The weight penalty of hiking with a dog

Now I have started putting together my kit for Offa’s Dyke, it has occurred to me that there is something fairly fundamental that I have completely failed to take into account… my dog.

Now I wouldn’t even think about going on a walk without my dog, let alone a trip like this – but I had not really thought about the implications, in terms of weight to carry, that having my dog with me would have.

To give you an idea, here is a list of equipment I currently have to hike and camp with for a, well certainly my, dog, and their weights (yes I have just spent half an hour with my kitchen scales weighing everything!):

The “small” stuff

  • Poo bags (100g) – being a responsible dog owner, I will of course have poo bags with me.  There particular ones are quite heavy duty ones, so I might have to make do with lighter, thinner ones.
  • Clip (120g) – rather than the usual, and heavy, screw-in dog attacher (it probably has another name!) I take camping with me, I will just have a large multi purpose clip.
  • First aid kit (50g) – in additional to my own small first aid kit, I will also have a range of wipes and some tick removers (is there any other dog-specific first aid equipment I need, especially for her pads?)
  • Aqua Sorb towel (300g) – this is ideal for cleaning and drying the dog after a day of walking (and much lighter than the alternative – old towels!).
  • Bowl (450g) – at the moment I just have one of those funky non-spill water bowls (the one that was on Dragon’s Den). It is ideal for having in the tent, but it is slightly heavier and slightly bulkier than a usual bowl. I probably need to find something lighter that folds away.
  • Extendible lead (500g) – not something I can do much about, although at least it is in my hand not on my back!
  • Small lead and Halti (250g) – again something I need when walking through busy areas (and the Halti stops her pulling me down steep hills / mountains!!)
  • Water (1.5 kg) – my dog is pretty well “trained” at jumping into anything wet and trying to drink it, but I always take a 1.5l bottle of fresh water with me for stops and in case there isn’t running water.

Sub-total: 3.2kg

Sleeping Arrangements

The dog will be sleeping in my tent with me, but I don’t think I would have gone much smaller than the North Face Tadpole 23, so I won’t count the possible extra weight from a slightly larger tent.

However the dog does need to sleep on something (other than cold ground!) – usually I have a great sleeping matt which is fleece one side and rubber the other, but this is far too heavy and bulky to take on this trip.

The solution I have come up with so far is to buy a cheap roll matt and cut it in half – it shouldn’t be too heavy and I can just roll up in my roll matt. She doesn’t need a cover – anything I try and put over her very quickly gets shaken off (and she has me to cuddle!).

Sub-total: 200g (based on half the weight of my roll matt)


Now this is where it gets really tricky (and heavy).

Her usual daily diet (a third of her daily requirement in tinned meat, and two thirds of her daily requirement in biscuits) weights just under 1kg.

However these won’t be standard days – I usually give her an extra tin of meat and plenty of treats when we do a long walk, which increases the weight to 1.5kg (per day).

Looking at the route so far, I think I need to carry at least 2 or 3 days worth of food…. that’s going to be a whopping 6 kg!!

If anyone can suggest light weight, but very nutritious food, dog food – I would love to hear from you. I have seen a few (predominately American) websites which mention freeze dried raw dog food – light and nutritious. I will need to do some more research!

Sub-total: upto 6 kg


So as it stands, I have to carry about 3.5kg of weight for my dog on this trip… and with her usual diet upto 6 kg of dog food!

To put that into perspective the tent, the heaviest item, is just 2.3kg.

I am going to have to find a solution to the dog food problem, and try and scale down some of the other smaller items!

I could of course get her to carry her own kit……


6 Replies to “The weight penalty of hiking with a dog”

  1. I think it may be worth finding little booties for her feet mate, if she gets a cut on a pad / paw it will really cause you and her problems. I don’t think little leather booties for dogs are that expensive.

    A quick google should find some.

  2. Hi Ross – the state of her pads during the walk does worry me, and it was the one thing the vet thought might be a possible issue when I first discussed it with him. The terrain should be quite mixed, with not too much road work, and the ground should hopefully be quite damp, but it still could be a major issue.

    Not sure about dog boots though – I have never come across them before outside dog “fashion” clothing. My concern would be that, like with human boots, they would be liable to rub and that, after a few bogs, they would be a breeding ground for bacteria. Have you seen them used before?

    The one thing I am yet to find out about is whether there is any treatment for sore pads – is there a cream or something that can be applied?

    [I should also note that my dog’s welfare is paramount to me – the support vehicle, which is tracking us throughout the walk, will take the dog between stops (and to the vet if necessary) should she have any problems at all – that said she is way fitter than me!]

  3. Useful comment from the Offa’s Dyke Facebook group:

    Don’t know if it’s of any help mate but here’s my 2 cents from walking the Essex Way last september with my 6 year old, Chino.

    1) Bowls. I took Tesco Ice cream tubs (the clear plastic ones) for food and water bowls. Pretty tough, light but strong and stackable. Big enough for a good size meal.

    2) Food. I carried enough dry food in large ziploc’s for a couple of days at a time, Being in bags they squish into spaces in the pack and are easier to pack. Now, i was lucky and had several shop visits planned along the way where i could get tins as i passed, cutting down on the weight. Often feeding her while outside the shop and using the bins right there to lose the can. I don’t know if the Dyke is as populated by shops, so here’s my other idea. Are there other businesses along the way that you could arrange pre-sent packages to be picked up as you passed? Its a similar system used on the Appalachian Trail where hikers send parcels ahead to local post offices. Perhaps if you found places (YHA?) along the Dyke who would be receptive to the idea of holding dog food (and perhaps other stuff) until you came through?

    3) Boots. I think thats a good idea. Chino’s pads were this][close to being in trouble (down to pink and soft instead of leathery) after 81 miles, and that was spread over 2 weekends with 26 miles being the longest single day. But maybe get them soon, and just like your own boots start out with short walks to build up her acceptance and allow for any potential chafing to be seen now instead of later. Speaking of chafing, look for and collect any wool you find stuck on walls and fences as you pass through. It’s a great natural defence when inserted between your boots and any upcoming blisters.

    4) Doggy pack. Great idea, let her do some of the work! But again, get it soon and get her used to it with weight added (and look for potential chafing points, the nylon in the picture will get gritty and rub).

    Dunno if this of any use at all, but hope it helps. Good luck, i’m dead jealous. I’ll be chucking some cash in the bucket, and i’ve suggested you as a charity for our company “Jeans Day”.

    BTW, I didn’t see your Viewranger Buddy Beacon details. I’ll add you into my phone and follow you while i’m out with Chino.


  4. Hi Tim – thanks so much for your comment (and especially for suggesting us as your company’s jean day charity – that’s amazing of you!)

    I hadn’t thought of using ice cream bowls – I have two fold away bowls, but they just aren’t big enough! My other option was to just use a camping plate (the ones with the lip), but I think I prefer the ice cream bowl idea!

    We have a support vehicle trailing us which we will see every three or so days, and I know which campsites we are staying at, so I think a combination of posting food packages and resupplying should cover it. There will be a few local shops, but I can’t necessarily rely on them!

    I am not convinced by the boots – my dog hates anything like that (she is grumpy enough with her harness). I can just imagine them making her experience of the whole walk really negative! On most days, we are just doing 15 miles or so, which she is quite used too, so I am hoping, with good paw care, she should be ok with her pads. I am expecting the terrain to be quite varied and damp which should also help.

    I have thought about the pack – and quite a few people seem to recommend them, however I can’t see what I could put in it that isn’t too bulky – the heaviest items are the food and the water. Also I am worried the extra weight would increase potential paw soreness!

    Great tip with the wool.

    It should be a great trip! Thanks again for supporting us

  5. Hi Phil, I really enjoy reading your posts on walking with your dog. I’m planning a long distance walk with two dogs in the next 12 months. Unlike your lucky girl, mine won’t get out of carrying at least part of their own food! (My thinking is that as they get fitter, their packs will get lighter…) Your thoughts and tips on equipment are really useful. Now that you’ve done the walk, could you do a run down on how you got on with the equipment you took? Was there anything you didn’t use? Anything you wished you’d had? Any ‘must haves’? Could you have done it without the support vehicle if, say, you’d deposited supplies along the way?

    I take it your dog has very good base level fitness. How did you build up her and your training? Did you notice times when she got tired? My dogs and I are currently training for a long distance challenge, so we’re doing long day hikes followed by a rest day (a luxury you don’t always have on a long distance walk). I also saw that you were dubious about boots. There are some great boots (usually developed for sled dogs), but in my experience they don’t stay on brilliantly, especially in mud. Were there any problems with your dog’s pads?

    I’ve only just found this blog, so if you’ve posted about all this already, it would be great if you could post the links.

    Cheers, Hilke (with impatient index finger! ;))

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