May 25, 2022 4 min read

I am a competitive OCR athlete and trail runner. I have been running OCR races since 2017, competitively since mid 2018. I have run 3 Spartan Ultras (including the infamous Killington 2019), and too many other races to count.

In 2021 I podiumed for my age group in every single race that I ran (all but 2 were first place) so end of 2021 and going forward I will be racing in the elite women field.

All of these accomplishments have been earned while wearing VJ shoes.

With that, it is safe to say that my VJ shoes are a key part my life. If you open my workout closet you will find at least one of every style of VJ that they offer. These shoes successfully get me through races and they get me through training runs. They are so comfy and versatile and fit for any type of terrain.

While I love racing in my VJ shows, my actual favorite use for my VJ shoes is tolisa wawrzynowsk iwith dogs go hiking/rucking with my dogs and my Boyfriend. Yes, that is right, it is time for you to ditch your traditional hiking boots and trade them in for some VJs to take to the woods with your 4 legged friend (or human friends if you do not have a dog…but you should get a dog!).

I currently own a 3 year old German Shepherd named Scooby who is my first dog ever and my best buddy/adventure buddy. My boyfriend and I also recently rescued a puppy (now about 7 months old) named Bandit who is some sort of GSD/Lab mix. While Bandit has only been on a few easier hikes with us, Scooby has conquered many hikes all over the Northeast including the Franconia Ridge Trail in the White Mountains on a questionable (miserable) weather day. He also has been my spectator/cheerleader at many OCR races! Definitely be on the lookout for the whole crew this year! We have so much fun going on adventures and exploring the world together and I am so grateful I have my many pairs VJs to help me keep up with my adventure pups.

While I cannot wait to get Scooby and Bandit out on more trails this year, I always make sure that I am prepared for the hiking season and pack appropriately for each hike that we do.

I want to make sure that we are well equipped for our adventures to be safe and also be prepared just in case of any emergencies.

By packing all my essentials, I can enjoy my hikes with my pups with minimal worries along the way. I have never had any issues or emergencies while hiking with my dogs, so I would love to share my “hiking with dogs” tips and insights with you! We will begin with hiking essentials and then in part two we will go more into safety concerns and how to prevent them.

Essentials to Pack:

  1. Water
    • Pack enough based on temperature and length/difficulty of hikegerman-shepherd in sunglasses with VJ Shoes
    • Keep extra in car for when done
  2. Portable bowl or dog water bottle of some sort they can the drink water from
  3. Dog Kibble or Treats
    • My pups love “On The Go” Energy bars
  4. First Aid Kit
    • Can find different kit varieties on online – make sure has basic medical supplies
    • I add tweezers to mine for tick removal if needed
  5. Tick preventatives
    • We use “Wondercide” spray
    • My pups also take monthly oral preventatives
    • Make sure to do a “tick check” when finished – check body, ears, bottom of paws
  6. Leashes
    • I hike my pups on a 12 foot leash so they have some freedom but are always connected to me in case of emergencies. My dogs are trained and do have good recall so on some technical uphill and down hills I let them off leash so they can do their thing (they climb better than me).
      If having your dog off leash only do so in areas it is okay to, have good recall, and do NOT let your dog approach others without permission. Scooby and I were attacked by an off leash dog and now he will run away scared (pulling me) if an off leash dog approaches us. So recall and/or leash your dog when passing others if choosing to hike off leash. Others very much appreciate it!
  7. Air Horn/Bear Spray
    • Just in case! I have seen bears on trails while hiking before
  8. AirLift by Fido Pro (or similar)
    • Both of my dogs are large breeds (Scooby is 90+ lbs). If he were to get hurt and need to be carried, it would be hard for me to do so without AirLift. With it I would be able to harness him to my back and carry him that way. I’d rather have and not use than need and not have.

Optional Items to Consider:

  1. Hiking Booties
    • Keeps your dog’s paws safe from rugged terrain
    • Can be used as first aid if dog were to cut paw on rocks
  2. Musher’s Secret
    • Alternative to booties for a protective layer on the paws
  3. Cooling Vest (see picture) lisa wawrzynowski dog in cooling vest
  4. Selfie Tennis Ball Clip
    • Clips to top of phone and helps you take some great dog selfies!
  5. Portable Paw Cleaner
    • To clean muddy paws before heading back in the car
  6. Car Backseat Hammock
    • To protect your car seats and to let your pups ride comfortably!
  7. Dog Hiking Harness
    • So your dog can help hold some of their own stuff!
  8. Dog Goggles/Rex Specs
    • To protect dogs eyes from sun and debris

If you follow the lists above, you should be all prepared to take your dog on some fun adventures! These lists are just items that I have found to be helpful along the way and also vary based on what type of hike I am taking my dog on (like I add more of the “optional items” on more difficult hikes).

-Lisa Wawrzynowski (instagram @lisa_marie42)

Stay tuned for Part Two for Safety Tips and some of my favorite hikes!