canine explorers dogs in front of suv

If you crave adventure, but don’t want to leave your four-legged family members behind, this blog is for you! Two of our ambassadors, Johnny and Katherine of The Canine Explorers, put together some tips and tricks for camping with our furry friends. Whether you’re taking your dog camping for the first time or just looking to have a longer and more relaxing trip, this post will help you plan and prepare.

What to Pack for the Humans

  • Always pack for all weather. Hot, cold, snow, and rain – dogs’ coats are built in, but we need to be prepared and bring our own.
  • Pack clothing in dry bags. If you’re going to be sharing tent or camper space with your pups, you’ll want to be sure your gear is protected. They aren’t always the best about keeping muddy paws to themselves.
  • Bring a variety of food. A cooler or portable refrigerator is nice, but we always have freeze-dried food as a backup just in case of fire bans, no fuel, faulty equipment, etc.
  • Make sure you’ll be comfortable! Bring a sleeping bag with a fitting temperature rating and a sleeping pad, but don’t forget about daytime comfort too! When we have a little extra room we always bring our Pod Rocker from GCI Outdoor, and when we are tight on space we love our PackSeats! Be warned, though…our dogs love the chairs too, so sometimes we have to share.
  • Be organized. It’s a bonus if you have a rig with compartments for kitchen gear, recovery gear, toiletries, and base camp supplies, but stocking a waterproof tub with those items works too!
dogs and man sitting around campfire in camp chair

What to Pack for the Dogs

  • Be weather-prepared. Their natural coats are awesome, but cooling vests, paw balm, boots, jackets, etc. can make a big difference in especially hot or cold conditions.
  • Pack attire in dry bags separate from the human gear.
  • Pack food in ziplock bags. Save on space and keep food dry. Or, if your dogs are on raw food diets like ours, you can freeze-dry it and prep it at human mealtime. Having a GCI Slim-Fold Cook Station makes separate food preparation easy.
  • Have first aid ready. Sometimes dogs get hurt too! If you’ll be doing lots of exploring, make sure you have some extra gauze and tape on hand just in case.
  • Extra water. Dogs drink a lot. If you will not be near a water source while camping, we recommend bringing at least one extra gallon of water per day for bigger dogs.

How to Camp With a Dog

  • Research whether your destination is in bear country. Bears and dogs don’t get along (obviously), so avoiding those areas is a good idea.
  • Always carry an air horn and bear spray in case you get unexpected visitors.
  • Leave your dog on leash when there will be other people or wildlife around. Paying attention to leash laws is important too – sometimes there are off-leash fines and sometimes dogs aren’t allowed at all.
  • Pack quick-grab, handy things last in the car. Stuff that can wait til arrival at camp can be packed at the bottom, or away on the roof. Tip: A leash, water and a bowl for the dogs should be among those quick-grab items!
dogs sitting next to GCI camp chairs

Here’s Where to Go

Ready to hit the road? This tip isn’t for everyone, but if you’re in California and have an off-road vehicle, we’re sharing our best location secret: Thomas Mountain. Located in San Bernardino National Forest, it sits at 5,807 feet of elevation, so the views are amazing, especially in the wintertime. We love to go up there when it snows, but four-wheel drive is necessary. Since the trail to camp isn’t easy, we get the seclusion we need for a relaxing trip, and the dogs have tons of room to explore!

Have a blast camping with your pups and feel free to follow along with us on social media for more inspiration!