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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Solo Travel and Hiking with a Dog

I get asked often about hiking and traveling solo from other women, “Aren’t you scared?” with horror on their faces. Yes, I do get anxious at times on the trails when the trail doesn’t show up on my GPS and I don’t see anyone for a while but those moments don’t stay long. A little bit of fear is good for you like anything else.

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I may be little more adventurous than an average person but I am never reckless. Let me share what goes on behind the scene that you don’t see in my photos and videos. Maybe this will give you some ideas on how to start solo traveling or hiking with your pup if you’ve been thinking about doing it.

1. Life is better with a dog

To be honest, traveling with a dog is a lot harder and requires more preparation than traveling solo. Not all hotels, restaurants with outdoor seating and hiking trails allow dogs so I need to research prior to getting on the road to make sure we both enjoy our trips. However, traveling/hiking solo with a dog comes with irreplaceable benefits.

Xena attracts good people. I am lucky that she is patient with kids, not a barker and behaves well in public places. We always seem to meet the kindest people when we travel. I’ve received kind and encouraging words from older people. “It’s not usual to see a woman traveling by herself with a dog. Good for you!” and they always tell me to enjoy myself on the trip but be careful. Maybe because Xena puts strangers at ease. She makes everyone from kids to elderly persons smile when we pass by. I know for sure if I were to travel alone, I wouldn’t experience the same warm encounters.

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However, if Xena sees a person who looks suspicious(e.g., hood over their head so we can’t see their faces, refuses to make an eye contact while passing by, walking tensed, etc.), Xena stops still. Her body tight and tense, she stares at the person until the person is far from us or out of the sight. A lot of times, her fixed stare makes these suspicious grown men feel uncomfortable to move away from us instead of walking straight. “Good girl, Z”, I tell her when we are alone. She protects us from bad energies from every directions. Dogs can sense things humans cannot. I listen to her instinct without a question.

2. Common sense goes a long way

Often we travel to an area where there is no cell phone reception when we go hiking. While I love exploring wilderness, it raises a safety issue in case of emergency for sure. My biggest fear is ‘what if my car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.’ However, I have no interest in cars and don’t even want to learn how to fix a flat tire. I don’t even know if I can physically do it with my wimpy upper body strength. Any way you slice it, it’s a bad situation. So I religiously keep up with regular maintenance of my car. I should probably still learn how to change a flat tire…sigh..

I always let my sister know where we are going. We both use Waze, a free community-based mapping, traffic & navigation app, and we are “friends”. Before each drive, I send her an ETA from the app. She can check the app on her phone to see where I am on my route and gets a notification from Waze when I am about to arrive at my destination. This tool has been great for us especially when I am on a road trip because I am always on the go. This prevents her from worrying about us and also makes me feel safe that she can come and rescue us 🙂 or call for help for us if needed.

3. Get to know the trail before you go

Read trail stats (total distance, elevation gain, etc.), download the map of the hiking route to your GPS tracking app if you are going in to wilderness and do your homework on the current trail condition so you know what to pack.

  • Is it dog-friendly?
  • Is it exposed? Is there any shade?
  • What is the terrain? Do I need shoes with good traction?
  • Is there any water crossing? Do I need water shoes or a towel?
  • Are there any poisonous plants or wild animals to watch out?
  • Is it well-maintained or hard to follow? Is bushwhacking or scrambling required?
  • Is it shared with bikers and/or horses? How is your dog around horses? Look out for speedy bikers.
  • Is it a popular trail that gets busy during the day? How is your dog with a crowd?
  • Is there snow/ice? Do I need microspikes?

More information you have about the current trail condition, you are already better prepared to hike this trail and will be safer than someone who just shows up without proper gear and enough water. I recommend you always pack more water and food than you think you would need. You can get lost or you might decide to stay out longer. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are dangerous for you and your pup.

4. But just in case, keep the emergency kit close

Over time, my emergency kit grew. The list isn’t complete and I still have some items I would like to add to my backpack like a compass and a pocket knife. My phone has a compass but what if my phone get damaged?

So, what’s in my backpack?

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Extra battery pack, Xena’s first aid kit, whistle, antibacterial wipes and waterproof bandages

I also have two first aid kits in my car at all times – First Aid KitAMK Me and My Dog Medical Kit – and extra bottles of water. The AMK Me and My Dog Medical Kit has a comprehensive list of wound care, sprain/strain, medication and medical instruction for you and your pup. I recommend it to anyone who is active with their pup(s). The First Aid Kit is a backup plan and it’s also for home. I have it already so why not have it in the car. Did you know your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) covers for these?

5. Be your best friend and guardian

After taking care of things I can control, I try to stay calm and positive. When fear creeps in to my mind, I try to use my logical side of the brain. What is the likelihood of my car breaking down right here without any warning? Highly unlikely. What are the chances that someone will attack me from the back without Xena noticing the person first? Very unlikely. It’s more likely I will roll my ankle and sprain it or worse break it than the other terrifying scenarios. This type of self-talk works for me.

I enjoy solo travelling and the feeling of adventure. It’s a great opportunity to learn about myself. I learned to trust my instinct (and 6th sense) and especially Xena’s. At the end of each adventure, I feel more empowered and our bond deeper than ever.

Being aware of my surroundings, Xena’s guarding nature and being prepared for the possible emergency situations put my mind at ease. Hopefully, this blog helped you to get prepared for your first solo travel or hike with your pup. I am curious to know what other emergency gear I should carry in my backpack. Do you have any suggestions? Please share in the comment section below. Thanks so much!

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Never stop exploring!

Gear Review: Hurtta Bounty Bag

What is one gear you will see on a hiker with a dog that you won’t see on a solo hiker? A treat bag.

I used to have a clip-on treat pouch since Xena’s Canine Good Citizen(CGC) training days. The pouch was small and portable and had a magnetic closure. I had no issue with it until I started taking it on hikes. To keep it portable, I clipped it on the hip belt of whatever backpack I used for the hike instead of sewing it on to one of the backpacks. Every time I bend over to pick up something (like my trekking poles) or squat down to take photos, the treat bag fell on the ground. Every time I undid the strap, it came off. I was constantly picking it up from the ground. After a while, it got really annoying as you can imagine. Then one day, I finally lost it. A full pouch of treats, GONE. I made one lucky squirrel very happy that day.

I was happy that our friends at Hurtta North America sent me a Bounty Bag to test. They assured me that I won’t lose this one due to its belt design. I’ve been using this treat bag for three months and I still have it and couldn’t be happier!

Product Specs

  • Color: Grey
  • One size: 5 x 6 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 8 oz
  • Machine washable 40ºC/105ºF (warm)
  • Holds 24 cubic inches
  • Retail price: $50

Design – 5/5

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Modern funky abstract design with 3M reflectors for safety. The front zipper pocket can hold personal items such as keys, ID, credit cards, poop bag and your phone.

The Bounty Bag is designed for use in active training so it’s perfect for us. The simple drawstring mechanism keeps the treats inside of pouch while in motion and the depth of the pouch prevents the treats from quickly drying out, yet it can be easily opened for rewarding your dog.

The detachable inner pocket can be washed separately to clean any residue from sticky treats. What a clever idea!

Function and Quality – 4.5/5

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The front zipper pocket is big enough to hold my giant Galaxy S7 edge. I use both my camera and phone to take photos and also use the GPS on the phone. Before the Bounty Bag, I always fussed about where I kept the phone so it’s easily accessible and couldn’t find a perfect solution. If I wasn’t hiking with anyone, I had to undo my pack to get to my phone. So you can imagine this was a huge plus for me! However, when I put my phone in the pocket, I can’t put anything else. My big phone problem though.

I give Xena dry chicken jerky and Zuke’s Power Bones when we hike. Power Bones do get dried out toward the end of the hike but then we hike for hours.

The material is durable as you would expect from Hurtta products. When I come home, I just flip it upside down and shake out the crumbs and pat the outside to get rid of dirt. I only had to wash it once so far.

Fit and Fashion – 5/5

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My hiking clothes and gear are usually colorful. Grey goes with everything and is unisex.

The adjustable strap makes it easy for you to get the right fit you want. You can wear it on your waist or on your hips. The strap and the pouch constantly rub against my clothing when I am in motion and they did not damage the fabric of my clothes.

It comes in one size. I am 5’6″ tall so you can compare. The treat bag may look bigger or smaller on you depending on your size.

Overall – 4.8/5

Hurtta Bounty Bag is durable, very functional, easy to care for and great for anyone who works with dogs (e.g., dog trainers, therapy dog handlers, K9 emergency response team, etc.) or has an active lifestyle with their dog(s) and use treats as rewards.

Xoxo~

Dog Gear Review: Hurtta Summit Parka

The best thing about Southern California is the weather. Heck, that’s why I moved here from the east coast years ago. The next best thing is the nature surrounding the region. We have the ocean, mountains and deserts within driving distance. With the year-around good weather, these places are always accessible if you can make time. For a girl like me who loves outdoors and being active, I can’t imagine living anywhere else …at the moment.

This winter, I planned on taking Xena for some snow hikes. Having right gear always make any experience more enjoyable. I needed to get Xena a proper coat and booties to protect her from the element. Right in time, Hurtta North America sent us a sample of Summit Parka to test. This review is based on our use of the jacket for a few months.

Product Specs

  • Sizes: 8-35″ (Xena’s wearing 18″) size chart
  • Colors: Raven, Cherry & Hi-Viz Orange
  • Retail Price:  $80.00
  • Designed in Finland and made in China

Design – 4.5/5

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  • Comfortable to wear and easy to dress
  • Leg loops keep the jacket in place on the back
  • High collar can be rolled down or stay up providing more protection depending on the needs.
  • Ruching detail along the lower back let you customize the length.
  • The material has been laminated with a waterproof and breathable Houndtex® coating to keep your dog dry and comfortable.
  • 3M reflectors are placed on the coat for visibility.

Function – 5/5

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3M reflectors and the Hi-Viz Orange color were great to keep Xena visible at all times.

The waterproof and breathable Houndtex® coating kept Xena warm and comfortable during and after lengthy hikes in 30-40 degrees (F). I like that it covers her entire chest and back.

The leg loops kept the jacket in place without restricting her movement. 

Quality and Durability – 5/5

It’s made with smooth and soundless material as advertised and the stitching is flawlessly. It’s warm and cozy to the touch. I am so impressed with it, I want a jacket like it for myself. Haha.

I have to wash it after each use because it gets dirty from the trails. I wash it in a front load washing machine in a gentle cycle and air-dry it. The neon orange jacket came with a warning that the discoloration can occur during wash so I throw in a sheet of Shout Color Catcher in the washer and the sheet takes care of it. The jacket comes out of the washer like new. 

Fit and Fashion – 4/5

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To get the right size, you need to measure the chest and the back length. Xena’s chest is 26.5″ and back length is 18″ and the size 18″ (fits chest 24-32″) fits her. The adjustable chest strap is easy to use and great to get the right fit for her.

The trims around the front legs and the leg loops are black. Since Xena has black fur, they don’t show on her which I like. On light-colored dogs, the black trim and the leg loops will show. Some people might not like that look.

Overall – 4.6/5

Hurtta Summit Parka is a high quality performance jacket for your dog that is durable for the trails yet very comfortable for the daily walks in cold temperature. It fits Xena so perfectly, it looks tailored. 🙂 It would be also good for short-haired/elderly/ill/pregnant dogs or dogs with no undercoat who need extra warmth even if it’s not very cold. We love this jacket!

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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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