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 10 travel dog bowls, we discovered the Dexas Popware Elevated Feeder(available at Amazon for $11.24) 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!
These are the best travel dog bowls we tested ranked, in order:
Dexas Popware Elevated Feeder
IDEGG Portable Silicone Pet Bowl
Vittles Vault Gamma Travel-Tainer
Lixit Waterboy Travel Bowl
Ruffwear Bivy Dog Bowl
Kurgo Collapsible and Portable Travel Bowl
Bonza Collapsible Dog Bowl
Healthy Human Portable Pet Bowls
Kyjen Outward Hound Port-a-Bowl
Petvins Dog Water Bowl Pet Slow Feeder
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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 boasts 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? Which is to say, there are plenty of benefits to this reasonably priced bowl.
At $9.99 (the current price on Amazon), it’s hard to go wrong with the IDEGG. Not only does it check all the boxes when it comes to the ideal hiking bowl, being light (around 4 ounces), compact (0.6 inches when collapsed), with reasonable capacity (34 ounces) and made of BPA-free materials that are impervious to damage and easy to clean (food grade silicone that’s dishwasher safe), these little bowls are surprisingly sturdy. The bottoms sit flush on the ground with a bare minimum of sloshing, and they come in a set of two, so you can always be at the ready with both food and water.
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.
Other Travel Dog Bowls We Tested
Best for Camping
Gamma2 Vittles Vault Travel-Tainer
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.
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.
Healthy Human Portable Pet Bowls: The Healthy Human has several notable special features. It’s comprised of three stackable stainless-steel bowls, making it a great choice for camping (especially with multiple dogs) since metal tends to be more bacteria-resistant than silicone, plastic, and cloth. And not only are they dishwasher safe, but they’re freezer safe, meaning if you turn them to ice before setting off on your journey, your pup can enjoy cold, fresh water once you reach your destination. They’re definitely weighty and bulky, so certainly not an ideal choice for hiking. And the somewhat skimpy per-bowl capacity makes sloshing a high probability if using them in an airplane or car.
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.
The price is definitely right on the Kyjen—selling for scarcely more than $3 on Amazon. And it’s so collapsible and lightweight, you can practically stuff it in your pocket, yet somehow the bowl manages to hold 48 ounces of water when filled. That said, the amorphous shape has its detractors: While the nylon material is practically indestructible, it’s also incredibly prone to spillage, as it doesn’t provide a sturdy bottom or walls for drinking (the sides buckled constantly, and it moved the entire time our dog drank). It’s also hard to clean because it’s very easy for dirt and grime to embed itself in the folds of fabric, and rather difficult to effectively get it out.
If you’re worried about spillage in a hotel room, rental cabin or car, the Petvins is fitted with a floating, sunken dish, that concentrates the water to the center of the bowl, and prevents it from splashing out (it also keeps dirt and hair from getting in). The fact that it’s dishwasher safe is another plus, but it’s heavy, bulky and in no-way collapsible, which makes it a total no-go for hiking and camping. And while BPA-free, the plastic materials seemed rather low quality. We imagine a few more unfortunate drops would quickly yield breaks and chips.
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.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.