Gear Guy

Is there a tent made just for dogs?

My husband and I frequently take our two dogs on our camping trips, in all sorts of weather. However, as much as I love them, after a day of hiking on muddy trails I'm often less than enthused about welcoming two balls of mud into our tent (one 20-pound beagle-ball, the other a 60-pound lab-type-ball). We have daydreamed about a lightweight pouch or lightly insulated sleep sack for our dogs. I ready to start experimenting with my sewing machine, but a friend told me there's a company that makes this stuff. Is this true? And if so, is this gear practical? Toni Schenectady, New York

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How in the world do you coax a beagle up the trail? My two hike in a zigzag pattern, constantly veering here and there to sniff something interesting. Last fall one of them, Molly, tracked down the wrapper from an old candy bar—20 yards off the trail.

Anyway, I may have just the thing for you: The Mutt Hutt, from Ruff Wear (, a long-time maker of excellent outdoor dog stuff [reviewed in Outside’s January 2003 issue]. It’s a real little tent for dogs, keeping them dry and out of the weather, while its easy-access door lets the pooches come and go as they please. Really very clever. Cost is not prohibitive, either—$99 for the large size, which probably would accommodate your two mud balls. Weight is a bit of an issue, though, as it’ll add four pounds to your load. But it might be just the ticket. If your dogs are crate-trained, they’ll probably take right to it. Alternatively, you could pack one of several single-pole tarps, such as the Bibler Betamid, which weighs about three pounds with the optional floor and costs $150. But the Mutt Hutt is much more dog-friendly.

For a sleeping pad inside the Mutt Hutt, get a Camp K-9 dog bed, the pet-specific version of Cascade Designs’ long-popular Therma-a-Rest. The medium size should work and costs $90 ( No other pad needed—the K-9 is thick and soft, with a washable plush top.