Welcome to our newest blog series called "Off The Leash." Scroll down for this cool Q&A with the explorer behind the @adventure.yuki account on Instagram.
Here's why I started this new series: Since I spend a significant portion of my day messaging and scrolling through the gram via @impactdogcrates, I come across a lot of interesting dog accounts. Some accounts captivate me with their insanely talented photography and mesmerizing photos, but I'm also just as easily sucked in by cute dogs, punny captions and dogs who seem to have very unique lifestyles.
There's one dog in particular on Instagram who I'm always stoked to see in photos. She's a photogenic, shiny black mutt with adorable Baby Yoda ears that would make even Baby Yoda jealous. This cool doggo goes by Yuki - as found on the gram @adventure.yuki - and if you check out her profile, you'll see vibrant photos of Yuki cheesin' at the camera or snoozing in her own sleeping bag with so-beautiful-it's-almost-unreal backdrops of snowy peaks or vibrant orange cliffs. It's inspiring to see a rescued pup living an adventurous life alongside her humans as they go hiking together, backpacking, camping, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, you name it. It may be a bold statement, but Yuki is like the Air Bud of outdoor activities.
I couldn't help but grow more curious about Yuki's story and her human companion behind the lens. I also wanted to ask a well- experienced backpacker about what it's like to go on overnight backpacking trips with a dog. Luckily, when I reached out to Yuki's Instagram, they were excited to answer my list of impawtant questions and provide some awesome tips for backpacking with your dog!
Enjoy our most in-tents blog post yet!
and here's Baby Yoda
Yuki’s Age: 4
Nickname: Yukine, Bugaboo, Booger Bean, Turd.
Fun/weird fact about Yuki: She’s not a huge fan of people food.
One thing a lot of people don’t know about you: I originally went to college for fine arts, but ended up in STEM.
How did you first get into backpacking?
I’ve always loved the outdoors, but it wasn’t until I left for college that I started backpacking. I rented from the Outdoor Rec program at school to get started.
Was Yuki a natural hiking pup or did she need a lot of training?
She’s a hyperactive dog so the energy level and interest were there, but we spent hours training. Her first year I spent about one to two hours every day working with her. The time and money I’ve put into her training has literally paid off.
Some of the activities I see you doing through "the gram" includes packrafting, backpacking, bikepacking ( I just learned that this was a thing! ), backcountry skiing, SUPing, kayaking, swimming, hiking... Which activity would you say is Yuki’s favorite?
That’s a tough one. She gets pretty excited with all activities, but I’d have to say she loves skiing the most. It was her first sport!
Is there any activity that Yuki doesn’t like?
She’s not the biggest fan of other dogs so anything that involves a large group of them.
If you had to choose a favorite activity, what would it be?
Skiing. I really couldn’t live without skiing. I haven’t missed a season in 27 years!
What was your first big adventure with Yuki and how did it go?
Her first camping trip was the week we adopted her. Within the first month we had several camping trips and I had taken her skiing and snowshoeing multiple times. She sat on my shoulders when she was just a little nugget. It wasn’t until she was about a year and a half that I took her on a big bike trip. We biked 150 miles over 5 days. She spent time in and out of a dog trailer that I pulled. Each one went well, but was definitely a learning experience on things we needed to work on.
Longest backpacking trip you’ve taken with Yuki?
The 80-miler I finished in September this year. She absolutely loved it!
What is the toughest part of multi-day backpacking trips with a dog?
Carrying and storing food. She does a mix of dehydrated food and her regular kibble to save on space. I’d go full dehydrated, but unfortunately she has a sensitive stomach. Dog food is stinkyyy so making sure to keep it out of the way of critters can get difficult and I have to get creative.
Deciding what gear and supplies to bring is a challenge in itself ( or at least in my personal experience 😂 ) especially when you have to consider how much all of that will weigh! What advice do you have for narrowing down you gear to the absolute essentials?
Honestly, just going out on shorter trips. Anything you didn’t use (unless it’s extra socks or med/repair kit), is likely nonessential. I also save on space by not bringing many extra clothes. On my 7 day through hike, I only wore one shirt. It could stand on its own at the end, but it allowed me to have more room for snacks.
What are your most essential items to have on a backpacking trip?
Technical pee cloth. I know, I know. It sounds gross, but seriously. It’s a game changer. No more drip drying and no packing out TP for #1’s. Kula Cloth makes awesome ones! Having nail clippers and tweezers are also clutch. Can’t tell you how many cactuses I’ve accidentally sat in. I also recommend throwing some maxi pads in your med kit. They are great for deep wounds you need to wrap (on people and dogs!).
Essential backpacking supplies for Yuki?
I always carry a jacket for her since she has a single coat. Styptic powder and booties are good to carry in case she breaks a toenail.
Pro-tip for fitting all of your gear into/ on your pack?
Practice, practice. practice. Don’t be afraid to squish things in. I also heavily rely on compression sacks, but make sure to not store your gear in them when you get home. It can lead to mold and/or damage.
How much does Yuki’s pack typically weigh and how did you learn what amount of weight she can carry?
Advice for others who plan to have their dog wear a pack? On average it’s about 6 lbs, but I keep her in shape for 20% of her bodyweight which is 9.2 lbs. Maximum weight to carry is really dependent on the type of dog you have and how much time you’re willing to train them with weight. I have an adjustable (human) weight vest that I can take the individual weights out of to put in her pack. We go on walks and short hikes with the weight. Like with any sport with your dog, do small increments of added weight and distance over time.
Is there anything you bring for yourself that definitely is not a survival item?
98% of my pack. Kidding! I usually like to bring a treat to share. I’ve packed donut holes and bottles of wine. You can also use your sleeping pad as a floaty on a lake. Just be careful not to pop it!
Okay, here’s a tough one... If Yuki could pack her own bag, what do you think she’d bring?
Her favorite frisbee and a few bully sticks. She’d likely be so excited to leave, she would forget her dinners and a sleeping bag.
Best part of having Yuki on trips with you?
It’s a tie between watching how happy she is running around and how much of a cuddler she is. We cuddle every morning when we’re adventuring!
Where is one of your favorite places to explore?
Mine’s not a specific place. I love the mountains in October. I love the cold, variable weather and no mosquitoes.
Mars. But more realistically, northern Canada, Svalbard, and Scotland.
Scariest scenario you’ve experienced while exploring with Yuki?
We were bikerafting almost exactly a year ago and we went through a section of Class III rapids. I wasn’t looking far enough ahead and I wasn’t able to avoid a partially submerged tree. I pinned the raft that had my bike attached. At the last minute, I was able to throw Yuki from the raft before me, my bike, and raft were stuck against a branch. I was able to bail, but had to hold on to a tree branch to get my bike out. The water was about 40 degrees and my partner was downriver. He was able to get to the bank and run up river to assist Yuki and I out of the water. Both Yuki and I came out unscathed albeit cold. I have quite a bit of emergency training so I kept a level head, but it still shook me afterwards. My irresponsibility almost injured (or possibly worse) myself and my dog. I didn’t lose or break any gear (besides my phone) so I consider myself incredibly lucky. It’s moments like these that keep your overconfidence in check. I have rafting experience, but until I do more with just my bike and I, I won’t be taking Yuki with me unless it’s a float trip.
What dog-specific hiking gear has been the biggest game changer for your adventures?
Last year, I bought dog gaiters for deep snow. Now I can take her on the extra cold days without losing any booties.
Do you have any apps or devices that you rely on for your trips?
I typically take several maps with me: paper, Garmin, and Gaia GPS. There’s a slight inconsistency with available trails between maps so being able to cross reference is nice. Plus, redundancy helps to keep you safe.
What advice would you give to those who are hoping to get into multi-day backpacking trips with their dogs?
Proper physical and obedience/behavioral training. I have come across many backpackers and hikers who have lost their dog or the dog is too tired to continue. Start small! Not many of us can go from the couch to a full marathon so don’t expect your dog to either!
What activity/ sport would you like to try with Yuki that you two haven’t done yet?
I’d love to try more dog specific sports like FCAT and lure coursing. Sadly, I don’t think she’d be able to do lure coursing with other dogs though. We dabbled in skijoring, but she doesn’t have a strong desire to pull.
What do you have planned for your next adventure?
We have quite a few car camping trips lined up, but they are only in Utah. I’m trying to convince dog dad to get a splitboard and avalanche safety courses so I can drag him along on an overnight backcountry ski trip.
Thanks again @adventure.yuki for taking the time to do this Q&A article and for sending over these amazing photos!
Side note: I'm still considering other names like The Poop Scoop, Cool Dogs and Hot Questions. Hot Dogs & Cool Questions, the Bone Yard, the Dog Park. If any of you reading this has a name suggestion please let us know!