Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Product Review: Ruffwear Float Coat Life Jacket

The Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat is a life jacket designed for active dogs and extended wear. It features a grab handle strong enough to actually lift a dog out of the water, reflective trim, and closed cell foam inserts that allow for a natural swimming position. It is currently available in two colors and six sizes to fit dogs with chests 13-42" around.
Photo by Erin Koski

The Ruffwear Float Coat shown in this picture is not the current model. Ours is almost 10 years old and still going strong. It is slightly faded in a couple of places from being stored in my car, in the sun, for months at a time. I think it has a spot of beach tar on one side. It has been used extensively and remains beautiful without showing much wear.

Brisbane normally hates wearing clothing, this is one of the few things he will wear without complaint.

When Brisbane was a pup, I used to take him to a tiny beach inside the harbor where there were no waves. We could play fetch without him getting swamped by waves. The only problem was that the beach was situated near the mouth of the harbor, and so there were often boats passing by. Brisbane mostly wanted to swim out to get his ball, but occasionally he would spot a boat and decide to paddle out into the channel. I was always worried that he would get too tired to swim and just sink out there, so I got him a life jacket.

Being a total dog nerd, I wanted to get Brisbane The Best Dog Life Jacket. At the time, my options appeared to be the flimsy big box store life jackets that often didn't make it out of the store unscathed, or the Ruffwear Float Coat.  Since Briz did quite a bit of running on the beach, I really needed something that would allow him to move freely without chafing even when he was wet and sandy.

My very first interaction with the Ruffwear company was nearly a decade ago when I bought this life vest. According to his chest measurement, Brisbane should wear a size small. However, at the time the Float Coat fitting chart gave both the chest circumference and length, and by length Briz would fit into a size medium. I contacted Ruffwear to ask which measurement I should use, and they said to go ahead and get the one that fit his chest measurement. They have since updated the fitting guide with that information, while providing both the length and neck circumference for each size to help get the best fit for every dog.

Pros: Allows enough freedom of movement to wear on a long hike or a hard run. Helps boost swimming confidence for newbie dock divers and beginning swimmers. Ridiculously durable. Obviously comfortable.

Cons: The straps on ours tend to slip looser after a few hours. I believe this issue has been fixed on newer models.

Bottom Line: Hands down the best dog life jacket on the market. Better pick a color you like because you'll be looking at it for years to come.

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