Dogs in the Winds


Jan 23, 2014
We would like to take our 8 yr old Aussie to the Winds this year and have a few questions. She has been on countless wilderness canoe trips but this is different. For those who bring dogs. What precautions do you take to prevent problems? Do you use boots for pad protection? She would have to carry her own food. Are there decent packs for this? And what do you do at river fords? That's my biggest concern.


Dec 11, 2013
My dog uses a ruffwear approach pack to carry all his food, water, treats, and poop bags. They're extremely well made packs. Find one that fits perfectly. My dog is small, and we tried some of the bigger packs from ruffwear, but they didn't fit my dog well, so we went down to the approach pack. I think it'd be enough to do a 4-5 day trip. Any more, and I'd end up carrying some of his food.

We bring some of these booties for him when we go to the desert (to prevent tumbleweeds and cacti from entering his pads), it might not be a bad idea to get some. They're cheap and work so much better than the booties they sell at pet stores. I'm convinced that 99% of the products at pet stores are marketed to the dog's owners, not the dogs themselves. Vibram-soled ruffwear boots are appealing to dog owners, not to the dogs. The boots I linked to above are awesome.

Just like a human, your best bet is to practice on some smaller trips where the consequences are lower. Practice river crossings, practice estimating her food, etc. My dog eats about 3x the amount of food while camping than when he's at home. Figure out her food/water needs, and spend a few nights camping outside with her.

Other precautions are with wild animals. Dogs can often irritate a bear or moose, and then run back to their owners. The bear or moose will chase the dog back to their owners and attack the owners too. Don't forget that the dog's food will attract other animals as well, so treat it like the rest of your food.

Dogs are the best, and they can do really well backpacking. They can also be a total nuisance to others, so make sure your dog is extremely obedient, friendly to other dogs it may encounter, and friendly to strangers. My dog doesn't sleep at night, he stays alert watching for danger. That took some getting used to. He is my best buddy, and comes on 95% of my camping trips.


Aug 9, 2007
What Steve said!

I'll add a few things though...

I like the Mountainsmith Dog Packs. They don't wiggle from side to side much and I've always been able to get them on the cheap at Sierra Trading Post. If you're on their email list, it's hard NOT to have an extra 30-35% off the already discounted price.

Be careful to waterproof what is in the pack, especially if your dog likes to lay down in streams and stuff. Also, we had one incident in the winds where one of our dogs went blasting through some really thick brush and came back without a pack. I largely blame that on the crappy backpack he was wearing, but it was still a problem. We searched and searched and never found it.

For paws, I've had problems with this. If your pup is used to hiking, boots may not be necessary, but it's a good idea to have an emergency solution in mind if they rip a pad open or something. In addition to the usual first aid stuff, vet wrap and some leuko tape can work wonders. Save your money though and just buy a case of Sensi Wrap. It's just like vet wrap but marketed for humans and you get like 30 rolls for the price of 2 at Pet Smart. Each roll in that case is individually wrapped and super light. I ALWAYS toss at least two in the pack when I take dogs hiking.


Aug 9, 2007
One more thing on dog boots... my doberman LOVES them, but even the nice ones will come off sometimes. When thinking about the cost, you almost have to consider getting two sets so that you have a spare or two around.



Dec 11, 2013
I've never forded a river that my dog couldn't walk across. I have rappelled him before though, and I don't imagine it'd be much different. I'd just put a good rope on his pack and encourage him to swim across while I held onto the rope in case he needed it. Worst case scenario, I'd put him on my shoulders and carry him across. Granted, that's a little easier to do with a 30 lb dog than an aussie. My little dog is the perfect size for me. He's plenty athletic, and I can still carry him if needed.

Here's a recent trip we took with my dog Fender.
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