This packable sleeping bag keeps my dogs comfortable on camping trips — it's pricey but durable and easy to clean
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- If you pack a sleeping bag and pad for your dog when you go camping, you'll both likely get a better night's sleep.
- The Ruffwear Highlands Dog Sleeping Bag ($100) and Pad ($40) has a zipper to keep your pup cozy without making them feel trapped.
- This combo is pricey but made from durable materials that will survive years of adventures.
After a long day on the trail, both humans and
Ruffwear sent me editorial review samples of the bag and pad, and I've been testing them for the past six months when car camping and backpacking. They have given both of my dogs a clearly defined space they know is theirs anytime we are away from home.
Design and specs
The Highlands Sleeping Bag is a compressible oval-shaped bag with a half zipper so your dog can curl up inside. It pairs with the insulated Highlands Pad, which slips into a sleeve at the bottom of the bag, though both can be used separately.
The bag and the pad each come in two sizes, medium (25.2 inches by 33.5 inches, 2.35 pounds with bag and pad combined) and large (28.3 inches by 43.3 inches, 3.25 pounds combined). I opted for two large setups for my 59- and 65-pound dogs.
The polyester-on-the-outside, nylon-on-the-inside water-resistant bag is stuffed with synthetic insulation and sewn into baffles to keep the filling from migrating as your dog uses it or when you wash it. The bag opens and closes with a high-quality YKK coil zipper down one side. The opening at one end gives dogs easy entry and exit, even with the zipper closed. An insulated flap drapes over the bag entrance and the back of a dog's neck when its head is poking out.
Pack the bed for travel by stuffing it into the included compression sack. Both the top and the bottom of the bag are insulated, too. And the bottom of the bag has a sleeve perfectly sized to hold the Pad.
Like the bag, the accordion-fold Highlands Pad uses synthetic insulation plus human-grade closed-cell foam to keep dogs off the ground. It has a soft microfiber surface that my dogs like.
What it's like to use
After a big day hiking or romping, my dogs crave comfort as much as I do. When we're camping, no one gets a good night's sleep if one of my dogs tries to get inside my sleeping bag, or worse, when they shove me off my sleeping pad. This system packs small enough that I can jam it in my backpack or toss it in my car for adventures. Packed, the bag and pad are sized to fit into Ruffwear's Palisades and Approach packs, but I carried them for the dogs when we camped.
Wherever we land, my dogs know the Highlands sleeping bags and pads are their home base, and they'll stay there while I set up the tent or hang out with friends. We used these in the grass, sand, and woods, and they both shook off clean for packing. The pad's waterproof bottom kept it from absorbing ground moisture, so it wasn't heavy or wet when it was time to pack up.
What makes it stand out
This system was designed with the same attention to detail as a sleeping bag and pad for humans. Ruffwear considered common dog habits in its design: stretching out, curling up, snuggling deep into a womb of blankets, and wanting to have a lookout. Both the pad and sleeping bag were comfortable on their own, but together they offered more insulation.
The bag washed easily in a frontloader machine and I hung it to dry. I also spot-cleaned the pad with soap and water as needed.
But the biggest win is that both my dogs love their setup. It's their safe and happy place whether we are barbecuing on the beach or tent camping in a field, and I expect it will be the same on chilly winter days when they are at my feet in my home office.
After a spring and half summer of use, the bags show no noticeable wear and tear from scuffing on the ground or abrasions from my dogs' nails.
For backpacking, even with the compression stuff sack, the bed and pad took up as much or more space in my pack than my own bag and pad. For me, where this combo really excelled was car camping and traveling with my dogs. When used in tandem, the pad's nonslip, waterproof surface is hidden inside a slippery sleeve not exposed. Hopefully, in the next redesign, Ruffwear will tweak this with toggles, which will save bulk.
It was sometimes hard to get my dogs zipped inside, and we often used the bag unzipped. My dogs circle during the night, so even when they were zipped inside at bedtime, they'd be on top of the bag in the morning.
Don't expect the bag to bead water indefinitely. DWR treatment is temporary and will wear off as your dog uses the bag. Renew the waterproofing with Nikwax TX Direct Wash-In, which goes into your washing machine to apply.
The bed and pad are made from premium materials that are easy to wash and long-lasting. But that means this combo is pricey. Alternatives include the 1-pound packable Chuckit Travel Dog Bed, which gives your pup some padding, and the rollable Alcott Explorer Sleeping Bag, a warm bag designed to be used without a pad.
The bottom line
It's an investment, but for campers, backpackers, and frequent travelers, the Highlands Sleeping Bag and Pad practically guarantee your dog sweet dreams, which means they won't be bugging you during the night, trying to steal your sleeping bag or pad. If they do, tell them to go to their bed, and they'll know just where that is.
Pros: Well-insulated, packable, great alone or together, easy to wash, durable
Cons: Pricey, bulky for backpacking
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