The Ultimate Guide to the Best Collapsible Bowls

Have you ever found yourself out on a walk or hike with your dog, only to suddenly realize you brought plenty of water for your dog—but nothing for them to drink it out of? For the longest time, I relied on cupping my hands and pouring water into them. My German shepherds, Clancy and Bella, gladly drank out of this makeshift bowl. But a lot of water slipped through the cracks between my hands no matter how tightly I clasped them together.

My Alaskan shepherd, Eira, refuses to drink out of my hands. Or maybe she’s just confused. Either way, I knew that I needed to find an alternative way to give her water while out and about. Especially since early last week, we were packing for a camping trip to Denali National Park here in Alaska. We planned to bring Eira, of course, and to take her on what hikes we could.

And that’s when I learned about collapsible bowls and immediately fell in love with them.

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Pouring water into Eira’s collapsible bowl.


The Perks of a Collapsible Bowl

Collapsible bowls are amazing because, well, they collapse. Into one flat disk instead of a bulky metal dish to cart around. Most collapsible bowls are made of silicone or durable fabric, and the best ones have clips on them. I found a collapsible bowl with a small metal carabiner on it, which allowed me to clip it to my backpack or purse for travel. I can also clip it to Eira’s retractable leash for walks around our house.

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Eira’s collapsible bowl, clipped to my purse handle.

I could easily unclip the bowl to give Eira water during our gas station stops on the way to Denali and then pour the water back into the bottle if she didn’t finish before clipping the bowl back on the purse. I really don’t know why I didn’t discover these things sooner! Now that I’ve used one while camping in a remote national park, I have lots of tips to share on how to find the perfect collapsible bowl for you and your dog.

Consider the Material

The one downside of collapsible bowls is that you can’t leave them with your dog if she’s a chewer. The silicone isn’t meant to stand up to dog teeth—and neither is the fabric if you choose a fabric one. So be prepared to enjoy the convenience of an easily stored bowl, but not a bowl you can leave in a crate with your dog.

While fabric might be more durable, silicone can collapse into three different depths: super shallow, which limits water waste; medium, which allows for more water; and deep, which is perfect for feeding (or for extremely thirsty dogs!). Most silicone bowls can also go through the dishwasher, creating even more convenience for you.

When you’re shopping for collapsible bowls, think about what colors you’d like. You can use one color for food and one for water. Or one color for one dog and the other color for another. Many collapsible bowls come in sets of two to four.

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After researching collapsible bowls and test-drinking ours at Denali National Park, Eira and I have figured out which collapsible bowls are best for various activities—and which bowls we’re buying next.

The Best Collapsible Bowl to Carry Inside a Pack or Purse

If you don’t want a collapsible silicone bowl hanging off your pack, try a fabric one that rolls up into the size of an iPhone and can easily be tucked away into your bag. Unlike silicone bowls, however, fabric bowls are prone to leaking. The good news is that there are fabric bowls out there that don’t leak—and the better news is that I’ve found one!

This bowl has a band that holds it together when collapsed, and it doesn’t leak or soak in water. To clean it, just wipe it with a damp cloth.

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The Best Collapsible Bowl for Hiking

We took Eira on several hikes in Denali, and we loved the silicone bowl we chose for the hike. The only thing I wish about ours is that it had a better carabiner, because sometimes it was difficult to remove the carabiner from the bowl. And in a park with lots of these guys around, you don’t want to have to fumble with a carabiner!

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A mother grizzly bear and her cub in Denali National Park. I was in a bus when I took this photo, don’t worry! And Eira was safely back at our campsite with my parents and toddler.

Here’s the bowl we used.

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We loved it so much that we’re looking at getting the travel pack of two bowls, which comes with a zipper pouch.

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If you’re having a hard time visualizing how a collapsible silicone water bowl works, check out the video I took of Eira’s water bowl.

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The Best Collapsible Bowl for Backpacking

Hiking is usually a day-long thing, but backpacking requires more thought and preparation because it’s essentially dry camping in remote locations. While we didn’t do this while in Denali, backpacking may indeed be in Eira’s future.

Because you’re carrying all your supplies on your back, a fabric bowl might be too much weight when every ounce counts. In this case, a super-light collapsible bowl is the best option. A pack of two or even three is better, in case something happens to one of them and you still need a food and water bowl for your pup.

We found a perfect lightweight collapsible food bowl that doubles as a flying disk toy. Your dog will be tired of walking after a long day of backpacking, and she’ll probably want to play instead once you find a camping spot. This bowl will give her the food and water she needs and then turn into a toy to satisfy her play needs before bedtime.

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The Best Collapsible Bowl Set for Value

Do you have multiple dogs who need collapsible bowls for your summer adventures? We recommend buying the larger bowls even if you have a mix of small and large breeds, because you can flatten a silicone bowl to be small enough for a small dog to reach. There are several sets of silicone bowls you can purchase on Amazon, but the one we found has the best value:

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While these are smaller, only holding 1.5 cups of water, there are six of them—and they’re extra firm bowls that won’t bend and flop when filled with water.

The Best Collapsible Bowl for a Beach Pup

If you spend your summer days lounging at the beach, you might want a collapsible bowl that’s a little more than just a collapsible bowl. One that also holds food and water for your hungry, thirsty pup, for example. Oftentimes when you go to the beach, it’s an all-day excursion that sometimes requires paid parking—but your dog won’t want to go home just so he can eat and drink water.

So what do you do? Buy this amazing food and water container with clippable silicone bowls! Shaped like a water bottle, it’s split in half, with different-colored bowls for each half. You won’t get confused, your dog won’t get confused, and you’ll be able to stay out all day long without worrying about your pup’s food and water needs.

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The Best Collapsible Bowl for a Road-Tripper

If you love to travel by car and have a dog who loves to join you, you’ll want a collapsible bowl that comes with a travel-approved entourage. This travel pack comes with two silicone bowls and two food containers (that hold up to 30 cups’ worth of food and treats!) to hold all the sustenance your dog needs for your road trip. You can store a leash, poop bags, a brush, and your dog’s favorite toys in the various pockets, too.

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The Best Collapsible Bowl for a Frequent Flyer

Does your small dog love to join you on plane rides? Then you’ll love this collapsible bowl and crate set from Amazon. It comes with a collapsible water bowl, a couple pockets for storing important things like treats and toys for the flight, and it even collapses, itself, for when you’ve arrived at your destination. But the collapsible bowl will be useful even after you’ve landed.

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Stop Using Your Hands or Random Containers to Give Your Dog Water On-the-Go!

Now that we’ve rounded up the best collapsible water bowls for virtually any dog, go out and find the best one that works for you! Eira loves her water bowl, and so do I.

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Eira drinking out of her collapsible silicone water bowl.

I don’t think collapsible silicone bowls even existed when my first dog, Clancy, was a puppy. We live in an amazing time, as far as convenient dog products go.

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Eira can easily join us camping with her collapsible water bowl!

What’s your favorite new dog product that’s also super convenient? Let us know in the comments!

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