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We all know our own dogs. Some have thick fur, some thin, some love wild weather, some hate the rain, and some even love wild camping with us.
Camping with both Dixie and Tilly, we tried all sorts to keep them comfy. The summer’s not so hard, but in the cold it can be very challenging.
Blankets, fleece coats, insulated coats, even dog sized sleeping bags that I could zip her into (that could actually be quite challenging to be honest!) – they’ve all been tried, in every combination possible.
Nothing ever seemed either just right or straightforward.
But since Pebbles and Islay have been on the scene, we discovered some doggy sleeping bags. On sale in the States (they stopped shipping to the UK some years back) and rather expensive, we nevertheless invested in some.
They were quite a success.
If it’s hot, the dogs don’t have to be fully covered, but if it’s cold, they can be.
To complement the bags, they also have summer weight PJs and winter weight PJs.
About 6 years ago I had a go at making my own, similar version of a doggy sleeping bag and these were so well received by Pebbles and Islay, my little cottage industry of Woof Bags was born.
They are bucket shaped and function rather like a cross between a soft bed and a sleeping bag. Whatever the diameter of the bed, the sides are the same height ie: a 27″ diameter bed has 27″ high sides, a 20″ diameter one has 20″ high sides etc. In soft bed form, with the sides folded down, they can simply be sat or laid in.
But if you want the dog covered, you simply have to unroll the tall sides and lay them/wrap them over your snoozing canine. Of course, if your dog sometimes prefers to sleep on its side, the bag can also be turned on its side – more like a human sleeping bag – and be used that way. In fact to be honest, it doesn’t really matter how you wrap them up, as long as they’re happy.
The medium sized bag that I’ve made most of (shown in these photos), has a base with a diameter of 27″ and seems to suit most average sized dogs. The 27″ ones weigh approximately 750g – being all handmade they can differ slightly – and easily pack into the supplied compression sack.
I have also made smaller ones at 25″ diameter (approx. 670g), 23″ diameter (approx. 620g) and 21″ diameter (approx. 560g), as well as a few larger ones – a 28″ one at 800g, a 30″ one which weighed around 950g, and a 32″ one which was about 1100g. Believe me, the 32″ was very large once finished, and I’m not sure my domestic sewing machine and I could handle making anything larger than that.
I always keep a sample of a Woof Bag in (average sized – 27″), so if anyone wants to see one/let your dog have a sit in one, before you commit to an order, let me know. Obviously this offer is only any use if you don’t live too far away … 🤣
If your dog has panniers, you may be able to compress a Woof Bag enough to fit it inside one pannier – it rather depends on both the size of the Woof Bag and the size of the panniers. If you can’t, or don’t want to compress it that much, then another suggestion is for you to carry the Woof Bag, and maybe put a couple of your small items in the dog’s panniers. Just be aware though that dogs shouldn’t be asked to carry more than 25% of their body weight. To be fair, we never get anywhere near that percentage with our dogs, but some dogs would be ok with that.
If you are interested in a lighter version of a Woof Bag (ie: 3-season rather than 4-season), please have a look here.
The donor bags that I use to make the Standard, 4-season, Woof Bags have a HUMAN lower temperature limit of -2°C. They have been used by our two right through the winter, down to about -5C, with them both still being totally warm, cozy and content. In the coldest weather, ie: approaching OC and below overnight, I will take a good quality foam mat with me to put under the Woof Bag and the dogs will also wear a warm coat to sleep in. For the rest of the year, I don’t bother with a foam mat at all, the insulation from the Woof Bag is enough. They don’t necessarily need a coat for sleeping in in the summer either, but Pebbles in particular seems to like to wear something overnight in the tent, so they do have some very light, minimal fleeces to put on. I think this is part of the tent bedtime ritual for them to be honest, rather than a ‘need’ in the warmer temperatures.
These next three photos show a night on Kinder in early 2021, when the temperature did drop to -5C overnight. The dogs were nevertheless perfectly toasty and content.
Of course, you don’t have to be a wild camper to have a use for a Woof Bag, car camping dogs using campsites might also appreciate one, as might caravanning and motorhoming dogs. I have also sold a couple of bags to people with elderly or infirm dogs, where the dogs really appreciate being wrapped up snuggly even in the house.
And of course another advantage of a Woof Bag, which several customers have mentioned to me, is that it gives your dog its own space (ours can’t wait to get in them once we’re pitched, even if they’re just sitting in them out in the sun for a while) and this in turn helps to keep all your gear clean and dry, even when your precious fur baby is all muddy and wet…
The bags I make have synthetic insulation – I don’t really see down as being a viable option for potentially muddy, wet canines. This is partly because down clumps when wet, loses efficiency and would be difficult to dry out in the field, and also, synthetic bags are much easier to regularly wash and dry successfully at home.
Turnaround time from placing an order with me, to receiving your Woof Bag, is generally about a week. I keep you updated with progress and send you a photo of it, as soon as it is finished.
Please do contact me if you are considering placing an order, to help with deciding what size bag your dog will need.
I don’t ask for any payment from you until it is finished and ready to post. I post them by Royal Mail (unless you are outside the UK), using the ‘First Class Signed For’ service.
Pebbles and Islay have both made a video each on how to use a Woof Bag. If you would like to watch them, click here. Most folk seem to practice using them in the house a few times before taking them camping. As well as getting them used to it, it gets their scent on it.
Incidentally, Pebbles now prefers the Woof Bag I made her, to the one we initially got from the States. Apparently it’s definitely warmer and cosier…
Click here to see what I am currently charging for a hand-made Woof Bag.
Click here to see washing/care instructions for the bags.
If you want to read some reviews, click here.
If you are interested in a Woof Bag, I will ask you to measure your dog. Please click here to see how to do that.
Finally, any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Click here for my contact details.
A Word About Fastenings
If Pebbles is fidgety overnight it is possible for her to get uncovered and I am in the habit of sleepily putting a hand out to check her whenever I stir, but I don’t find this a problem. She sleeps next to me, at the head end of my sleeping bag, which does actually make it very easy to re-wrap her if necessary, but to be fair she’s so used to it now she hardly moves overnight. I have to say, though, that we have discovered that if the doggies are wearing a fleece jacket, it does appear that the friction between the fleece and the Woof Bag does seem to really help at keeping them covered nicely. Pebbles can often stand up, turn around and lie down again, and remain covered up through the whole process.
But please be realistic about this, often the dogs don’t need re-wrapping through the night, but sometimes they do. They are different though, and Islay is a bit more fidgety than Pebbles. I have tried ways of sealing the bags around the dogs, but they both got quite distressed when they found they couldn’t move, to the point where I thought they might injure themselves, so adding shock cord or other fastenings is not something that I will do. They are not people and don’t understand the concept of drawcords etc around their necks.
A final word about our ethos on wild camping or even car camping with dogs
We are very aware that our dogs don’t actually choose to come camping with us and it’s our responsibility to make sure they’re safe, warm and happy. I always liken wild camping with a dog to having a young toddler along and we wouldn’t expect them to be able to look after themselves.
On some occasions of course, which may or may not be weather related, that may mean leaving them at home, but we never want them to have a bad experience while they’re out with us. And it has to be said as well, that there are times and conditions when you might have enough on dealing with yourself, without adding another living being into the picture. Stay safe!