Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat
Reviewed by Brand Ambassador Sheila Goss, and Gryphon
June 16, 2015
When I was notified that we would be reviewing the Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat for Backcountry K9, I was quite enthusiastic. Many others who paddle with their dogs had insisted that this canine life jacket is the best available. Now I would have a chance to test it out, and find out what all the shouting was about…well, now I am shouting! This is certainly a great life jacket for your dog.
We have canoed with our dogs for many years, and have always put them in a dog life jacket. We have not been dissatisfied with our current brands, both of which have served us adequately. However, as soon as I opened the box, and closely examined this life jacket, I could see that the Float Coat was made with high quality standards, and I was excited to let Gryphon test it in the boat.
Gryphon is a big-chested yellow lab mutt, with a thick ruff. He weighs approximately 72 pounds, and has a long body, and is not much of a swimmer. I noticed that the Float Coat is quite thick, and padded around the entire jacket…I was concerned that this may be uncomfortable for Gryphon, and perhaps be too hot and constricting for him…Neither of those fears were justified. The LARGE size fits him great…while wearing the jacket, he can walk and run without impingement, he can jump in and out of the boat, and he can relieve himself without issue. In the boat, the Float Coat passed the “sit, stand, lie down, and turn around” test….Gryphon is fairly mellow in the canoe, but he does like to shift position occasionally. One factor I noted is that the back length of the Float Coat is 15.5 inches; his prior jacket length was 20 inches, meaning the back of his jacket was prone to getting “caught” on the thwart. With the Float Coat, he actually has more room to move about.
Gryphon can also comfortably wear the Float Coat over his regular harness… we sometimes put the Float coat over his harness, i.e. when canoeing to a campsite where he will be wearing his harness while at the site.
Temperature did not seem to be an issue, even while paddling on some very warm days.
The Float Coat is available in bright Dandelion Yellow or Red Currant , both good choices, providing added visibility for your dog in the water. There is a reflective trim around the jacket, too. The handle is well placed, and sturdy, allowing a good grip on the dog, should you have to lift him by the handle.
I liked the simple, 2 buckle fastener system; there is a Velcro flap/strap, allowing you to secure any extra strap webbing up and away from the dog’s underbelly. I know Gryphon does not like to have straps hanging around his legs. The leash ring is actually under the handle, but this has not affected our ability to hook and use a short leash while walking to a launch site. There is also a small loop on the spine of the jacket, permitting attachment of a safety light…helpful for those of us who sometimes paddle in low-light situations.
The neck /collar closure is easily adjustable, and the buckle appears very secure; the neck adjustment strap is partially enclosed in a “sleeve”, preventing any loose or flopping webbing about the dog’s neck.
We know that inevitably, the bright yellow Float Coat will get dirty, given the amount of canoe camping we do. The Float Coat can be had washed with a mild detergent, and early tests indicate that dirt washes off the strong, abrasion resistant, fabric fairly easily.
Of course, since this is a Float Coat, we had to give it the swim test, too. Gryphon is not a skilled swimmer, so it is critical that this Float Coat give him the flotation assistance he needs to be able to comfortably and efficiently swim. Well, it passed this test with flying colors, too! Gryphon was able to smoothly swim through the water, with his head in a natural position, without exertion. I was so thrilled to see him swimming without panic, and in a relaxed manner!
Dry Time? After full immersion, the Float Coat was put outside on a deck rail to dry. It was nearly dry in about an hour, much sooner than Gryphon was, that’s for sure.
I am confident in my strong recommendation for the Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat. As with any flotation assistance device, it should be used alongside other safety measures, to keep your dog safe in, and on, the water. This dog life jacket is well made, comfortable for dogs, adjustable for different sizes and shapes, and serves well as a swimming aid. The suggested retail price is 79.95, a very reasonable price for such an important, and well-made item for your dog. http://www.backcountryk9.com/Products/Ruffwear-K-9-Float-Coat