Current Favorites 👑

We try out a lot of gear, but I’m a minimalist at heart, so I’m always trying to narrow Robin’s gear trunk down to just one favorite in each subcategory! Here are the items we reach for over and over again. Click the links to read in-depth reviews where available, and click the category to see what else we’ve tried in comparison – a different product might even work better for you! This page is updated periodically.

BASICS

Collars: 20161030-dsc_6060-sunshine-dr

LED Collar: Head-Lites. We’ve tried three light-up collars and this is far and away the best. It’s durable, attractive, lightweight and bright, and it’s a legitimate collar in its own right unlike the halo types. For camping trips, Robin wears it full time, and it’s also our main collar during the wintertime.

City collar: Sometimes, dusty trail gear feels out of place for errands or dinner out. We just bought something we’re excited about – we’ll report back!

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Waterproof collar: Petoji. For beach trips, dirty hikes, and even around the house, we use coated webbing – it’s lightweight, smooth, wipes clean of pretty much anything your dog could drag it through and you can choose your color, width, and length.

Harnesses:

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Full Body Harness: Groundbird Gear. These can be purchased with a detachable pack, or alone, and they’re custom made to your dog’s measurements – not just the usual neck and girth but also waist, end of ribcage girth, etc. The chest plate hits Robin’s sternum perfectly and the harness weighs almost nothing. The lining and fabric are fully breathable and it includes a full belly panel for comfortable lifting. They’re not as inexpensive as mass-market harnesses, but they are fully worth the price. If you’d rather spend less, the next-best solution is the Ruffwear Webmaster – we decided not to keep ours since the Groundbird Gear is so much more light and comfortable, but it’s the most adjustable commercial harness.

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Mid Coverage harness: Hurtta Active, now that I modified it to fit Robin’s narrow frame. Also at that link, a comparison to the similar Ruffwear Front Range (which we found to lack durability and structure, and was an awkward fit on Robin’s back). The Active also comes with an assistance handle, perfect for softening Robin’s landing from a too-tall rock.

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Minimal harness: Hurtta Padded. I wasn’t impressed by their previous stiffer webbing, but I LOVE the softer webbing and new colors of the Fall 2017 release. The Padded comes with a grab handle that comes in handy more than you’d expect. I don’t prefer the Padded Ys because they tend to shift, and run large for Robin.

Leashes:

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For eating out, and off-leash hikes, I like a really short leash – we have a 2’ Petoji traffic lead that is perfect for outdoor restaurant patios – nothing to tangle around the table legs. For walks and city use, I prefer a 3.5 – 4’ length – enough space for Robin to sniff, without me needing two hands to gather the extra leash. For biking we use our Large Ruffwear Roamer – It’s plenty long to give Robin space to go behind the bike in narrow sections, and has a lot of give in case we jerk in opposite directions.

CLOTHING

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Lightweight jacket/Fleece: Pawtagonia. This is another custom-fit favorite, but this time it’s not more expensive than the next-best commercial option (in this case, the Ruffwear Climate Changer), and it’s way more stylish, with a better fit. Robin’s gotten zero chafing from his fleece, it’s bright and adorable, and it has a lining to improve durability.

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Raincoat: Hurtta Torrent Coat. Robin’s not too fussy about rain, but the blaze orange helps me keep track of him on a gloomy day, and keeps him cleaner. These coats are not inexpensive but if you can only get one Hurtta jacket, this is the one I’d recommend – and add layers underneath it for cold.

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Snow: Hurtta Slush Combat Suit. Robin’s short, so snow gets inside the belly of regular coats. This one keeps him dry, although we’re on the hunt for a good insulation layer to go inside. Robin’s coat doesn’t collect snowballs but this coat is also great for preventing that.

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Warm Coat: Hurtta Extreme Warmer. It’s the warmest dog coat available, with full wraparound coverage, a big belly panel, and a heat-reflective lining. Oh, and it has a hilarious hood to cover the ears, which Robin despises.

SUMMER SAFETY

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Life Jacket: Hurtta Life Savior. It’s the lightest, most durable life jacket we’ve tried, with low-bulk foam struts instead of big foam panels. It has full, secure belly support without any stretch, and it’s a bright cheerful color. Find out why your dog needs a life jacket here.

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Cooling Coat: Ruffwear Jet Stream. We avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day, so we prioritize comfort and range of motion over heavy duty cooling, especially since Robin will barely move in bulky cooling coats. Our runner-up, and recommendation for dogs that need serious cooling power, is the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler.

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Bug Protection: Hurtta Sun and Bug Blocker. I LOVE this thing. When I put it on Robin, the mosquitoes leave him and head for the nearest person (usually me). He looks silly, but it’s also lightweight and breathable for hot weather, and it’s lighter than his coat so it reflects some sun.

BOOTS

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Dry Trail: Dogbooties.com. We’ve tried a lot of boots and these are Robin’s favorite. He acts like a more confident, comfortable version of himself – a stark comparison to most other boots, where he runs around like crazy trying to kick the boots off. They’re also light, packable, and have stretch elastic closures that keep them from falling off, ever. I added suede soles to his first pair for added durability. However, these aren’t good for wet snow (which is all of the snow we get here in SoCal) nor for rain, and they would wear out fast on heavy pavement use.

Snow: We’re still looking for something for this slot.

ASSORTED

Bowls: I’m terrible about bringing a bowl along. While all the ones we’ve tried have been just fine, I rarely actually bring anything along. Robin drinks out of my palm and I try to position it over a plant so we can give something a little extra water.

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Sleeping bag: This is a hard one for me to pare down. We have an old-style Alcott sleeping bag in the car (Robin’s favorite due to the cozy flannel lining). We have a new-style Alcott in the living room- it’s lighter and has a more durable shell, but Robin doesn’t like the microfiber lining as much. And we have the Hurtta Outback Dreamer in our camping gear pile – it’s much more packable, but it’s not cushy, so Robin doesn’t prefer it for lounging.

What are your favorites? Any items we should definitely try?

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25 Comments Add yours

  1. Andrea says:

    Great favorites! Some of them are my favorites too.
    For light I use the Nite Ize LED Collar cover. It’s super easy to use and I don’t need an extra collar. Just clip it to your existing or on the harness handle.
    Another thing I like to bring on our hikes is a Nite Ize Pack a poo. You can stink proof store the poop bags in there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I want a Pack a Poo! I went looking for one but they’re discontinued. I did make Robin a little dry bag that’s seam sealed and I can toss a poo bag in there, but I’d love to see an updated version of pack a poo.

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      1. Andrea says:

        They still sell them on Amazon!
        There is something else I always bring on hikes. It’s a poop bag dispenser from Alite design, called boa pod. It’s prefect for clipping it on the backpack or leash.

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    2. How big is the Pack a Poo? Is it bulky? Robin’s poop is little haha.

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      1. Andrea says:

        It’s not bulky at all. And I wouldn’t recommend it for bigger dogs because it’s not big, but I can easily fit two full bags in it if needed. It has two carabiner, so you can clip it to the outside of your backpack.

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  2. Tina says:

    Hi! Love all of the info you guys share 🙂 Thanks! Do you have any training tips for hiking with dogs? I have a 14 week pup in basic obedience & want to get into hiking with him (thanks to you adventurous peeps!).
    Keep adventuring!! Xoxox

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    1. My biggest tip is to hike with other dogs that behave the way you want yours to! Robin learned from one dog to stick close (previously he was crazy and would try to dash out the door) and then learned from another dog to do a bit more exploring on the trail rather than just walking next to me. I’ve never had a puppy but I know you have to be careful about overtaxing their joints and since they’re less mature be cautious about trusting their recall.

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  3. I am going to have to check out the White Pine slip collar. Xena likes to roll on things so I have to wash her b&w heart collar weekly. I love that collar on her so I hate to wash it too often. I want it to last forever. Lol. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Maybe a coated collar like the Ruffwear Headwater or Honest Hound collars! They wipe clean. I love Robin’s slip collar but it’s very soft nylon, so I don’t know that it would hold up to tons of washes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I see.. I did order a Honest Hound for that reason but can’t help stop looking. I should try it first before I get another one. 🙂 Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. melodified says:

    Would you say the sun shower ruffwear is the same size physically as your swamp coat?

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    1. I think the sun shower is a little bigger in the chest. He’ll sometimes step one leg through to the other side. Otherwise, they’re the same.

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      1. melodified says:

        I just looked at the specs on the Sun Shower and noticed that the length of the coat is around 17.5in I saw that Robin’s back is less than that… does it hang off? My dog has a curly tail too so that probably won’t work.. =( Is the jacket really that long and does it hang off his nail too?

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    2. I wish wordpress would let me post pics in response. That back length is weird- I didn’t notice that. It’s just the right length for him, but his curly tail tries to flip up the back and sometimes gets caught underneath it. In every pic I have, the back is scrunched up a bit by his tail. I think if he wasn’t a curly tail, it would hit right at the base of the tail. One brand to consider for fellow curly tails is Hurtta- a lot of their jackets have little toggles at the tail to cinch up the back. We tried Robin’s Chill Stopper today in the rain and it was great! Water resistant, full coverage. Very expensive though.

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  5. Katie M (@nhk8e on Instagram) says:

    Hi! I am looking for a good harness for Oakley. We have a Julius K9, it’s beautiful but I can’t pick him up with it. Oakley seems to be about Ribins size, I want the option of lifting him up, over etc. I saw your recommendations for the Ruffwear one, can you lift the pup up with it?

    Also, for longer hikes, can you recommend a pack for ME that will carry HIM?
    Thanks!!!

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    1. Hahaha! I haul Robin around by the handle ALL THE TIME. Love it. A word of caution – I had him in an XXS Approach pack (the webmaster with the bags) because the bags were more proportionate, but I was recently informed that the back belly strap was hitting him right on the floating ribs- creating a potential for dislocated ribs if he’s lifted too fast. His proper size, XXS, hits him in the soft tissue behind the ribs, which isn’t dangerous, so I just ordered him a size up. Ruffwear also just came out with a brush guard that distributes pressure more evenly over the belly, but I tried it today and I’m not really a fan. It’s less adjustable than the pack and it isn’t close enough to Robin’s adjustments, so it doesn’t fit that well. Kept him very clean though!

      My backpacking pack is the Deuter Act Lite 60+10. I tried Robin in it and he fits (though he’s not a fan). That might be overkill. Packs are totally person-specific though. Definitely go try on a bunch with weight at REI or similar (and bring Oakley and stick him in some, I doubt they’d care too much). People love the new Osprey packs with the fancy trampoline suspension, but I was miserable and unbalanced. You’ll know when you try on the right one.

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      1. Katie /nhk8e says:

        Thank you!!! I also have the Dueter for my overnight pack. Love it! I guess I’ll have to play around. Something that I can bring as an extra bag so I have my own and then an ‘Oakley pack’ to stick him in for periods of time. Maybe something sturdy but packable. Don’t want to have to empty out a bag or stuff to fit the pooch. I want to be able to bring him on things but his little body shouldn’t be doing as much as that.

        So you still like that harness for him? I’d just need to make sure that it isn’t hitting those last ribs? Thank you so much!!!

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      2. Will he fit in a Flash 18? I don’t think Robin would – but they’re soft and rollable so you could just stuff one in your regular pack.

        I love the harness. I have the Webmaster style, the Webmaster Pro style and I just got the Doubleback for scrambling/climbing haha. Just make sure it’s the right fit.

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      3. Katie says:

        Fantastic! I will look into those, thanks so much!!

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    2. Katie says:

      One more question…looking at prices now. Why the Webcast Pro Harness over the just the Webmaster of Front Range?

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      1. It has pockets! It’s a good compromise between the Approach and standard webmaster for peakbagging or day hikes. I went into more detail in my recent Webmaster Pro review. I’m not interested in the front range – it doesn’t have any features that appeal to me. If Robin was always on leash or a puller, it might make sense, but I basically see little point in a harness without a handle for hiking.

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      2. Katie says:

        That makes perfect sense, sorry, I didn’t even notice (and hate when people don’t read what is already written!). Just ordered a red XS webmaster harness from Ruffwear (and a flat-out leash too). Got 10% off for joining their mailing list which put it at a better price than Amazon Prime. SO excited! Your website is remarkable. It’s well laid out, visually appealing and extremely well put together with a tons of terrific info. Thank you!! Oakley weighs 19 lbs and has a girth of 19-20″. I am hopeful this harness will do well. I have half of the 48 4k’s done in NH and am hopeful that maybe the little guy can join me on some. Definitely need a way to carry him, lift him and grab him. Stoked, thanks again!

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      3. Don’t worry! I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t expect people to have the site memorized! Glad you got a deal, can’t wait to see Oakley out trekking in the new gear! And thanks for the kind words about the site. I’m glad it’s a good resource.

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  6. It’s a real challenge to find things that fit Dachshunds well. I really like the Hurtta cooling vest. While it’s not as long as the Ruffwear coat, it fits them perfectly so they don’t trip on the front chest part. Our favorite super warm jacket is the Ultimate Warmer from Hurtta. Something I didn’t see here was a sleeping bag/pad. I love using the Ruffwear Highlander bed with a baby Rumpl blanket for them when we are out hiking or snowshoeing and they need a warm, toasty break. At night, they sleep in OUR sleeping bags of course 🙂

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    1. Robin has the Hurtta vest as well! I love the color and the fit is perfect on him. We have the Ultimate Warmer as well, but I haven’t tried it in snow yet so I didn’t want to put it up here. Have you found that it gets wet underneath because the lining isn’t waterproof? I’ve heard reports of it getting soggy.

      Can’t believe I forgot the sleeping bag! Robin has the Alcott one and loves it. He actually stays in it all night.

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