Your Essential Dog Packing List For Hiking

When taking your best-friend-furry companion on a hiking trail, it’s important to pack everything your pooch will need to stay safe and comfortable.

From essentials like food and water, to necessary gear like a dog leash and harness, this packing list will make sure that you and your dog have a fantastic stress free hike. Make sure to tailor the list to your dogs specific needs and of course the trail you choose. Remember to always bring more water than you think you’ll need for both you and your dog and a first aid kit for your dog is always a good idea. With this list, you’ll be prepared for any adventure with your dog by your side.

5 Essentials to Pack for a Hike with Your Dog

Food and Water: It’s crucial to bring enough food and water for your dog to last the entire hike, as well as a little extra for emergencies. Pack enough food for the entire hike in an airtight container and bring enough water to last the hike and a little extra. Bring water bowls for your dog to drink from, which are lightweight and easy to carry. After all you don’t want your dog staring at you with nothing to eat while you tuck into your lunch.

Leash and Collar or Harness: A leash is essential when hiking with your dog to keep them close to you and safe from any hazards on the trail. Make sure you choose a leash that is appropriate for the type of trail you’ll be on, such as a shorter leash for crowded areas, or a long leash for more open trails and to allow your dog to explore a little. Personally we recommend a harness, which is useful when picking up your dog (depending on size) to help them over obstacles. make sure it is properly fitted and has your contact information, name, and phone number on it.

First Aid Kit: It’s important to have a first-aid kit for your dog in case of any emergencies. The kit should include basic items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and tick removal tool. If your dog has any pre-existing conditions or on medications, make sure you pack these as well. Additionally, make sure you are familiar with basic first aid techniques, such as how to stop bleeding, and how to treat common injuries like snakebites or sprains.

Waste Bags and Hand Sanitizer: It’s helpful to bring enough waste bags to clean up after your pooch on the trail. Not only is it a good practice to keep the trail clean, but it also prevents the spread of disease. AKA, don’t be that person who flicks it off the trail with a stick. Think of the parents who have to scrape your dog poop off their kids shoes. Bring extra bags to be safe. Additionally, you should also bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you, so you can clean your hands after picking up your dog’s s**t.

Dog-specific gear: Depending on the trail and your dog, you may need specialized gear like booties to protect their paws from rough terrain, a coat to keep them warm in cold weather especially on exposed and elevated terrain. You may also want a dog pack to carry extra supplies but this depends on the size of your dog. Make sure to research and consider what gear is necessary for your specific trail and dog before you depart and choose gear that does the job properly. If you are hiking on rocky terrain or in the snow, dog booties can provide added protection for your dog’s paws. If you’re heading out for an overnight hike or a longer hike, a dog pack is a great option for carrying food, water.

Hiking with dogs can be a fun and enjoyable experience for both you and your best companion. However, it’s important to properly prepare and pack for the hike to ensure a safe and comfortable trip for your dog. Some essential items to include on your packing list are a leash, collar, first aid kit, plenty of water and food, and a portable bowl. It’s also important to bring any necessary medication or specific gear for your dog, such as a jacket or booties. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that both you and your dog have an enjoyable and safe hiking experience.

From Couch to Trail: A Beginner’s Guide to Training for a Long Distance Hike

If you’re planning on embarking on a long distance hike or a thru-hike, proper training is key to ensure a successful and enjoyable trip. Whether you’re tackling a section of the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, it’s important to prepare both physically and mentally for the challenges that lie ahead. In this article, we’ll go over some tips and techniques for training your body and mind for a long distance hike. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to tackling any trail with confidence and resilience.

Building endurance through cardiovascular exercise

When it comes to training for long distance hiking, building endurance is crucial. Hiking for extended periods of time requires a strong cardiovascular system to keep your body fueled and functioning at its best. Here are a few tips for improving your cardiovascular fitness:

  1. Engage in regular aerobic exercise: This can include activities such as running, cycling, or swimming. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise a few times a week. As you become more comfortable, try to increase the duration and intensity of your workouts to further challenge your cardiovascular system.
  2. Incorporate hills into your training: Hiking trails often have inclines and declines, so it’s important to prepare your body for these changes in elevation. Try adding hills to your running or cycling routes, or use a treadmill with an incline setting.
  3. Train at altitude: If you’ll be hiking at high elevations, it’s a good idea to train at a similar altitude to acclimate your body. If you don’t have access to high elevations, try simulating the effects of altitude by wearing a weighted vest or using an altitude training mask during your workouts.
  4. Take regular breaks during your training: On the trail, you’ll need to take breaks to rest, eat, and hydrate. Incorporate regular breaks into your training to get used to this rhythm and to give your body time to recover.

By following these tips and consistently challenging your body, you’ll build the endurance necessary to tackle long distance hikes with confidence.

Strengthening your lower body for the trails

In addition to building cardiovascular endurance, it’s important to strengthen your lower body in preparation for long distance hiking. Strong legs are essential for tackling steep inclines and declines, navigating rocky terrain, and carrying a heavy backpack. Here are a few exercises to target leg strength and stability:

Squats: One of the best exercises for building lower body strength, squats can be done with or without weights. Try using a barbell, dumbbells, or even a gallon of water to add resistance.

Lunges: Lunges work your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, and can be done with or without weights. Step forward with one leg and bend both knees to a 90-degree angle, then push off the front leg to return to the starting position.

Step-ups: Step-ups can be done using a bench, box, or even a sturdy rock. Step up onto the platform with one foot, then bring the other foot up to meet it. This exercise targets your quadriceps and glutes.

Calf raises: Calf raises help to build strength and stability in your lower legs, which are essential for navigating uneven terrain on the trail. Simply stand on a step or ledge and lift your heels off the ground, then lower back down.

Incorporating these exercises into your training routine will help to build strong, stable legs that are ready for the demands of the trail. It’s also important to stretch regularly to help prevent common injuries such as shin splints and muscle strains.

Training your mind for the demands of thru-hiking

Training for a long distance hike is not just about physical fitness; it’s also important to prepare your mind for the mental challenges that you may encounter on the trail. Here are a few tips for mental preparation:

  1. Set achievable goals: While it’s important to challenge yourself, it’s also important to set realistic goals for your hike. Start by setting small, achievable goals and build up to larger ones as you progress. This will help to keep you motivated and give you a sense of accomplishment along the way.
  2. Practice mindfulness and meditation: Hiking can be a great opportunity to clear your mind and practice mindfulness. Try incorporating meditation or deep breathing exercises into your training routine to help you focus and stay present on the trail.
  3. Visualize your hike: Visualization is a powerful tool that can help you prepare for the challenges you may face on the trail. Close your eyes and picture yourself successfully navigating difficult stretches of the hike, or conquering a particularly steep incline. This can help to build confidence and mental resilience.
  4. Stay positive: It’s important to keep a positive attitude, even when things get tough on the trail. Surround yourself with supportive people and remind yourself of the reasons why you decided to take on this challenge in the first place.

By training your mind as well as your body, you’ll be better equipped to handle the mental demands of a long distance hike.

Creating a training plan that works for you

Creating a training plan that works for you is an important step in preparing for a long distance hike. A well-structured training plan can help you build endurance and strength, and also ensure that you have enough time to properly prepare for your hike. Here are a few tips for creating a training plan that works for you:

  1. Set specific goals: Start by identifying your specific goals for the hike. Do you want to complete a certain distance in a certain amount of time? Are you trying to improve your overall fitness level? Having clear goals will help you create a plan that is tailored to your needs.
  2. Assess your current fitness level: Take some time to assess your current fitness level and identify any areas that need improvement. This will help you determine the right level of intensity for your training.
  3. Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to training. Try to stick to a regular schedule and make time for exercise a few times a week. Even if you can only fit in a short workout, it’s better than skipping it altogether.
  4. Gradually increase intensity: As you progress in your training, gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. This can help to prevent burnout and keep you motivated.
  5. Include rest and recovery: It’s important to allow your body time to recover after intense workouts. Make sure to include rest days in your training plan and listen to your body if it needs an extra day of rest.

By following a structured training plan, you’ll be better prepared to tackle the challenges of a long distance hike.

Staying healthy on the trail

Maintaining good health is essential for a successful long distance hike. Here are a few tips for staying healthy on the trail:

  1. Eat a balanced diet: It’s important to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to stay energized on the trail. Aim for a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources.
  2. Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for maintaining good health on the trail. Carry a water bottle or hydration pack and refill it regularly. If you’re hiking in a hot or dry climate, you may need to drink more water than usual to stay hydrated.
  3. Take care of your feet: Your feet will take a beating on the trail, so it’s important to take good care of them. Wear properly fitting hiking boots and socks, and be sure to break them in before your hike. Bring along blister treatment supplies and consider carrying a small foot care kit to help prevent and treat foot issues.
  4. Get enough rest: Proper rest and recovery are essential for maintaining good health on the trail. Make sure to get enough sleep each night and take breaks as needed to rest and recharge.

By following these tips and paying attention to your body’s needs, you’ll be better able to stay healthy and enjoy your long distance hike to the fullest.

In conclusion, training for a long distance hike requires a combination of physical and mental preparation. By building endurance through cardiovascular exercise, strengthening your lower body, and training your mind for the demands of the trail, you’ll be better equipped to tackle any hike with confidence and resilience. Creating a training plan that works for you and taking care of your overall health will also help to ensure a successful and enjoyable hike. With the right preparation and mindset, you’ll be well on your way to tackling any long distance hike or thru-hike.

How to become a hiking guidebook author

Back in October, I had the pleasure of talking with Andrew McCloy, guidebook author, and self-confessed ‘ Jobbing Writer’ for major outdoor publications including TGO.

Listen to the full episode here

I’ve long wanted to get a guidebook author on the show, mainly because it selfishly interests me as an artistic exercise, but also because guidebook authors are in my opinion unsung heroes of the hiking community. It’s the inquisitive spirit behind a good guidebook that embellishes a trail with interest beyond a series of simple ‘cross the field, and turn left at the next stye’ style of instructions.

Well-written guidebooks bring the trail and its history to life in ways that most of us can be bothered to do so. Yet having a book we can pick up for a tenner, which has the back story, history and valuable inside information on a trail is a luxury. Hiking apps just don’t currently compare, and I hope that people like Andrew continue to write excellent guides.

But what does it take to become a guidebook Author?

Well, I asked Andrew, to find out what the job description entailed.

As with any profession which is not a route to riches (although I’m sure the founders of Lonely Planet disagree) enjoyment of the craft is key. But what attracts Andrew to writing guides is what he calls the ‘art form’ of writing. He explains that the attraction is in the fluent and artistic narrative, supported by “meticulous planning“. He enjoys the buzz when planning a new guidebook for a long-distance trail and enjoys the long ‘nights doing logistics’.

Essentially what underpins Andrews’s method of writing guidebook’s is not the finished result, (although I’m sure that’s wonderful) but the process itself. It’s the process that makes this profession exciting for Andrew.

If you have ever considered writing a hiking guidebook, the insights below may help you get started.

What’s the process of putting together a guidebook?

What I found interesting was the insight that guidebooks are not written in full the first time around. Instead, they are written in parts and walked in bits. Andrews’s first book, Lands End to John o Groats was put together over a number of trips, including weekends and holidays. He threaded the route together with long-distance paths, and filled the bits in between…

How does this turn into a full time career?

Ah, the 9-5 question. How do you leave your dull day job, and spend the rest of your days walking the hills while getting paid?

With enough savvy and a bit of healthy hustle most creative pursuits can be turned into a career. Andrew chucked as he shared his realisation that he could ‘scrape a living’ if he came up with enough ideas. Yet he was mindful that he always needs to be a step ahead, thinking of different slants on existing guidebooks.

He acknowledged that the Lake District for example probably is at full capacity for guidebooks, so thinking of something totally different is a must. Andrew laughed as he said, “I challenge everyone to find a new slant on a book on the Lake District“.

Opportunities for writing guidebooks exist in new and emerging gaps in the market (think how many ‘slow travel’ guides came out a few years ago), places people are talking about, or books that are going out of print.

Ultimately though Andrew shares that you should ‘not be afraid to ask people to take a chance on you’.

How do you get the detail to make it interesting?

Theres a big distinction between a boring guidebook and an interesting one. I’ve seen both.

Andrew keeps his guidebooks interesting by remaining curious and picking up clues from those he speaks with on the trail. For example, he will often stop at YHA’s and pubs to pick up parish newsletters and learn of local history groups, who are a source of valuable information.

When writing his Pennine Way book Andrew was particularly interested in Thomas Stephenson who originally walked the route. He made a point of going down to London to the archives at the London University to look for research and a deeper level of history on Thomas. This level of commitment gave life to the book.

Andrew says, “you have to put in the legwork and check the facts“. But he confessed, “When you are not sure you have to own up to it, and just tell the story anyway if it’s good”. A bit of creative bending of a story never goes too far wrong if done honestly.

What’s your view on walking apps?

I was curious to hear Andrews’s views on walking apps. After all apps and digital mediums have been seen as a threat to writing and physical mediums. Although books and records seem to have bucked that trend.

Andrew mentioned he does occasionally pick up apps and follow it, particularly for new places as it gives him confidence about where to go. However, he does come away feeling he can do better and provide better directions and clarity on the route.

How many guides have you written to date?

I’m keen to point out that Andrews’s success within his profession was not an overnight one. Success rarely is.

Andrew has written or contributed to just under 20 guides of various types. His more recent ones were a social history of the pubs in the Peak District, and of course, the book we talked about on the Podcast, Great Walks on the England Coast Path.

Kinder beer barrel challenge story

Any career highlights?

In 2015 Andrew celebrated his 50th Birthday. This nicely coincided with the Pennine Way also having its 50th anniversary that year. Andrew had “long harbored the desire to walk it all in one go“. Naturally, he wanted to follow this up with a publication – one that was personal to him.

He chose to focus on a different angle on the Pennine Way. After all, there are already a number of guides for this popular long-distance trail.

Andrews’s focus was to look at the social history, access, the history of the YHA on the route, footpath erosion, and of course his personal motivations for walking the path – using the way as a test against yourself.

Next steps

If writing a guidebook is of interest to you, my recommendation is this. Get out and write it.

Choose a suitable area. Perhaps somewhere less walked (how many walking guides exist for the Lincolnshire Wold’s for example?), or as Andrew says, find a different slant.

To help you on your way to guidebook writing glory, and a space next to Andrew and Alfred Wainwright here are some free ideas to get you going.

  • A guidebook linking up pubs from lands end to John o Groats – making the UK’s biggest pub crawl.
  • Modern pushchair hiking guides. Some exist but they are very aged now
  • Long distance trails that can be walked in a weekend
  • Themed guidebooks. For example, routes around the UK that tell a historic story of places involved in the English Civil War
  • Premium walking guides for those who want to stay in fancy hotels, and eat fancy meals. Think the Thames Path for the top 1%
  • Trail running guides – long distance walking guidebooks but designed for trail runners

You get the point. There are lots of angles for guidebooks that don’t involve writing yet another guidebook on the Hadrian’s Wall Path.

Hopefully you found this article helpful. Let us know what you think in the comments 👇

How to get a great night’s sleep when camping

There was a time when I slept great under canvas.

I actually preferred my camping mattress to my one at home.

The issue I’m now having is that I’m 10 years older, and my old mattress was rubbish. My new one is fabulous, and sadly I no longer find camping comfortable.

This is a shame, as I always put the great night’s sleep I experienced outdoors to the fresh air. Yet this no longer seems to be the case.

Since I was stuck, I reached out to our community for some advice

And as always, I was not disappointed:

Cut the light and noise

Daniel suggested using ear plug, and an eye mask to cut out any noise, and early sunlight. Those who subscribe to sticking with their circadian rhythm probably won’t appreciate this, but for light sleepers this method is essential. Ear plugs stop mid-night wake ups when the wind picks up, or the foxes start howling close to your tent, while the eye mask extends your sleep time.

Get a great sleeping bag

A few members recommended getting a great sleeping bag. Why? Because expensive sleeping bags can often be more comfortable to a) Carry (because they are lighter), and b) Have softer fabrics. A great quality sleeping bag, particularly a down filled bag will feel great to sleep in. It’s also likely to keep you at the right temperature throughout the night, which in turn will ensure you have a fabulous nights sleep.

Hammock Camping

I’ve had my best night’s sleep in a hammock. For the purpose of my good nights sleeping while camping i’ve recently got my hands on a new hammock, which I am due to try out soon.

Sleeping in a hammock puts your body in a very natural position, which is great for back pain. They are also fast to pitch, and relaxing. In addition, you get great protection from rainwater and insects, and no condensation due to the open nature of the setup.

The downside is the pitching possibilities. Obviously, hammock camping isn’t going to work so well on open moorland or mountain routes with limited tree cover.


Ok, so Beer/alchol isn’t actually proven to increase your sleep quality. Yes, it acts as a mild sedative so may help to kock you out, but your overall sleep quality will be reduced due to your body metabolising the alcohol. This can also lead to excessive daytime sleepyness and other issues.

Still, a beer or two before bed can’t hurt to much can it?

A good inflatable pillow

Pillows are not just there to make your bed look pretty

Pillows are a great tool to keep your head aligned with the neck and backbone during sleep, in which aids better sleep quality. SLeeping without a pillow leaves your head unsupported, and therefore leads to a bad night sleep.

Consider investing in a pillow for a better nights sleep

Read a good book

Reading a book before bed may be just what you need to drift off. The consistent movement of eye muscles while reading naturally makes you sleepy. However, avoid reading on your phone, as the blue light will have a counter effect and cause you to stay awake for longer.

How to walk long distances without pain

Before I get into this article, I wanted to set the record straight.

You cannot walk long distances without any pain. The longer you walk, the more likely you are to get pain. Pain could be a blister, a strain, or just muscle fatigue.

Also, I’m writing here about distances of around 20 miles and over, done on a single day, or multiple days of walking of around 10 miles or over per day.

What you can manage to walk each day, with our without pain will be hugely personal and will of course depend on age, fitness, conditoning and terrain.

So, you are here to discover how to walk long distances without pain.

The article, is based on my personal experience, and the advice i’ve learned from others.

Of course nothing beats your own experence, but as you continue through with your career in long distance walking you will of course figure out what works, and what doesnt work.

Walking pain free, is as mentioned very difficult over long distances, but with some preperation, it is possible.

Here is how to walk long distances without pain.


Socks feature top of our list of important things to limit your pain when long distance walking.

Consider this. Most of the pain you will experience will start in your feet, often because of a blister.

Good socks will allow you to get through to the end of your long distance hike blister free, and therefore feeling relatively comforable.

Muscle pains can be eased through effective rest, but a blister can carry with you for a long time and cause a significant amount of discomfort.

The first line of defence against a blister is your socks.

Not cheap socks from Sports Direct, or Decathlon, or ‘walking socks’ found in supermarkets.

Please for the love of all that is right in this world don’t use those.

No, i’m talking about merino socks.

Merino socks are superior over sythetic counterparts. Please, whatever you do avoid cotton.

Why? Well, they manage moisture better by moving it away from your skin, to the outside of the sock, while not leaving your feet too hot. Snythetic socks are less good at this, and will often have grids on them, or patches of thinner fabric to aid moisture management.

When moisture builds up in your shoe you get problems. First, your feet smell, second, your feet start sliding around in the sock and shoe, causing rubbing and hot spots which results in blisters.

Some merino socks may be mixed with synthetic fibres, such as nylon. These a are also fine, and often result in a lighter sock which is more breathable.

Think of it like this. Would you buy a new car and put on some budget tyres? Probably not, you would want a pair of nice tyres to go with your car.

The same applies for walking boots. Why spend money on good boots, when you have cheap socks which will cause you to get blisters anyway. You won’t regret the spend if you walk blister free.

In additon to a merino sock, consider a liner sock. Some hikers swear by them, as the liner can take the friction away as it will be the socks that rub together rather than your feet.

Foot care

Foot care on the trail is one of the best ways to manage blisters over long distances.

You know I said you need merino socks? Sorry, you need a few pairs. Why?

On big days out, over 20 miles and beyond, you may want to consider changing socks occasionally and giving your feet some drying time. Talc powder or similar, and a small cloth is a great way to drive moisture out of your feet. Also letting your feet air for 10-20 minutes can reduce swelling, and fully dry them out.

Giving your foot a massage will also help to alleviate any aches and pains.

This is also a great time to apply tape, and compeed to any developing hot spots.

Hot spots will always turn into a blister if you continue to walk on them. Applying compeed before they develop into full on blisters will allow you to talk unhindered by a blister.


Moving away from blisters, and onto muscular pain, training is vital if you want to avoid pain, or too much of it when hiking.

That being said, for most of us walking trail in the UK, unless you are planning on putting in 15 – 20 miles of walking each day, training may not be necessary.

For an averagely fit walker who is walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path over 10 days, you will be fine with no training. Your fitness will build on the trail, even within this timeframe.

However, for longer hikers with big miles and big ascents, training is important.

I’m not going to go into the training here, as I am not qualified to offer this advice, nor do I want to. Instead, I would like to recommend the wonderful Elements Programme written by the very knowledgable Chase Tucker from Chase Mountains.

If you are like me and worried about being fit enough for your walk, a structured training plan is helpful.

You may for example be worrying that your fitness will cause injury, or the need to leave the trail early. Perhaps you have been out of fitness for a long time, and just need some support to get you back on track.

The course has everything you need to condition your body (and mind) for the trail, and is a fantastic post-walk training solution.

You can view the course here.


Stretching is that awful thing that you do at the beginning of any form of exercise which doesn’t really feel like you have done anything at all.

Stretching is however of great importance to your repertoire of anti-pain tools.

By stretching you keep your muscles flexible, strong and therefore healthy.

By conditioning our muscles to be more flexible, we maintain a healthy range of motion in the joints. Muscles which are not stretched actually shorten over time, which causes tightness. Walking long distances will only expose the tight muscles and cause you pain as the muscle is unable to fully extend, and therefore causes pain as its stretched repeatedly.

Yoga is of course a brilliant post walk form of conditioning. With the rise of video classes and fitness tech you don’t even need to leave the house to do yoga. Try Down Dog yoga for affordable and very good online classes.

Knowing your limits

Above all else, know your limits.

By this I mean, don’t expect yourself to be able to walk big miles without pain if you are just starting out. Choose miles which you know you can comfortably walk within a day, and fit your walk around that.

If you are planning on walking the Pennine Way, yet only have a week, consider breaking the walk into sections, rather than injure yourself with big miles your body isn’t conditioned to walk.

Like most good things in life, the fitness required for long distance hiking big miles over multiple days takes time, practice and patience to build up.

Be sensible, know your limits, and above all else, have fun.


How do I prepare my feet for long walks

There are a few simple things you can do prior to walking to get your feet in good condition for your walk. For example:
– Buy the right socks
– Clip toenails
– Break in your shoes
– Tape up ahead of time

Which shoe brand is best?

I want to tell you which is best. Honestly I do but it would be cruel and wrong for me to do so. I’ll tell you where not to buy shoes from.
Discount sports stores and supermarkets sell horrible walking boots. The price may look good, but you will soon regret it. Get to a good outfitter selling walking boots/trainers and get a professional fitting.
Failing that, buy a load of shoes online and see what feels good.

How much training should I do?

Walk as often as you can. Add some mobility training into the mix and you will be golden. But the key is to get those miles in!

What If I do get pain?

If you do get blisters, then it’s time to apply Compeed. If you can burst the blisters comfortably then apply a sterile wipe to a needle and give it a prod coming in from the side so as not to jab yourself. This will reduce pain after Compeed is applied.
If bursting a blister is not something you are comfortable with, just put your Compeed on. It will help to reduce the discomfort.
As for aches and pains, frequent stops and massaging will help.
Failing that, unless the pain is a show stopper, there reaches a point where you need to embrace it!