The holidays are here and if you're looking for the perfect gift for that dog loving hiker in your life, look no further. After extensive time out on the trails, I've compiled this list of the top 10 items I'd love as gifts. Get one for your friend or family member as a stocking stuffer or get several for a gift basket.
1: Collapsible Water Bowl
Hydration is important, even in the winter months, and a collapsible water bowl is a dog hiking essential. But not all collapsible water dishes are equal. I highly recommend going with a silicone option with a carabiner. The silicone is easy to wash and actually maintains its structural integrity when in its bowl form (as opposed to some of the cloth based options that lack the rigidity needed to actually function as a water dish). Plus the carabiner is nice so you can clip the wet collapsed dish to your or your dog's backpack in between sips.
2. Dog Treat Training Pouch
This list is starting out with the essentials -- the top items one should take with them when hiking with a dog. Water is #1. Treats come in a close second. These days, there are so many options for treat training pouches. There are silicone options, which I imagine would be super easy to clean. And now, fanny packs are back in style, so you can even get a trendy utility pack for stashing your dog treats and your keys and chapstick. There are versions that carry your dog treats and poop bags, and many that look a lot like rock climbing chalk bags -- so repurposing an old chalk bag is an option too. And there's even these Pez Dispenser inspired dog treat dispensers. This item is essential, but now that there are so many options on the market, you might want to get a gift receipt with this one just in case your friend or family member has strong preferences.
3. A Hands Free Dog Leash
A hands free leash isn't essential but it sure can be nice, especially if your dog is good on leash (but still be careful - there have been several times Lucky's seen a squirrel and I was not prepared for the lunge he took after it). We use an older model of this RuffWear handsfree leash. I like a hands free option that allows for adjusting the length on both ends: on the human end so you can loop it on your waist, across your chest or through your back park arm or waist straps and on the dog end so you can reign them in closer if there's a lot of other people and dogs around or give them more line when it's safe and more comfortable to do so. I also love be able to loop the human end around objects like my tailgate so I can have Lucky tethered while I change my shoes, etc.
4. Poop Bags
Ok, so this isn't a glamourous gift idea, but I love it when people get me practical things that I use a lot of -- like poop bags! You can never have too many and they are a great stocking stuffer or "add-on" to any gift idea.
You knew this was going to show up on this gift guide, obviously, but here's why the holidays are a great time to get this book in your dog lover's hands. State park campgrounds book up FAST, so starting to plan your summer visits in January is highly recommended. When Lucky and I were researching for the book, we ended up booking our whole summer's camping reservations by the end of February, and that was pre-pandemic. So, if your dog lover wants to get out into the state parks this coming summer, you'd be a good friend to encourage them to plan sooner rather than later (and use this guide to help with the planning.)
6. A State Park Pass
A state park pass is the perfect gift to pair with A Dog Lover's Guide to Hiking Wisconsin's State Parks. However, I will mention that state park passes are annual passes -- meaning, you should wait until January 1st to buy the 2023 pass (maybe the 2023 passes go on sale earlier than Jan 1, but I'm not sure -- just don't gift a 2022 pass as it expires on 12/31/2022!).
7. A Dog First Aid Kit
If you're a parent purchasing for your dog loving hiker child, you might find a dog first aid kit to be a nice companion gift to a human hiker first aid kit. Some of the items will be the same between the kits, but dog kits often include specific items like non-stick bandages, hydrogen peroxide or activated charcoal for inducing vomiting, or Styptic powder in case of a nail injury. This is another really practical gift that can give both you and your hiker peace of mind when they're out on the trails.
During the holidays daylight is scarce, but active hikers and their dogs still want to get out on the trails. A headlamp for the hiker and light up collar or harness for their doggo are just the thing to get the fun started before the sun comes up and keep it going after the sun goes down. As a human, I prefer a headlamp over a flashlight for the easy hands free hiking and poop picking up. A light up option for dogs is great if doing off-leash hiking and especially nice for safety if you're stuck walking on the streets.
9. Wild Weenies
Here in Wisconsin, a common holiday treat and gift is summer sausage. Every holiday party will have a cheese plate with summer sausage on it. So if you're gifting a human a sausage, you might as well add some Wild Weenies (or equivalent) for their pup! A dog lover can never have too many dog treats, especially around the holidays. Wild Weenies are a special trailside treat for Lucky, and he highly recommends them. But really, any fancy dog treat will do as a spectacular stocking stuffer or add on to any gift for your dog loving hiker.
10. A Dog Lover's Guide to Hiking Wisconsin's State Parks
Really, this is the best option on this entire list, so I decided to include it twice. Your dog loving hiker will LOVE it. You will go down in history as giving the best gift EVER if you get them this guide. For real. Bonus points if you order A Dog Lover's Guide to Hiking Wisconsin's State Parks from a local book store. #shoplocal