Pooch Picks: Great gear for dogs

Since my mom has posted quite a bit about her favorite travel essentials and how to pack for long-term travel, she asked if I’d like to similarly share my top picks for my fellow pup travelers out there. I came to live with my parents as soon as they returned from a year of traveling overseas (we met at my home in Chiang Mai, Thailand). And now that we’re a family of three, it’s time for mom and dad to rearrange the stuff in their packs and make room a few of my travel necessities. Luckily, I’m pretty low-maintenance. Whether you’re packing for a trip, or just getting ready for some time on the hiking trails, here are some favorites from my canine collection:

Harness – RuffWear Front Range all-day adventure harness ($40)

I must admit that, although I’m pretty good at loose-leash walking, sometimes I do pull and yank on the leash. You know how it is… I hear a loud noise or see a scary tot toddling up the street and I panic. Because mom and dad want to keep me safe and not hurt my neck when I pull too hard, they got me a pretty stylish harness to wear. It’s got a padded chest and belly panel, so it’s surprisingly comfortable and doesn’t chafe my skin, and it’s even trimmed with reflective panels to keep me safe at night. The harness also has two attachments for my leash: a metal ring on the back (for normal wear) and reinforced webbing on the front (it gives additional control – but I don’t like this setup, so I make sure to behave). My parents and I both love that the harness is durable, lightweight, adjustable, and super easy to put on and take off.

Note: I weigh about 30 lbs (14 kg) and wear an XS. Because I was between sizes, I tried both a S and XS. I ended up sizing down as I’m pretty trim in the chest.



Vehicle restraint harness – RuffWear Load Up Harness ($80)

To stay safe on long road trips, I have a second RuffWear harness – this one specifically designed for use in the car. The harness is fitted with a universal seatbelt attachment and has successfully passed rigorous vehicle crash testing. While I wasn’t sure about the harness the first time I wore it, it’s actually not that bad, I suppose (even though I still give mom and dad a hard time when they stick me in it). I can sit and gaze out the window, lay down and nap, and even move about a little bit… and I’m safe on the freeway. It’s even got a clip for my leash, so I can go for short walks at rest stops. If you doggy parents are considering buying just this one harness for both car travel and regular walks, though, don’t do it. This harness is much more restricting than the Front Range style, and is not comfortable enough to use for daily walks.

Note: As with the other RuffWear harness (above), I wear an XS.



30’ leash – Lupine Pet, Basics Training Leash ($25)

Another weakness: my recall is not very good. What can I say? I just can’t always control my excitement if I see a squirrel or rabbit scampering through the forest. I want some independence on the trail, but mom and dad want me to be safe, so we compromised on a nice, long 30’ lead. The leash’s nylon material is durable, repels water and is easy to clean, and it’s even “guaranteed for life, even if chewed!”



Light-weight travel towel – REI MultiTowel Lite (Large, 36” x 16.5”) ($18.50)

This is a great towel for traveling and hiking. Mom and dad never care if I jump in a river or lake because the towel’s microfiber material is so absorbent and quick-drying. It packs into a small pouch (included), and even has a small loop they can use to hang it up so it’s ready for my next swimming adventure.

Note: I weigh about 30 lbs (14 kg) and got the large towel… in a super snazzy beet color, I might add.



Collapsible food & water bowls – REI Sea to Summit X-Bowl ($16/each)

Again, these are great for both hiking and long-term travel. The bowls are made from food-grade silicone and have a sturdy, nylon base. The bowl holds about 700 mL of water, and about 3 cups of my dry food (though I only eat 1 cup per meal) – more than enough to suit my needs. Best of all? The flexible bowl is lightweight and collapses down to about 0.5” (1.25 cm)! That means mom’s and dad’s packs are lighter, so they can better keep up with me on the trail (or try, at least).



Canada Pooch, Summit Stretch Vest ($60* for size 22)

*note: prices range from about $40–75 depending on size (available in sizes 10–28)

Before my family adopted me, I was living in the forests of northern Thailand… and as you’d expect, it was it hot there! When I flew to my new home in the U.S. it was January, and I spent the next couple months living way up north, in New Hampshire. I’ll tell you what – it was freezing! I had never felt cold like that before, nor had I seen this crazy thing they call snow. Because I wasn’t used to the new climate (and because I have a pretty thin, wiry coat), mom and dad insisted on buying me a quilted puffer vest to keep me warm. While I’m totally not into these dorky outfit things that I occasionally see on my fellow dog pals (sorry, guys), I will admit the vest did keep me snug as I adjusted to a New England winter. This particular vest was easy to put on and was surprisingly comfortable – it has stretchy belly panels, a really soft fleece interior, and it snaps on pretty easily. It’s even got a small slit so my leash can still clip onto my harness. And while I’d much prefer to be free-stylin’ (au naturel, so to speak), I do think the cozy outerwear helps on a cold hike or just a frigid New England day.

Note: Once again, at my 30 lb (14 kg) weight, a size 22 fits me just about perfectly.



To all you travel-savvy dogs (and dog parents) out there, I hope this list provides some useful suggestions for when you’re shopping for gear. As I spend more time on the road, I’ll let you know if I find any other top dog picks. Happy trails and happy tails!

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