There are certain things that dogs and humans don't agree on. For instance Rocco believes that the outdoors are best enjoyed from the comfort of a mud puddle. No mud puddle is too dirty. This is all fine while we are in the backcountry, but eventually the trip comes to and end. We find ourselves pilling into a car, smelly and dirty; some of us more then others. A few months back Rocco was enjoying a car camping trip through Colorado and decided to partake in some local mud baths. Unfortunately there was not enough time for him to dry out by the time we got back to the car. This created a delicate situation in the girlfriend's newer car.
Sure you could use a general seat cover or towels but that takes preparation. Sometimes you get caught in unexpected storms and the mud follows. Ruffwear employees were clearly in the same boat when they created the Dirtbag Seat Cover. You just have to assume that a company focused around creating dog specific outdoor gear, based out of Bend has a parking lot full of Subarus. The Dirtbag Seat Cover was designed for the active owner, with the active dog; who loves mud.
Initial Thoughts- As soon as I saw the Ruffwear Dirtbag Seat Cover I knew this was a must have. The Dirtbag is a one size fits most (keep in mind these are Subaru owning designers) waterproof seat cover. It is designed to make your backseat mud proof, and keep your dog's mess from fouling the seats. The cover is a neutral grey color and made of a slip resistant polyester. The cover comes neatly packaged in it's own pocket which makes it convenient to store under a seat when not in use. The Dirtbag has two adjustable straps that loop over the headrest and keep the vertical portion in place. There are plastic tabs that wedge in between the seat (the space between the vertical portion of the seat and the horizontal portion) which prevents the cover from sliding forward. Along that crease there are also openings for the seatbelt, that can be closed (when not in use), to prevent mud/dirt from slipping through and getting to the seat. On each side of the cover there is a flap of material that protects the sides of the seat. This is especially important when loading/unloading the dog. The material extends beyond the horizontal seat and hangs down. This allows the backseat to be used by both dirty dogs and dirty humans at the same time. If your dog is riding solo, you can take the two straps (similar to the ones used on the headrest) and loop them over the front headrest. This creates a 'hammock' which does two things. First it keeps your dog corralled in the backseat and second it ensures all dirt/mud stays contained (not ending up on the floor). When your dog trashes the Dirtbag you can machine wash it, making it very manageable. The simplicity of the install and easy cleaning make this a desirable choice for protecting your car.
Use- The Ruffwear Dirtbag Seat cover works. Plain and simple. It is a simple design that does exactly what it says it will. Since owning the cover Rocco has used it without any mud/dirt making it to the backseat. The cover is easy to adjust and install takes at most five minutes. The fact that it has an incorporated storage sack makes it even easier. After our Colorado trip Rocco was a hot mess. Lots of mud had accumulated after the multi-day rainstorm, but the seats of the Forrester stayed clean. Lucky for me we had a third passenger in the car so I was able to gather some feedback about the comfort of the cover. The passenger did not notice any substantial difference between sitting on the cover and using the traditional seat. The seat belts were easy to access through the openings. The only complaint that was expressed was with the passenger she shared the seat with. Rocco's management of personal space could use some work.
Final Thoughts- There are multiple options on the market for protecting your backseat. None that I have found manage to find the balance or price, usability and compatibility that the Ruffwear Dirtbag does. The price point is better then most and comes tailored to the outdoor user. The seatbelt access points and full coverage make this cover a great system for protecting your seats. The idea of incorporating a hammock setup adds a additional layer of protection to the seats. Ruffwear overlooked no details in designing this and I would highly recommend it. More information can be found about the Dirtbag Seat Cover here.
*This product was purchased for review.