For our recent hike of the Continental Divide Trail, the Hurtta Outback Dreamer was a welcome addition to Luna’s gear. I take a minimalist approach to trekking, opting to keep both mine and Luna’s packs light in order to avoid injury and fatigue. I typically only carry a small foam pad for her to sleep on, or the dirt if she prefers. My point is: I wouldn’t carry this sleeping bag for her if I didn’t think it's comforts were worth the added weight.
With high altitude in some areas of the Divide (often 10,000+ ft), and an early approaching winter, colder temperatures meant Luna needed a product like this to keep her comfortable. There aren’t many of it’s kind out there that fit our needs: warm, durable, and lightweight. With little time for recovery during the day, a relaxed and full night’s rest was crucial to Luna’s ability to endure the entire 3,000 mile trail.
The Outback Dreamer is fairly light, weighing in just under a pound (size medium), and rolled down to about the size of a Nalgene bottle. It’s round size allows for a dog to curl up in their natural sleeping position, which is especially nice during exceptionally cold nights. If she slept on her side, she was slightly too big to fit entirely inside the medium size, but rarely did this if was cold. The foil lining is soft and works great at insulating a dog’s body heat. I even put Luna in there when she was wet or muddy to help dry her faster. She was borderline too big for the size medium, but I opted for the bare minimum and it was perfect for what we were doing.
This sleeping bag offered just enough padding to provide a cushy sleeping mat, while not being bulky and heavy in my backpack. The bottom material withstood absorbing dirt, mud, and snow even after everyday use, which was crucial since I had no ability to run it through a washing machine. I used a bounce box to send this ahead to various colder, high altitude sections of the trail. In the end I carried it over 1,000 miles through Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. I was super impressed with the Outback Dreamer’s durability throughout the trip. It held up remarkably well to a variety of surfaces, including mud and rocks. There are no rips, tears, or stretched material even after ~2 months of everyday use. Once we got home and washed the bag, it looked practically new again.
Even with her long coat, we often encountered temperatures in the teens and this bag kept Luna toasty warm and able to sleep soundly. She never quite figured out how to get herself into the Outback Dreamer, so I had to assist her. I do wish it had a zipper for the ability to help the dog get inside the bag independently, but of course that would add a bit of weight to it. The synthetic material, as opposed to down, is slightly heavier but will remain warm when wet, while goose down will not. We did encounter wet weather, and the Outback Dreamer withstood only light damp conditions. My one big critique of this product that once wet, it tightly absorbed water, making it became very heavy (maybe double it’s dry weight). When wet, and takes 4-6 hours to dry out completely in the sun.
The intangible benefits of having a bag like the Outback Dreamer are incredibly valuable to me. At the end of a long day of hiking, I’d take this bag out and lay it down for Luna, helping her to establish that this would be camp for the night. It gave her routine and comfort, during a time when the scenery was changing each day. She quickly fell in love with it and would get excited to see it each night. The comfort, ease and durability the Outback Dreamer provided on our trip was substantial. I would confidently recommend it to anyone bringing their dog on adventures like thru-hikes, fall/winter overnight trips, or camping trips. Especially short-haired dogs. Since the trail has ended, I’ve used the sleeping bag as a travel bed for Luna to have the comforts of home (the trail) away from home. I’m looking forward to bringing it on future adventures!