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Best Camping Gear For Dogs

Hitting the road with a dog has some great advantages. I have a built-in hiking buddy, I’m smothered in kisses when I wake up each morning, and I meet tons of new people when walking “Sully.”

Here’s how to treat your pup to a 5-paw experience while out in the wild.

Photo Tripping America - Camping Gear - Outdoorsy

Although he’s the most adorable pooch in the world, he does require some extra gear for camping. In fact, Sully has his own cabinet and an entire section of my RV basement storage is allotted for his food, outdoor doggie entertainment, and some canine essentials.

If you take your dog along on camping trips or weekend getaways, here are some indispensable items that will make your pet more comfortable and the journey a lot more enjoyable for you both.

Soft-sided dog crate

To keep your pet safe while you travel, be sure to consider ways to restrict them while your truck or motorhome is in motion. I use a soft sided crate, which Sully approved after a little trepidation. When I put two of his toys in it, however, he was in like Flynn!

Our crate has a fleece bed in the bottom, avoiding the need to put his own bed in the enclosure. It is also well ventilated, with zippered openings on the top and side. While open, the crate even has handles so you can transport your dog while in it (I probably wouldn’t try doing that with a large dog like my 70-pound golden retriever though.).

The best feature is its ability to fold up for storage once we arrive at our destination. The interior is supported by spring-loaded metal rods that break down easily. I fold it flat and slide it along a wall in the RV bedroom, but it will fold up further and can be stored in its accompanying carry bag — about the size of an artist’s portfolio case.

The crate has become a great way for my dog to come along on our journey, while giving me peace of mind regarding his safety. It’s offered in a variety of sizes and colors and is extremely durable and quite strong.

Memory foam dog bed

Once we’ve reached our campsite, Sully needs a bed he can call his own, even though he confiscates mine at night. My golden is only 5 years old, but I have had several dogs that lived to be 13, 15 and 17 years old. By that age, their backs probably feel like ours do at ages 91, 105 and 119 in dog years! So I have a memory foam bed with a removable cover to give him support now and as he ages.

Remember the denser the foam, the more comfortable for the dog and the longer lasting the bed.  The foam in this bed is also infused with gel, making it cooler for Sully. And a removable, washable cover is a definite requirement to keep everything clean.

Elevated dog bed

Smaller dogs seem to enjoy the elevated beds. It gives them the support they need, without lying directly on a hard floor. There are indoor and outdoor versions available.

Dog bowls

There are so many options for dog dishes. If you’re like me, you select one that has a special meaning for you and your dog. Long ago I found a series of ceramic dog bowls made by a Mexican artist named Mara and decorated with whimsical dogs. Now I have one in every size and color.

Sully and I like to hike, but I am a bit of a klutz, so there is no way I am lugging his ceramic dog bowl up the trail. My solution: a wonderful, collapsible dog bowl by RuffWear that not only holds his dog food but has a draw string to store the food while we are en-route.

Dog backpack

Of course, Sully has learned he has to pull his own weight on our outings. To do that, he has a great dog backpack, also made by RuffWear. I have found their products to be very well made, with attention to detail. For instance, these backpacks are lightweight, with five adjustable straps to keep my dog comfortable. They also have two leash points for attachment when I need to hook Sully up. And I love the padded handle, giving me an opportunity to help my buddy over rough terrain.

Winter coat

Sully won’t let me dress him up, but if he did, I am sure he’d go for this fleece-lined winter coat that has an LED light built in. The coat comes in three colors and sizes from extra small to extra large. There is a zipper at the neckline to attach a leash to your dog’s existing collar, too. It’s waterproof, has reflective piping, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Cooling pad

Any dog worth their weight in fur may require a cooling pad at some point. Sully and I like to hike, and on a hot summer day a long drink of water may not cool him down enough when we get back to the RV. For that reason alone, I love this gel cooling pad. I don’t even have to put it in the freezer beforehand, as the non-toxic gel will absorb heat and cool the dog down. The gel is pressure-activated and will recharge itself after 30 minutes of non-use. I have several friends with older dogs who use their cooling pads to alleviate joint and muscle pain in their senior buddies, as well.

Car hammock

My most prized dog-related possession is a hammock for the back seat of my car. It helps me keep all the dog hair, dirty paw prints, and water in one place (and not on my upholstery!). This Good2Go quilted seat cover is the best I’ve used for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s very easy to put on and take off, just slipping right over the headrests with adjustable straps.
  • It’s comfortable for my dog.
  • The hammock protects the interior of my car.
  • The backing is water resistant. That’s a biggie for us, as I have a “water dog” who loves to swim. The other covers I’ve tried that advertised water-resistant qualities had backing that peeled and cracked all over my back seat, making more of a mess than the dog did.
  • Another side benefit of using a hammock seat cover is that it keeps the dog in the backseat by blocking the opening between the front bucket seats.
  • This particular cover is long lasting. I have had the current one for more than 3 years. (I was replacing the other models every 3 or 4 months!)
  • They come with a built-in pocket for things like ‘doggy bags’ and small toys, but I wouldn’t put dog treats in it.

Dog umbrella

When camping with your dog, weather always plays a big part in the activities you can enjoy together. But all dogs eventually need go outside to “do their duty.” A walk in the rain may be enjoyable for you — after all, your raincoat or umbrella can keep you relatively dry. But what about your furry companion? Keep him covered with a dog umbrella.

This is the only model that has several thoughtful design elements. The shaft is bent so that the umbrella actually covers your dog. Others are held over the canine at an angle, only protecting a small portion of the animal if they walk in front of you. The shaft’s design is also adjustable for differing human heights, and the handle is ergonomic. There is a short leash attachment to clip onto Fido’s collar, and one last little bit of thoughtfulness is a hook for dog baggies near the handle.


What fashion-conscious pet wouldn’t love a pair of doggles to accentuate their wardrobe? I’ll be honest, Sully uses his for photo opportunities (when he’s not wearing my sunglasses). But I know of several motorcycle riders that have trained their leather and doggle-clad pooches to ride on their bikes. They are also great for dogs who like to hang their heads out of car windows, protecting their eyes from kamikaze insects or flying pebbles and sand. And at the very least, they make a statement!

Photo Tripping America - Camping Gear - Outdoorsy


If your dog frequently joins you on camping excursions, ensure they’re a happy camper and keep them comfortable and safe with some gear of their own.

If you’re just getting into the RV lifestyle and don’t know where to start, try renting an RV or travel trailer from Outdoorsy, read several “how to” articles on their Never Idle Journal, and take your tail-wagging sidekick on a 5-paws-up adventure. 

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