Ambassador Field Notes: Exploring Germany With Our Dogs and Rooftop Tent
Ruffwear ambassadors Michael and Vanessa (or @reiseschnauze), along with their two Siberian huskies, Eska and Lika, are big fans of camping and planning big adventures - including traveling in their van - in their native country, Germany. The story has been translated from German to English.
Hello, we are Michael and Vanessa with our two Siberian huskies, Eska and Lika. Lika has only been part of our camping family for a few days and still has her big adventures ahead of her!
We have been living a very minimalist lifestyle for many years, and prefer to focus on the essentials in life rather than material items. Our great passion is traveling. For some years now we have been traveling the world with our car (an Opel Agila) and our rather small roof tent (it’s about 5 square meters).
I, Vanessa, grew up in a real "camper family" and spent my childhood either with my grandma with lots of dogs, or with my uncle and aunt at various campsites. So, from an early age, I experienced what makes me happy today: Camping and dogs. As a result, I knew straight away what I didn't want in life: Status symbols and rules. Fortunately, I found a life partner and best friend early on – my husband Michael – who is just as adventurous, crazy and different as I am. And that’s why we travel!
Because it is extremely important to us that our dogs never lack the right equipment when they accompany us on our adventures, we always bring their crates and accessories on any trip. In fact, our dogs actually take up the most space! But we like it that way.
How did it all start?
It all started when we packed up the car many years ago and just took the plunge. It was the start of a never-ending and wonderful journey!
We didn’t give it much thought or worry in advance about what we might be missing (quite naive, but we survived!). However, it has to be said that our first attempt took place in the middle of winter. In other words, it was -10 degrees Celsius outside and we only had blankets and clothes to keep us warm as we tried to sleep on the front seats of our small car. So, it could only get better.
A motorhome or similar was never an option for us, but the addition of our roof tent was a real luxury that now we wouldn't want to do without. With the roof tent, we have finally found our way of traveling that allows us to be spontaneous and which we love from the bottom of our hearts.
Before we had Eska and Lika, our original adventure dogs, Mausi and Mable, accompanied us on all our first adventures. Mausi, our blind dog, explored with us until 2021, before she passed away during an operation on 16.07.2021. Mable accompanied us until 2023, when she gave up the fight against cancer after 3 years.
Up until the day before she died, we traveled through southern Germany, eastern Germany and northern Germany. We went hiking in the mountains, climbed meter-high rocks and swam in the sea. She was ‘adventure’ in a dog! She lived and loved this life, in the truest sense of the word.
Adapting to all conditions
In a perfect world, we prefer to be out and about when it's sunny and 30+ degrees Celsius. Not because it's easier, but because we love summer, sun, and sweating! But you can't always avoid cold days, and so we are now also prepared for very cold temperatures.
We made our own insulation for our roof tent from insulating foil, which does a really good job of keeping the cold out. For the dogs, we have the Highlands™ Dog Sleeping Bag (which we keep on board in all seasons). In winter, it’s often used as a small cave, and in summer, they like to sleep on it in front of the roof tent.
In sub-zero temperatures, we put on long clothes and use thick blankets. Fun tip: A bottle of warm tea not only warms you from the inside, but also provides warmth from the outside when placed under the blanket.
Our top choices for the right equipment:
- The Polar Trex™ Winter Dog Boots: Not only a miracle cure for ice and snow when hiking, but also for salt on the road!
- The Sun Shower™ Dog Raincoat: Have it ALWAYS and bring it everywhere with you! Having a wet dog in the roof tent/van/motorhome is unpleasant.
- The Lumenglow™ Hi-Vis Dog Jacket: We have a human high-visibility vest in the car in case we break down or have an accident, and we also want our dogs to be seen.
- A Collapsible Water Bottle: Our absolute insider tip for camping because it fits under every tap to fill it up! With "normal" bottles we often had the problem that we couldn't fill it up. The material also makes it easier to stow away.
- The Bivy™ Collapsible Dog Bowl and Trail Runner™ Ultralight Dog Bowl take up minimal space when folded. We love them!
- The Haul Bag™ Dog Travel Bag: Traveling in the smallest of spaces means that order is the be-all and end-all. That's why we use the bag for most of the dogs' accessories, so everything is together.
- The Basecamp™ Dog Bed: This dog bed offers the best protection from the cold even on cold surfaces and is super comfortable! Our dogs love lying on it.
- The Knot-a-Hitch™: This is the perfect system for keeping your dog on a lead but still giving them plenty of freedom. On many campsites and pitches, dogs are not allowed to run around freely and this system allows them to cover a very large radius, even though they are on a lead. In addition, the lead never gets tangled or knotted!
Finally, find your own way! Never let anyone tell you that you can't do something and never compare yourself to others. Camping and traveling should open your mind, make you happy and not make you think about what others are doing. Do your thing!