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The Active Pack Puts Mountainsmith Outdoor Dog Gear to the Test

My dog-sitting pack recently took Mountainsmith's dog gear out on the trail, including its K9 Backbowl, 2015 K9 Dog Pack, K9 Bed, and K9 Cube.

Wendy Newell  |  Nov 18th 2015


As a dog sitter, I take the pups in my care (The Active Pack), including my own 10-year-old dog, Riggins, out on the trails almost daily. My motto is, “A pooped dog is a happy dog!” Mountainsmith was nice enough to send over a few of its dog gear items, including the K9 Backbowl, 2015 K9 Dog Pack, K9 Bed, and K9 Cube for the pups to try out.

I wasn’t familiar with the brand Mountainsmith. It turns out I had been focusing on dog brands that make outdoor gear, while Mountainsmith is an outdoor gear company that also makes dog products. That means it is an expert at the outdoor-adventure lifestyle and the gear needed to be successful. And according to its website, Mountainsmith has been producing dog products for more than 30 years.

When the items showed up, the pack and I were excited to try everything out.

K9 Backbowl

Sissy likes that she can put her whole face in the K9 Backbowl. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Sissy likes that she can put her whole face in the K9 Backbowl. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

A dog travel bowl is a MUST in my daily life, and I am constantly on the search for the best dog travel bowl. I have never found one I’m completely satisfied with — either they break, don’t collapse down enough, leak, are difficult to clean, or are hard for the dogs to drink out of. The minute I removed the K9 Backbowl from its wrapping, I squealed with delight. The design is not only unique but extremely functional.

The K9 Backbowl is a square piece of waterproof fabric with two snaps on each corner. When each corner is snapped together, it magically transforms into a 1-liter food or water bowl! At first I was unhappy that the product didn’t have a loop I could attach to a carabiner and secure to my pack, until I realized it has eight snaps that I could use to secure it anywhere! Of course, since it is a flat piece of material, you can also fold or roll it to fit into a pack or even a pocket. I like to keep the bowls out after use to let them dry, so usually I just attach them to the outside of my pack.

The K9 Backbowl snaps anywhere! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

The K9 Backbowl snaps anywhere! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

The bowl itself is great, and the wide mouth allows dogs to easily get to the water. In fact, they seemed to drink more while we were out on the trails simply because they could get to the liquid without the bowl closing in on them, a problem with other travel bowls.

Oh, did I mention it is machine washable? It is.

After using the K9 Backbowl a number of times, I stand by my original reaction to it and have no problem calling it genius!

2015 K9 Dog Pack

Happy (in blue) and Sissy (in red) take a timeout on the trails in their K9 Packs (photo by Wendy Newell)

Happy (in blue) and Sissy (in red) take a break on the trails in their K9 Packs. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I’ve never really used a dog pack on a regular basis for Riggins or any of the dogs in my pack. At this point, Riggins is old and really needs his energy to happily complete our adventures, so I don’t want to burden him with any additional weight. I’m also oddly challenged when it comes to getting dog packs to fit a pup correctly.

For this test, I have young and energetic Blue Picardy Spaniels Sissy and Happy with me. They are perfect pack pups!

First of all, I managed to get the packs to fit! The 2015 K9 Dog Pack was designed in collaboration with a sled-dog veterinarian out of Mountainsmith’s hometown of Golden, Colorado. Combine that know-how with the company’s years of making hiking packs for dogs and humans, and you have a group of people who know what they are doing!

Happy has no problem running around at full speed on the trails in his pack. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Happy has no problem running around at full speed on the trails with his K9 Dog Pack. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

With the dogs drinking more out of their new bowl, we needed more water. That was Happy’s job! His sister, Sissy, was in charge of carrying extra poo bags, the first aid kit, and everyone’s leash — once we got to the legal off-leash areas of our hikes. I loved the extra help, and they had no problems running around and having fun with their packs on.

K9 Cube

Riggins posing patiently by the K9 Cube. (by Wendy Newell)

Riggins posing patiently by the K9 Cube. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

The K9 Cube is a doggie suitcase! Much like I felt with the K9 Backbowl, I fell in love with the Cube the minute I pulled it out of the box. It’s the perfect size for a camping trip with your pup or a trip to your sister’s house for a long Thanksgiving weekend — which is how Riggins and I will soon be using it!

The Cube includes a separate food container, which will eliminate the gallon-size ziplock bags I currently use. As an extra bonus, the side of the Cube opens up to reveal two removable travel dog bowls. I’m often rummaging through Riggins’ current overnight bag looking for a bowl while he waits, not so patiently, for his food to be served. Often times, I have to dump out half the bag’s contents before I find what I’m after. The Cube’s design will put a stop this frantic search.

Finally chow time! Riggins with the K9 Cube. (by Wendy Newell)

Finally, chow time! Riggins with the K9 Cube. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Finally, even after the food container is put in the Cube, there is plenty of space for toys, a walking harness, extra poo bags, and anything else your pup might need.

Is it rude for me to demand that all my doggie guests for my dog sitting business use the K9 Cube? Not only is it the perfect bag, its shape and size makes it easy to store. Seven of them lined up on my counter would be a lot less messy than the seven bags of food that I currently have toppling over on my washing machine and dryer!

K9 Bed

Riggins settles in by the front door on the K9 Bed. (photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins settles in by the front door on the K9 Bed. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I’m in constant need of small, easy-to-transport dog beds. Something that I can throw down and carry from room to room or outside without a hassle. The K9 Bed fits the bill. The bed is one size fits all, and Riggins, my medium-large dog, fits on it perfectly.

I was even able to roll up the K9 Bed and stuff it back into its easy-to-carry bag, something I’m never good at. If I can make it fit back in its original packaging, anyone can! The bag is even light enough to strap to a backpack and take with you on a longer hike.

The K9 Bed rolled back up and put away almost as good as new! (photo by Wendy Newell)

The K9 Bed rolled back up and put away almost as good as new! (photo by Wendy Newell)

Dogster Scorecard

Quality: Top notch. I was really impressed with Mountainsmith’s dog product line.
Style: The bright blue and red are perfect for standing out on the trail.
Function: These products do what they promise and make adventures with your pup easier.
Creativity: I’m in love with the creativity and design behind both the K9 Backbowl and the K9 Cube. Well done!
Value: K9 Backbowl — $14.95; 2015 K9 Dog Pack — $64.95; K9 Cube — $64.95; and K9 Bed — $59.95. Worth every penny.

Bottom line

All the products were great, but I’d like to give a special shout-out to the K9 Backbowl. You should get one of these right this minute. You won’t be disappointed!

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About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.