Touchdog Lightening Shield Waterproof 2-in-1 Convertible Dog Jacket

We’re Trail Testers for¬†@DogsThatHike! We get a quarterly box of goodies to test out,¬†and we report back with what’s good and what isn’t.
Note: as far as I can tell from Google searches, the name of this¬†coat is actually intended¬†to be¬†¬†Lightening¬†as written above, not Lightning (so:¬†making things lighter, not¬†that¬†electrical stuff that comes down from the sky). I couldn’t find any mention of¬†either word on the coat or tags. After all that googling, neither one looks like a word to me anymore, and regardless¬†I¬†don’t¬†recommend relying on this coat for protection from lightning strikes.

Price:¬†~$45 USD: I couldn’t find an official MSRP on this one, but this is the Amazon price at time of publication.

Sizing and colors:¬†XS (back length¬†8″) – XL (back length¬†22-24″)¬†in Black/Gray, Pink/Purple, Red/Black, Yellow/Black,¬†Lime/Gold, Turquoise/Blue. We’re testing the Black/Gray, size M, but the Turquoise/Blue is my favorite of their lineup.

The main selling point of this jacket is the 2-in-1 concept: you get a light fleece for crisp days, a lined shell for windy days, and a warm coat for cold days, all in one. Touchdog is a new brand to me and from their website, they seem to be focusing on dog beds and carriers these days, but their jackets are still widely available online. Those who have been following our blog will already know that our favorite winter coats are made by Hurtta, but we were excited to test out a lesser-known and lower-priced alternative.

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Showing off the fleece jacket alone

Construction: 3/5

There are three main factors in the warmth of a winter coat – material, coverage, and insulation. In brief, the Touchdog coat’s materials are low-quality but sufficient, the coverage is about average for the price point, and the insulation is bulky and on the lower¬†side, but enough for moderate weather or muscular dogs. Read on for details, or skip to Fit below.

Material:¬†The Touchdog coat has two fully-separating layers: a fleece jacket, and an outer shell with fleece lining. The stretchy fleece jacket¬†is two layers¬†thick but the¬†fleece is poor quality; both¬†layers together are around the same thickness as Robin’s single layer Climate Changer fleece. It¬†features reflective piping around the collar and around the back of the coat, and fastens by way of stiff, low-quality double hook-and-loop strips at the belly and chest. There’s a slit harness port, but it’s not fully cut open.¬†The shell¬†coat is much tougher, with a heavy, slightly crinkly waterproof¬†outer (there’s a ton of jargon on the label, but it’s basically just a PU-coated fabric) and a too-big single layer fleece lining¬†that¬†wrinkles up inside. This coat¬†has reflective piping on the shoulders and around the girth, so when the two are used together the reflectivity is good, but when used separately it’s minimal. The harness opening¬†on this coat¬†is more generous, about 1.5″ on the shell and 3/4″ on the liner, which could be snipped bigger. Overall, the shell material is nice, if overbuilt, but the thin stretchy fleece downgrades it.

20161210-dsc_8619-sunsetpeak
Robin and Xena modeling the chest coverage of their Touchdog coats.

Coverage:¬†We’ve tried quite a few winter jackets/brands, listed in order of coverage from most to least:

  • Hurtta, which are cut to cover the hindquarters, chest and belly and in some cases wrap under the tail
  • Ruffwear sleeved coats, which have¬†less coverage¬†in the hips, but cover the chest, back, belly, and upper front legs
  • Chilly Dogs, with generous neck and belly coverage and similar hindquarter coverage to Ruffwear
  • Minimal-coverage¬†Kurgo, with what¬†I’ll kindly call an “active” cut
  • Standard issue pet store, with a thin Velcro strap across the chest, and a thin velcro belly strap.

Touchdog coat is¬†around the Kurgo level for coverage, with wider chest and belly straps than your pet store basics and better back coverage than the Kurgo Loft, but without a continuous chest/belly panel that covers between the front legs.¬†I’ll discuss this further below, but while the back coverage is quite good on Robin, he’s either too long for the next size down or too skinny for this size, so coverage just depends¬†on where your dog falls in the size range.

Insulation:¬†The shell does most of the work here in keeping body heat in and wind out, and due to its stiffness, it does create something of a warm air pocket around the body. The fleece layers are fairly minimal because they’re so thin – generally, insulation helps trap warm air around the body and the thinner the insulation, the more quickly the body heat dissipates. I prefer a lighter, less bulky¬†insulation (like down or synthetic fibers) because¬†you can get a lot more thickness for the same weight.

The build quality and looks of the coat are¬†about what I’d expect for the price point: seams are tightly sewn and mostly even,¬†but with loose threads here and there and some puckering in the hems. The¬†light gray panel is a bit blocky but adds visual interest, and the embroidered logo on the left side of the collar is nice. However, I could do without the large¬†logo on the right shoulder (it’s a cheaply embroidered, hard to read logo with “TOUCHDOG Spirit stand on my feet” in large font).

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That logo tho.

 

The two coats attach via three snaps, one at the collar and one on each hip, which works well and looks clean. When both coats are used together, the chest/belly straps of the fleece jacket stuff into pockets in the shell layer, which stays put but makes the chest bulky.

Fit: 2/5

The fit made this coat actually unwearable for Robin.¬†He’s¬†a 14.5″ back length, 19.5″ girth (measured right behind the front legs). The Medium coat we’re testing is meant¬†for 18-20″ backs, yet it’s the right length. However, the girth is huge – when I measured, it¬†would fit girths 22″- 26″ (with only about 1/2″ overlap of the hook and loop¬†on each extreme), making it much too big in the belly for¬†Robin. The¬†hook and loop¬†strips don’t go high enough up the sides to get a snug fit, and¬†the extra belly panel flap is unsecured¬†and easily comes undone when it snags¬†on branches.¬†The too-big belly restricts his range of motion, has poor potty clearance, and doesn’t contain his body heat. Worse,¬†because most of the hook strips don’t match up to loop strips, they tend to shift around and scratch Robin’s junk, causing him to drop and frantically lick¬†mid-run. Even when not moving, he refuses to lie down in the jacket because it’s all up in his business.

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Every few steps (this is literally right outside our front door) Robin would drop and lick furiously.

I have railed against Velcro/hook and loop closures a few times before, but admit that it’s an easy solution to fit a large range of sizes. When a hook and loop coat¬†doesn’t fit a large range of sizes, then we’re really in trouble, and that’s how the Touchdog coat is.

Our¬†friends Jamie and Xena at @hikinggirlwithdog received the same coat in size Large to test and oddly enough, while Xena’s coat fits her back length just like Robin’s does, the belly panel on the outer¬†shell barely closes around her belly and she is not overweight, while the fleece jacket is way, way too big in the girth. So it’s a total toss-up whether a size will really fit your dog. I think Robin should really be in a Small, but then I’d be complaining that the back length is short (more like Kurgo coats). Amazon reviews seem to lean toward finding the length too short/girth too big, similar to Robin’s experience.

20161210-dsc_8295-sunsetpeak
Robin was more willing to wear the fleece layer alone, although it didn’t add much warmth

Function: 4/5

Fit issues aside, the coat works pretty well. Water beads up on the shell, it has enough coverage to keep Robin’s back, chest and belly dry in rain and when walking through tall grass, and the two layers don’t shift¬†because the fleece lining grips the fleece jacket. Assuming it were a good fit, I wouldn’t use it in deep snow, as it would be all too easy for snow to collect in the belly area, but it’s good for rain and chilly weather. We did pop it on Robin’s chihuahua friend Moonie, who’s a bit smaller than him but female so less concerned about belly coverage, and it stopped her from shivering while sitting still outside for several hours at 50¬į.

Robin’s coat (for the brief moments that he was willing to move in it) did come unfastened once both at the belly and the chest, so the¬†hook and loop closures should be¬†massaged together thoroughly.

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Saggy belly, but he was totally warm and dry underneath when I removed it!

Value: 4/5

We’ve¬†grown accustomed to high-end, high-tech (high-cost) gear, so this coat hasn’t earned a spot¬†in Robin’s gear trunk. It doesn’t fit, and while I could easily alter it, it’s heavy, it’s bulky, and that logo is so ugly.¬†But if you’re OK with those downsides, it’s not a bad coat if your dog is the right shape to fit it. It’s waterproof, ultra durable, reasonably warm and some of the colors are quite nice. Similar fleece-lined utility shells include¬†Kurgo¬†North Country¬†coat ($45.00)¬†and¬†Ruffwear K-9 Overcoat ($64.95), so the price isn’t bad. My recommendation at this price point is definitely a discontinued Hurtta Winter coat since they’re lighter, more packable, easy to fit, and can be found for as low as $30, but many sizes are out of stock by now and the material is also a little less tough than the other coats. If you’re looking for something tough and reliable and have a bigger, more muscular dog, this coat will work great.

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Curly tailed dog problems (shell only). Notice the extra belly flap waiting to be snagged, and the potty interference.

Overall: 3.5/5

If it fits, this is a perfectly serviceable coat, good for anything from neighborhood walks to hikes to camping (for backpacking, look for something lighter and more packable). It’s very tough, sheds water well, and you can choose to use both layers together or just one depending on the weather.

Best for: Round, heavily-built dogs or short-backed dogs, rough use (tough shell), moderate cold

Not ideal for: Extreme cold, or cold-prone dogs, narrow/long-backed dogs.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thorough review! “After all that googling, neither one looks like a word to me anymore…” ūüėā I know what you mean!! As far as the coat is concerned, I still don’t get the jacket we received to test and I think it’s overpriced from our experience.

    Like

  2. I laughed pretty hard at the lightning-strike bit!

    Like

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