Tips for backpacking with your pup

This past weekend Mason and I went on a 3 day backpacking trip in the White Mountains. This was our very first one and I was so nervous that I wouldn’t have enough food for him since backpacking is a totally different beast from a day hike. Normally I bring him a little extra snack and he is good to go, but this time I knew he needed a lot more calories than normal not just because we were hiking longer days, but he was also carrying more weight. I was also super nervous he wouldn’t be warm enough. If any of you hike in the Whites particularly the Presidential Range where we were, you know the weather can be incredibly unpredictable and HARSH.

I’ve put together a list of everything we brought for Mason incase anyone else is struggling with what to pack like I was.

Food:

  • The Honest Kitchen Embark –awesome dehydrated raw food, highly recommend it! For amounts we added 25% more then he normally gets. So typically we would feed 2 cups in the am and 2 cups in the pm. So we gave him 2.25 cups for each serving and then also gave him a 1/2 cup “lunch” each day.
  • YaffBars– power bars for dogs and humans
  • Vital Essentials Beef Mini Nibs  — we used these for trail snacks and some recall training rewards
  • Vital Essentials Salmon Skins— great trail snack or used to keep your pup busy while you set up camp

Gear:

  • Ruffwear Climate Changer–Mason never gets cold, except when he sleeps! So we used this for his “pjs”.
  • Ruffwear Singletrak Pack–We love this pack!! We definitely could have bought a bigger pack for him, but we already had this one and he was use to it. Plus we felt it would be unfair to make him carry so much more weight than normal without any training hikes.
  • ThermARest Ridge Rest Solar— We got a small and it worked perfectly. It was great to use around camp and Mason fell asleep on it every night!

I hope this helps!! Let me know if you have any questions!

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Hiking with your pup

Mason and I love to hike! Is there anything better then getting out into nature and exploring with your dog? We don’t think so! This weekend we did some exploring in the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. I have been hiking the White Mountains since I was 10 years old. My dad, sister, and I would hike up to Lake of the Cloud Hut and spend the night. This was awesome because we had a warm place to stay, they provide you with dinner and breakfast and as a kid it always felt like such an adventure to be sleeping on Mt. Washington. The next day we would summit and then hike down to the car. We did this at least once every summer for as long as I can remember. Eventually my younger brother started to join us and every year various aunts and uncles would come too. As we have all gotten older and are able to do longer hikes we have started a new tradition. We camp near the trail head, all of us getting in from our various locations on Friday night, and we hike all day Saturday. My dad, brother, sister, aunts and uncles all come along. Mason is usually the only dog, although occasionally Otto, my aunt and uncles dog will join. 

This weekend we hiked Mt. Madison. When I first got Mason it was always really hard for me to figure out what to bring for him, does he need food on the hike? How much extra water should I bring? Whats the weather going to be like? Will he get cold once we get to the top? When is the weather too hot for a dog to hike? How will his paws do? Should I get him booties (if you have ever been in the White Mountains then you know the majority of the hike above tree line is all on lichen covered rocks)?

Now I like to think I have it all down to a science. I know exactly what to bring for him, and I have even bought him his own pack so that he can carry (most) of his own gear.

So here is a list of what I pack for Mason:

  • Ruffwear Singletrak Backpack this thing has been AMAZING! Its the perfect size for a day hike and ensures that he always has enough water with him. It comes with two water bottles that fit right in the pockets of the pack so it balances correctly. Each water bottle holds .6 liters.

In the pack I put:

  • 2 filled water bottles
  • 1/3 of the amount of food I feed him at a normal meal. This time I packed 1/2 a cup of The Honest Kitchen Embark . This food is really great because its dehydrated so its light in his pack and its easy to rehydrate. I can also add extra water to it if I think he could use extra. I usually give him this at the summit when I know he is going to need some fuel.
  • 1 YaffBar energy bar for dogs I will only pack this if its going to be a really long hike. My rule of thumb is if I need to stop and eat then Mason could probably use a little pick me up too. Dogs have different energy needs then we do, humans need carbohydrates to refuel, pups need protein!

In my own pack:

  • a leash
  • trail treats- these are usually small and I use them for recall rewards
  • extra water- if its really hot or we aren’t hiking near a stream
  • collapsible water bowl
  • poop bags

Once you’re on the trail the key is to know your dog. What do they look like when they are tired? Stressed? Overheated? If you’re feeling tired and hungry, chances are your dog is too. Every time I need a drink I make sure to stop and offer Mason some. Same goes for food.

I love having Mason as my hiking partner. It was one of the (many) reasons I got a dog. I wanted someone to share the outdoors with and I wanted them to love it as much as I do. Having a dog out with you on hikes its also a great reminder to enjoy the moment. Be present.