Being the longhaired, double-coated dog that he is, Reggie gets HOT in the summertime no matter how much time he spends in the shade. Last summer, our solution was to stay close to water where he could cool down with frequent swim on hot days.
During our unnaturally warm spring here in the Canadian Rockies, we have had the chance to put a couple of different cooling vests to the test on some of our favourite trails already and have decided that the Dog Core Cooling Vest is we received from Kurgo the most effective we have tried so far.
Using a combination of evaporation technology and heat reflection, the vest is meant to help keep your dog’s core area as cool as possible. It covers the dog’s chest, belly and ribcage and is adjustable in the girth with a strap on each side. The straps are built in for ease of size adjustment. Unfortunately, the straps are one of the vest’s weak points. They come loose easily when wet and will not stay done up during more strenuous physical activity. A higher quality buckle and sturdier webbing could easily fix the flaw in the design. Although Reggie has not had any issues with the vest chaffing Reggie’s armpits, the straps coming loose could pose a problem for some dogs.
The vest is pale blue and shiny in order to maximize heat reflection. It also says “Cooling” on the side of the vest to discourage busybodies from asking you why your dog is wearing a coat on such a hot day, which is a huge bonus for anyone out there who gets tired of answering questions on the trail. The material is lightweight so it doesn’t add a whole lot of bulk while continuing to maintain enough absorbency to stay wet for around an hour to an hour and a half after initially saturating the fabric. We have been dipping the vest in streams/lakes before we hit the trail and have found that the back of the vest dries in approximately one hour-one hour and a half in full sun in 25 C/77 F. The belly portion stays wet longer.
We are fortunate to live in an area where there is snow in the alpine for much of the year and have used that to our advantage in terms of re-wetting the vest. Like most wearable dog cooling products on the market, the vest staying wet is essential to the evaporative cooling working. Without snow or additional bodies of water on the trail, the vest can be challenging to re-wet. Once dry, water beads off the side of the material, which makes it difficult to re-wet out of a water bottle as much of the water ends up beading off the side of the vest and landing on the ground. The easiest approach would be to have water in some sort of container that you can soak the entire vest in but that’s not always something that you have handy on the trail. I also am not keen on carrying a bunch of extra water on long, strenuous climbs. Packing that much extra water would be fine on easier trails but not ideal for serious elevation gains. If your dog has a pack they could carry some of the extra water but in hot temperatures you need to be cautious on what you are asking your dog to carry.
That said, evaporative cooling isn’t the only feature of this vest that helps your pup from overheating. The heat reflective properties of the vest are surprisingly effective and even after the vest is mostly dry, it really seems to keep Reggie cooler. He has consistently drunk less water and panted less when wearing the vest than without it even after it starts to completely dry. It’s the combination of evaporation and effective heat reflective material that make this vest a standout in my opinion.
The vest is also machine washable (hang to dry) and is holding up to snags on rocks, trees, stumps and more no problem. It also has a very useful zipper port for your leash to come through if you’re using a rear-clip harness like we do. Pricewise, the vest sits in the middle of its main competitors coming in at $50 USD. So far, I would say that it’s worth every penny and puts my mind at ease on hot days that Reggie is as comfortable and safe in the heat as possible. If this sounds like the right vest for you the current version tends to run small in the chest and so make sure you measure your dog correctly in order to get the best possible fit. If in doubt, contact the Kurgo team and they will help you pick the right size.
This cooling vest is ideal for: Large and small dogs, summertime walks, hikes with snow/water readily available for re-wetting on the trail, hot days in the yard if you don’t have a splash pool, hot and warm climates.
This cooling vest may not be ideal for: Strenuous climbs with no water/snow available to re-wet the vest.
Review by: Dogs That Hike Trail Tester @reggieandthevan