MYOG Summer/Autumn Backpacking Dog bed

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    Paul E
    BPL Member


    Right. I’ve been lurking here for a year or so and learning from you guys. This last year I decided to start making things for backpacking to get my weight down and just for a bit of fun. Not only that but as a tall guy 6’4″ making my own stuff seems to be the only way to get something that fits.

    It’s about time I started posting about what I have made. Just a quick post this evening to get myself started on that process.

    Today: Homemade foldable backpacking dog bed for my springer spaniel


    A lightweight foldable dog bed that would give my dog some insulation against the ground but which would be compact enough to be folded up and carried in his dogpack or that would fit in an outside pocket on my rucksack (made that too).

    Raw materials:

    Scraps of heavyish silnylon in horrible emerald green colour
    5mm closed cell foam camping mat


    1. Find inspiration online. Settled on a design from Ruffwear called the ‘landing pad’. Look exactly what I was after but a bit expensive.

    2. Cut shape out of 5mm camping mat.

    3. Cut that shape up into roughly even sized pieces and number them so they fit back together properly later. I really wasn’t accurate about any of this project, it was just a bit of an experiment.

    4. Draw the shapes onto your silnylon and cut out two peices. Sew them together around the edge leaving one end open to put the bits of camping mat in.

    5. Slide one row of mat in at a time and then stitch alongside them to hold them in place. Repeat for each row.

    6. Sew up end and tack some pegging loops on each end. If your dog is like mine he can move a bed around a lot so when in my small tent porch I peg the bed down. If I didn’t I would wake up in the morning with a cold dog sitting on the cold floor and the bed bunched up in a corner.

    7. Fold it up and marvel at how compact it is.

    8. Then weigh it of course.

    9. Add a dog.


    V light, fits in the dog pack easily. Dog seems to like it. I found that in the UK in late September there were a couple of nights where it was barely enough in terms of ground insulation. The dog (Charlie) sleeps in my tent porch wearing a thermal dog coat. Summer this is fine, and possibly too much to be honest but as the heat was leaving the ground in late September I found that Charlie would have benefitted from something at least twice as thick, or a doggy sleeping bag on top.

    What next:

    I am cutting up an old synthetic sleeping bag to make a doggy bag for him for colder trips and I am making a thicker slightly larger dog bed to take in winter. I use a v light blow up exped mat myself but use closed cell foam as my pack frame/back padding on my homemade rucksack. I am going to turn this backpad into a thicker more insulated dog bed which serves double duty as my pack frame/back pad. I cant see this adding more than about 50g to the weight but will give him a much more comfortable winter/cold sleep in the tent. After  short walk I think this thin pad would be enough for him but after a long days walking he simply is too tired to keep his body temperature quite where it should be and a warmer pad is needed.

    I have a diy tent, net tent, backpack and a few other bits to post so will get around to those soon.



    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    That’s a great idea – foldable foam so that pad won’t bunch up under the dog.
    Wished I’d thought of that before making primaloft insulated ones that end up every place but under fido. Will redo with the foam. Thanks.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Indiana

    Very nice!  My wife is already making “I can do that” noises!  (Possibly to keep me from trying to use her sewing machine…)

    Paul E
    BPL Member


    Hi Sam,

    Thanks for your comments. Could you perhaps tack some pegging loops onto the edge of your primaloft mat and peg it down? Would have the same affect I think.


    Ben H.
    BPL Member


    Locale: No. Alabama

    I wonder how this compares to a chopped down Z-lite of equal square footage?

    I understand you started with left over material, but if someone were to do this form scratch I would guess the Z-lite would be cheaper and lighter.

    Paul E
    BPL Member


    Hi Ben. Would be a good comparison. I was pleased with 88grams though. My tiny sit pads are 60 grams each and aren’t covered in silnylon or as big. I will try doing the same with a zlite and see how it turns out.

    Nick Otis
    BPL Member


    Locale: CA

    Late to the party but this is a great thread. We’ve been thinking about crafting something for Hazel like this. Thanks!

    Lisa C
    BPL Member


    Great idea! Well done.

    Patrick McFarlane
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Canada

    Really nice!   I had been thinking about doing a MYOG version of the ruffwear pad for a while.  Seeing it done here makes me want to finally get on it though.  For top insulation, I already made a small down quilt out of an old down sleeping bag I got at a garage sale – just a simple rectangle that I can drape over him.  It’s light and packs down small and is plenty warm enough for spring and fall use.

    I’ve tried all kinds of pads for my dog (including the z-lite) and nothing seems to work well.  The polyester fill pads crush down to nothing under his weight and are completely useless.  The z-lite was marginally satisfactory, but I think your solution will work a lot better.   There were three problems I found with the Z-lite:

    1.  It wasn’t wide enough for my dog.  He’s an 80 lb boxer (photo below) and his legs and even sometimes a bit of his abdomen would extend off the edge of it.  Often I ended up sharing part of my pad with him.
    2. The version I got (I think the z-lite sol with the aluminized side) was too slippery and it would tend to skitter everywhere on the silnylon floor of the tent.  Moreover one couldn’t easily put silicone dots on it for traction because of the dimpled surface. Not sure if other versions of the z-lite would be more grippy.  I switched to an old self-inflating for that reason.
    3. Because it only accordions lengthwise the folded up length of the z-lite was too long to fit in my dog’s pack and I had to strap it to the top.  This tended to pull the sides of his pack up and away from the sides of his body, causing the pack to constantly slip to one side or the other because of a lack of sufficient grip on his back.  I now often just carry his pad for him.

    So altogether, the z-lite might be a bit lighter but I think Paul’s design is probably more practical.  Moreover, if it’ll allow my dog to carry it himself then its impact on my pack weight is zero!  :-)

    I think when I make mine, I may try using a camp towel as the fabric for the bottom of the pad to give it more grip on the silnylon tent floor.

    BPL Member


    Locale: PNW

    what size spacing did you do between the foam sheets? I am struggling w finding the right spacing that allows it to accordion properly and doesn’t leave large gaps

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    since this was 2017 they may not respond to you

    Paul said he put the next strip in, then sewed it into place.  That is a clever way to avoid measuring and drawing lines.

    So, there must be a space equal to the distance from the needle to the edge of the zipper foot, plus half the thickness of the foam pad.  Maybe 3/8 or 1/2 inch?

    Easy enough to try something with two strips and see if that works, adjust…

    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    The pads made for my two Shetland Sheepdogs had a coated riptstop nylon bottom with sil chevrons to add friction on the tent floor, around 100D Epic tops so they would not soak up water and still be breathable, and light Primaloft insulation.   Altho dogs do not perspire through their skin and coats, they can get pretty wet, and the thought was to have a WPB pad on top that would dry out better.

    What I forgot has already been mentioned.  The pads rolled up tightly to around 2-3″ dia., but when unrolled in the tent, the dogs tended to push them around and not stay on them very well.  I see now that some form of stiffener, just pliable enough to roll up well,  should have been incorporated.  Maybe just Apex insulation instead of Primaloft would have made the difference.

    The beds were in the shape of the ‘submit’ buttom at the bottom of  forum pages, and were easy to make.  Changing the insulation should not be overly difficult.  Dogbeds make for great sewing practice.


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