Dog Sleeping Bags [2019] – Best Options for Backpacking With Your Pet

Keep your pet warm and comfortable at night with these sleeping bags.

Are you planning a camping or backpacking trip with your furry friend? If so, a dog sleeping bag could be a portable way to keep your pet warm at night. Here are five of the best pet sleeping bags on the market at the moment.

A guide to the best sleeping bags for dogs

Our #1 Pick

Highlands

Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag for Dogs

A great bed for backpacking and camping

My top pick for a dog sleeping bag is the Ruffwear Highlands. It's an insulated bag with a water-resistant shell, machine-washable design and four stake loops for securing it to the ground. It's not cheap, but is worth the money if you regularly sleep outdoors with your pet.

Most dogs love spending time outdoors, so camping and backpacking trips can be a great way to strengthen your bond and reconnect with nature.

If you're planning to spend a night outdoors, however, it's vital to bring a comfortable bed for your pet.

Yes, your dog might have a fur coat - but he probably still needs help staying warm at night. It's also unfair to ask your dog to sleep on the cold, hard ground!

Lugging around a foam bed isn't always possible though, which is why dog sleeping bags from brands such as Coleman, Ozark and Ruffwear have become popular in recent years. These bags are lightweight, small when rolled up, and provide a warm sleeping spot for your pet to snuggle into.

​In this article, I've listed five of the best dog sleeping bags on the market at the moment. These products are durable, cozy and perfect for outdoor sleeping. But before we go any further, let's talk about what to look for in a canine sleeping bag.

Note: Always make sure your dog is warm enough when you're sleeping outside. While a sleeping bag can help keep your pet warm, it may not be enough in cold conditions - especially for dogs with short hair.

How to Choose the Right Dog Sleeping Bag

The right sleeping bag depends on the requirements of both you and your pet. Here are some of the most important considerations:

  • Durability. Outdoor beds are subjected to harsher conditions than those for indoor use. Dirt, rocks, mud and a wet dog (if your pup likes to swim) can all put extra strain on the fabric. This might not be an issue if you need a sleeping bag for the occasional trip, but for regular backpacking make sure you choose a durable option. A sturdy zipper is also essential, as this if often the first part to break.
  • Comfort. Even the best dog sleeping bag is never going to provide the comfort or cushioning of a regular bed. But the best options have at least a small amount of padding built into the sleeve or base. For added comfort, you may want to purchase a separate pad - especially for sleeping on rocky ground.
  • Size. There are two competing factors when choosing the size of a dog sleeping bag. Your dog needs to have enough space to snuggle inside, but the bag also needs to be easy to carry. The great thing about sleeping bags is they can often be rolled into a stuff sack to save space, so the primary focus should be on getting one that's the right size for your pet. If a bed doesn't come with a sack, however, it may not be suitable for backpacking. On a related note, the weight of the bag is important - especially if you're going to carry it for long periods!
  • Insulation and Warmth. If you're planning to sleep in cold conditions, the extra warmth provided by a sleeping bag could be essential for your dog. Look for a bag with an insulating foil layer that reflects your dog's heat back rather than letting it escape.
  • Water Resistant. Sleeping bags aren't designed to be used on wet ground or in rain, but water resistance is useful for damp conditions. Most bags can't be machine dried, so if they get wet you'll need to give them time to air dry.
  • Washable Design. An outdoor bag gets dirty almost instantly. A machine washable design is essential, otherwise the bed is more likely to end up gathering dust in a cupboard than being used.

Those are all important factors to consider. But perhaps the most important is whether a sleeping bag is the right choice for your pet in the first place.

​If your dog loves to snuggle up in a cave bed (or your bed sheets!), he'll probably love the cozy feel of a sleeping bag. But if your dog prefers to stretch out, or is anxious about being enclosed, then a regular camping mat might be the better option.

I also don't recommend a dog sleeping bag for pets with joint pain. Bags provide more cushioning than the bare floor, but an arthritic dog will still find sleeping on the relatively thin padding to be painful. And you may want to avoid sleeping bags if your dog enjoys chewing his bed, as most aren't chew-proof.

A golden retriever coming into the tent

5 Best Pet Sleeping Bags (+ Mini Reviews)

Quick Picks:

RankNameRatingKey FeaturesPrice
#1Ruffwear HighlandsGreat sleeping bag for camping and backpacking. Durable and comes with a stuff sack.$$$
#2Hurtta Outback DreamerCircular bag without a zip, but perfect for dogs that like to snuggle up.$$$
#3DogHelios Trail-BarkerPU waterproof coating and can be fully unzipped to be used as a mat.$$$
#4Mac Sports Pet Sleeping BagCheaper bag that's too bulky for backpacking, but great for car camping.$$
#5Alcott ExplorerLow price but not as durable as other options. Also too bulky for backpacking.$$

Scroll down for more information and mini-reviews of each of our top picks.

Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag

1. Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag

If you're looking a top-notch dog sleeping bag, the Ruffwear Highlands is my top pick. It's durable, water-resistant and insulated to provide your pup with a comfortable night's sleep when camping or backpacking.

The Ruffwear Highlands is a medium-size sleeping bag with a side zipper and water-resistant design. It's made with a combination of synthetic insulation and a polyester fabric shell, and is specifically designed for outdoor use. While it's not thick enough to provide much joint support, it's warmer and softer than sleeping on the floor.

As you would expect from a backpacking bag, the Highlands comes with a stuff sack to make it more portable. It's one of the most convenient bags to take backpacking, as it's easy to roll up and doesn't weigh too much. There's also four stake-out loops for securing the bed or hanging it to dry.

At the time of writing, Ruffwear only sells the Highlands in a single size (35"x26"). This should be big enough for dogs up to around 60-65lbs, although it might be a snug fit.

It's also machine washable. Just make sure you use cold water and a gentle cycle. It's not suitable for tumble-drying though, so you'll need to wait for it to air dry.

Despite being an excellent sleeping bag, there are a few drawbacks that are worth mentioning.

Firstly, the material is relatively thin, so don't expect it to work wonders on cold nights. To address this, Ruffwear has included a pad sleeve for adding the separately sold Highlands Pad. This provides much better insulation than the sleeping bag alone, so it's an essential purchase for winter backpacking, but means the cost is higher.

​Speaking of cost, the Ruffwear is a relatively expensive bag. It's similarly priced to the Hurtta Outback Dreamer (see below), but considerably more costly than basic alternatives.

Even so, the durable design, insulating material and stuff sack make the Ruffwear Highlands an excellent choice for backpacking or camping - especially with a puppy or small/medium breeds.

Why We Recommend It: The Ruffwear Highlands is my top pick for a doggie sleeping bag. It's durable, lightweight, insulated and great for backpacking. You'll need to purchase the separate insulating pad for sleeping in winter weather though.

  • Brand: Ruffwear
  • Sizes Available: 35 x 26 inches
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Insulated and water-resistant design
  • Stuff sack for easier portability
  • Sleeve for optional pad (sold separately)
  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for large breeds
  • The separate insulating pad is essential for cold weather
Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag

2. Hurtta Outback Dreamer

The Hurtta Outback Dreamer is an excellent alternative to the Ruffwear if you would prefer a bag without a zip. It's a similar price and is built with heat-reflecting foil, water-repellent material and a circular design. It's also machine washable.

The biggest difference between this bag and the Ruffwear is the lack of a zip. While the Ruffwear Highlands lets you zip up your dog, the Outback Dreamer is more of a pouch for your pet to snuggle in than a traditional sleeping bag.

This isn't a bad thing though - especially if your pet doesn't like be zipped up. The bag is also durable, and,  although it doesn't have the same amount of padding as a true cave bed, is much more comfortable than the hard ground.

Other features of this dog bed include heat-reflecting foil to stop warmth escaping, an insulating and water repellent shell, and a travel bag for taking it backpacking.

​Unlike the Ruffwear, the Outback Dreamer is available in three sizes - small, medium and large. The largest only has a diameter of 35" though, so I wouldn't recommend it for the biggest breeds. You also shouldn't expect this bag to keep your dog warm during the coldest winter conditions.

​For outdoor sleeping in mild weather, however, the Outback Dreamer is an excellent choice for small or medium breeds.

Why We Recommend It: The Hurtta is more of a sleeping pouch than traditional bag, as it doesn't have a zip. The insulating fabric, reflective foil layer and durable design make it a great choice for outdoor sleeping though.

  • Brand: Hurtta
  • Sizes Available: Small, Medium, Large
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Durable design with three size options
  • Lightweight and includes a travel bag
  • Water repellent
  • Expensive
  • Not thick enough for winter weather
DogHelios

3. DogHelios Trail-Barker Multi-Surface

If you need a dog sleeping bag that can be unzipped to act as a double-size sleeping mat, the DogHelios Trail-Barker is an option to consider. It's a sturdy bed that's resistant to almost anything the outdoors can throw at it. While the Trail-Barker isn't cheap, it's about as close as you can get to a "human" sleeping bag for your pet.

The key feature of the DogHelios is the "Black Shark" technology. This is a rather over-dramatic name, but basically means the bed has been PU coated and designed to be both waterproof and windproof. The thin padding also helps your dog retain heat throughout the night.

There are two zips. You can either secure your dog snugly inside the bag (assuming he's comfortable with this sleeping arrangement), or open it up for a wider soft surface. A nylon carry strap is also included for carrying the bag when it's rolled up.

In terms of size, the Trail-Barker is similar to the Ruffwear. It's suitable for small or medium breeds, but any dog over 60lbs is likely to find it a tight fit. There's also a crescent extension on the bottom edge, which is great for your dog to lie his head on when sleeping.

Why We Recommend It: The Trail-Barker is an excellent sleeping bag that's available in four colors (blue, grey, red and yellow). It has a PU coated waterproof design, can be fully unzipped to double as a larger mat, and has a crescent end for your dog to lie his head on. The biggest downside is the price, but it's a great choice for camping.

  • Brand: DogHelios
  • Sizes Available: 39.4 x 25.7 inches
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Can be unzipped into a larger mat
  • Waterproof and windproof
  • Nylon carry strap
  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for large dogs and only one size available
Mac Sports bag

4. Mac Sports Pet Sleeping Bag

If you're looking for a cheaper option, the Mac Sports Pet Sleeping Bag is one of the better options. It's not as durable or stylish as the premium bags on this list, but still comes with a water resistant exterior and padded headrest.

The Mac Sports bed is made with a nylon exterior. This is water resistant, and should stop moisture seeping through to the softer microfiber interior - although it's certainly not suitable for use in rain. There's also a padded headrest, which is a nice addition for added comfort.

Like all dog sleeping bags, the Mac Sports can be rolled up for easier transportation. It also comes with a carry bag and it can be machine washed.

One thing to note about this bed is that it's bigger than the Ruffwear, with dimensions of 40" x 33.5" compared to 35" x 26". Mac Sports recommends it for dogs up to 60lbs, although it may be suitable for slightly bigger pets depending on whether they mind a snug fit.

​There are some drawbacks to this dog bed though. The Mac Sports is relatively bulky even when packed down, so it's probably not the best choice for backpacking. For car camping, however, it's a good choice.

​It's also not as durable as some of the other bags on this list. It's fine for the occasional trip, but for regular use I recommend the Ruffwear or Hurtta. 

Why We Recommend It: The Mac Sports is a solid option if you need a cheap sleeping bag for car camping. The machine washable design, padded headrest and soft interior mean it provides good value for money. It's too bulky for backpacking though.

  • Brand: Mac Sports
  • Sizes Available: 40 x 33.5 inches
  • Price Range: $$
  • Padded headrest
  • Relatively cheap
  • Soft microfiber interior
  • Too bulky for backpacking
  • Not as durable as other options
Alcott Explorer

5. Alcott Explorer

The Alcott Explorer is another low-budget option that's suitable for the occasional car camping trip. Unlike other bags, the top can be completely removed via the zipper. It's also machine washable and rolls up for easier storage.

With its soft interior, the Alcott Explorer is a comfortable sleeping bag for your pet. It's not waterproof, but is suitable for camping in dry conditions and can keep your pet snug when the temperature starts to drop. The bag can also be machine washed. 

While the Explorer provides decent value, there are some issues that make it difficult to recommend over the Ruffwear (if your budget allows it) or Mac Sports (if you need a cheaper bed for car camping only). 

The main issue is that the insulated design and lack of a compression sack prevents the bed from rolling up to a small size. It probably won't fit in your dog's backpack, for example, so you'll need to find a way to fit it in your own pack. There's also inconsistency in the color of the bag, which is something to keep in mind if you're buying it based on the green and grey color scheme.

Even so, it's fine for the occasional car camping trip and is available for a great price. Just don't expect it to keep your pet warm in harsh weather conditions.

Why We Recommend It: The Alcott Explorer could be an option to consider for car camping - especially if you're on a tight budget. It's too bulky for backpacking, but provides a comfortable sleeping spot for your pet. I prefer the similar Mac Sports in this price range though.

  • Brand: Alcott
  • Sizes Available: Small, Medium, Large
  • Price Range: $$
  • Comfortable interior
  • Machine washable
  • Not as durable as other options
  • Too bulky for backpacking with your dog
A woman stroking a dog outdoors

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my dog doesn't want to go into the bag?

You should never force a dog to use a sleeping bag (or any dog bed). A dog that's forced will associate negative feelings with the bag, which may mean he'll always feel anxious around it. You should also never zip up a sleeping bag if your pet is anxious in confined spaces.

Instead, try to make the bag a positive thing. Let your dog sniff and explore it in his own time. Place a few treats inside so that he's excited about burrowing into the bag, and leave it open so he can go in and out as he pleases. Over time, you might find your dog starts to snuggle into the bag when he gets cold.

If your pet still decides he prefers sleeping on top of the bag rather than inside, there's nothing wrong with that. You may need to find another way to keep him warm though.​

Can I use a sleep sack or bag at home?

Yes, some pets actually prefer a bag to a dog bed. You may want to consider a cave bed though. These have a similar enclosed design, but often come with a more luxurious feel as they aren't exposed to the elements.

Summary

Camping or backpacking with your dog can be a lot of fun, but your dog deserves a comfortable and warm place to sleep.

Dog sleeping bags can be a great way to provide this, as they are more portable than a regular dog bed. They aren't right for every dog - some just don't like to be enclosed - but for burrowers or those who like to snuggle a bag can become a favorite place to sleep.

My top recommendation for a backpacking sleeping bag is the Ruffwear Highlands. It's a durable bag with a water resistant design, stuff bag to make it easier to carry, and it can be machine washed.

Do you have any questions about choosing a dog sleeping bag? Please let me know in the comments section!

Richard Bio

About the Author: Richard Cross

Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports.