Small Business Saturday Gift Guide

  
I’m a little late to the game this year, but I wanted to remind you all that today is Small Business Saturday and encourage you to support small businesses. To help you along, I thought I’d highlight some of my favorites.

Hiking and Camping Gear

  • Gossamer Gear makes great ultralight backpacks, shelters, and trekking poles. My personal favorites are the Kumo and Type 2 backpacks.
  • ZPacks specializes in all things cuben fiber: Shelters, packs, rain gear, and accessories. I love their stuff sacks anad dry bags. 
  • Warbonnet Outdoors makes high quality backpacking hammocks and accessories. Their Traveler hammock and Yeti Underquilt have worked great for me!
  • Dutchware Gear creates innovative hardware and accessories for your hammock and tarp. You won’t realize how badly you needed their stuff until you try it!

Apparel

  • Purple Rain Adventure Skirts makes high quality hiking skirts. If you’re gonna go hiking, you better be comfortable. I never hit the trail without mine! 
  • Hiker Trash makes T-shirts, hats, and other accessories for the hiker trash inside all of us. Fun designs you should check out. 

Dog Gear

  • TurboPUP produces high quality meal replacement bars for you dog. Never fumble with ziploc bags of kibble again. Just  grab some bars, and you’re set for your hike or road trip. 
  • Groundbird Gear makes lightweight backpacks that are custom fit to YOUR dog. They’re built by an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker who focuses on making functional packs without the excess stuff you won’t need.

Disclaimer: I am currently a TurboPUP Brand Ambassador, and was previously a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador. I have also done gear testing for Groundbird Gear and Purple Rain Adventure Skirts. None of these companies have asked to be listed here, and they had no preview nor editorial control of this post. All opinions contained here are my own.

Pet Gear: TurboPup Complete K9 Meal Bars

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpB5bL1LQy8
During a last-minute rush of shopping before leaving for a weeklong trip to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, I stumbled onto Backcountry K9. Since my dog Pickle would be backpacking with me for 3 days of this trip, I wanted to see if there was any new dog gear worth trying. That’s when I stumbled across TurboPup bars.

These bars advertised high quality “human-grade” ingredients in a dense, packable bar form. The bars contain all the nutrition your dog may need and can be fed both long- and short-term.

Packing dry dog food in Ziplock baggies has always irked me to a certain extent. In order to keep Pickle’s pack balanced, I always had to be careful to use equal amounts of food from each of his “saddlebags”. With no exact way to measure in the backcountry, sometimes this was easier said than done. Along the same vein, with no measuring tool on hand, assuring that the dog ate the right amount of food each day was difficult. Ziplock bags have also failed on me in the past, which could mean wet kibble if it was raining.

Dog food in bar form seemed to solve most of these problems. Bars would be much easier to ration and keep balanced than baggies of dog food. The bars are also individually wrapped, which meant an extra layer of protection from moisture.

I turned to “hiking with dogs” guru and fellow Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa to find out some more info. As it turns out, he is a brand ambassador for TurboPup, and he gave me a few helpful notes about the bars. Allgood also put me in touch with TurboPup’s founder and owner Kristina, who offered to send me a few bars for testing. A few days later, a 3-day supply of her K9 meal bars arrived at my door.

I decided that it would probably be a bad idea to go into the woods without ever having fed the bars to Pickle. What if he hated them? What if his typically iron gut didn’t tolerate them? To test this, I arranged a little taste test at home. The bars come in two flavors (peanut butter and bacon), so I sacrificed one of each for my experiment.

I fed half of a peanut butter bar to Pickle (my hard-hiking Brittany Spaniel) and Samira (my non-hiking English Mastiff). They each gobbled up their share and came looking for more immediately. This time they shared a bacon-flavored bar, which they devoured with gusto. After this little test, I felt confident that Pickle would be happy to eat these as his primary food source during our upcoming backpacking trip.

I packed the remaining bars (now a 2.5 day supply) into Pickle’s Ruffwear Palisades pack along with all his other gear for the trip. The bars took up much less volume in Pickle’s pack than my typical Ziplock baggies full of dry food, and also weighed less. 10 TurboPup bars, packaging, and two 1qt Ziplock bags weighed in at 22.7oz (Compared to 30.1oz for a 2.5-day supply of kibble). I attribute this to the higher density of nutrients in the TurboPup bars. Since lightening the load for your dog is just as important as lightening your own, I was beginning to like TurboPup already.

TurboPup bars in Pickle's pack

TurboPup bars in Pickle’s pack

On Friday, Pickle and I hit the trail with TurboPup in tow. Since we used up two bars for the taste test, I fed Pickle a little of his normal food before we left the house. He had one of the bars for lunch on the summit of Mt. Flume and devoured every crumb. He ate 2 more bars for dinner that night. On day 2, he had 1 bar for breakfast, one for lunch, and 2 for dinner. On day 3 he had 2 for breakfast and one when we got back to the car at the end of our hike.

Pickle eating lunch on Mt. Flume

Pickle eating lunch on Mt. Flume

Based on this 3-day trial, I can say that TurboPup bars seem to be the best dog food option that I’ve found for backpacking. They are very nutrient dense, which means that the total food weight in Pickle’s pack is lighter than with his normal food. He definitely loved both flavors, which is also a plus. Pickle hiked strongly all weekend, which tells me that the TurboPup bars were supplying him with enough food energy to keep him going. I even noticed that his poops seemed to be a little more compact than normal, which can be attributed to the bars’ lack of fillers and use of high-quality ingredients. All in all, I’d say that TurboPup bars are definitely worth a look for anyone who hikes or backpacks with their dogs. Check them out!

Disclaimer: I received this bars free of charge from TurboPup for the purposes of testing and review. TurboPup has no editorial control over this review, and the opinions stated here are my own. In fact, TurboPup insisted that I be completely honest and impartial.