Port-A-Bowl travel dog bowlYou know what Mountain Equipment Coop and L.L. Bean are to the trendy outdoorsy type? For dogs, think Outward Hound. Look no further, if you want to keep your dog happy and comfortable on those summertime adventure trips — whether that is a hiking and camping expedition in the bush or just a spur-of-the-moment exploration of the wilds of your own neighbourhood park.

Friends who are serious hikers introduced me to Kygen’s Outward Hound pet gear brand a couple of years ago — they swear by the doggie saddlebags for their Lab, who is plenty big enough to carry his own supplies.

I couldn’t do without the Port-a-Bowl, myself — well, I could, but my active and ever-hungry dogs might not! It’s a vinyl-lined canvas bowl that crushes easily into a back pocket or knapsack, ready for use on doggie demand. (When it gets grungy, by the way, I just swish it around in water or toss it in the washer with my jeans.)

But a folding bowl is hardly the beginning. You almost wouldn’t believe all the cool dog gear that’s available — from canine life jackets for the boating enthusiast, to brilliantly designed fanny packs and bags, pet carriers of various sorts, and safety vests for the dog who needs to be highly visible on the roadside or in the woods…

In these hot summer days, however, I’m looking closely at several good ideas in the temperature-control line. Shade shelters, for example, are little screened tents like portable doghouses: cute and practical. There are also products they call Hydration Systems — a little water-filled backpack (the dog carries his own water supply!) with a special bite-valve for multiple uses — or the Bowl-and-Bottle bag, if you want to carry the water yourself.

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dog cooling bandana My favourite hot-dog product, and the next thing on my shopping list, is Outward Bound’s cooling bandana – a tube-like scarf that’s filled with tiny non-toxic polymer beads that absorb up to 30 times their weight in cold water. Fasten it around the dog’s neck with a Velcro fastener, and it can keep your dog more comfortable for hours.

You know, I really should have thought of the cooling bandana much earlier — because I picked up the human version of it for myself about four years ago!

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