Hurtta sent us a Bolete yellow Ultimate Warmer all the way from Finland last winter! We hit warm weather right after it arrived, so we were excited to put it to the test this winter, and actually ended up switching out the yellow for a Birch green from Hurtta North America because yellow tends to make Robin look sickly.
Price: $88-98 (depending on size)
Sizing and colors: Back lengths 10″ – 35″ in Birch green, Raspberry, and Granite gray. Bolete yellow and Juniper blue are also available in Finland.
When Hurtta sent us this jacket last February, it was their “ultimate” warmest jacket, with a tough waterproof-breathable shell, puffy synthetic insulation and a soft knit lining. It’s now been surpassed by the Extreme Warmer for extremely cold weather, but I’ll tell you a secret – this one is still my favorite! It’s the most flexible warm coat we’ve tried and it’s a great choice for cold weather.
All Hurtta outerwear contains a waterproof-breathable membrane (just like the eVent or Gore-Tex in your raincoat), but the actual surface layer of the shell varies from coat to coat. The slick ripstop nylon shell used on the Ultimate (as well as the Torrent raincoat) feels the most durable to me; it’s slightly more crinkly than their soft-touch shells (like the Extreme and the Chill Stopper) but sheds mud more easily as well.
The Ultimate Warmer has a full-coverage cut, with wraparound butt flaps that snap under the tail, and extra chest flaps to protect the upper forelegs. It insulates by way of synthetic fill that’s about 1/4″ thick overall and 1/2″ thick in the butt flaps. I was actually surprised when I measured the thickness because it looks puffier when on, but I’m glad it’s not bulkier.
The lining is a soft, non-waterproof knit that holds onto hair and dirt and, but is nice and snuggly against Robin’s bald belly. However, I really wish they’d use fleece instead (like their Summit Parka) because the Ultimate’s lining is not water resistant. This is generally not a problem because rain and snow hits the waterproof shell, but a small dog walking through wet snow is short enough that the lining can wick up water.
Hurtta skipped their signature waist-belt fastener on the Ultimate – instead, the belly panel is fixed on one side (see photo above), and the other side clips in a hidden pocket behind the right front leg. With this closure style, the belly panel has to be narrower than with the waist-belt style, because it can’t wrap up and over the sides of the jacket. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t create quite as tight of a seal in the chest and behind the front legs, and it’s also a bit less flexible for different chest depths, as the fastener location is fixed. In practice it’s never been a big issue but I’d like the option to create a tighter seal on the sides.
The Ultimate adjusts at the base of the neck and at the edge of the hood via a bungee, and features hind leg loops and two back openings, one for the harness and one for the collar. Reflective piping runs the length of the coat from shoulder to hip, and the left hip and right shoulder both feature printed reflectors. The belly strap also happens to be reflective.
Finally, my can’t-live-without-it feature on the Ultimate, which the Torrent and Extreme both lack, is the butt flap snaps! All three of these coats come with flaps that wrap around the hips and snap under the tail, but the Ultimate is the only one of the three that also features inner snaps to fold the flaps back and out of the way. I use these 95% of the time; Robin is happy to poop while his butt flaps are snapped and while the jacket generally tends to rise out of the way when he’s squatting, I just don’t like to bet on it. Butt flap snaps are such a necessity that I added them to our Torrent and Extreme coats.
Hurtta jackets come in a size for approximately every 2″ of back length, and Robin at 14.5″ is a perfect fit for the 14″ coats. (If I had to nitpick, I’d say that the 14″ coats truly fit about a 15″ back length, and I miss the tail toggle adjuster the Extreme has, but if he didn’t have a curly tail, this would be exactly perfect.) We also tried a 16″, which gave him a bit more belly coverage, but it was far too long and hung on his tail.
Most dog coats we’ve tried feature a rounded cut at the rump (which Robin’s tail tends to flip back), but Hurtta jackets end exactly at his tail and cover the sides of his hips. The coverage on the Ultimate is perfect for varying activity; when we stop and Robin gets cold, I’ll snap the butt flaps and tighten up the belly strap to keep his heat in; if I see him panting or we get into a warm car, it’s easy to loosen the belly or remove the hind leg straps to allow more airflow. The coat is also surprisingly adjustable in emergencies: I put this 14″ on Robin’s 12.5″ friend Moonie, and got a functional fit by tightening the neck bungees and the belly strap. Interestingly, our Birch Ultimate stays put better than our Bolete one did; the belly strap on the yellow one tended to slip over time.
The coat stays in place compared to Robin’s Torrent (which doesn’t have enough structure to stay put when he shakes, unless the hind leg loops are on), but I still use the leg loops to help keep the coat from shifting to one side. I also learned to use them while he was playing with another dog, so they aren’t a tripping hazard – he happened to tear one loop out of its seam while playing with Nico (the straps were not in use), but it was easy to just sew back in.
When it’s chilly, the Ultimate is the coat I reach for. It keeps Robin warm hiking in snow, winter camping, and on windy days. He’s a single-coated, skinny little guy that gets cold the moment he’s not moving, so when the temperatures drop below 60 I bundle him up. For sitting still in cold weather, it’s not enough on its own (Robin needs to be fully bundled in a blanket in camp, for example), but it’s the bulkiest coat he’ll wear happily in any circumstance.
We don’t get a ton of rain here in SoCal (though it’s been a very wet year), but the Ultimate kept Robin warm and dry during our rainy, snowy, foggy, windy New Year’s camping trip and for a full afternoon of hiking in Utah in rain and snow. Water beads up on the surface initially due to the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish, and then starts to wet the top layer of fabric, but it’s stopped from penetration by the laminated Houndtex membrane underneath.
One factor to keep in mind, especially for short dogs, is that the liner is not waterproof. So far we’ve only used this coat in packed wet snow, but a friend @crystaloutdoors found that the inside of the coat got wet during a trek through deep, wet snow and we’ve heard others mention that dry powdery snow can settle inside the chest panel and melt. Taller dogs will be less likely to experience this.
These coats should be cared for just like human waterproof-breathable coats – wash on delicate with tech wash to preserve the DWR, tumble dry for a few minutes to re-activate the DWR coating, and treat with relative care to avoid puncturing the fabric and thereby the waterproof-breathable membrane. However, we used our Bolete jacket for a whole year before I knew anything about how to treat these garments, and it worked as well as it did the day we got it.
Honestly, if you’re going to buy one winter coat for your pup, this should be it. While it’s expensive, it’s constructed with the same care and fabric quality as a high end human outdoor jacket, so it’ll last in a way that cheaper jackets don’t. We’ve tried coats from other brands, but they have less coverage or the stitching/fasteners are less durable, or the fabric snags more easily. When we gave away our Bolete Ultimate after nearly a year of use, it looked brand new except for a small white mark on the hip where Robin rubbed up against something dirty. Barring an incident with a barbed wire fence or similar, I expect this jacket to last long after I’m ready for a new color!
Overall: This is my favorite winter jacket for Robin and my top pick out of the Hurtta warm coat lineup – it’s warm, but can be vented by loosening the belly panel and the neck bungees; it has a durable shell, and the leg loops and butt flaps can be used on very cold days to help retain body heat. And the tough, slightly crinkly fabric feels like my snowsuit when I was a kid.