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Canine companions need weather protection too

Image for article Canine companions need weather protection too

Megan Hine, British adventurer, wilderness expedition leader and survival expert, tests the Ruffwear Aira Jacket with her dog Tug.

Although dogs are often far more resilient in the wilderness than their human counterparts, they are still susceptible to the same cold and wet weather related issues as us.

I have the incredible fortune that my work takes me to what many consider the most extreme corners of the globe. I can truly say that the UK is up there with these environments, though thankfully you might not be prey to a large creature every time you go for walk and we don’t run the risk of catching tropical diseases every time a mosquito bites us. What we do have however, is ever-changing weather which is what makes our hills and mountains so stunning and rugged. Within the space of a short walk it is not unheard of to encounter all four seasons in one day at any time of the year. It is also one of the hardest environments to get the clothing layering system right due to the constant battle of change and exposure to the cold, the wind and the wet. Trying not to build up sweat in the system while keeping warm can be really tricky and many succumb to hypothermia.

On a cold, wet day we might pack extra layers for ourselves in our rucksack and a hot flask of tea or juice. We don’t always think about how our dog will react to the conditions and they can be just as susceptible to hypothermia as us. Their smaller bodies naturally maintain a higher temperature than us but when they start coming down with hypothermia it can cause a dog’s health to deteriorate rapidly. Like us, many dogs now live a very domestic lifestyle and spend more time inside in the warm than outside. This means their bodies are not adapted to the outdoors as well as a dog which lives outside year round, which is where I come to the Ruffwear Aira rain jacket.

Myself and Tug, a Siberian Husky with a little German Shephard thrown into the mix, had the opportunity to trial this jacket.

Tug testing the Ruffwear Aira

The Anatomy of the Ruffwear Aira Rain Jacket
The Ruffwear Aira rain jacket provides cover over the chest and ribs and has an adjustable belly strap with a robust clip either side for ease of putting on and taking off. The clips are tucked neatly up inside the jacket over reinforced patches so they can’t rub the wearer or material. The jacket fully covers the back and has a storm collar which folds back when not in use but can be pulled forward to provide extra cover in driving rain and winds. It has elastic rear leg loops for holding the jacket in place in high winds and a mesh liner for breathability. A very clever addition is a protected flap a third of the way down the body of the jacket through which you can clip a lead onto a harness, so if your dog is wearing a Ruffwear harness they can still wear the jacket over the top. The reflective trim around the edge of the storm collar and around the full length of the body shows up well in the dark, making it perfect for running on the road or when Tug was running off-leash in the dark and I was wearing a head torch. Tug also has a Ruffwear Beacon light, a small waterproof red light which I can take off her collar and attach to a loop on the back of the jacket, for extra visibility.

What we think
You might be wondering why a husky is wearing a weather proof jacket. Huskies have been bred to have thick, double layer coats able to withstand extreme cold. When we were living in the Alps and when I have led expeditions to the Arctic, Tug handled the dry and extreme cold really well, curling up into a husky ball at night in the snow. However, I have found in the UK with cold and torrential rain for extended periods her coat soaks through to the skin and she shivers after high output exercise. During backpacking trips or multi-day runs through the mountains she struggles to dry off her undercoat. The Aira jacket has provided her an extra barrier against the harsh conditions. It acts as a block against the rain on her core and to some extent the wind and so prevents the hypothermia triangle of cold, wind and wet taking hold.

Tug in the snow

The Aira does not restrict mobility, the material looks and feels good quality and does indeed give waterproof protection on the back. It is lightweight and packs down small so takes up little space in a rucksack. Plus the red of Tug’s jacket means she is more visible in thick cloud, where she is normally very well camouflaged!

In Conclusion
This is a well thought-out waterproof and windproof jacket for dogs of all breeds participating in any outdoor activities in the rain or cold wind. For dogs with thin coats this is a fantastic companion to keep your dog well protected. For thicker-haired more naturally weather-proofed dogs this provides a fantastic barrier from the wet and cold wind during higher octane activities when your dog is burning a lot of energy. An added bonus is that when putting your dog back in the car after your adventure they aren’t quite as soggy! This is now our constant companion for multi-day adventure trips.


21 February 2017 by Ruffwear

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