Weekends often mean sleeping on the ground, in the backwoods and often with a wet smelly dog. Don't get me wrong I love backpacking with Rocco, but there are times I wish he had his own tent. Stuffing him into the bottom of a $500 sleeping bag is a hard pill to swallow. I was excited when I saw that Ruffwear was introducing a sleep system for backcountry travel. A dedicated sleeping bag and pad for that stinky four legged backpacker. After one final night of a cold, wet dog I decided to give the Highlands Sleeping Bag and Pad a shot.
Initial Impressions- The Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag is travel bag designed for use backpacking. The bag itself is constructed of durable polyester that encases synthetic insulation. The sleeping bag weighs 1lb 11oz and compacts down into a included stuff sack. The pad is designed to fit inside the Palisades Pack. The bag is oval shaped with a zipper that runs around 70% of the bag. The idea is that your dog can lay on top of the bag or inside. When inside you can zip the dog up to retain heat, but it still allows them to exit the bag if necessary. The bottom of the bag has a fabric sleeve that houses the optional Highland Sleeping Pad. The pad is constructed of closed cell foam and covered in polyester fabric. The design ensures that no water is absorbed, and provides protection from hard and cold surfaces. The pad folds up accordion style to save space. The total weight comes in at just over 7 oz. The pad is not designed to fit inside the Palisades Pack.
Use- Shortly after receiving the Highlands Sleeping Bag and Pad we had a backpacking trip on the books. The idea with the bed was to allow Rocco to use the system inside the vestibule of the tent, while we were able to utilize the limited tent space for ourselves. This sort of worked. We were able to get him to sleep outside the tent, but he was not happy about it. He got up numerous times during the night and disturbed the other tent. In future trips we will most likely try to have sleep inside the tent.
While packing for this trip I noticed one issue. Although the Sleeping Pad does technically fit inside the Palisades pack (size small), it does so by forgoing the stuff sack. You also really have to cram the thing in there to make it fit. This created some issues with the way the pack carried, throwing off the balance and bulging out on one side. For future trips I will most likely carry the bed and pad. I am certain that with some of the larger sizes of the Palisades Pack that it would fit better.
Rocco appears to enjoy having the bed in the field. I have no worries about tossing this thing out near the dinner circle or near the fire. The bag is definitely durable, almost too much. I think Ruffwear is on the right track, but they need to go back to the drawing board on reducing the weight and bulk. One option might be to offer multiple sizes. Currently Ruffwear offers another version called the Highlands Bed that only weighs 12.7 oz. This is nearly 14 oz less then the Highlands Sleeping Bag. Ideally owning both would work for year round camping.
Final Thoughts- The Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag and Pad does exactly what it is designed to do. Unfortunately the design is rather bulky and heavy. If your dog is a cold sleeper, then maybe this is the best option, next to sharing your bag. Separating your sleep system from your dogs will ultimately end in a more positive backcountry experience. The durability is on point and the materials making cleaning easy. Ruffwear always puts their dogs first and this product really shows that. Checkout the Ruffwear Highlands Sleep Bag and Pad or other dog specific gear at their website.
*This product was purchased for testing.