Jan 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm #1284366
I live in a relatively warm climate. However, the mountain areas can get down to freezing. Last weekend I canceled an over-niter because the weather report called for night time temps in the low 30s. I couldn't get anyone to take care of my dog that weekend, which meant she was going to have to go with me. She's never experienced temps lower than 45*F. I do have a thermarest ccf pad and a very old 30*F rated Coleman sleeping bag for her. But, living in Southern California where she's accustomed to day time temps, generally, no less than 65*F and nights no less than 45*F, I was concerned. I'd really appreciate any advice you can offer.
Jan 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm #1826761
What a sweet baby! What a face! If I'd been in CA I would have taken care of her!
But, to your question. I think she would have been fine with the sleeping bag and mattress, whether used to it or not. If fact, if you snuggled with her, you would have found her to be a little furnace! It's amazing how much heat our furry friends put out.
Mary D hikes with her pup all the time, she should be able to give you first hand experience advice!Jan 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm #1826768
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
30F isn't even a "one-dog night" to use that native temperature scale that gave the rock group it's name.
But if she was a little cool that night, it could have been a "one-human night" from her perspective. She'd have leaned up against your bag and been warmer for it.
Dogs come knowing how to adjust their position to retain or dump heat. They'll curl up or stretch out as needed.
I think with a pad and any sort of beater sleeping bag, she'd have been more than fine. With our lab, on a tent trip at 30F, I'd have maybe brought a fleece throw blanket like the kind airlines used to give you back when airlines gave you blankets. EXACTLY like that kind of blanket. While our dog plays outside at -20F she sleeps inside every night.
Being acclimitized makes a difference, but labs were bred to jump into the North Atlantic after fish and nets.
Time for some trial runs. If she'd not curled up and wiggling under the covers, bring a little less the next time.Jan 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm #1826773
Laurie Ann MarchMember
@laurie_annLocale: Ontario, Canada
Our dog is little so he climbs into the sleeping bag with his Human Dad. He also has his own little piece of insulated mat in case he gets too hot in there.
When we had our German Shepherd we used Muttluks on his paws in the cold weather so they wouldn't freeze/crack. You can find them at pet stores or Muttluks.com.Jan 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm #1826799
Unfortunately, mine is not a very cold tolerant dog, so he's got his own thermals.
Guess where he sleeps
I avoid taking him once the snow gets too deep. A wet cold pitbull is an unhappy pitbull.Jan 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm #1826800
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
I've seen many backpackers with dogs get a fleece vest for the pooch to use at night. The vest doesn't have to be anything special, just a human vest that sized to fit the dog. The human vests will fit most dogs just fine.
Combine that with a ccf sleeping pad and if need your jacket and the dog should do fine.Jan 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm #1826818
Thanks guys. I feel better now. I went through a lot of angst last week and finally decided to bail. You've all been a big help. :)Jan 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm #1826827
Thanks, Doug, I would totally trust you with her. And, Ike,that is a beautiful pit!Jan 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm #1826861
–Jan 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm #1826868
@gabe_joyesLocale: Lander, WY
Dogs are tough. Ours skis in 0 degree weather and has camped in the lower teens with snow. We just throw a rain jacket or something over her and she usually works her way closer and closer to our sleeping bags. She is an Alaskan Husky (Siberian, Greyhound, and Collie). SO she is skin and bones with short fur. See below.
Only times shes ever used a sleeping pad.
All 37 pounds of her.
Not winter yet, but single digits wind chill on Wind River PeakJan 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm #1826951
Thanks Kendall. Yours looks like a sweetie and far better suited for cold weather than mine. Other than his coat, I just bring a spare bit of foam pad for him. I also open up my sleeping bag and throw it over the two of us like a quilt if its cold.Jan 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm #1827438
@nickbLocale: Los Padres National Forest
My yellow lab accompanies me on a lot of my trips, which mostly take place in the winter in the local backcountry. We don't typically have to deal with snow (or if there is snow, there's not lots of it), but we do regularly get temps down into the mid 20s and sometimes colder.
We were worried about how Bixby would handle the cold, but so far we haven't had any issues. He has his own ccf pad (an old GG nightlite pad) to sleep on and his own insulation piece which is just an old synthetic vest.
Go pick up an old fleece vest or synthetic vest from the thrift store, probably a men's Med (or large if your dog is bigger, for reference my lab is 95 lbs), and you should be good to go. An old sleeping bag seems like it could work too but whenever we've tried to drape something over our dog, he just kicks it off at some point in the night and it ends up in a ball in the corner of the shelter.
Having the dog carry its own pack towel can be good too so that you can use it to dry the dog off real well in camp, assuming yours is anything like mine and has to stop at every swimming hole, creek, lake, etc. for a dip. The only time I've seen my dog get cold and shiver while curled up in a little ball was when he was damp from swimming all afternoon and hadn't dried out before the sun went down. We got him dried a bit more, took him for a quick walk and put his vest on him and he warmed right up.Jan 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm #1827445
"A wet cold pitbull is an unhappy pitbull."
So true! Ike, where can I get my pit bull hiking companion thermals like yours? When my pooch comes out with me in the winter, he insists on sleeping on my chest under the quilt.Jan 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm #1827753
Those are from K9 topcoats. Knowing pitbulls though, even with the coat she's still going to want to sleep on your chest.Jan 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm #1827760
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Nicholas, I like the photo of your dog in Lake Ediza. I assume that the stroke is a dog paddle. Is that a double-sided dog pack, or are those water wings?
–B.G.–Jan 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm #1827854
Thanks, Ike! Since the dog needs to sleep against me in any context, I think I'll just have to keep sharing the quilt with him on the trail.Jan 27, 2012 at 5:41 am #1830386
The fotogs herein have captivated and inspired me to post some of the Mighty Winter Cur in his best elements—the TN and NC mountains.
Here is old Shunka on a TN mountain top and using his homemade pack made from a set of old bicycle paniers.
On another trip we reach the top of Hangover Mt in NC and old Shunka likes the snow.
On this particular trip we get caught in a series of winter storms and still have another thousand feet to climb. Here we are on the trail up to Four Mile Ridge in NC. At the top I lose the trail in 24 inches of snow with drifts to 30-35 inches. It took me three hours to hike one mile.
Another time we reach Airjet Camp in frigid temps and Shunka surveys the Staika tent and the WM Puma bag.
Atop Bob Stratton Bald mighty Shunka surveys a group of boy scouts anxious to get off the mountain due to a surprise October snowstorm.
At some nameless spot we take a break. It's obvious Shunka traded in his crappy homemade pack for a real one made by Adventure 16.
In 15 years of his backpacking life, Shunka came into the tent only once—during a -10F night with popping trees which sounded like gunshots and he got spooked.
Here Shunka is having a difficult time on a ridge hike thru snow drifts so I have to take his pack and carry it myself.
Sometimes in deep snow you've got to unstrap the dog's load and put it on your own. Here I am wearing a meat necklace—a fully loaded dog pack.
On another trip we come off the Flats Mt trail and stop at Beehouse Gap for a rest.
In the South Col Camp on Gorak Mountain we hang out and prepare for another cold night. Shunka always made a circle nest in the snow and often could reach the dead leaves underneath.
On this trip my evac ride could not reach me so we had to pull a long frozen roadwalk out to "syhpilization".Jan 27, 2012 at 8:19 am #1830441
@davidadairLocale: West Dakota
Great photos, Walter. A good dog is fine company. In a couple photos I see you are wearing that particular smile frequently seen on the trail but rarely in the city.Jan 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm #1830634
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Having been quoted as an "expert" above I feel obliged to respond. Actually, I don't backpack in winter, mostly because I can't stand 14-15 hour nights in the tent. Once it's pitch dark more than 12 hours a day, it's just dayhiking for me, and usually below the snowline.
However, I do backpack in "shoulder season" which in the high Cascades can mean temps down to 15*F. I take a Gossamer Gear torso length Nightlite pad for my dog (it helps support my pack, since I use an insulated air pad), and if below freezing temps are expected, I'll put a dog jacket in my dog's pack. Hysson is mostly Lab, and of course has that very fine, dense (and perpetually shedding!) undercoat designed to let him survive in freezing water, but since he's an indoor dog at home, he doesn't have as much as if he were outdoors most of the time. It's really important to have a dog jacket loose enough that it doesn't compress the dog's natural furry insulation!
Because Hysson stands up and stretches every few hours during the night and then turns around three times before lying back down (I call him my Robert Benchley dog), I've found it's useless to put a blanket or other cover on him. It will end up in a back corner of the tent. That's why I use a jacket to keep him warm on cold nights. On cold nights he is definitely part of my sleep system!
Should I ever want to camp in zero F temps, my daughter recently gave me a really heavy fleece coat she had for her Viszla (their hair is so short and thin that they need a lot of covering–in fact, she used it under a rain jacket). It's "Apache River" brand and has more belly coverage than most fleece dog coats. However, those who sew can probably convert a thrift shop child's fleece jacket for their dog for a lot less money.
Actually, Hysson's biggest snow experience was last week in Seattle, of all places. It started snowing Tuesday morning and, except for a few bouts of freezing rain, never really stopped until warmer rains hit on Saturday. Awesome sledding on the steep hills near my son's place. Most of the parents were out, too, making sure their kids didn't slide into the few cars that were trying to venture out. My grandkids had a ball, and so did their parents. My son said that the rare snowstorms are really the only time that the neighborhood gets together as a community! We were out for several hours each day. Hysson was just fine in the snow, although his paws got a bit sensitive, especially later in the week when the snow had a nice crust on top from the freezing rain.Jan 27, 2012 at 10:48 pm #1830807
@jedi5150Locale: Central CA
I took Vixen, our 5 year old Belgian Malinois (60 lbs) backpacking with me last summer in the Sierras. Beginning of summer in the Sierras meant that there was still a good 5 to 6 feet of snow covering most of the trail. I'm honestly not sure how cold it got that night, but we were at roughly 9k feet in elevation, and I'd guess the temp dropped to the low 40's. The tent was set up on dry ground, surrounded by about 2 foot deep snow on a ridgeline. Vixen was comfortable on my TNF fleece jacket, although she does like to push up against me in a sleeping bag.
This is what the first week of summer looks like in the Sierras:
Hmmm….it appears my photo posting skills are weak. :)Feb 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm #1833983
@nickbLocale: Los Padres National Forest
@ Bob: That's Bixby's dog pack! We can't keep him out of the water… if he sees or senses that there is water up ahead on the trail, he'll take off ahead and wait for us by swimming circles in the lake or river or whatever.
We've learned the hard way, so now everything he carries in his pack that we dont want getting wet (food, towel, vest) go into a couple of those S2S ultrasil dry sacks first. His sleeping pad usually forms the frame for my pack.
@ Walter: Shunka looks like a real trooper! Those look like some harsh conditions.
For the rest of you: Do any of you carry or use any special foot protection for your dogs during winter hikes? I'm thinking if your dog's paws get raw from the ice or snow or he cuts a pad? We usually carry some medical grade super glue that we could seal up a pad cut with if we had to and we usually have Bixby carry a set of those dog booties. He hates them but I figure in a bad situation, we coudl put those on him to help ease the discomfort as opposed to me carrying a 95 lb dog out…Feb 3, 2012 at 6:10 pm #1834132
WOW!!! I really didn't expect this thread to have the legs it has. Thanks everybody for all your advice and sharing your experience. You've all given me a lot more confidence now to venture out into the cold with my Abigail. And, everybody has really beautiful four legged family members!
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