Price: $49.95 (I got it on sale)
Sizing and colors: XXS (13″–17″ girth) – XL (36″–42″ girth) in red, purple and gray
I picked up this jacket last year when we discovered that we didn’t have the right combination of layers on our Minnesota winter trip. I thought it would work as a wind or rain layer over Robin’s fleece Climate Changer, our favorite baselayer, without too much bulk. Overall, it’s not a great fit for him, so after only three uses in almost a year, we’re going to take it out of rotation. However, it’s a decent enough jacket that it might work for others, so read on to see if it’s a good option for your pup.
There’s nothing objectively wrong with the construction and styling of this jacket, but there’s also nothing innovative enough to make me feel that it’s worth the hefty price tag. Honestly, I was disappointed the moment I opened the package. I’m used to being impressed by Ruffwear products, since the fit of Robin’s Climate Changer is practically bespoke, and his Approach Pack is thoughtfully designed and overbuilt.
The Sun Shower feels very basic. The fabric is somewhat noisy, coated on the inside, and always looks wrinkled. It’s fairly bulky for a tiny dog rain jacket that advertises packability- Robin’s XS packs to the size of a medium orange (I have a person-sized water resistant jacket that packs the same size). Coverage is fairly minimal, with large leg openings and a tapering cut toward the tail. It slips over the head and fastens with an autolock side-release buckle on each side, and there’s elastic sewn to the belly straps inside the belly panel to add some give, which is nice. Shortly after I bought this, Ruffwear came out with a fuller-coverage raincoat, the Aira, which I probably would have been happier with – it has a better cut in the hips and front legs and includes leg loops, a feature we’ve liked on our Hurtta jackets, and a mesh lining for more comfort and breathability.
On the Sun Shower, the reflectors are printed rather than sewn-on (the neck reflective stripe is actually printed on both the inside and outside of the collar, in case you like to roll it down). Printed reflectors aren’t innately a bad thing, but reflective piping is much more visible, glowing bright white while the printing sort of sparkles silver.
I’m keeping this at a 4/5 for design because it’s a well-made jacket, but I feel that it’s lacking features for its price point. I’d say it’s worth $30, but $50 calls for some improvements, like packability, better reflectors and better coverage.
Though Robin’s a perfect XS in his sleeved Ruffwear Climate Changer, the vest styles (like this Sun Shower, and his Swamp Cooler) are too big in the chest. This one is the worst of the two because of the flexible material- no matter how we adjust the belly straps, he periodically catches a foot in the chest panel or steps through to the other side. The explanation became clear when I looked at the size chart – while the XS sleeved Ruffwear jackets, like his Climate Changer, are designed for a 13.75″-15″ neck, the Sun Shower specifies a 16.25″ neck (for the exact same girth measurement)! The vest styles are clearly designed for broader-chested, more muscular dogs – not a bad thing, but I wish Ruffwear would make it clearer that they have two fit lines.
Like all Ruffwear jackets, this one is cut for dogs that carry their tails low, with a rounded cut and a dart at the base of the tail. Unlike Robin’s two other Ruffwear jackets, though, this one flips back almost immediately and stays that way, so its already minimal coverage is made worse by Robin’s tail. I’ve tried tucking it under and pre-folding it partway back, but it likes to settle in this scrunched-back position.
The Sun Shower does fit well over the Climate Changer, and allows for free range of motion in the shoulders without a lot of bulk. The gaping chest is less of a problem when it’s used as a layer, though the coverage in the hindquarters is still a concern.
Because of the minimal coverage, the jacket is great for high activity. The cut of the chest allows for full range of motion, and it can be used over another sweater or jacket without creating bulk in the chest or belly. It’s perfect for misty conditions like this morning hike in the clouds- it wasn’t wet enough to require serious rain gear, but at 100% humidity we were all bundled up to keep the damp out. However, for deeper snow and heavy rain, the Sun Shower doesn’t have enough coverage to protect the dog or the under-layers. In our generally dry climate, I prefer to have one rain jacket that does it all rather than an “active-cut” rain jacket and “full-cut” rain jacket, so this one isn’t a match for us, but it might make a lot of sense in misty and rainy climates where people have full wardrobes of rain gear.
Build Quality: 4/5
On the jacket’s maiden hike, Robin scraped against a tree and put a little scratch and a permanent black stain on the fabric where the buckle pushes it out. No amount of washing and scrubbing has helped the stain. Other than that, the jacket looks brand new. The printed reflectors seem to be very durable (maybe more so than the piping, which tends to get scratched up, though I’d take that over sub-par reflectivity) and the stitching, as always, is tight and even.
The Sun Shower wasn’t a great fit on Robin, but its real downfall is the price, which just isn’t justified for a relatively simple jacket. If you need a lightweight, fairly packable basic jacket, this one is worth a try if you get it on sale, but keep in mind that it’ll likely fit best on broader-chested dogs. For a general purpose raincoat, look to the Aira or any of the Hurtta raincoats, which are next on our list to try.
Best for: Broad-chested dogs, use as a windbreaker layer during activity.
Not ideal for: Heavy rain, a general purpose raincoat, high-visibility requirements, narrow-chested dogs.