Bike Touring with Your Furry Four-Legged Friend: Gear Essentials

Written by Patrick on . Posted in Blog

A few years ago I came across some images online of people touring with their pets and before I got Avenue, my pup, I knew I would end up down the same road. Sure the weight adds up, but having company on the road is awesome. The downside to traveling with a pet is that you are limited on places you can travel. For instance getting on a plane or train is not as easy as a hop, skip, and a jump. Since traveling with Avenue, I am more aware of regions which are not appealing…for instance tick infested areas. I for one hate burning ticks out of me…who knows how many would venture onto Avenue while she is out roaming the woods. Below I have listed all the pet essentials I carry in order to take my pup safely along for the ride. I would not do it any other way. I feel safer at night while camping in random places alongside the open road because she always acts as my first alert system and don’t let me deter you about the extra weight either. When we hit a hill I hook up Avenue to my leather belt with an oversized carabiner and my speed always doubles, making my life a lot easier on the rough assents. The company of an animal on the road is truly amazing. Click the image below to see an enhanced version. Read on to hear a brief review of the products as well as a homepage link and purchase link for everything listed below. Also be sure to check out my previous post [HERE] which details the pros and cons of all the Ruffwear products I own. The previous post is dedicated to the amazing people at Ruffwear for making the best dog products I have seen on the market. http://worldsbetweenlines.com/ruffwear

 

Insulated Dog Pad by Ruff & Tuff
Home Page $N/A
Purchase $59.95

The insulated dog pad by Ruff & Tuff was given to me as a Christmas gift by my patents in 2010. I really had no use for this even on my last four month tour because we, Melissa and I, carried two Cabin Creek camping chairs in place of it. I carried the chairs in the back half of the Burley Nomad cargo trailer instead of the pad to provide more support for Avenue as she stood during our daily rides. Before the tour, I initially I folded this pad into the back half of the trailer which provide the same support system as the two folding chairs. I recently went on a short four day tour with Avenue and took this pad instead of the two chairs. The pad worked better than the chairs and the best part about substituting the chairs is that I also utilize it to keep my knees and butt warm while I moving around my tent. This pad has proven two abilities while on tour, keeping Avenue comfortably supported in the trailer as well as providing ground warmth in the tent. I am sold on the extra comfort it provides.

Ruffwear Track Jacket
Home Page $34.95
Purchase $34.95

Yet another key element for keeping your pup visible and safe. The simple design of the Track Jacket easily allows you to throw this over the Web Master harness or Palisades Pack Harness. Basic, simple, and legit. Located at the top is a light loop for the Beacon. Reflective seams are an added bonus as this is already bright as day at night. I think this is a product every camping, hunting, or public safety dog should own. http://worldsbetweenlines.com/ruffwear

University of Utah Dog Sweater
Home Page $18.95
Purchase $16.99

This sweater provides my pup with the extra warmth I seek in the ultra cold weather. I usually accompany this sweater with the Ruffwear Cloud Chaser, to provide the waterproofness the sweater lacks. In the cold temperatures of the dessert night or the wet and clammy conditions of the west coast fall, I rely upon this sweater to provide the additional layer of warmth and protection for my pet, while supporting my University of Utah, GO UTES! This was a gift to Avenue in 2010 and I am thankful I have it.

Ruffwear Cloud Chaser
Home Page $79.95
Purchase $80.00

This last piece of gear I purchased for Avenue. It is just as, if not more, important as the items listed above. Waterproof, warm, and durable, the Cloud Chaser has kept my pup warm and sheltered from the winter rains of the west coast. We cycled over four weeks in straight rain. Avenue’s trailer is not protected from the elements so not to have this would have proved disastrous. This jacket easily fits over any harness while allowing 100% freedom to sprint, run, or curl up into a ball at night without constricting movement or comfort. Located at the top is a light loop similar to the Track Jacket and reflective seams providing added visibility. This is a simple choice to own if your pup does not have a thick set of fur. http://worldsbetweenlines.com/ruffwear

Ruffwear Palisades Pack Harness & Pack
Home Page $129.95
Purchase $130.00

This product is priced around $110.00-130.00 depending on where you shop. This may seem like a high price to pay but in actuality you are receiving two products for the price of one. Lets touch base on the design so I can clarify how this is the case. Located at the top of the harness is a four point buckle system, similarly, on the pack there are four buckles which connect to the harness. One can easily remove the packs from the harness making this ideal for anyone who would like the option of packs in case you find yourself needing to carry extra water, supplies, or other Ruffwear items for your pup. If you find your pup does not need to carry extra gear simply remove the packs and what you are left with is a modified version of the Web Master harness. The versatile and durable harness which, in my opinion, is the “poster product” for Ruffwear is hands down the best harness/pack on the market. Even after five miles of running everyday for over four months, Avenue has never shown signs of chaffing or balding around her underarms or stomach. Located on top of the harness is a stainless steel loop which has been sewn so tough you would be able to hook and hang a truck from it. After owning my first harness for over two years I have yet to see signs of structural wear. You may be wondering what I do with these when they are not on Avenue and we are bicycle touring…with a little innovation this also turned into a useful bike touring pack. [SEE IMAGE] Please click the image to the right to see the enhanced version. 

Key features:

  • Removable Saddlebags
  • 2 hydration bladders (1 L capacity each)
  • Load Compression System
  • Balanced Assistance Handle
  • Waterproof zippers
  • Light loop for the Beacon
  • Reflective seams

http://worldsbetweenlines.com/ruffwear

Ruffwear The Beacon Safety Light
Home Page $16.95
Purchase $16.95

The Beacon simply put is a MUST HAVE. Before the Beacon I zip tied a bicycle light to Avenue’s harness. This was “okay” but the light was limited. I could not see her in the dark if she was facing me the Beacon allowed me to see her in all angles. The zip-tied light was a permanent addition to her harness meaning I could not take it off unless I cut the zip ties. The Beacon is a great design with three functions which light up any surrounding, allowing me to keep a watchful eye on her without limiting her to a leash. I also run Avenue along side my bike by linking her to my leather belt with a carabiner. Having this light attached works wonders for cars, people, and simply gives me comfort-of-mind knowing she is clearly visible. I have not had any issues with this light in terms of water, battery life, or breaking parts. I would recommend taking the light off if your pup plans on swimming as I am not sure how well it would hold up submersed in water for long periods of time. This piece of equipment has been my favorite edition of Avenue’s gear. http://worldsbetweenlines.com/ruffwear

Biodegradable Doggy Bags
Home Page $N/A
Purchase $9.39

Every dog poops, so why not limit your environmental impact. These bags smell like lavender, yes lavender…but more importantly they biodegrade in half the time as conventional poop bags. The simple release system of the dispenser allows one to quickly draw out a bag and clean up the waste of your beloved pet. This was a gift from Santa Clause (my parents) because they also own a dog and know that procrastination untimely leads to piles of poop in their backyard.

Ruffwear Quencher Cinch Top Food Bowl
Home Page $19.95
Purchase $19.95

This compact dog bowl is great for those limited on space and weight like myself. I carry Avenue’s bulk food in a Sea to Summit compression sack or Ziplock and leave this bowl full in an accessible place in my panniers for easy access. When we stop for lunch I can easily take this out, un-cinch the ties, which enclose the top keeping the dog food secure, and plop it out for Avenue. The design is simple and would be a great addition to your pups gear. http://worldsbetweenlines.com/ruffwear

Sea to Summit X Bowl
Home Page $N/A
Purchase $14.95

I originally bought this bowl for myself due to the fact it is not marketed for animals. I use my MSR 2 Person Cookset to eat with so I adopted this piece of equipment for my pup. The Bowl packs down to a disk and is completely waterproof which makes it ideal as a water bowl. After Avenue runs a full day, either pulling me up gnarly hills or simply maintaining a constant trot, the bowl’s quick expansion design makes it simple to support my pup’s need for water.

Chuckit! Medium Ball Launcher & Tennis Ball
Home Page $N/A
Purchase $7.24

Like every dog on earth, they need to be entertained. The Chuckit! saves my arm and allows me to throw a tennis ball over long ranges which gets my pup tired with little exertion on myself .

Flexi City Dog Leash & Oversized Carabiner
Home Page $30.00
Purchase $19.99

Compared to traditional leashes, having the ability to control your pups length is crucial while touring. With the Flexi City dog leash I can control Avenue’s length to a “T”. The leash is not corded but webbed which is the ultimate pro since they sell both versions. Webbed, over corded, is the way to go for the simple fact that you can grab the leash with you bare hands without running the risk of rope burn.

There is a certain threshold with Avenue attached running at full speed. To far out and she runs the risk of cutting over in front of the bike. The control I have over the length relative to my bike means the difference between cruising or crashing.

My mornings usually consist of running Avenue three miles then throwing her in the trailer for the next ten to twenty. Around noon I hook her back up to the leash and run her again for a little longer, roughly seven miles. Most of the time she does not like to be confined to the trailer, not because she does not like it, rather because she prefers to run all day even if she’s dead tired.

Blue Wilderness Salmon Based Dog Food
Home Page $N/A
Purchase $18.99-54.99

I don’t have the luxury of always having the best dog food on the road so when I make it to a natural foods market I stock up on a 5lb bag of Blue Wilderness. The Salmon based food is some of the best on the market. I have yet to find a good way of carrying her food. The last tour I simply dumped all her dry food into a Sea to Summit compression sack which works out great for a little while but over time the bag becomes very gross. If I were to do it all over again I would carry a small garbage bag to put the food into then place that into the Sea to Summit compression sack. I like using the Sea to Summit sacks because they are waterproof, compress air tight so the odor is contained which is very important in bear or raccoon country, and the sacks are easy to sling up in a tree which is also essential in bear country.

20° Synthetic Sleeping Bag
Home Page $N/A
Review $N/A

I had a dilemma when thinking of how to keep Avenue warm during the freezing nights. There are not many companies, if any, which sell sleeping bags for dogs so I found an old sleeping bag and cut it in half at chest level then hand sewed it back together. The zipper is still fully functional which is great when I need to zip Avenue up. The pad listed above provides the ground warmth and this sleeping bag holds in her body heat. I am very pleased with this setup.  

Burley Nomad Cargo Trailer
Home Page $N/A
Purchase $349.00

The Burley Nomad Cargo Trailer is not designed to carry an animal. For one, there is no outer protection from the sun or rain. For the purpose of my tour, having an additional cargo area to carry my electronics is essential and this is not an available option with proper pet carriers. The back half of the trailer is Avenue’s space which, as stated above, holds an insulates dog pad to provide support and cushion for Avenue during the long rides. Weighing in at 39lbs, Avenue is a relatively small to medium sized dog which makes her a perfect fit for the back half of the Nomad. She has enough room to curl up and lay down and the side walls keep her from falling out. I attach her to the top cross bar of the trailer with a carabiner then attach her leash to her harness which then connects to the opposite part of the cross bar. The front portion of the trailer stores my tent, computer, and dog food along with some other stuff when need be. One down side to the trailer is that I have already broke it where the arm connects to the bicycle. The aluminum frame is strong but with all the weight I carry, it was just too much stress after 2,000 miles. Burley trailers are under warranty for two years so they sent me replacement parts which I used to fix the trailer. Some of the new aluminum poles they sent did not match up exactly to the existing trailer. The screw holes, for instance, did not match perfectly so one section the arm is only connected with three bolts instead of the four it originally had. I am not sure how many more miles this trailer will give me but I am happy with it.

I recently bought and tested the BOB Ibex and determined that it was not a suitable trailer for carrying a pet. The Nomad has two wheels compared to the BOB’s single wheel which makes balancing with the BOB a big issue. I plan to use the Ibex for mountain bike touring and the Nomad for the long distance road tours.


If you have any questions about the items above please feel free to comment or drop me a line directly at Pat@WorldsBetweenLines.com 

ALMOST FORGOT!!!!!

Furminator Medium Dog Long Hair deShedding Tool:
Home Page $53.99
Purchase $25.49

This tool is AWESOME! This keeps Avenue clean and shinny and works in such a way that she actually likes being brushed, comparatively to other brushes which only pull and tug on their coat. I am very impressed with this new addition and love keeping Avenue’s shedding under control. Located at the top is a piece of plastic you push down with your thumb which then slides over the blade and easily removes the hair which you have combed off your pup. Totally worth the purchase!

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  • Kell

    When I finally find a new companion the Beacon will be a must. Anytime a dog is out after dog they should have one on.

  • Crystal Wayward

    What a comprehensive guide. I am saving this. My boyfriend and I took our golden retriever on a bike trip last spring and could have used a lot of the stuff you recommend here.

    • worldsbetweenlines

      Glad I could be of some help :D Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any further questions. I will also post anything new I acquire in the future.

  • indi

    I don’t own or promote things at all in life other than ruff wear and one other brand called glow doggie. fantastic product! I recommend it as an excellent safety item for your dog!

    • worldsbetweenlines

      These collars are great! Thanks for the recommendation.

      • indi

        Can you mention my name: indira Martinez

        Im really shooting to get the word out and (I’m not counting on it.. but its a shot in dark ) im crossing my fingers and hopefully I get a discount. I buy alot of these collars. they are a bit pricey but totally worth it :-)

        • worldsbetweenlines

          I will totally mention you :D

  • Casper

    I’ve been riding locally with the goal of eventually doing longer overnight trips and have to say your guide above is great and re-enforces what I’ve learned on my local rides with my Service Dog Rusty. My only problem is Rusty is very large labrador at 120-130 pounds and no trailer I’ve found yet commercially will hold him and gear!

    What I did notice you don’t have is any boots for your pup, Avenue, is there a reason why? I’ve been having Rusty use the RuffWear “Grip-Trex” boots with the Vibram soles, and after two years of nearly daily use walking and running they are still in great shape. While I haven’t done the road miles you have, the durability and protection that these boots provide should be part of your kit.

    • worldsbetweenlines

      Casper, The other trailer that may work for your large breed is the Wandertec Tuba Bike Cargo Trailer. Here is the purchase link: http://www.biketrailershop.com/wandertec-tuba-bike-cargo-trailer-large-p-2864.html

      I bet there would be a way to divide this trailer into sections for gear. May take some ingenuity.

      Yes, booties. I have had a few other comments about this on Facebook. I did buy Avenue a pair of booties last winter and she was not about them. I was worried that her feet would get all mangled on the road after running so many miles, as much as ten per day, but never had an issue…well almost none. During the four weeks of rain we experienced on the west coast last fall a few of Avenue’s nails started to bleed because they were so warn down from the pavement then, being soaked, they were very brittle. Booties would be nice when the asphalt is scorching or running long distances in the rain. However, I ended up returning the booties because I could not get Avenue to keep them on, she would always kick them off and I didn’t want to be worrying about expensive booties while touring. If I lost one then three doesn’t really do me much good. I do agree if your pup can get used to these booties then by all means go for it…that was just simply not the case for me and Avenue.

      So, if I find myself touring on scorching surfaces or long distances in the rain I will end up taping ripped pieces of fabric to her paws, I simply cannot justify loosing booties every week.

      • Casper

        Thanks for the link to the trailer, I have been looking and hadn’t seen one with a rating over 100lbs and was about to start the process of welding up my own. Riding a recumbent trike thanks to spinal injuries that make riding a traditional bike quite uncomfortable and damaging for me, a good trailer near the same width as my front two wheels would be great! What brand/type of booties did you buy?

        Living in AZ I have to have the boots for the summer months, and even with them there are days and times where you have to limit the duration of exposure on hot blacktop and concrete. I know of dogs that have suffered 3rd degree burns to their paws after walking across sun baked parking lots here and didn’t want that to happen to a dog that is my best friend and helps me survive daily by traveling with me everywhere.

        That was the first reason I bought the boots, I tried several different types and honestly so far there has been two kinds I found that work well, last a long time, and most of all STAY ON! By stay on I mean the dogs typically can’t kick them off or step out of them, some dogs may never get used to them, but thankfully I was lucky and Rusty took to them quickly though a little prior planning and distraction on my part. Only times I’ve had issues with his paws has been in the snow and Ice of the AZ mountains, when the wet and cold weather caused his softened paws to develop cuts.

        Which is how I recommend getting a dog used to boots is to put them on and then keep them distracted by playing with their favorite toy, take them on a jog, work a field trial, or what ever gets them the most exited and they enjoy doing. Quickly they will associate wearing the boots with fun and will begin to adjust to them, though the first 20-30 minutes is a riot with them kicking, and windmill walking. The one thing you do have to watch is that the dog isn’t over heating with the boots on since they sweat from their paws, that they stay tight, and that they don’t roll on the feet (sole on top of the paw).

        The first of the two K-9 boots that I found that really worked well was the Grip-trex from Ruff-Wear the other was a type from a company that makes K-9 first aid kits for military/police working dogs. (http://www.k-9firstaid.com) The Grip-Trex are my favorite for active dogs as the sole is so durable and flexible and the top allows them some breathing of the feet as that is the only place other than panting dogs have to cool themselves. The cut of the boot places the strap just above the dew claw and can cause some rubbing there, however it seems to really hold on well if kept tight. The Ruff-Wear instructions recommend checking them after the first 15-20 minutes and to retighten them and that helps, as does putting socks under them, only problem with the socks is they hold heat in. The socks that Ruff-Weat sells are nice, however you can also use kids or baby socks with the same success.

        The other boots (K-9 first aid) are great for really rough/dangerous terrain as they are designed with removable steel plate inserts to prevent cuts and pad penetrations by sharp rocks, wires, and such though they are not great for running but are great if you are kicking doors in or moving through a drug house. But they do come up higher on the leg, have two straps to tighten the boot down and are nearly impossible to “fling” off and are good in places where you could run into ice, snow, or sharp rocks and thorns.

        Hope this information on boots is helpful to you and the other readers.

        • worldsbetweenlines

          This is GREAT information, thank you for sharing. The boots I bought were the Ruffwear winter boots. I can say that I did not give these booties much time for Avenue to adapt to them, only a day. Perhaps in the future I will give them another go. Again, thanks for sharing this useful information. Much appreciated.

  • http://twitter.com/FiJaBAM Jasmine Reese

    I am biking across America with my doggy, Fiji, beginning April 15, 2013. I am getting all my doggy stuff from Ruffwear! This is an amzing blog, and I’ll be contacting you guys soon about tips to keep my pup safe and comfortable!


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