The sun is shining and summer is here! It’s time to hang out at the lake, or… you know, the ocean for all you lucky, non-landlocked provinces/states/countries! It’s time to hit the beach and let the waves roll in. Many people enjoy water recreational activities in the summer with their families but it is important to enjoy water fun safely. Sadly, our furry family members safety gear is often overlooked. You wouldn’t let your toddler out on the water without a trustworthy life jacket so why wouldn’t you treat your canine family members the same way? Water safety is no joke, even strong swimmers can get drawn in by a strong current, get tangled in underwater plants or nets or tire from trying to keep their head up. I’ve recently heard some sad stories of dogs getting swept away, needing to be rescued by the fire department in our local river. It’s horror stories like these that really made me rethink how I let Atlas play in the water. Recently I’ve had the pleasure to test out the 20-40kg sized Hurtta Life Savior life jacket we received from @hurttanorthamerica during multiple trips to Abraham Lake and Sylvan Lake in Alberta, Canada.
The Hurtta Life Savior is one of 3 life jackets that Dogs That Hike had sent me to test out on the water this summer and I must say, because of its well thought out design, and great functionality it has been hands down favourite. The Jacket is made up of 3 eco friendly EVA foam panels (two on the back and one for the neck) that allows for more flexibility than the single foam piece of other brands. This design allows Atlas to be much more flexible in the water and allows him to move around almost as well as if he wasn’t wearing a life jacket at all. The foam in this life jacket is designed to work with your dog’s natural buoyancy and is extremely floaty, more than anything we’ve tested so far. This additional buoyancy keeps Atlas’s head, neck and back completely out of the water at all times and helps him to cruise around the water like the noble beavers of his homeland.
This jacket has some great safety features such as grey panels and a nice bright yellow/orange colour that seems to catch sunlight so it’s easy to spot in the water. There are no 3m reflectors like some of their other products but since this life jacket is likely primary used during the day, the reflectors aren’t a feature that feels missing. The adjustable straps all tuck in nicely without any dangling nylon to get in the way of your dogs doggy paddle. The buoyant neck foam helps to keep your pooches head above the water to make it easier while swimming (especially in choppy water). The Life Savior also features a secure leash attachment point on the handle so you can have a lifeline out to your dog while they are in the water.
One design feature that gets 2 thumbs up from is the belly panel. This well thought out portion of the jacket has overlapping flaps that secure with Velcro and two heavy duty plastic buckles to hold it in place. This panel gives the dog lots of support when lifting your pooch out of the water. I was confident when out SUPing (stand up paddle board) with Atlas as I could lift him back onto the board extremely easily without harming his undercarriage. This panel is integral to any life jacket that you plan on using for recreational activities that you may need to lift out of the water. Additionally, the vertical handle of this jacket is extremely tough and nicely sewn. It is pretty comfortable to hold on to and is a great feature for when you need to assist your pooch out of the water.
The Life Savior has one thing in common with all the Hurtta products I’ve tested so far – it is extremely well made and is created with careful attention to detail. Each seam is expertly sewn; all materials were selected with great care from the quick drying outer shell Polyester Oxford 300D rip stop fabric to the lightweight inner buoyant core. The plastic buckles are all extremely strong and the nylon straps are all sturdy and tough. The quality of this life jacket gives me confidence that Atlas will be safe in the water. I’m confident when pulling him back onto the SUP that his stomach will be protected and I am fully confident that it will help to keep his head above water if he tires or gets stuck on something in the water.
The Hurtta Life Savior is available in 5 sizes to fit most kinds of dogs. The current size chart can be a bit difficult to navigate – the lbs to kg conversion doesn’t seem to line up and the chest girths aren’t accurate. While Atlas weight puts him in the 20-40kg jacket, the chart indicates that the lowest possible girth is 32″ and therefore we were initially given the size down (his girth is 27.5″). the 10-20kg was way too small and we sized up and have found it fits him well. The adjustable straps and Velcro allow you to get a more snug fit and although the neck portion is a tad large for Atlas, it still works like a charm to keep his head afloat. Dogs That Hike discussed the size chart issues with @hurttanorthamerica and they are working on developing a new size chart – for now I would recommend going by the weight guidelines and reaching out to them if you are unsure of which size to choose. Atlas has never experienced any chaffing and the style of the jacket allows him to have lots of freedom of movement. Since this jacket has such buoyant foam, it is slightly boxier than some other jackets. I don’t find that these foam panels affect his derping around at all on land or the water.
When I first heard that I was going to be testing life jackets this term, I was really hoping that they would be red. Red is Atlas’s colour and I was a bit disappointed when I heard that North America only had a yellow one. Boy was my mind changed when I opened the trail tester box. The yellow /orange colour of this life jacket is AWESOME. It’s so bright and cheerful and it is actually my new favourite dog gear colour! It’s very easy to spot in the water which is a great bonus for when you need to keep a close eye on your pooch. The life jacket is also available in Pink and Kiwi if you live outside of North America.
The Life Savoir is everything a life jacket it should be: ultra light, extremely buoyant and fits snugly and securely. It is well carefully sewn and assembled with very high quality materials. Since the cheerful yellow colour is so easily spotted in the water, I am sure that I will not lose sight of my best friend in the waves. This jacket gives Atlas much more confidence while paddling and will now be a staple part of our gear list for out trips to the lake.
This life jacket would work best for: Dogs who need extra buoyancy while swimming for extra safety while recreating on the water.
This life jacket may not be ideal for: Dogs who are too big or too small to fit into one of the 5 sizes available.
Disclaimer: While we loved this life jacket every dog is different and it does not mean it will work for you. A life jacket is not a fashion accessory, before you purchase evaluate your pups needs and make sure that the size and buoyancy will work for YOUR pup. If you’re not sure how specific safety features will work for you reach out to the company and get clarification/confirmation.