Dog luggage for backpackers
When it comes to traveling with a dog you need to think very carefully what it is that you will carry for your buddy. If you have your own car it will not be so necessary to skimp on weight, but if you travel as a backpacker without any transport, you should do it. That is, just carry what is strictly necessary. Here I will show you what I am carrying in my trips and other dog luggage that seems useful to me (not inside my backpack, though). Everything will depend on your type of trip, the characteristics of your dog, etc.
Note: Since August 2017 Coqui already has her saddlebags! It has been a success, not only because she now saves me from having to carry a few extra kilos on my back carrying her own food, but because it has also had a beneficial side effect: people are amused to see a real backpacker dog and give us rides more quickly.
What the hell is going on? (First photo of Cocaí with the saddlebags)
DOG LUGGAGE I CARRY
Dog food (and treats). It is what weighs more. When I travel I usually load 2 or 3 kg bags in my backpack. When I stay in some city for a long time I buy large bags (10-15 kg). By the way, in very dog-friendly places do not be surprised if some local villager give you food or treats for your dog.
In Port Renfrew they gave us a lot of dog food.
Bottle of water. I usually carry a small bottle of 0.5 liters, but this will depend on two factors: the amount of water your dog usually drinks (for example, Cocaí does not drink so much) and where you are traveling. Thus, it is not the same if in advance you know that you are going to spend a few days in a desert area or that you are going to be in a forest full of rivers (where your dog can drink directly from them and where you can take advantage of filling her bottle). Also the way you are traveling matters: if you are a hiker you will probably give your dog more activity and "make him/her sweat", so you will have to carry more water (unless it is a water-rich area).
Bowls for food and water. I always travel with two.
Every place is a good place to have lunch!
Dog poop waste disposal bags. In countries like the USA or Canada you can get them in almost any park. If you are traveling through a country or area where there is no such habit of offering dog owners these bags, you can use any plastic bag or even paper. But, please, pick them up... It is the way for society to become more open towards dogs.
Collar and leash. Two essentials. The collar will be worn by your dog most of the time and I suggest you to do the same with the leash: wear it around your neck to avoid losing it. I also recommend that you attach a plaque to the collar with your phone number in case he/she gets lost.
Flea collar. There are several brands, the one that works best for Cocaí is Scalibor, which lasts 6 months and repels fleas, ticks and the mosquito of Leishmania. Cocaí usually wears it until the effectiveness is finished. Then I start giving her external antiparasitic treatments at the vet every several months.
Hygiene products. We have to take a bath from time to time! I have a bar of neutral soap for dogs (better than carrying a bottle of shampoo) and a toothbrush.
It was pretty intense, but I feel great: I no longer smell like doggy!
Towel. A towel becomes necessary. I call it the multipurpose towel because, in addition to be useful for drying your dog after a shower, it can be used to: dry your bud after a bath in a river or in the sea, dry him/her after a storm, put it on the seat of a car that gives you ride (if the driver gets fussy), dry and clean the tent when it has been raining... That is, a must almost at the level of the food or the leash.
Documentation. I have a small folder for her passport (the European passport...) with all the vaccines and deworming in order, as well as other papers that I find useful (recent controls that have taken place in veterinarians, borders...). I try to keep this folder always with me. Losing the documentation and doing all the paperwork could be a real pain in the ass.
Sleeping bag. It is not a must, but Cocaí has used in some specific moments the summer sleeping bag that I used in warm areas such as Mexico when it has coincided that we had two bags in our possession (for example, when entering the frozen lands of the USA and Canada). Or the winter one, as she is smart enough to pick up the best for her! Anyway, having two sleeping bags has not been very common. The best thing is that, if it is very cold, you two sleep together inside the sleeping. Carrying two bags doesn´t make sense (too much weight).
Cocaí getting hold of my sleeping bag
Toys. When we are on the road she only has one ("Rana"; it means Frog). When we settle down for a while or living somewhere, like in Monterrey or Port Renfrew, she may have more. She is not a very playful dog with toys anyways, she would rather play with other dogs.
Why do I have to play with a toy when there are coconuts waiting for me on the beach?
DOG LUGGAGE I DON´T CARRY BUT I FIND USEFUL
Dog Waterproof or raincoat. I have always found it ridiculous dogs wearing clothes. But since I have been on places where it is too cold and or rainy, like on the Oregon coast, my perception has changed. A raincoat can be a good idea for places where it rains a lot and where it is difficult to dry your dog. These are some of the photos in which Cocaí wore an improvised raincoat (I still laugh my as out when seeing these photos!).
At Harris Beach campground
Coqui with the face of a bulldog awaiting a ride under the rain
Dog coat. Same thing. In some places in Utah and Arizona I seriously thought if I should have bought her something to warm her body. I saw her trembling at times. I used a kind of scarf that a couple gave me.
Saddle bags. It is a good idea, so that at least your dog can collaborate carrying his/her own food and water. Sometimes I think it is so unfair walking fully loaded while she runs free as the wind! (Just kidding)
Cocaí tried on these saddlebags at a veterinarian in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Bed / mattress. Definitely, not an essential, much less if you travel backpacking (unnecessary weight). But if you travel by car you can take it and your dog will be grateful. In my backpacking trips I only carried her bed once. It was when I went to the French Pyrenees and because the way up was by car. We have also taken her bed when going on a family trip to the beach.
Cocaí lying on her bed after a long day in the Pyrenees running through the mountains