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  • Writer's pictureJon Osborn

Gear Review: Gunner G1 Dog Kennel & Accessories

Updated: Feb 20


Two hunters by truck preparing to dog with kennel in the foreground

Overview:


For many upland hunters and waterfowlers, a quality day afield isn’t defined by the sum-total of birds in the bag. On the contrary, a great outing is all about watching the dogs work. It’s the pinnacle of sport, so when it comes to the safety and comfort of those four-legged friends, only the best will do.


Fortunately, the hunt for the ideal kennel is over.


Gunner, based in Nashville, TN, specializes in the finest insulated dog crates on the market. It’s a story that began over eight years ago, in a duck blind. That’s when founder Addison Edmonds set out to build the best kennel in America. He named the company after his faithful Labrador, and the rest is history.


Gunner is an American-made product created for hunters, by hunters. Their G1 kennel boasts a five-star crash-test safety rating, and a tough, roto-molded, construction. They’ve endured astonishing levels of abuse, including high-speed collisions, vehicle roll-overs, and extreme temperature fluctuations. The G1 comes in six colors, with a wide variety of add-on accessories, including cooling fans, cold-weather kits, tie-down straps, and orthopedic kennel mats. The G1 retails for $650 (in size Medium – which is what I own).


grouse and woodcock in front of gunner dog kennel

Test Study:


I’ve owned my Gunner G1 kennel for three years, and recently had the opportunity to test out the Crate Fan 2.0, the Orthopedic Dog Bed, and Airtight Food Bowl.


In the interest of context, I spend hundreds of hours afield each autumn pursuing grouse and woodcock with my English setter, Winston. Most of our outings transpire in northern Michigan, but we’ve also chased birds in Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, and Georgia. In our neck of the woods, bird season starts September 15, a time when the mercury often climbs into the upper 80s. By the time the season concludes in late December, single digits temperatures are common.


My hunting vehicle is a Toyota Tacoma with a fiberglass cap over the bed, which means there’s no heat or air conditioning on the commute to or from hunting areas. In addition, we typically hunt one dog at a time, which means the others stay behind in crates, waiting their turns.


Over the years, I’ve seen (and owned) various kennels. Some were decent and others were awful. I can honestly say, however, that none came close to Gunner’s level of safety, comfort, and quality.


man smoking a pipe with shotgun behind kennel and harvest of grouse

What I Like:


G1 Crate


Aside from the legendary durability and safety ratings, the folks at Gunner have thought through nearly every detail, including seemingly “minor” considerations, and that’s what ultimately separates top-tier products like this from the competition.


Take the rubberized strips running along the base for instance, which prevent the kennel from sliding around the truck bed. That would be an easy detail to overlook… until the kennel goes skating across the bedliner.


The drain plug at the rear of the crate allows power washing of the interior. Use your imagination here, but some plausible scenarios involve run-ins with skunks, unexpected swims in stagnant mud puddles, and random cases of Montezuma’s revenge. When it comes to dogs, anything’s possible.


Handy carry loops mounted on the top of the crate make lifting it into the truck easier. Now, this kennel is heavy, so the loops make transport easier, but not easy. More on that in a minute.


close up of gunner dog kennel with optional fan

Crate Fan 2.0


When the mercury rises, Gunner’s rechargeable Crate Fan ensures constant air circulation. It’s waterproof and dustproof, which is great news for guys who drive open-bed pickups. That’s not me, but I appreciate the 20-hour runtime. And for what it’s worth, the “LOW” speed produces a significant breeze.


The Crate Fan mounts to any kennel. The door on the medium sized kennel isn't large enough to accommodate the fan but the side mount works perfectly. Remember, the fan attaches to the outside of the kennel, so bear that in mind when vehicle space is limited. In other words, cramming two crates into a compact SUV probably won’t allow side-mounting the fan.


Charging the lithium-ion battery is simple with a standard wall mount or plug-in cigarette lighter adapter. In addition, you can run the fan while it’s plugged in, assuming at least 25% battery remaining. LED lights on the side of the fan indicate battery life and fan speed.


Orthopedic Dog Bed


Winston is turning ten in a matter of months, and he’s always been fairly thin, so he appreciates a soft pad after an intense day of hunting. Gunner’s Orthopedic Dog Bed sports an outer shell made of 1680 Denier-rated ballistic nylon. It’s removable for washing, via a zipper covered by a strip of Velcro. The Pure Core Memory Foam pad measures two inches thick and promotes comfort and optimal temperature.


Airtight Food Bowl


At first blush, Gunner’s Airtight Food Bowl seems somewhat basic. I mean, a dish is a dish, right? Not exactly. The folks at Gunner haven’t reinvented the wheel, but they have incorporated some subtle, valuable details into this product.


For one, this durable nylon bowl is dishwasher-safe and holds seven cups of food, which is over three days of kibble for my petite setter. Plus, it stores water equally well. I top it off with H20 and keep it in the truck, where it’s accessible after a sweltering trek through the scrub oaks and aspens. The pliable top, which Gunner calls their “Punchseal Lid,” won’t come off accidentally, and rubberized “feet” on the bottom keep the bowl from sliding around on the floor.


Ever owned a dog dish that traps water beneath the base? Gunner thought of that, too. “Vapor release” channels minimize mildew and gunk between the floor and the dish.


All told, this isn’t some run-of-the-mill dog dish you want to leave behind at the hunting lodge. Gunner hasn’t solved human forgetfulness, but they do offer a personalization option. For an extra $10, they’ll engrave the bowl with your dog’s name.


Durability:


Durability may be Gunner’s greatest claim to fame, and that mantra extends to all their products. How sturdy is sturdy? According to Gun Dog Magazine, the G1 crate can withstand a 650-pound sledge dropped from eight feet. They stay intact after a 200 foot drop off a cliff, hold strong after having a tree trunk dropped on them, and can absorb close-quarters shots from a 12-gauge.


Amazing stuff, but don’t take my word for it, check out Gunner’s detailed website (one of the best in the biz) for more. It’s overflowing with testimonials and photos of demolished vehicles alongside kennels that look no worse for wear.


If all else fails, Gunner offers a lifetime guarantee on everything they sell, but I doubt they see many claims.


grouse and woodcock on tailgate in front of gunner dog kennel

What I Don’t Like:


G1 Kennel


Whenever you gain something, you give something. It’s one of life’s immutable truths. In short, all this durability comes at a cost. You either get cheap and light, or heavy and expensive. Pick your poison. When it comes to Winston the Wonder Dog, however, I’ll opt for the latter, every time.


Crate Fan 2.0


Although the ON-OFF button is unobtrusive, I could see it getting bumped to the “ON” position with all the jockeying around that happens during a hunt. For that reason, a master kill-switch would be nice.


Orthopedic Dog Bed


This fall, I often hunted in the rain – as in, a lot. I tried to keep the Orthopedic Bed dry, but Winston was in and out several times a day and the bed stayed wet most of the time. Because of that, spots of mold started developing and I had to remove the pad and cleanse it with bathroom cleaner.


Airtight Food Bowl


The only thing I don’t like about the Airtight Food Bowl is that Winston’s name isn’t etched into the side, and I take the blame for that one. Everything else is outstanding.


mid hunt snacks laying on dog kennel with dog in background

Image by Eric Shaeffer


Perfect For: Dedicated dog owners who hunt in variable temperatures and demand the greatest level of quality, safety, and durability. Bonus, it doubles as a perfect table for those mid-day breaks.


Stars: To date, there are 4489 customer reviews on Gunner’s website, with an average rating of 4.9 overall. I concur, 4.9 out of 5 stars.


Learn More Here


Performance Tips:

            

Securing a Gunner kennel inside a pickup bed with nylon straps makes sense, even if your truck has a cap, and it’s especially important with an open-bed vehicle.


A rag-tag swatch of closed-cell foam works in a pinch, but adding Gunner’s cushy Orthopedic Mat will make your dog’s kennel experience far more comfortable.


In truly hot conditions, squirt some water into the running fan blades to enhance the cooling effect by misting your dog. You won’t hurt it. Trust me, I tried.


man mixing cocktails by a tailgate with dog kennel in background

Image by Eric Shaeffer


After-Action Addendum:

 

When I wrote my original Gunner gear review last fall, one of the products I field tested was the Orthopedic Kennel Bed. In the “What-I-Don’t-Like” section, I alluded to some disappointments, specifically in keeping the memory foam pad dry and odor free.

 

In all honesty, some of these issues were straight-up user errors, while others related to manufacturing issues on Gunner’s end.

 

Allow me to explain:

 

First, my errors… I assumed my ten-year-old setter Winston would be a perfect candidate for the Performance Pad, and that’s partially true. Saturated, moppy gundogs like Winston that rotate in and out of the kennel throughout the day never dry off – and neither does the bed. Fortunately, that’s an easy fix.

 

Second, Gunner explained that the “mold spots” I was seeing on the surface of the pad were actually activated charcoal incorporated into the foam. They also explained that, since my review, they’ve since adopted an improved foam pad.

 

A Few Words About Customer Service

 

Customer service can be a crapshoot, these days, ranging between good, bad and just plain ugly. I’m happy to report that Gunner’s service team is nothing short of amazing. They patiently talked through the issues I was experiencing and ultimately swapped my Orthopedic Pad for a Performance Pad, which better suits my specific needs.

 

Differences Between Products

 

Gunner’s Performance Pad

Materials – Tailor-fit, shock-resistant, ¾” tough-skin foam pad.

Specs – Hydrophobic, odor-resistant, and easy to clean.  

Price range - $90 - $130

Best for – Wet dogs that aren’t prone to destructive chewing.

 

Gunner’s Orthopedic Bed

Materials – Gel-infused, two-inch-thick Viscoelastic memory foam.

Specs – Cushy foam covered by 1680 denier ballistic nylon water-resistant cover.

Price range - $100 - $140

Best for – Geriatric dogs – after they’ve dried off.


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