camping; it’s part of the adventure. But having some dog wipes with dog friendly soap can help keep that dirt to a minimum.

Expert Advice: “Avoid scented wipes that may attract animals or bugs. Biodegradable wipes are more environmentally friendly, too.”


Why: You may need to pull your dog back from danger and a harness safer than pulling on a collar.

Expert Advice: “Reflector harnesses with a handle or latch for a seatbelt will save you money because that can do the work of a both a reflector collar and safety harness.”

Dog Seat Belt

Why: Camping often requires some road trip and car accidents do occur. Keep your dog safe with a seat belt.

Expert Advice: “Having a dog seat belt brings me peace of mind. I prefer dog seatbelts that have a little room of movement so my dog can lie down, sit, or adjust themselves during the road trip.”

Outdoor Toys

Why: Dogs need something to do and love to have fun when camping. Toys help keep dogs busy and out of trouble.

Expert Advice: “Toys that are brightly colored will stand out against the dirt and grasses of your campsite, like neon orange or pink. We have accidentally left dog toys behind because we couldn’t see them when taking down camp. Oh, avoid scented and flavored dog toys. They attract wildlife.”

Dog Sleeping Bag

Why: The ground under your tent is cold and your dog will be uncomfortable sleeping on the floor of your tent.

Expert Advice: “Look for a dog bed with a waterproof bottom to protect the bed and insolate your dog from the cold ground at night.”

Dog First Aid

Why: Accidents happen and your dog may need some TLC when camping.

Expert Advice: “The two first aid items I don’t go camping with my dog without are tweezers and non-stick gauze. I can fix most issues with both of those. Be sure to use nonstick gauze, as tapes and adhesives can pull on your dog’s fur when removing them.”

Learn more about keeping your dog safe when camping

Tick Remover

Why: Ticks live year-round in most parts of the country and are common on hiking trails and grasslands.

Expert Advice: “Know how to do a tick check on your dog and carry a tick remover device. They are small, easy to use, and inexpensive. They also work on humans if it comes to it.”

Hands-Free Leash

Why: Hands-free hiking and climbing will help you move freer and keep your balance.

Expert Advice: “I was fine using my dog’s normal leash for hikes at first, but one day we went on a hike with minor elevation changes. Something about holding the leash threw off my balance every time the elevation changed or I had to step up. I fell a few times. A hands-free dog leash fixed the issue.”

Dog Life Jacket

Why: Water safety. Not all dogs can swim, and the ones that do may get tired.

Expert Advice: “Dog life jackets are not one size fits all. Check both the weight of your dog, but also their body width and length to ensure the floatation is evenly distributed across your dog’s body.”

Hiking Pack/ Dog Backpack

Why: You have enough to carry; let your dog help out.

Expert Advice: “Before investing in a dog pack, determine how much gear is reasonable for your dog to carry. Dogs are not able to carry as much weight as humans. A 5lbs pack on a 20lb dog is ¼ of their weight!”

Backpack to Carry Your Dog In

Why: Sometimes your dog can’t walk or keep up. Small dogs must exert more energy to keep up on hikes, and puppies don’t have their long legs or stamina yet.

Learn about Camping with a Puppy.

Expert Advice: “This is a must if you go camping with a small dog or puppy or a dog that is not leash trained yet. They can’t keep up after a half mile or so walk and you’ll have to carry them. You won’t want your water bottle squishing them either.”