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Want to see what works for us 

This sections is where I give some pro-tips about things that work for us on trail

Food for the dog

TurboPUP Complete Meal Bars For Dogs

By Whitney “Allgood” La Ruffa


Karluk Rating, 4 paws out 4 paws


Allgood’s recommendation: Must Have go to food for future backpacking trips and thru-hikes


A few weeks ago I came home to a box from TurboPUP, in it was set of sample size bars and a full size meal bar.  My first thought was man that looks good enough for me to eat, always a plus when we talk about dog food.  The bars were dense and after doing some reading on their website I learned that these bars were not only human grade, but made by a small local company in Oregon.  We are big fans of small cottage companies and we love to support local businesses whenever possible.


For years I have been trying to figure out ways to help reduce not only weight but the overall bulk of dog food when going backpacking.  Since my first thru-hike in 1996 I have had to carry at least a gallon size bag of dog food in my pack, which is not only heavy but also takes up a lot of valuable pack space.  This is in addition to my dog carrying at least 3 days of food in their pack.  the reason that I always carry a fair amount of the dog’s food is to help ensure we do not have any issues with the food being lost if the dog looses their pack, or have it ruined by getting wet in either a water crossing or extended periods of rain.


Over the past 4 years I have been experimenting with various dog food options and packaging techniques such as:

  • Buying commercially available dehydrated and freeze dried dog food

  • Making my own dehydrated dog food

  • Packaging my food in Ziplock and Foodsaver vacuum sealed bags


Each of these experiments has led to some interesting results, here is a summary


Commercially Available dehydrated & freeze dried food


  • Lighter in weight

  • Smaller bulk for each days meals


  • Very expensive-nearly double our regular dog food

  • Long Prep time as you have to boil water.  This forces me to carry more fuel for my stove and have to wait longer to eat.  My cook system only boils 2 cups of water at a time, about the amount that both mine and the dogs dehydrated food requires.

  • You have to let it cool before feeding your dog, this might be fine on a road trip but after your dog has hiked 20+ miles with you they are ravenously hungry and in no mood to wait for meal time, no matter how many times you throw a ball.

  • If it gets wet, it’s ruined or needs to be eaten immediately


Making my own dehydrated food


  • I can use only the highest quality ingredients and reduce any fillers that are unnecessary for your dogs health

  • I can increase the protein levels to ensure that my dog gets enough calories for the days we are pushing really big miles

  • Lighter in weight than kibble helping reduce our pack weight

  • Less bulky than kibble helping us maximize pack space


  • Very time consuming as it requires; cooking the food at home, then letting it cool, dehydrating it, and then packaging it

  • If it gets wet it has to be eaten immediately or it’s ruined


Packaging in Ziplock and Foodsaver Bags



  • Generally water resistant

  • Easy to package a full days worth of food in 1 bag

  • Relatively inexpensive 

  • Great ballast to move form side to side to help keep the dog pack balanced


  • Not all Ziplock are created equally, you have to buy the freezer ones or they are no good

  • Kibble and other foods tend to abrade the bag throughout a trip allowing small holes an tears where water can seep in

  • Very wasteful and non bio degradable

Foodsaver Vacuum Bags


  • Vacuum sealed bags prevent water intrusion

  • Reduces the bulk factor by removing air

  • Durable plastic, rarely do we get abrasions or tears that compromise the bags


  • Very time consuming packaging

  • Requires a Foodsaver system

  • Wasteful packaging that doesn’t biodegrade

  • You can only package one meal per bag


All of these experiments also left one big problem for me when traveling in bear country and regions that require using a bear canister for your food.  The bags of dog food and my food just will not all fit in the canister.  I can usually get about 6-7 days worth of my food in the canister at best, 6-7 days of dog food is nearly as bulky as my food.  Options to solve this problem in the past have been to carry 2 canisters, not happening or have to resupply more often, a logistical nightmare.  Enter TurboPUP bars to change all of this.


The bars are small but pack a big calorie punch.  Three full size bars is enough food for my dog Karluk’s daily needs.  The total volume of space these take up are about a 1/4 of what all the above mentioned dog foods are.  This allows me to now fit all of our food into the bear canister at night.  It also fits much better in the dogs pack and leaves more room for things like Karluk’s booties, water bottles, ball and jacket for sleeping at night.


The total food weight now is just 13.4oz for a days worth of dog food.  Kibble is typically 24oz a day, and the dehydrated food is right around 16oz.  While saving 3oz-11 oz might not seem like much to most people, we are Ultra-Light hikers and we are fastidious about weighing everything we carry and try to only take the absolute essentials and as little weight as possible while maintaining safety.  Before food and water my pack is generally between 9-12 lbs depending on the season.  By reducing our food weight over 7 days we can continue to approach our big mile hikes with less on our backs, making both Karluk and myself very happy.


The other great part of these bars is there packaging.  The packaging is heat sealed and waterproof, a huge time saver when preparing for a trip.  The water proof packaging also helps minimize the risk of the food getting wet, soggy and ruined.  Finally the plastic used to package the food is bio-degradable, helping reduce our carbon footprint.  With that said, please remember to pack out what you pack in, this includes a bio-degradable package such as this. To learn more about backcountry ethics and best practices please visit Leave No Trace’s website at 


Finally these bars are delicious, I tried a bit of a sample bar myself and thought, “hey not bad”.  Karluk loved them he seemed to savor the bar as he munched trail side after climbing Star Mountain in Montana and Lost Lake Butte in Oregon.  


I can not recommend these bars enough for other K9 backcountry enthusiast.  This fall Karluk and I are traveling to California to hike the Tahoe Rim Trail a 175 mile trail around Lake Tahoe.  We are planning to hike this trail in 7 days averaging 25 miles a day.   Bear canisters are required and thankfully with our new found TurbPUP bars we have solved the dog food problem for this trip and many more in the future.


Happy Trails and Wagging Tails,

Whitney  “Allgood” La Ruffa & Karluk



Photo by Jay Waicunas, Outdoor Viewfinder 

How do you keep your food dry on trail?

This is a common issue if you feed your dog kibble.  Too many times after a wet day I have reached into the dogs pack to feed him only to discover that his food was a big soggy mess.  To help prevent this issue we vaccum pack our food with a Foodsaver.  I often measure out each feeding in a bag and then vacuum seal it to keep it waterproof.  This also helps when on trail for keeping the pack balanced, because you have set premeasured weights that act as balast

Please visit again for more tips and techniques to come, this site is still under construction but I promise more great info will be added soon

More to come

Dehyrated Dog Food

There are many commercially available dehydrated foods out there, but they are expensive and bulky.  To help save weight and cost on food for the dog here's a pro-tip.  

Natural Balance-Lamb & Rice Log

Karluk eats Natural Balance at home and they make a travel log of a wet type variety that works well for dehydrating.  First set up your dehydrator with wax paper liners, then cut the food log up into a normal serving size.  then crumble the food up like you would when feeding the dog.  proceed to dehydrate the food until all the mositure is gone.  I then put this measured amount into either a freezer ziplock bag or foodsaver bag.  When on trail all I have to do is boil about 1 1/2 cups of water and add it to the bag, close the bag up and let the food seep until fully rehydrated.  Let the food cool before feeding to you dog, I often supplement kibble this way.

© 2013 by Allgood's K-9 Adventurers all rights preserved.

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