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Reviews > Animal Companion Gear > Animal Feeding Bowls > Guyot Designs Squishy Dog Bowls > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto
"SQUISHY" PET BOWLS
by Jamie DeBenedetto
Reviewer's Information Back to contents
Product Information Back to contents
Description of Product
The Guyot Designs "Squishy" Pet Bowl is a pliable, food grade silicon dog dish. It's the common round "bowl" shape with a slightly larger base than opening. The one I received is a very bright and cheery Tangerine color. According to the manufacturer the silicon material is good between -40 F (-40 C) and 446 F (230 C), which means it can be placed in the freezer, dishwasher and microwave safely. The silicon does not contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a controversial substance that for several decades has been under some scrutiny regarding whether or not it's safe to use in food and drink containers.
Arrival Condition and Informational Material Back to contents
The "Squishy" Pet Bowl arrived in perfect condition as if I had just plucked it from the store shelf. The picture to the right shows the bowl with the product tag still affixed. This tag was the only informational material supplied. Given the simple nature of this item, I can't imagine what else would be needed.
While writing this report I found a few discrepancies with some of the listed information on the webpage, tag and the bowl itself. The most pressing of these inconsistencies is the given volume listed on the tag/website. They show the medium sized bowl, which they call the Park, as having a 36 fl oz (1 L) capacity but written on the bowl it says this size holds 32 fl oz (0.95 L). My testing showed the second measurement to be the correct one.
Expectations and First Impressions
The look of the bowl is just how I pictured it from the website. The "squishy" moniker doesn't seem quite right to me though. Yes the dish is bendy but the silicone material has kind of a rubber-like feel. I guess the word squishy made me think of something a bit spongier, akin to closed cell foam. Regardless, it appears to be sturdy but we'll see how it holds up to the various dangers dogs and outdoor use bring into the mix. Things like clumsy dog paws stepping on it and pointy objects poking at it from below, are just a few potential doomsday scenarios off the top of my head.
My overall first impression is positive. I like the bright color and I think the size will work for my purposes. The only area of concern for me at this time is how packable it is. I've folded the bowl every which way during my initial inspection and while it does crumple nicely it pops back into the original shape straight away. Without a strap or something heavy keeping it compressed I'm not sure it will stay squished in my pack. I'm sure I'll figure out all the little fun and not so fun qualities of the Pet Bowl once I get field testing.
As of January 1st I have used the Guyot Designs "Squishy" Pet Bowl on forty-one treks with at least thirteen different dogs. On all occasions it was used for watering between one and three times per hike.
Field Tests October through January Back to contents
All hikes taken during the field testing phase lasted between two and four hours and took place in various Sonoran desert mountain preserves within a few miles of my home in Phoenix, AZ. Elevations in these conservation areas range from 1,500 ft (450 m) up to 2,100 ft (640 m). Temperatures during my on trail hours fluctuated between 80 and 40 F (5 to 26 C) over the three month span.
My experience with the "Squishy" Pet Bowl has so far been positive. During my field use the 32 oz (0.95 L) bowl proved voluminous enough to water two medium to large dogs at one stop without the need for refill. After a third or fourth dog was added to the mix the bowl needed a second dose of water fairly quickly. Standing by the bowl and refilling certainly is not a hassle, however, and if I felt it was I could always consider the larger bowl Guyot Designs offers.
The bowl has retained its shape perfectly, never failing to pop open to its original form as soon it's out of my pack. Once out and filled, the 6 in (152 mm) opening was without doubt large enough for all the doggy muzzles diving in for a drink. The largest faced breed to use the bowl was Jack. He's a stout guy, possibly a bulldog/boxer cross and quite a sloppy drinker because of his fleshy jowls. He was a little apprehensive at first to stick his nose into the bowl, not sure why, but after the first time he was golden. Jack's the strappin' fella on the far right in the picture on the right. The 2.7 in (69 mm) side height also worked nicely. The one small dog I hike is Koda who's a young Dachshund. From ground to nose he's about 7 in (18 cm) and he was able to access the water in the bowl without any problems other than avoiding slobber trails from the taller dogs standing over him. Yuck!
Over the three months of testing the bowl has remained in surprisingly good condition. It's still puncture free despite the abundance of pointy hazards on the ground in the desert and the rough nature of some of my traildog companions. A few of the dogs have on occasion stepped on/in the bowl, laid on it, and tested it for chew-toy worthiness. The picture to the left is an example of how one of my goofier canine cohorts, Joey, a large yellow lab mix, routinely treated the "Squishy" Pet Bowl.
I have yet to clean the bowl properly, meaning a good washing with soap and water in my sink. (I do not use a dishwasher so evaluation of how the bowl handles that will have to fall to the other testers.) Generally I just shake out whatever's left in the bowl when the dogs have had their fill and stuff it back in my RIBZ front pack until the next stop. That seems to work fine unless it's heavily goobered with dog slobber or there is a lot of dirt or leaves inside or on the underside of the bowl. Tapping it up against a tree does help but once wet, the bowl material clings to leaves and the like and requires wiping with a cloth or rinsing with more water. The picture below and to the right shows an example of this.
Folding and storing it is my only area of contention, mainly because it's not as compact as the other collapsible bowl I used previously. I've had to make adjustments to fit it comfortably into my standard dog hiking kit, which is a RIBZ front pack. The bowl rolls up okay but doesn't stay compressed and ultimately pokes me in the side through the pack material. I switched some things around inside the pack so now my K9 first-aid kit pushes up against the bowl holding it in a squashed position. That helped and I have been satisfied with this way of lugging it so far. During the last two months of testing I will store it in one of the dog backpacks a few of my traildogs wear to see how well it works as part of this set-up.
Pros and Cons Thus Far Back to contents
Good marks for the following aspects…
Aspects I'm not keen on right now…
Collective Use and Field Conditions Back to contents
During the final two months of testing I have used the Guyot Designs "Squishy" Pet Bowl on an additional twenty-three hikes for a total of sixty-four outings. Generally the bowl is filled with water and used by the dogs between one and three times per hike. Over twenty different dogs have drunk or eaten from this bowl. The canine co-testers ranged in size from my smallest traildog friend who's a Dachshund, up to larger breeds like Boxers, a Bullmastiff, and Labrador Retrievers.
conditions were the same as reported in my Field Report with the addition of a
special snow play/forest hiking trip I took recently with eleven dogs. This
outing took place near Payson,
AZ on the Mogollon
Rim. Elevation was right around 5,600 ft
Long Term Conclusions Back to contents
The Park sized "Squishy" Pet Bowl is a success! It's still in great condition, showing no signs of leaks, punctures, folds, odd creases, etc. I feel I've given it a ton of use what with all the dogs I hike each week and it's been crammed in and taken out of my pack loads of times. Based on how it's holding up, I'd say its longevity outlook is good. As for usefulness, that's good too. As I mentioned in my Field Report the bowl's opening and side height work for a variety of dog muzzle shapes. Once filled it stays open nicely allowing the dogs excellent access to what's inside. The wide base of the bowl and the thickness of the silicone material give it stability. Even when a few of my canine companions have run their leash over the dish or stepped on it, it has never overturned. This sturdier material makes it possible to pick up the bowl with one hand, holding it by one of the sides, without too much of the contents spilling out. Some spillage does occur when the dish is nearly full, however.
I have to confess I have not cleaned the bowl properly but one time, choosing instead to just rinse it out with a bit of clean water when we've encountered fountains at trailheads. My "slacker" method has not resulted in an overly grubby bowl, quite the contrary. The material just isn't very porous so dirt, sand, slobber and the like visually disappear for the most part without too much effort. Slobber though, tends to linger in the form of a hard to see slippery film until the dish is fully dry. Along those same lines, odors are not present either. Before giving it its first real cleaning (soap, warm water) a few days ago I checked to see if the bowl was emanating anything offensive, it did not. The only smell I detected was a very faint hint of dirt, which was only noticeable on the bottom section. Makes perfect sense to me!
Here at the end of the test series I wanted to get in a few additional experiments based on the claims of the manufacturer. The freezer claim and the microwave claims were both doable at home so I checked them out. First, I filled the bowl half way and left it in the freezer overnight and part of the next morning. After about twelve hours of freezing I set it outside to thaw. The only change in the bowl's appearance was a slight bulge on the bottom from the ice cube that had formed inside. After thawing it was back to normal. The second experiments involved running it through the microwave. I can't think of any reason why I would ever do this other than possibly as a quick way to kill germs but since the manufacturer mentioned it was safe to do so, I thought why not check it out. I heated the dish empty for one minute with no effect. I then heated it half full of water for one minute, also no effect. So given that, I think if I wanted to serve my dog hot coco in the "Squishy" Pet Bowl it could handle it. (haha!)
Finally, as promised from my Field Report, I transferred the task of lugging the pet bowl from my back to one of the dogs via a canine backpack. The doggie pack I use is a Granite Gear Ruff Rider (size small), which sports a 450ci (7.5L) capacity per side compartment. The dish, when uncompressed, took up most of the interior space of the side into which I stuffed it. When folded it was quite a bit smaller of course but I could not keep it in that state. The only other item I had in the saddle bag pocket was a water bottle and some plastic bags.
Final Thoughts Back to contents
As hiking dog dishes go I'm pleased with the Guyot Designs "Squishy" Pet Bowl. The food grade silicone material makes it durable and versatile with regard to extreme temperatures and use conditions. It also did not retain odors and was easy to keep clean with the exception of the clingy nature of the bottom when wet. The Park size was wide enough and held an adequate amount of water to accommodate a variety of dog breeds, often at the same time. The weight of the bowl combined with its wide base created stable drinking even on sloped terrain and threat of clumsy dog paws. My only "poo poo" toward this bowl has to do with its collapsibility. The material is sturdy, which on the one had means the dish pops open perfectly every time without any fuss. On the other hand it means the bowl had a hard time staying folded when I wanted it to unless I really trapped it among other gear in my pack. This isn't a negative as much as something to remember when planning how this bowl will be carried on an outing.
Thank you for reading my test series of the Guyot
Designs "Squishy" Pet Bowl. I hope it was helpful. Extra thanks to Guyot Designs and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity.
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