We use the integral-field spectrograph SAURON to measure the stellar line-of-sight velocity distribution and absorption line strengths out to four effective radii (Re) in the early-type galaxies NGC 3379 and 821. With our newly developed observing technique, we can now probe these faint regions in galaxies that were previously not accessible with traditional long-slit spectroscopy. We make optimal use of the large field-of-view and high throughput of the spectrograph: by adding the signal of all ∼1400 lenslets into one spectrum, we obtain sufficient signal-to-noise in a few hours of observing time to reliably measure the absorption line kinematics and line strengths out to large radius. We find that the line strength gradients previously observed within 1 Re remain constant out to at least 4 Re, which puts constraints on the merger histories of these galaxies. The stellar halo populations are old and metal poor. By constructing orbit-based Schwarzschild dynamical models, we find that dark matter is necessary to explain the observed kinematics in NGC 3379 and 821, with 30-50 per cent of the total matter being dark within 4 Re. The radial anisotropy in our best-fitting halo models is less than in our models without halo, due to differences in orbital structure. The halo also has an effect on the Mg b-Vesc relation: its slope is steeper when a dark matter halo is added to the model.