High Gear: The Grrowler 3-in-1 dog collar from Rocky Mountain Underground in Breck | SummitDaily.com

High Gear: The Grrowler 3-in-1 dog collar from Rocky Mountain Underground in Breck

It's about time Fido started carrying his weight on hikes and Rocky Mountain Underground agrees.

Earlier this summer, the Breckenridge-based ski manufacturer launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Grrowler, a combination dog bowl and dog collar made just for mountain dogs.

Like RMU itself — Mike Waesche started the company with a few friends after finding they had a knack for building skis — the contraption was more of an accidental solution for a real-life problem, rather than a strategic product made to fill a void in the pet market. It's the brainchild of Waesche, who ran into a common problem on hiking and biking trips with his pup, Charlie Dog: When Charlie Dog was thirsty, Waesche either had to pour water on the ground, in his hand or on a backpack. He even tried to squirt water from a Camelbak on occasion, like some kind of wilderness drinking fountain.

Needless to say, none of the solutions worked for Charlie Dog or his owner. And so, one day, Waesche had an "a-ha" moment and chopped one of the company's drybags into the shape of an improvised bowl. He attached clips on either side so that Charlie Dog could wear it as a collar, and viola — the original Grrowler was born.

By June 22 — five days before the end of the 30-day Kickstarter campaign — RMU had raised its initial goal of $4,500, which was enough to justify adding The Grrowler to the company's growing line of backpacks and outerwear. The campaign raised $5,529 when it closed after 30 days, and now, the product is available online or at RMU's soon-to-open combination bar and showroom.

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Field test

A combo dog bowl and collar sounds like a brilliant idea, but does it work in the field? In short, yes. The assembly is simple enough and rugged enough to handle just about anything a mountain dog likes to do — hiking, biking, camping, even swimming — and, as long as your pooch isn't a chewer, the ripstop outer will take a beating.

"(It) Might be nice for long backpacks or the high alpine, where there isn't a lot of water, (or) if you don't want your dog to drink the water around or in the desert," said tester Summit Daily staff member Austyn Williams.

In other words, this is the perfect addition for an owner who likes to make sure his or her dog is well-watered in the wilderness. But, if I've learned anything from my dog, she's just as happy drinking from a stream, a puddle or the Nalgene I carry just for her — it's all the same to an animal. I can't quite justify the $39.99 price tag, especially when similar soft bowls are between $10 and $15 from Petsmart and other stores.

That said, this product is made in Colorado, and I can usually justify spending a bit more to support a local company and cause. I also like the idea of making my dog carry her own gear, but that could just be the human in me talking. The Grrowler is a cool concept from a local company, built around everything RMU stands for: living and playing in the mountains.

The Grrowler

Price: $39.99

Features: Zippered pouch with soft interior bowl, plus outer loop for tags and leash

Material: Ripstop nylon outer and bowl

Sizes: Small (11-15 inches), large (15-19 inches)

Adjustable: Yes

Colors: Black, purple, coyote, southwest, green

The Grrowler is made in Colorado and available at the Rocky Mountain Underground showroom in Breckenridge or online at http://www.rmuoutdoors.com.