All dogs can swim, right? Well, not necessarily, and even those that swim well can panic if they slide off a paddleboard involuntarily. Here are a few reasons to use a dog life jacket for water adventures, especially for paddling or boating where the shore may not be easily reachable.
The Torrent Coat is made like human grade tech clothing – or better. The shell is a smooth, not-too-crinkly breathable and waterproof nylon layer, and it’s fully lined with a thick, soft fine mesh.
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.
Last summer, I decided to add value to Robin’s orange Ruffwear Approach Pack by making the bags detachable, and after six months of testing I’m ready to share the process! The modifications have held up perfectly and I love having a standalone Webmaster for light hike days.
Enter the Webmaster Pro, a streamlined harness with pockets. It’s the slimmest of their pack lineup (and of all the packs I’ve seen), perfect for traveling fast, although casual hikers may want to look for a harness with side-release buckles.
I’ll say up-front that we didn’t find a single pair of perfect boots, and all of the models in this comparison bring something unique to the table. I would love to cobble together a boot with Ruffwear’s soles, Muttluks’ cuffs, Hurtta’s reflectors and Ultrapaws’ foam padding. Look through the comparisons for features you’re interested in, but bear in mind that fit and comfort will trump all the bells and whistles.
The uppers are made of a tough, weather-resistant flexible orange mesh with a smooth inside coating. There are no rough edges or seams. It’s hard to tell how breathable they are, but they feel the lightest out of the four brands. Above the ankle strap is a sewn-on cuff made out of thin, stretchy knit.
While the hefty 1″ size medium is overkill for 17lb Robin, it’s not at all heavy. The webbing is sturdy but lightweight, and the clip is much, much lighter than it looks. I’ve used it on his collar several times and it doesn’t even tighten his martingale. The length and the range of the elastic on the medium Roamer are perfect for us. He has just enough range to sniff the edge of the trail, but not enough to get twisted up on anything.
The vest has three layers: a gray mesh lining, an absorbent core, and a tough, fine mesh shell. It’s cut for full coverage, and and fastens simply with one plastic quick release buckle on either side. As always, Ruffwear uses nice-quality buckles with smooth action, but they’re set deeply between two flaps of the vest to prevent accidental skin pinching, and it can be hard to get them fastened on an unhappily damp dog. There’s one small strip of reflective piping on the chest, which is sufficient since it’s rarely hot enough at night for a cooling vest.
Hammock camping went surprisingly well considering that none of us had ever slept in a hammock and we weren’t even sure that there would be suitable trees. Robin spent the night on top of my sleeping bag on my stomach in his fleece, and never came close to falling out (though I did a couple times). I think we both slept OK except for a tense half hour after Robin woke me up by growling at unseen wildlife.
I’d heard stories of this jacket keeping dogs warm down to 40 degrees, but they must have more hair than Robin, who gets cold sitting still in just the Climate Changer once temperatures drop below 60. It was right around 55 at night on our backpacking trip; he stayed warm on top of my sleeping bag (in a hammock) for most of the night with just the Climate Changer, but by morning he was chilled. He didn’t stop shivering until he finished breakfast and started moving around more. As an athletic layer in colder temperatures, the jacket was great, however: Robin stayed plenty warm down to around 20 degrees as long as he was moving.
Like every Ruffwear product we’ve tried, this collar is built to last. The webbing is stiff and a bit rough compared to standard nylon pet store collars, but it’s the type of webbing that doesn’t snag on velcro. All of the seams are thorough and tight, and the plastic buckle is sturdy and smooth. The likeliest failure would be the plastic slider allowing the collar to get large enough to slip off, but it’s difficult to slide and the strap keeper also keeps a strong grip on the strap. I would not worry even if using this collar on a big, strong dog.