Some of the best camping trips I’ve experienced in B.C. are the ones where I’ve brought my dogs along. From the joy of watching them bound through alpine meadows to the terror of them almost falling off a cliff while chasing a chipmunk, it’s never boring.
With the camping season officially upon us, here’s some great gear to make camping with Fido easier, safer and just more comfortable.
Think of a spiral stake as the cheapest form of pet insurance you can purchase for your campsite. Starting at $5.99 at PetSmart, the stake can be secured into the ground like a corkscrew. Attach a cord or rope of the length of your choice and your dog can enjoy the outdoors while also keeping them from wandering away and visiting other campsites, or disappearing altogether, like my dogs probably would.
It’s important to keep Fido hydrated. These durable, non-toxic Beco collapsible bowls (Bones Pet Stores in Yaletown) are flexible enough to collapse and fit into any bag. They’ve got easy grip handles and come in three sizes.
The top-selling portable pet water dispenser, the Gulpy (sold at Bones Pet Stores) has a fully-attached tray and water bottle – that nests when not in use. It also has a belt clip if, you know, you want to be THAT guy. It’s leakpoof, comes in four colours and costs around $10.
If sharing your tent with your dog cramps your style, there are specially designed travel tents specifically for Fido. This Pet Gear Travel Lite soft-sided pen ($58.22) has a removable top that is partially vented to provide a reprieve from the hot sun during the day. The zippered door can be closed to keep them inside at night. It’s also water resistant and folds completely flat for easy storage and travel.
Okay, this one isn’t necessary for summer camping, but a great idea for anyone who enjoys camping in the winter. The Barker Bag is a dog-sized sleeping bag that zips to the side of their owner’s mummy bag. It can also be placed between two mummy bags that are already zipped together. It’s a bit of a win-win in cold weather: Your dog keeps warm, and your feet do too! There’s a cinchable collar so your dog can poke his head out. It comes in three sizes to accommodate all sizes of dogs, and packs down to an itty-bitty packable size.
The NobleCamper ($159) is a stylish travel dog bed that transforms into a sleeping bag that keeps your pooch warm and covered during cold nights. Admittedly a bit confusing to figure out on the first go, the bed has a bottom zipper that allows the sides of the bed to unfold and be pulled over the sides to create a sleeping bag. It compresses into a stuff sack when not in use, allowing it to fit into most small daypacks.
The Outward Hound DayPak ($34.99) lets your pooch comfortably carry extra gear and essentials, like their kibble and water. The saddlebag design features four expandable pockets, and you can attach your dog’s leash directly to the backpack’s D-ring clip. The backpack has a few bonus features: The vest has a durable grip handle that can help you lift your dog out of tight spots if you get in a jam while hiking steep areas, and it has high-visibility colours.
Use the code DARCY20 to get 20% off your DayPak, and free shipping.
An essential piece of gear for anyone who takes their dog out on the water, the Canine-Friendly Canine Lifejacket ($45, Bones Pet Stores) is made of highly-visible orange ripstop fabric and reflective piping so your dog is sure to be seen in the water. It also has a handle on top to assist your dog back onto a boat, dock or steep riverbank. The fully-adjustable jacket is ultra-buoyant, and is suitable for dogs up to 70 pounds.
Perhaps best suited for sensitive-footed pups, these Ruffwear all-terrain paw protectors ($69 at Bones Pet Stores) help your pooch over tough terrain. They come in sets of four, obviously, but you can also buy a single boot if you’re trying to protect an injured single paw from harsh conditions.
For $29.95, the lightweight Pet Kit from St. John’s Ambulance contains everything you’ll need should your pet get hurt in the wilderness. From splints to gauze and adhesive tape, it’s a good idea for the outdoor enthusiast pet owner to keep one of these in their vehicle at all times.
Much like humans, mosquito bites can cause a great deal of discomfort in dogs. Black Sheep Organics sells a great Lemongrass & Mint organic bug spray ($12, Bones Pet Stores) that contains essential oils that will naturally repel mosquitoes, as well as fleas, mosquito and ticks. Sprayed on your dog’s coat, it’s safe to lick – and it smells great too. PetSmart also offers a range of low-priced flea and tick protection that you can give your dog before you hit the great outdoors. The drops are usually administered between the shoulder blades, so they can’t be licked off, and protection lasts for several weeks.
Bones Pet Stores in Yaletown features a big selection of low-priced, high-powered LED lights that clip directly onto your dog’s collar (or backpack) to keep them visible at night. These are great on night walks in the city as well.
This made-in-Vancouver Handsome Mountain “Where’s Sasquatch?” travel mat ($70) is designed to combat the trifecta of “muddy, wet, sandy” that happens to all dogs that go camping. It rolls out like a yoga mat onto your car seat, or into your dog’s crate. It’s water-resistant and makes a nice comfy bed for your pooch at the campsite. As part of its Wilderness Wanderer collection, Handsome Mountain also makes really great Canadiana and Piper’s Plaid bandanas. The doggy accessories aren’t camping items at all, honestly, but they’re very outdoorsy, and awesome. Bonus: a portion of proceeds benefits the SPCA.
Vancity Buzz columnist Darcy Wintonyk was on CTV Morning Live showing off the gear you need when “ruffing” it with Fido.