Whether you’re going on a leisurely vacation or an active, outdoorsy adventure, it’s generally made twice as nice by the presence of your dog! But since room in one’s luggage (or packed-to-the-brim RV) is always at a premium, adding your pup’s belongings to the mix can seem a bit daunting. That’s where super portable travel bowls come in. While furry companions can probably last a few days without their favorite blanket or artfully chewed stuffed toy, they’ll always need accessible food and water.
And no matter the type of trip, after testing the most popular travel dog bowls, we discovered the Dexas Popware Elevated Feeder (available at Amazon for $14.44) should become your go-to bowl when you’re on the go. It comes with sturdy yet collapsible legs that fold out, so your pup can drink and sup from a safe and comfortable posture. But we also found there are other great bowls that are custom-made for specific types of travel, so we made sure to stress-test the best!
The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.
Dexas Popware Single Elevated Feeder
We’re all accustomed to giving up some creature comforts when we travel. But being able to drink at a non-hunched over position is critical for the well-being of many dogs, especially when they’re potentially dehydrated and actively exercising on mountains and trails. That’s why we flipped over the clever design of the Dexas, which features not just a collapsible bowl, but extendable legs. When tucked away, the super light unit takes up just 1.5 inches of space. Fully expanded, it offers a 12-ounce capacity bowl and a set of sturdy legs, that allow it to stand about 5 inches off the ground. Not only do the legs keep the bowl from slipping and sloshing, while preventing detritus from gathering in the food or water, they let your pup sip without crouching, which helps prevent neck and back stress, and—perhaps most crucially—bloat. Did we mention the silicone materials are easy to hand-wash and are dishwasher-safe? It also comes in a larger, 4-cup capacity.
Extendable legs allow for feeding in an upright position
For the ultimate in portability, it’s hard to go wrong with the Comsun two-pack. They checks all the boxes when it comes to the ideal hiking bowl. The size we tested, which holds 12 ounces of water or about 1.5 cups of food, is extremely light (around 2.3 ounces), compact (0.5 inches when collapsed), and fitted with carabiners for attaching to a backpack or leash. The bowls are nearly impossible to damage and easy to clean in the dishwasher, and come in a set of two, so you can always be ready to serve both food and water. They also come in an extra-large size that holds 25 ounces of water or 3 cups of food.
If you’re spending overnights in the woods, you’ll need to equip your pup with more than just water. So while the comparatively bulky Vittles Vault may be overkill for a trail, you’ll find it an indispensable addition to your camping gear. Comprised of three stackable components, an airtight canister keeps up to 4 quarts of kibble or water fresh, while two one-quart bowls affix to either side, providing an all-in-one storage, drinking and feeding system that can be clipped to the outside of a bag. For such a handy item, the Vittles Vault Gamma Travel-Tainer is also shockingly inexpensive, coming in at under $10.
Stackable, airtight canisters are Ideal for camping
It generally speaks volumes, when we end up appropriating an item for personal use after testing. To be honest, we were puzzled by the Lixit at first, wondering how a bowl the approximate size and shape of a gas can could possibly be viable for pet travel. And yes, the 3-quart Waterboy makes little sense for a trail. But its usefulness for car or plane travel is unparalleled. When set flat, the innovative design allows just enough water to gather in the reservoir of the bowl, so there’s never any splashing or dripping (even from our own enthusiastic drinker). And amazingly, the entire unit can be flipped upside down, without leaking or spilling a drop. That means, you can leave it with your dog in the car for the entirety of a ride, and allow them to hydrate themselves at will, without fear of flooding the backseat (it’s also great for planes, hotels, and other places where you want to keep splashing to a minimum). The Lixit Waterboy comes equipped with a handle, allowing you to easily carry it upright. And it still won’t spill, even when filled, although carrying it empty significantly increases portability.
Specializing in products for active dogs, it’s no surprise that Ruffwear’s Bivy Bowl proved especially trail-worthy. Made of lightweight, quick-drying waterproof fabric, it weighs only 2.96 ounces empty, yet has a 1.8L capacity—very generous for a vessel that easily collapses into a flat disc. We especially appreciated the wider, weighted base, that allows it to sit firmly on uneven terrain, and thus prevents tipping over and spillage. The only dings are the price—it was one of the most expensive bowls we tested—and the fact that it isn’t dishwasher safe.
Another favorite brand amongst the sporty dog community, Kurgo’s food grade, PVC and BPA-free silicone bowl comes in multiple colors and with a lifetime warranty. That said, it would take an awful lot of roughhousing to do damage to this seemingly impervious bowl, even after multiple passes through the dishwasher (yes, it’s top rack safe). It holds up to 24 ounces, yet collapses to less than 1-inch high, and can be easily tucked into a bag, or clipped by carabiner to the outside. It’s a tiny bit wobbly when folded out and set down, but not so much to significantly affect its ranking on our list.
We really appreciated the stability of the Winsee, with its double bowl design featuring a built-in base to keep mealtime tidy. Not only do the raised edges contain spills, the non-slip silicone securely adheres to flat surfaces, making it nearly impossible to tip over. The large size we tested also have a generous 35 fluid ounce and 4.5 cup capacity, making them ideal for larger dogs, or even a duo of pups. Oh, and did we mention the entire unit is dishwasher-safe? The only downside to the large profile is that it’s a bit more difficult to store; even collapsed, you’d have a hard time stuffing it into an over-packed bag. A smaller size, which holds 15 ounces of water or 1.9 cups of food, is also available.
Able to be adjusted to hold 16 ounces of food or water, or a generous 40 ounces when fully expanded, the FDA-approved, BPA-free plastic Bonza is dishwasher safe, yet simple to hand clean and air dry. That said, it’s a bit too collapsible, as it buckled in our hands when attempting to carry it filled with water, and skidded on the ground when our pup tried to take a sip.
No bells and whistles here: the Outward Hound bowl is a simple nylon pouch that pops open to hold water or food and scrunches up for storage. It has a good capacity at 48 ounces, but unless you fill it up all the way, the thin-walled shape has a tendency to topple and sag. The best thing about it is its total portability. The bowl weighs next to nothing at 0.8 ounces, and can be stashed pretty much anywhere. You can smush it in a pocket, squeeze it in the tightest backpack, or use the attached loop to hook it to the outside of a bag.
I’m Sarah Zorn, and I’ve reviewed dog products, developed pet-friendly recipes, and written animal rescue stories for outlets like Rachael Ray Every Day and Animal Fair magazine for almost 10 years. Which means that my 9-year-old hound mix, Rowdy, is truly living his best life, as official house recipe taster and product tester. Like many adoring pet parents, we take him everywhere we go, which increases the importance of having portable food and water bowls that suit every situation.
We first analyzed objective characteristics like the amount of spillage created, portability, ease of cleaning, how quickly the bowls dried, and how likely they were to get damaged by extended rough use. We filled them with water and nudged them with our foot, tried to place each bowl inside almost full backpacks (or attached them by carabiners to the outside, to determine how bulky they were and the amount of weight they added), dropped the empty bowls from about waist height, to see how sturdy they were, and washed them by hand, then timed how long they took to dry (we also made note of any bowls that were dishwasher safe). We then took stock of subjective characteristics, such as ease of storage, quality of build, the usefulness of special features, and overall experience using the bowls.
What to Look for When Buying Travel Dog Bowls
Since travel bowls are made for use on the go (often during restrictive activities such as hiking, camping or car riding), portability is of utmost importance. Bowls should be light enough to carry—either easy to stash inside or be clipped onto the outside—preferably collapsible, and can be stored in small spaces. Since these bowls will frequently be used when on rough, dirty terrain, such as on trails or in the woods, they should be made of easy to clean and quick drying materials, that don’t hold onto odors/bacteria, and are sturdy enough to sit on rocky, grassy surfaces (or on a hotel room rug) without tipping over. Certain bowls are also best for a specific type of travel—small, collapsible vessels made of silicone or cloth are ideal for hiking, bowls with long-term food storing options are best for camping, and bowls with non-spill features are especially equipped for planes, trains, and automobiles.
Sarah Zorn is a food writer, cookbook author, and product tester for Reviewed, Wirecutter and the Food Network. She regularly contributes to outlets such as Saveur, Esquire, and Civil Eats, and has very much passed her food obsessions down, as her beloved rescue hound, Rowdy, regularly deglazes his kibble bowl.
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