Robin’s a product ambassador for Alcott, so we received this vest at a significant discount. We’ve put it to the test over the past few months.
Price: $18.99 – $21.99
Sizing and colors: Small – Large, highlighter yellow and fluorescent orange
Robin’s reddish brown fur is a great match for the golden dirt and dry foliage of Southern California, so I try to make him more visible with a bright bandana or vest. This particular jacket by Alcott is such a brilliant fluorescent orange that it almost guarantees visibility day or night.
The vest has a simple design: it’s a two-layer nylon body that fastens with black buckles at the chest and belly. A line of reflective piping runs on each side from shoulder to flank, there’s a reflective Alcott character decal on the shoulder, and the entire vest is edged in reflective trim. Both the fluorescent orange and highlighter yellow are attention-grabbing colors; the orange leans a tiny bit pink and is very visible even in dim light. The two-layer construction (substantial nylon outer layer with a mesh liner) gives it a nice drape and helps it grip the fur to stay in place. Although the reflective elastic straps and the fasteners don’t feel particularly durable, I like the reflectivity, and the elastic allows just enough give to keep the vest in place during bursts of movement. It’s quick to put on and folds up small into a bag or pocket.
Robin’s about the largest girth that would comfortably fit a size small (18.5″), but the jacket looks proportional on him so I wouldn’t necessarily want to size up. It’s cut to end around 3/4 of the way down the back, but has full coverage on the sides, and has a close, streamlined fit. Despite the low-set chest strap, Robin’s range of motion doesn’t seem to be at all limited, although I’d prefer to see a y-shape chest strap for better mobility. I love the way this jacket looks on Robin- its sporty, slim fit and the lines of reflective piping are very flattering. It’s my favorite design out of all the major-brand visibility vests that I considered- Robin’s body was overwhelmed by Ruffwear’s long, stiff jacket; Kurgo while very lightweight was unflatteringly baggy around the ribcage, his mesh Petco vest tends to flop to the side, and Hurtta abruptly cuts the body in half. He has another vest made by Ollydog that twists annoyingly while he’s running. With an upgrade to the straps, this jacket would be a perfect fit.
The orange vest is highly visible in daylight and at dusk, and the reflectors are brilliant when a light hits them. Even better, despite the basic strap arrangement, it’s never required adjustment on the trail and doesn’t get in Robin’s way as he bounds around. The inner mesh liner and slightly stiffer shell seem to really help keep the vest in place compared to mesh and slick nylon vests we’ve tried. I reach for this vest for nighttime walks, park trips, and hikes, and I think it’s a great value for the price.
Build Quality: 3/5
Unfortunately, the inside of the vest isn’t finished with quite as much polish as it deserves. The harness hole and the strap/vest attachment points at the chest have unfinished edges on the inside. The seam on the right-shoulder reflective piping is missing a few stitches and will probably need to be resewn eventually. And I was very disappointed by the fact that the packaging put pinprick holes in the back of the vest. However, from the outside, the vest is well-finished and looks nice, and the straps are sewn on very sturdily.
Aside from slight pilling on the mesh liner, the vest looks virtually new after a summer of use with zero wear to the reflectors or the nylon shell. Neither the unfinished edges on the inside nor the holes from the packaging have frayed or gotten larger. I suspect that the body of the vest will outlast the elastic belly band, since it’s getting a little wavy on the edges as it loses some elasticity.
I really like the cut and color of the vest and I would get another if this one got lost. It’s very flattering on Robin, highly visible, and fuss-free on the trail. I do hope that Alcott steps up their finishing a notch or two and finds a better packaging solution to keep the vests intact!
Good for: All types of outdoor activities, neighborhood walks, nighttime and daytime visibility.
Not ideal for: Extremely hot weather due to thicker construction.
January 2015: Updated categories to current format and added better photos.