in Camping / by
Author: Nick Jaynes
Two generations of dogs have camped with me in my Roofnest Condor. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about camping with pups in a roof top tent.
Not to mention, I’ve learned how to carry a 75-pound dog up an eight-foot ladder.
It takes some labor getting a large dog in and out of a roof top tent. But the benefits of roof top tent camping with a dog far outweigh the detractions.
More than improving my core strength and balance, I love camping with my dogs in my Roofnest. That’s because of the space, comfort, and elevated sleeping position a roof top tent provides my pups and me.
Temperature and Staying Comfortable
Perhaps the best part of having a dog in a roof top tent is the ability to keep your dog comfortable.
My old dog, Ruger, (pictured above), was a coonhound. He was tall and lanky and had very thin fur. He was bred to run for hours on end through the sweltering heat of the southern U.S. — not to stay warm during 28-degree nights in the high deserts of Oregon, where we often camp.
Because of his build, Ruger found ground tents extremely unpleasant. Especially in his old age, he couldn’t find a spot on the floor of a ground tent — against the body-heat-sucking ground — that he found comfortable.
He would climb on top of me for warmth and comfort, which would keep me up at night. It’s not easy to sleep soundly with a 75-pound coonhound pressed against you. Plus, he often had raucous doggy dreams.
Moving up into the Roofnest Condor — far above the cold, cold ground — Ruger wasn’t as chilly. What’s more, he had plenty of his own space on the Condor’s three-inch-thick foam mattress to lie down.
Unlike in a ground tent, where the only soft spot is your sleeping pad/bag, there are plenty of soft spots to lounge in a Roofnest.
My new puppy, Arlo, is a one-year-old half Labrador, half Golden Retriever — what the internet calls a “Goldadore.”
It won’t surprise you to learn that he has a ton of energy. Arlo and I usually go camping with my buddy Devin and his Goldendoodle, Rupert. Rupert is Arlo’s best friend and they play together at camp virtually nonstop.
While it’s great to have the two together entertaining each other at camp, at night it becomes a bit of an issue.
When in a ground tent, Arlo is constantly trying to get out, so he can play with Rupert. After hoisting him up into the roof top tent, he recognizes the separation between him and the campsite play area.
Rather than crying and scratching at the tent walls all night, as he tries to get to his bestie, Arlo instead is able to curl up and go to sleep at night in our Roofnest Condor.
Similarly, if there is any noisy critter coming through camp at night, Arlo doesn’t feel compelled to try to get it in the roof top tent.
If he were in a ground tent, though, he’d be trying to get out and investigate. But up in the air, he’s able to chill out a bit.
Space For The Both of Us
Let’s circle back for a second to the distance a roof top tent has from cold ground.
As I mentioned, when we would camp in a ground tent, my dogs wanted to be off the cold ground. So, they’d climb up on me to sleep.
But in a Roofnest, they’re far less chilly. They can curl up on the Condor’s comfortable built-in foam mattress and stay warm and comfy.
This affords me the space I need to sleep — and sleep soundly.
This is one of the best features for me: the space. Not only do I have plenty of space to stretch out (no small feat, as I’m 6’5”), but I have room for some of my gear and my dog.
Let’s not forget that dogs absolutely love the view from a roof top tent. Getting an elevated view like that is rare for them.
My dogs have always relished the opportunity to survey our campsite and the land beyond — you know, King-of-the-Castle-type stuff.
Someone once said that the ultimate definition of luxury is space. Even though my Roofnest Condor is sturdy, comfortable, and full of smart features (like the built-in LED lighting), it’s the cavernous space it provides my pup and me that I like most of all.
Getting Your Dog In and Out of the Tent
This wouldn’t be a complete story without mentioning the task of getting dogs in and out of the roof top tent. It definitely takes some patience and coordination to get a pup down from the tent in the mornings.
Some Roofnest Flock members have developed some clever ways to get their dogs in and out of their roof top tents.
The most ingenious setup I saw was someone who propped the bottom of the ladder on a box of gear and then laid a strip of carpet over the ladder. This created a long, carpeted ramp that their dog could easily and safely descend.
I haven’t gotten that involved with my setup yet. I’m still able to carry Arlo down the ladder.
But if he gets much bigger (he’s 67 pounds now) or my back pain gets any worse, I may have to devise a better system like the carpeted ramp.
What I know for sure is that we’ll never go back to a ground tent. Arlo and I have gotten far too accustomed to the views, the warmth, and the space to ever consider going back to sleeping on the ground.
Want to Camp With Your Dog This Summer?
Dogs love coming along for adventures in Roofnests. We don’t blame them.
But for new-timers, getting accustomed to camping might take a bit of preparation on your part. Plus, not all campsites welcome canine companions.
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