Friday, May 30, 2014

Product Review: Ruffwear Roamer Leash

The Ruffwear Roamer leash is a stretchable multi-function leash with an adjustable handle that can fit around the waist. The Roamer leash currently comes in two sizes and four colors to fit all but the smallest dogs.
Photo by Erin Koski

My Roamer leashes are 4 or 5 years old now, and the product has gone through some design changes since I bought them. The basic idea is still the same, this is a shock-absorbing leash designed for active dogs and their people. The handles on my leashes adjust large enough to be worn over my shoulder, but the newer model only gets big enough to fit around most people's waists. Ruffwear conveniently offers a belt for people that uses the same connector and can be added to turn the new Roamer into an over-the-shoulder leash.

The new Roamer is also a bit shorter than my leashes. These are fabulous for hiking because they give Brisbane a lot of room to move, but the older leash drags on the ground when he is walking right beside me. I don't have this issue when wearing the leash over my shoulder like a purse strap.

There are a lot of uses for a leash that essentially has a bungee cord in the center. The leash absorbs the shock from sudden stops, and prevents either party from feeling a sharp yank. I like them for running and bike riding, when I am moving quickly and Briz and I might not be moving in perfect synchronization. The Roamer is also great for hiking when we need more than 6' of leash to navigate boulders and other obstacles. I've used a Roamer leash on a dog that liked to pull excessively, and the leash conveniently stored up the energy she spent lunging and then used it to snap her back again with no effort on my part. I also like using these bungee leashes for skittish or fearful dogs to prevent the dog from getting a sharp correction when hitting the end of the leash.

Pros: The shock absorption feature has plenty of different uses, from training to just making adventures less stressful and more fun. The adjustable handle makes this a hand-free leash. There is a second handle incorporated into the unstretchy portion at the dog end for better control around traffic and other hazards.

Cons: The stretchy portion of one of my leashes is losing stretch, this may have a longer lifespan on the newer model. The plastic clip on my older Roamers is apparently prone to breaking, the Talon Hook on the current model can be difficult to open quickly for some people. A stretchy leash isn't a great idea for some dogs because it allows them more space than you'd think, often enough to investigate someones picnic or get within skunking range.

Bottom Line: I know that elastic has a finite lifespan, so I didn't expect these leashes to last forever. However, this isn't a product that I use on a daily basis and I am somewhat disappointed that one of my leashes is already reaching the end of its days of stretchiness. It will still make a nice long training leash, but I don't think I'd have bought it knowing it would only last a few years.

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