Dog Gear Review: Hurtta Sun & Bug Blocker

Xena’s biggest enemy is the heat. We love the sunny Southern California weather but that heat can get brutal on Xena. Her black fur absorbs that heat and retains it for a very long time. Even in the low 60s, without shade Xena gets too hot and she looks for shades. So it’s my responsibility to make sure she doesn’t get overheated when we hike.

A couple months ago we received a sample of Sun & Bug Blocker from Hurtta North America for trail testing. They wanted to see how it does on a black dog. Our long-time followers already know that we can’t live without Ruffwear Swamp Cooler. I am always interested in trying out cooling gear for Xena. We were happy to put it to the test right away.

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Product Specs

  • Size:  12S – 24M (click here to see how to measure correctly)
  • Color:  Beige
  • Retail price:  $55
  • Full suit (no zippers or straps)

Design – 4.5/5

Here is the material information directly from the Hurtta website:

Archroma Sanitized®

  • Permethrin-based durable and safe protection for dogs.

  • Keeps mosquitoes, ticks and horseflies from landing; reduces stings and bites

  • Accepted by Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class I-IV.

  • The finishing retains efficiency even after a hundred washes.

  • Dermatologically tested.

  • Treated with Archroma Rayosan® which provides UPF 40+

Now, my observations:

  • Easy to pack compactly (a carrying pouch included) and store in my pack without any additional weight
  • Extremely light, soft, breathable and smooth. Once Xena had it on, she had more energy and was noticeably feeling more comfortable in the sun.
  • There are 3 drawstrings for adjustable fitting:  one on the back, second one at the base of the neck and the last one on the hoody.
  • Easier to dress than undress
  • Comfortable to wear

Function – 4.5/5

Archroma Sanitized® material is very light and breathable. I love the loose hoody design. It covers her entire head! She didn’t mind at all when I pulled it all the way up to protect her from the sun. I think she liked getting the sun blocked. She was not even fazed a little bit. She happily kept on hiking.

It was easier to dress than undress. It fits snug in the chest so it was a bit of effort to pull her first front leg out. It’s not hard but it’s not easy. She didn’t run away from me when I tried to put it on her again after the first time so I know she didn’t hate it. This probably isn’t an issue for a pup with a narrow chest.

We tested the suit in Warner Springs, CA during a weekend trip. Surprisingly there were many mosquitoes. Huge mosquitoes! I assumed probably many ticks were there too considering the amount of tall grasses along the trails. She didn’t get one bite nor I noticed any of them landing on her. Insect/bug test passed by us.

She had no problem going potty in this. That’s always a good thing. 😉

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Quality – 5/5

It’s made with high quality material and the stitching is flawlessly as I would expect from Hurtta products. I wash it in a front load washing machine in a gentle cycle and air-dry it. The suit comes out of the washer like new and it’s easy to care for. 

Fashion and Fit – 4/5

To get the right size, you need to measure the neck, chest and the back length. Xena’s wearing the size 18M and it fits perfectly. We didn’t need it but if you need to adjust the fitting, there are 3 drawstrings:  one on the back, second one at the base of the neck and the last one on the hoody.

Xena seemed to be comfortable in the suit too. I didn’t notice any chafing and her movement wasn’t restricted in anyway

Now, let’s talk about the fashion. I have a few nicknames for it. Mummy suit, space suit, bee keeper suit, to name a few. I think all doggie full suits are funny when it’s on. I find it entertaining. Haha. But this isn’t about looking fashionable but protecting your pup from the sun and the nasty annoying bugs and insects so it has to cover most part of the body.

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Overall – 4.5/5

Hurtta Sun & Bug Blocker is a high quality performance full suit that is light and airy to keep the dog cool yet protected from the sun’s harmful rays and annoying (and could be dangerous) bugs such as mosquitoes, ticks and horseflies. It is suitable for all fur-types but I think it looks better on the dogs with shorter fur. It’s great for dogs who get overheated easily due to their dark fur or dogs without hair who needs extra protection. Skin cancer is very common in dogs. If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, it’s something to think about as well…

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Xoxo

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Dog Gear Review: Hurtta Torrent Raincoat

In Southern California, the rainy season is from November to February. But we’ve been in a drought condition for so long, I forgot what it was like to have a rainy season. We had lots of greens on the trails this winter, dried up waterfalls in the L.A. area are flowing again, wildflowers are blooming early and in more places, spring time is more beautiful than ever this year.

Our friends at Hurtta North America sent us a Torrent Coat to test in the fall. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to test the jacket to its capacity based on the weather history. Oh boy, I was in for a surprise! We had such a good wet season this winter and we just might be out of the long-lasted drought condition after 5-6 years! During these wet months, we got to test our jacket often on the trail and off the trail. In other parts of the country, the rainy season is just about to begin so I think it is a good time to share the review of the product with our readers.

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Product Specs

  • Size:  8-35″ (click here to see how to measure)
  • Color:  Raven, Cherry & Hi-Viz Orange (select sizes)
  • Retail price:  $75

Design – 4/5

  • Waterproof and breathable Houndtex® coating
  • Quick to line-dry in an airy space
  • Perfect for long- and soft-haired dogs
  • Adjustable chest strap
  • High protective collar
  • High-quality 3M reflectors for safety
  • Easy to dress

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Function – 3.5/5

The material is light and smooth. It has been laminated with a waterproof and breathable Houndtex® membrane. Even during a storm, it kept Xena dry. I like its high collar and that it covers her entire back and chest keeping her dry and warm. The material is very similar to my windbreaker.

It is easy to dress using two buckles. The leg loops kept the jacket in place without restricting her movement. 3M reflectors and the bright pink color were great to keep Xena visible at all times. Adjustable chest strap worked as expected.

It is supposedly made from soundless material but that wasn’t the case. Although I did not find it loud or annoying and has not impact on her movement, the material makes a light whoosh sound when Xena walks. It’s the material rubbing against each other.

My biggest complaint is the tail snap. When it was closed underneath the tail, for whatever reason, Xena had to go #2 every. single. time. Not surprisingly, the poo got on it. Ew! I heard from others that they had the same issue. After using it for couple times with the same result, I gave up and never used that feature again. I just snapped it over her tail and flipped it over on her back or let it cover her tail.

Quality – 5/5

It’s made with high quality material and the stitching is flawlessly as I would expect from Hurtta products. I wash it in a front load washing machine in a gentle cycle and air-dry it. The coat comes out of the washer like new and it’s easy to care for. 

Fashion and Fit – 5/5

Love the look and fit! The vibrant pink looks stunning against Xena’s black fur. To get the right size, you need to measure the neck, chest and the back length. The adjustable chest strap is easy to use and great to get the perfect fit. Xena seems to be comfortable in the coat.

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Overall – 4.4/5

Hurtta Torrent Coat is a high quality performance jacket that is durable for the trails yet very comfortable for the daily walks. It protects your dog from the rain and the wind and keeps her dry and warm. It is suitable for all fur-types. Now only if Hurtta would just fix that tail snap..

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Introducing a New Gear to a Dog

Whenever I introduce a new gear (even mine) to Xena, I make sure it’s a positive experience for her. She is food motivated so treats are all I need usually. First I let her sniff the gear as long as she needs then give her a treat or praise. While putting the gear on her, she gets a treat before and after. In this picture, I am holding her treat between my lips so she can see her reward. Notice her tail is wagging here in a neutral way (not too high or too low, showing no stress) when she is trying on the goggles for the first time. This helps her to associate the goggles with a positive experience and she will let me put it on her again next time.

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Photo credit:  Robinventures

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Dog Gear Review: Hurtta Trail Pack

Last month we received the Trail Pack from Hurtta America to test. Xena never carried a pack before so I was a little anxious to try something new and also thrilled to have Xena carrying some of the load. We put the pack to a test and had lots of fun doing it.

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This review is based on two hikes covering 18 miles on rugged terrain, crossing multiple streams, squeezing through rocks and sharp desert plants on narrow tracks carrying up to 2 lbs (including the pack weight).

Xena’s measurements for comparison

  • Neckline:  18″
  • Chest girth:  26.5″
  • Back length:  18″
  • Height:  17″
  • Weight:  34 lbs

Product Specs

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Source:  Hurtta

  • Size:  Small (neckline: 17-24 in;  chest 22-30 in; waist 18-30 in)
  • Weight:  1 lb
  • Retail price:  $100 (@Hurtta) but you can get it cheaper at Amazon.com if you have their Prime membership
  • Available colors:  Raven (~black)
  • Designed in Finland and made in China

Design – 5/5

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Hurtta Trail Pack has two separate components: harness and backpack. Backpack can be easily detached and attached as needed so you can use the harness for walks and as a safety harness for the car rides and only use the pack when you need them.

Multiple 3M reflectors made it easy to see Xena in the shades which I loved. The reflectors are useful in low light conditions and especially on dogs with dark-colored fur like Xena.

There is a handle at the back of the harness to give you more control over you dog in difficult places. A handle is a must on an active harness in my opinion.

The pack is made from Hurtta’s proprietary Hountex material matching the waterproofness and breathability of professional quality outdoor clothing. The zippers are waterproof as well.

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Function – 4/5

3M reflectors worked as expected.

It was easy to detach and attach the pack once you get used to it.

The backpack remained in position when Xena moved. The key is to distribute the equal weight in the left and right pockets.

Although I had no problem using the handle on the back to help Xena overcome difficult obstacles, I’d like to see Hurtta enhances the handle in the next version to be wider and padded. It will be more comfortable in my hand and will look and feel more sturdy.

The backpack is almost waterproof. The top and the sides passed our test but the bottom did not. Also, the pocket connectors are waterproof outside but not from the inside where it goes over the harness. When the pack was submerged in the water, the backpack floated around Xena. When she got out of the water, all the water drained from both pockets. At least the water didn’t get trapped in the pockets like some other backpacks. If your dog loves water and you are really concerned about things getting wet in the pockets, place them in a ziplock bag first.

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Quality and Durability – 5/5

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We tested the pack in rugged conditions. After hand washing it, I noticed a very minor wear and tear on one of reflectors on the harness. There was no noticeable flaw in the product though. It is well made with high quality materials.

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Fit and Fashion – 4/5

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The Small fits nicely on Xena. I didn’t notice any chafing on her and her movement wasn’t restricted in anyway. She had no problem squeezing through rocks and plants, climbing rocks and running.

Unlike other backpacks on the market, Hurtta Trail Pack has the European sleek design yet the pockets are still spacious to be functional. I like that it doesn’t overpower Xena.

The pack is not available for small dogs (girth < 22″) or extra large dogs (girth > 38″). It would be also nice if the pack comes in bright happy colors.

Conclusion – 4.5/5

We tested the Hurtta Trail Pack in rugged conditions and I am impressed with its design, functionality and quality. It’s a bit pricey but the product is versatile by separating the harness from the backpack. Now Xena carries her own lunch, treats, collapsible water bowl and first aid kit. She will carry a little more later but I am slowing increasing the weight. She has a job now. Doesn’t she look proud?

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Dog Gear Review: Ruffwear Swamp Cooler

Summer is here! It’s time for Ruffwear Swamp Cooler.

I soaked it in iced water, removed excessive water then put it on Xena as directed. The cold water takes the body heat away then the warm water evaporates keeping her cool. When the Swamp Cooler was dry, I repeated. I’ve used it on Xena a few times and I noticed a difference in her energy level. Also Xena is picky with harnesses (I don’t know where she gets it) but she doesn’t mind when I put the Swamp Cooler on her. So it must be comfortable.

In the beginning of a hike when it’s not too hot in the morning, I don’t wet it. Xena wears it as a vest and it protects her from the sun. It is light, fluffy and airy like wearing a hat with good ventilation. It prevents her from overheating quickly. I wet it when she starts to pant.

I saw negative reviews from people who live in humid areas though. The warm water gets trapped in the vest and doesn’t evaporate. Since we live in dry Southern California, this isn’t an issue for us. I recommend it for all dogs with dark fur or hair who live in dry climate. Try a Swamp Cooler this summer for your walks and hikes!

Note: This is not a harness.

Dog Gear Review: Expandable Leash

I used my Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner Hands-Free Dog Leash for hiking until 6 months ago or so then slowly I stopped using it. It is a good product but it just wasn’t meeting my requirements any more. It would be still great for running – that is only if Xena would run with me. I would look ridiculous wearing this without a dog on the other end. I’ve been looking around for a replacement that is hands-free and expandable like Stunt Puppy but gives me more length. Then I came across Roamer from Ruffwear. After testing it out on three different hikes, I am sold. I like it a lot. It’s Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner and more.

Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner Hands-Free Dog Leash

Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner

Specs:

  • Connector is 3 feet long when not stretched
  • Connector stretches up to about 4.5 feet
  • Waist belt adjusts from 26 inches to 42 inches

Review:

  • Great for running as it was created specifically for runners
  • Good for hiking if your dog likes to hike very close to you
  • I wore it around my hips because I don’t like anything around my waist. It tended to slide up. It might be ok if you wear it as a waist belt.
  • When Xena moved from side to side, the waist belt didn’t move with her smoothly so I had to help it move. Otherwise, my shirt got tangled up.
  • It is supposed to work with all sizes of dogs but you need to make sure that the distance between where you want to wear the waist belt and where your dog’s neck is (or his/her back if you are going to use the leash with a harness) is less than 3 feet.
  • When I kept Xena off leash, I clipped the connector to the waist belt.
Ruffwear Roamer Expandable Dog Leash

Specs:

  • Ruffwear’s Wavelength™ webbing allows the leash to stretch as dogs roam
  • Ergonomic design makes the Talon Clip easy to clip
  • Adjustable padded handle, with side-release buckle, can be hand-held, waist-worn (sizes up to 42″ waist), or secured around a tree or post
  • Available in two sizes: Large is 7.3 ft (2.2m), stretches to 11 ft (3.4m); Medium is 5.5 ft (1.7m), stretches to 7 ft (2.1m)

Review:

  • I have a size Large and only use it for hands-free purpose so I can free up my hands for trekking poles or taking pictures. When I wear it around my hips like I did with Stunt Puppy, the leash is about 5.25 feet long when it’s not stretched.
  • It is lighter than Stunt Puppy.
  • I agree Talon Clip is a lot easier to clip. I didn’t have an issue with Stunt Puppy clip before but now I prefer Talon Clip.
  • It stayed put during the hikes even with steep climbs. Also, it didn’t get twisted when Xena moved from side to side.
  • I tried it as a regular leash for everyday use and I did not like it. It’s too long for that and did not like that it is expandable. It didn’t work for us.
  • When I kept Xena off leash, I rolled up the leash loosely and put it away in one of my side pockets of the backpack while still wearing it around my hips. It never got in my way.

Overall, both are good products but for hiking, we both are happier with our new Ruffwear Roamer!