Summer is here – time to break out the sunglasses and brewskis and head on down to the lake! As a Canadian, I’ve been dreaming of July since… well… last July. Here in Edmonton, Alberta we are plagued with extremely harsh and painfully long winters and by the time July rolls around we are fully ready to ditch our parkas in favour of swimsuits and sunscreen. There is no better way to spend our time during these short fleeting summers than heading out to the beautiful mountain lakes our province has to offer. We are often careful to make sure we have everything packed before we head out on our adventures but what about our canines? It’s equally important to gear up our dogs with the proper safety attire when visiting potentially dangerous waters. I wouldn’t dream of having my dog Atlas miss out on all the fun (it’s not called the “dog days of summer” for nothing after all!) so I was extremely excited that Dogs That Hike offered us the opportunity to test out the (Large) Cabela’s Advanced Dog Flotation Vest on some summer adventures!
The Cabela’s Advanced Flotation Vest was designed as a swimming aid for dogs to have an easier time in the water. It uses 3 flexible panels of foam to provide buoyancy while also allowing for freedom of movement in the water. During testing I noticed that the buoyancy of this vest was pretty average compared to others we have tried. It certainly helped to keep Atlas’s head out of the water and it gave him much more confidence while doggy paddling around the lake. This jacket features duel vertical handles in case your dog goes overboard and a belly panel to help protect soft bellies from injury while lifting. With two adjustable straps on the belly and one strap on the neck this jackets is easy to secure comfortably to water loving dogs of many shapes and sizes. One feature of this jacket (that I’ve never seen on any other dog swimming aids before) is the addition of two pockets which can be used to carry items on the way to the water. This was super intriguing to me and it took me a little while to figure out what someone may use them for. Eventually I chatted with the company and they advised that they could be used to carry a ball or similar item down to the water. While it’s a neat feature, I probably wouldn’t advise putting your most prized possessions in these pockets as the is no Velcro or fastener to keep your items from sinking to the depths below.
This jacket consists of rip stop nylon fabric and three panels of inner buoyant foam. The straps appear to be nylon and all buckles are plastic. There is a leash attachment point but it appears to be made of a fairly cheap plastic and may not be extremely reliable. The buckles all seem to function well and the straps are easy to adjust. There is some dangling of the belly straps but the necks strap (Padded but not particularly buoyant) tucks in nicely into itself. Atlas put the fabric of this jacket to the test out on the rocky shore at Abraham Lake. He enjoys a good roll on the rocks after swimming to dry himself off. Dog logic… am I right? After much rolling around the jacket had no frays, rips or damage on it to speak of. Unlike some of the other life jackets I was lucky enough to test out last year (the Hurtta Life Savior and the Kurgo Surf N Turf Jacket) the sewing on this particular swimming aid, while not horrible, leaves something to be desired. Many places are a simple one row of stitching, which are at times crooked. I’d like to see much more reinforcement on the particularly important components of this jacket such as the handles, belly straps and leash attachment point. Overall the construction and materials of this vest appear to be average and have seemed to hold up just fine during out testing period.
The Cabela’s Advanced Dog Flotation Vest comes in a brilliant mango yellow colour. It is vibrant and easy to spot in the water. The vest also sports many reflective stripes which help with visibility in low light. The 3 panel inner foam allows for a lot of flexibility and Atlas had no trouble at all when jumping out of the water to derp around the meadow at full speed with what I like to call “the zoomies”. The vest features a simple but large “Cabela’s” logo but it is relatively tasteful. This particular vest comes in 5 sizes: extra small, small, medium, large and extra-large. Size is determined by weight, collar size and girth. It is one of the few dog swimming aids I have seen on the market that gives a weight guideline. Atlas falls into the size chart and weight range for the medium but the back length looked rather short so we went for a large. The large size seems to fit Atlas pretty well but I do find that the padded belly panel is just a touch too short to be fully effective for him. If we had gone with the size that was recommended for his weight range I imagine our fit issues would have been more pronounced. One adjustment I’d like to see on that would be some Velcro or an extra clip to keep the belly panel from popping out and sagging in the water. I’d imagine most dogs wouldn’t have this issue as it may be caused by Atlas pretty muscular on the front end.
The Cabela’s Advanced Flotation vest seems to be a good mid-range swimming aid and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone who would need it a few times a year. It has many great qualities but may not be an extremely long lasting piece of dog equipment due to some construction issues. The attractive mango colour combined with the generous reflective strips makes this vest easy to spot in the water. I would perhaps recommend skipping this jacket if you are planning to be frequently lifting your pooch out of the water. The handles don’t have the best reinforcement stitching and the belly panel may sit a bit too short on some dogs. This vest would be ideal for dogs who are already decent swimmers who want some extra safety while out in the water.
The Dog Flotation Vest would work best for: dogs who have some experience with swimming in the water, dogs who only need a life vest a few times a year, anyone who is looking for an average, budget friendly option.
The Dog Flotation Vest may not be ideal for: dogs who are new to swimming, dogs who require to be lifted out of the water frequently, dogs who fall outside of the weight and measurement chart
Atlas’s measurements: Girth 26.5″ / Back Length 25″ / Weight 53 lbs
Dog Flotation Vest size: Large
Review by: @atlastheadventuredog