Which tent is roomy and rugged enough to withstand my dog?
My wife and I are looking for a three-season tent to take on backpacking trips in New England. One condition: The tent must be roomy and rugged enough for us to bring along our chocolate lab puppy that we just can't leave at home. What kind of tent would you recommend? Jim Watervliet, New York
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Camping with dogs is great fun. Right up until they roll in a ripe deer carcass then want to snuggle in the tent at bedtime.
MSR Mutha HubbaMSR Mutha Hubba
But seriously, there are several options for tenting a dog. The simplest is just to get a three-person tent and let the dog sleep in there along with you, which may be what Fido demands if she sleeps in your bed at home. The Big Agnes Parkview 3 ($299; www.bigagnes.com) is roomy and well-ventilated, with space for the two of you and the pooch. And the tent has two doors, so one of you will always be in position to let your canine companion answer the call of nature. MSRs new Mutha Hubba ($379; www.msrcorp.com) is another large, airy tent with twin doors and vestibules. I like the Hubba because its pole layout creates nearly vertical sidewalls, giving it a feeling of considerable spaciousness. The Mutha Hubba weighs just under seven pounds, and the Parkview 3 is about the same (pretty good weights for three-person tents).
Alternatively, you can teach the dog to sleep in the vestibule, outside of the tent body but still close at hand for a reassuring pat during the night. The Mutha Hubba has vestibules big enough for a large dog. So too does the new Marmot Aeolos 2P ($325; www.marmot.com). And the Aeolos, a two-person tent, weighs in at just over five pounds, so you save some weight.
Or, the dog can have her own tent. Ruff Wears Mutt Hutt ($98; www.ruffwear.com) is big enough for a lab and has a handy dog door so your pooch can come and go as she pleases. And you dont have to worry about shedding or accidents in your main tentafter a trip, just rinse out the Mutt Hutt, let it dry, and youre ready to go again. The downside is that it adds four pounds to your load (although you can put it in a Ruff Wear Palisades Pack, from $80, and let the dog carry its own shelter).
All tent floors are more or less made of the same material, so its difficult to suggest a tent thats somehow more durable than another for use with a dog. If the dogs sleeps in the tent with you, Id suggest purchasing an inexpensive tarp at a hardware store (five-by-seven should do nicely) and put that on the floor of the tent to protect it from the scuffling of little dog feet.
The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside‘s 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year’s hottest tent.