What is the best insulation against the cold? The answer is deceptively simple: air. Trapping the warm air that escapes from your body and keeping it near you is the best way to stay warm. That’s why we wear clothing and dogs have fur, to trap warm air and insulate us from the cold.
Most people think that because their dog has a fur coat that it will be warm at almost any temperature, but have you ever seen your dog curl up into a tight, tiny ball? That’s a way of preserving their body heat and more importantly keeping their core body temperature up. They can also raise their hair follicles to trap more warm air near their skin, similar to humans getting goosebumps when cold. These mechanisms are meant to help dogs stay warm in colder temperatures, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to the cold entirely. Many dogs also have ‘double coats,’ which means they have an undercoat of hairs that are thinner and curly that trap even more warm air next to their skin, but not all dog breeds have this type of fur coat.
Not many of us would go camping without our sleeping bag; I know definitely wouldn’t prefer it. And I know that I would never choose to go camping without my dog. Enter the Whyld River DoggyBag, a sleeping pad and bag designed specifically for your dog.
This DoggyBag is made with two pieces: a densely packed bottom pad and a thicker, fluffier quilt that attaches with plastic snaps around the perimeter to enclose your dog. Say goodbye to the zippers of other dog sleeping bags that break when your dog inevitably stands up or scares them by catching their fur. The quilt also has a draft sleeve (a thicker ring around the edges) that prevents cold air sneaking in and acts like a bolster if you turn it over to act as a dog bed.
We tried out the size Medium for Redford, which was the recommended “Comfort” sizing from Whyld River where he could stretch out a little more. They suggest going down a size for cold weather where the dog will already be curled into a ball for warmth, à la a Mummy bag for dogs.
The snaps are set around the perimeter of the pad and quilt. There’s also a snap in the middle of the quilt so you can fold it over, keeping one side open. This allows your dog to get in and out on its own. I recommend using positive reinforcement training to get your dog used to being under the quilt before trying to enclose them between the quilt and pad if they’re not used to being in or underneath bedding. Once they’re comfortable getting in, the intrinsic benefit of comfort and warmth should be rewarding enough at that point.
The pad also has a sleeve on the underside to fit an additional pad like a Thermorest Z-Seat pad (as Whyld River pictures on their site). I have the Ruffwear Highlands pad that would have been a perfect fit underneath the size Medium DoggyBag, but the fit wasn’t quite right. An adjustable strap would have allowed more options for additional padding underneath the DoggyBag.
The bag comes with a stuff sack to help cut down on size. The pad and quilt are made with a synthetic down so it doesn’t pack as small as goose down down and weighs a little more. The size Medium packs into a 7”x12” stuff sack and weighs 35 ounces (2.2 pounds). If you’re planning on taking the DoggyBag backpacking, the size Medium is probably the biggest and heaviest you want to take if you’re in to packing light. If you have a dog who can carry their own gear then your sizing options are unlimited with a good pack like the Mountainsmith K9 Dog Pack.
Redford in particular has a double coat, but is not fluffy, and he personally prefers to sleep on fluffy, cush materials. He’ll opt for the sheepskin throw on our couch over the hard floor. Knowing how your dog likes to sleep and on what in particular will help you determine whether or not they would like a sleeping bag while camping or backpacking. This is where the DoggyBag’s versatility comes through. You can choose to snap the quilt all the way around the pad creating a virtual den. Or, you can leave any side open like a traditional sleeping bag. Or, you can keep the quilt completely untapped and use it like a blanket. Whether your dog likes to burrow under things or stretch out the DoggyBag’s design allows for customization to your dog’s sleeping style.
The DoggyBag only comes in one color, but the reason for that is pretty cool. It’s an homage to the color of the Pacific Coast Trail sign and since we love the PCT around here we have no objections to that color choice. The bag also has a reflective logo on the pad and quilt, which if you’ve read our article on staying visible on the trail, you know we love.
It’s made with 40 denier rip stop Nylon. Denier is a measurement of a fabric’s sturdiness with most outdoor gear being anywhere between 100-600d. Although the DoggyBag is only 40d, it is made with rip stop Nylon, which adds to its durability and strength.
While backpacking near Big Sur we were allowed to have campfires, something we never get in our usual Eastern Sierra haunts, as fires above 10,000 feet are prohibited. But with fire comes embers and when a rogue ember made its way onto Redford’s DoggyBag (he was not in it at the time), the ember merely burned a hole through the Nylon quilt and pad, but did not catch the bag on fire. Nylon is flammable, but has a much higher ignition temperature than organic fibers so it is considered fire-resistant. And because of the rip stop the hole has not gotten any larger than when it was first made. Exactly why you want outdoor gear made with these materials and construction.
The Whyld River DoggyBag is ideal for dogs who camp, backpack, and who need insulation from the ground and protection from cold temperatures. It wouldn’t be ideal for hot weather camping as a sleeping bag, but would still work as a comfortable ground pad. The DoggyBag will be able to go wherever your dog goes and will keep them warm and comfortable when the temperatures go down. You won’t find a better designed or higher quality sleeping bag for your dog on the market.
Redford’s measurements: Girth 29″ / Back Length 19″/ Weight 47 lbs
DoggyBag size: Medium
Review by: Dogs That Hike Explorer @redfordtheredheeler