Bugging out to the hills is a plan during a SHTF event for a lot of preppers and we spend hours planning out what items to pack in our bug out bags. In the arc of prepping; after procuring food and water, it seems the natural focus of many preppers is the bug out bag. I think this is because the idea of having a bag filled with supplies that you can throw on your back and run out the door makes sense for most people. You can envision the last natural disaster you watched unfold on TV and picture yourself loading your family into the minivan and hitting the highway or trails ahead of the horde of desperate people who waited too long. Having the bug out bags your family needs ready to go could save hours of precious time in a crisis.
But what about the family dog? Do you have a bug out bag for your dog? Haven’t considered that? Most dogs are perfectly capable of carrying most if not all of their own supplies in packs on their backs. These bug out bag for dogs will allow Fido to carry their own water and food and other necessary items freeing your pack up for more personal gear. With a bug out bag for your dog, you can ensure your dog will be just as set as you and the rest of your family are in a crisis. But how would you go about building a dog bug out bag?
Dog Bug Out Bag Selection
There are many options for your dog’s bug out bag but they almost all revolve around the saddlebag concept. Saddlebag packs for dogs usually have two or more large pockets on the sides. The pockets (saddlebags) will have zippers or fasteners and can even be waterproof. They are attached together with
fabric that sits on the dogs back above their front shoulders and the packs vary in length. The larger the saddle bags, the more stuff you can fit in there.
Most saddlebags have a leash attachment and a front strap that goes across the chest and straps that connect under your dog’s abdomen. A properly fitting bag for your dog should be comfortable but may take some getting used to so before you plan on bugging out into the woods I would practice with long walks on the weekends.
I purchased the Mountainsmith Dog Pack after trying another model at my local pet store. The Mountainsmith has deep pockets, reflector strips and has a soft fleece lining that my dog seems to like. It has plenty of adjustments so that I am able to fit my dog’s frame perfectly as she continues to grow. I like the reflectors because I plan to use this when we are backpacking and I have also used this on our nightly walks so that cars can see her. I had another saddlebag that was cheaper, but didn’t fit as well. You should be able to get a really nice pack for your dog for less than $50.
I have also heard great things about the Outward Hound Backpack but haven’t tried that myself. Or, my dog hasn’t tried that. It does get good reviews though, but not as high as the Mountainsmith. Whichever saddlebag you go with, make sure it is sized appropriate to your dog’s measurements. If this doesn’t fit properly it could end up hurting your dog and they won’t want to wear something that hurts.
What to pack in your dog bug out bag?
So you have a dog bug out bag. Now, what do you pack in it? That is pretty simple because dogs are pretty simple. Let’s take the basic prepping items anyone would need, food, water, shelter and security. We will assume that your dog will be providing security for you so we will leave that off the list. You can easily carry 3 days’ worth of food in your bug out bag for your dog, maybe even more. One thing I have found is that you need to keep the saddlebags evenly weighted or else it will cause the pack to shift.
I have shoved all her food in a single bag, but that makes distributing weight harder, so I have found it is better to separate food into individual bags for each meal. Yes, that seems anal retentive, but it will allow you to distribute what is left more evenly which will feel better on your dog’s back.
The same thing goes with water. If I am out walking my dog at night and I only have the pack on for exercise and the reflective qualities, I will just add a single 32 oz. water bottle to each saddlebag. This way she gets the benefit of weight but I don’t plan on emptying the water which would mess with the weight distribution again.
In a bug out scenario, I would load several water bottles to each pocket. If we stop and she drinks a whole bottle of water, I can throw a couple of food bags from the other pocket into the side that is now missing a water and everything will still balance. I also have a collapsible bowl for water and food. You can give them water out of your hands in a pinch, but having a travel collapsible food bowl is just so much easier. Models like this fold down and weigh almost nothing.
Another item that could be good depending on where you are traveling is dog boots. These will protect your dog’s feet but require getting used to. You don’t want to break these out on your dog in a moment of crisis and expect them to shoe up and run out the door. You also don’t want your dog’s feet to be injured and then expect to put these on.
Speaking of injuries you could add a first aid kit for your dog to their bug out bag. A kit like the Alcott Explorer has basic items you could use if Fido gets a small injury like a cut or sting. Better to have them use their own first aid than your family kit. Don’t forget any medication your dog might be on and I have a long leash. I can use this to tie her up if needed or to let her walk ahead of me. Actually, heal isn’t as easy when she has this pack on and if she is right next to me her bags hit my legs all of the time so I let her walk ahead with the pack. Keeps us both happy.
Lastly I throw in some extras for my dog that I think they will like. Just like our own bug out bags have comfort items, your dog will appreciate these too. I will add in a toy they like to play with, maybe a tennis ball or a chew toy and some treats. The treats come in handy when we are hiking because I am not going to always give them a bowl of food on a day hike, but I do dole out the treats when we stop and have snacks.
So that’s it for my dog’s pack. What is in your dog’s bug out bag?
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by Pat Henry