Ruffwear Trail Runner Bowl ReviewSo, let’s be honest…there are a multitude of travel bowls for dogs of all different shapes and sizes on the market…so what’s the big deal about this one?

If you are a trail runner, thru-hiker, or otherwise weight-conscious adventurer, then you know that you can’t afford to be weighed down by a bulky bowl. Even plastic collapsible bowls tend to be too heavy and voluminous to fit in a running pack, and you’ll be hard-pressed to fit most travel bowls in the pocket of your running or hiking shorts.

Hydration is critical to an enjoyable and safe run with your dog, and if there are no safe drinking water sources for your dog on your route on a warm day, you need to provide a means for her to hydrate….or leave her at home.

We tried out Ruffwear’s new Trail Runner Bowl, a lightweight and compact bowl that is perfect for people keeping an eye on the ounces they carry with them.

What we like

Small and Sleek

Ruffwear Trail Runner Bowl ReviewThe Trail Runner bowl can fit in a trail running pack or vest, hip/hydration belt, handheld water bottle pocket, or even in the pocket of your running shorts. It can also easily fit in a dog backpack, such as the Singletrak Pack, or in the pocket of a Ruffwear Hi & Light Harness without wasting space. Because of its small size and minimal weight, we’ve also taken to using the Trail Runner Bowl on backpacking trips. We recently took Bella on a 16-mile single overnight backpacking trip in the desert and had to carry in all of our own water for ourselves as well as Bella. The Trail Runner Bowl easily fit in our own hipbelt pockets of our packs for easy access during hydration breaks. The ability of the bowl to fold into its own pocket for storage is a nice detail, however, we found that realistically it wasn’t very easy to restuff or even unpack, so you most likely won’t take the time to use this feature if you plan on using the bowl on a frequent basis. However, stuffing the unfolded bowl into a garment or gear pocket (such as a front pocket on our trail running packs) was just as easy without folding it up first.

Solid Construction

What has set this bowl apart for us compared to another ultralight bowl in our gear closet is that it still maintains structure when wet. This other minimalist bowl that we have used for years acts more like a shower cap when the material became saturated, and we’d have to hold the sides up to keep water from collapsing the sides of the bowl while Bella drank. When you are carrying heavy water in dry areas, you can’t afford to lose precious H2O to a flimsy bowl. The Ruffwear Trail Runner Bowl keeps great structure even after multiple uses in a short period of time, and taped seams prevent leaks. This also makes it easy to keep the bowl clean, since there aren’t any open seams or corners to trap bacteria and crumbs.

Maybe not for you if:

  • You have a very large dog: The small and streamlined circumference of the bowl might not be large enough for an extra large muzzle to drink comfortably. You might consider checking out the bowl at a local retailer prior to purchase rather than buying online.
  • You are looking for something more substantial and stable: This bowl isn’t designed for 24/7 use, and can be pushed around or blow away in a stiff breeze. While you could definitely leave it out while full of water for some time, the Trail Runner Bowl is really designed for quick hydration opportunities on the go.

The Bottom line

Ruffwear Trail Runner Bowl ReviewIt may seem like a very simple product, but that is what makes it so special. It is actually quite difficult to find functional, minimalist dog travel bowls on the market that work for trail running, so this product truly is a staple for anyone who can’t carry extra ounces. While the stuff-pocket feature is a little difficult to use on a regular basis, and we would have loved a small loop on the outside of the unpacked bowl to hang it when wet (you can use the snap feature for this, but it isn’t very accessible on the move), these are small details that we can live without. While we initially were interested in using this bowl for primarily for trail running, we’ve found that its lightweight yet substantial construction makes it ideal for minimalist backpacking as well. At $14.95, this affordable little bowl will no doubt be worth the cost for adventurers who prefer to travel light.

Find more information on Ruffwear’s Trail Runner Bowl at Backcountry K-9

Like this review? You might also be interested in our review of Ruffwear’s Singletrak Pack, a trail running backpack for dogs!