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Reviews > Animal Companion Gear > Dog Wear > Ruff Wear Barkn Boots > Test Report by James E. Triplett
RUFF WEAR BARK'N BOOTS GRIP TREX
Initial Report April 24, 2008
Field Report July 1, 2008
Long Term Report September 2, 2008
April 24, 2008
Received April 19, 2008
The Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots Grip Trex is a dog boot designed after human foot wear with Vibram sole.
There are many features of the boots; here are a few specifically mentioned by the manufacturer:
Built on an anatomical mold like a human shoe - For consistent sizing and fit.
Air mesh upper - This allows for breathability and drainage.
Expansion gusset - This makes the boot easier to get on and allows more flexibility in the way the boot fits around the dog's leg.
Reflective trim - For visibility.
Sure Cinch closure - A strap and lash tab to make sure the boot stays on the dog's foot.
Seamless Construction - To reduce friction on the dog's foot and leg.
Grip Cuff - A rubbery coating around the top edge of the boot that helps to grip the dog's fur.
Vibram sole and Omnidirectional X lug - For traction.
Non-marking sole - for use indoors and outdoors.
Extradurable - For a long lasting dog boot.
The boots are described as 'all-condition, all-terrain, all-season'. They fit over the dogs paw up the leg to the carpal pad which is the last pad found part way up a dog's leg on the front legs, an evolutionary remnant equivalent to the human thumb. They bend about 1/3 of the way up the boot, right about at the point where the 'Ruff Wear' logo is on all four boots.
My first thought after taking the boots out of the box was 'wow, these are stiff!'. I wasn't sure how Morgan was going to take to the boots as her usual footwear is a lot more flexible. In the past, her boots have usually been made out of a fleece material with a thicker rubberized fabric sewn to the bottom.
The bottoms of the boots have lots of grip. Normally I have avoided putting the boots on until we were at the trail head and ready to head out as Morgan's current boots could be quite slippery on tile or other smooth surfaces. Morgan tried the boots on in the house and she didn't have any problems using them on the linoleum in our kitchen. The Sure Cinch closure is easy to use, although all the hook and loop fasteners attach counter clockwise. This means there is no difference to the boots in terms of right and left side of the dog. Other boots we have used have two boots that do up counter clockwise for the left side of the dog and clockwise for the right side of the dog. I believe this is to prevent the hook and loop fasteners from catching on the inside of the opposite leg. It will be interesting to see if this is an issue with these boots.
Over the next four months, Morgan will be using the Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots Grip Trex for any day hikes or backpacking trips she accompanies us on. I look forward to reporting on the results she experiences while backpacking this season!
July 1, 2008
Morgan has worn the boots on our hiking and backpacking outings. Most of our hiking and backpacking has been in the Hiawatha Highlands and Voyageur Trail system areas in the Algoma region just outside of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. These two areas have many linked trails meandering through red and white pine old-growth forests and dense boreal stands of jack pine and spruce linked by a network of rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Elevations range from 225 to 315 m (738 to 1033 ft) above sea level. We have also ventured up into Lake Superior Provincial Park, about 2 hours north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The terrain here consists of trails similar to those found along the Voyageur Trail with the addition of rock and pebble beaches, long sandy stretches, and numerous stream crossings.
We hike an average of 5 km (3 mi) per week. Sometimes this would be a 2 km (1.2 mi) trek, others times it would be a 7 km (4.4 mi) trek. Over the past two months, I estimate Morgan has worn the boots for 20 km (12,5 mi) of trails and bushwhacking. This is a very rough estimate though, as my husband and I only walk along our path once, but Morgan trots and runs all over in the bush, running up ahead and coming back to us the entire time we are on the trail. She is not leashed when we are hiking and backpacking unless we are in a well traveled area. A rough estimate would be her traveling 3-4 times the distance we do depending on how interesting the bush is along the trail.
The weather has been cool for spring; temperatures have ranged from 0 to 24 C (32 to 75 F). Although we haven't had any snow as precipitation, there has been snow pack in the bush into early June this year. The skies have been clear, cloudy, and dark with thunderstorms over the field testing period.
Terrain and Footing:
Morgan has worn the boots on hard packed dirt trails, leaf and twig strewn forest floor, large rocky beaches, sandy and small pebble beaches, muddy and boggy areas in the bush.
The Fit of the Bark'n Boots Grip Trex:
Getting the boots on and off Morgan is pretty easy. She's used to wearing boots, so she stands there while I stand over her and go from foot to foot putting the boots on. She does not move as freely with the Bark'n Boots as she does with other boots she has worn. The sole is fairly rigid for a dog boot.
Once she starts out on the trail, she almost seems to forget she is wearing them. I say almost because after wearing them for an hour or more, she starts to lick at the cuff of the boot. This is her indicating that something is not comfortable. When I take off the offending boot or boots (it only occurs on her front legs), she licks at her dew claw for a bit. I have examined her dew claw for signs of irritation, but I haven't seen anything visible. When I further inspected the fit of the boot on Morgan's leg, the cuff reaches about a 1.25 cm (0.5 in) above her dew claw, just below the carpal pad. This is where the manufacturer states the boot should fit, but the strap and lash closure then rides right over top of her dew claw. In order for the boots to stay on, they need to be snugly closed, which has this strap tightened right over her dew claw. It seems this is ok for a while but becomes irritating over long periods of wearing the boots. It also seems to become more bothersome if Morgan has gone into water with them on. The point of her licking at the cuff starts sooner.
In The Field Performance:
On our first backpacking trip of the season, Morgan wore the boots while we bushwhacked through about 4 km (2.5 mi) of unmaintained trail and bush. They were really put through their paces as she ran through the bush, into muddy puddles and boggy areas, over logs and brush, along large flat rocks near the shore of a small lake, and over boulders. The boots performed quite well in helping Morgan keep her footing and protecting her feet. She did have some trouble when climbing over logs and boulders. It was like she wasn't used to the extra centimeter or so (1/2 inch) of boot protruding beyond where her toes would normally end. She would occasionally get her toe caught on whatever she was climbing over.
On other hikes Morgan has worn the boots along maintained trails with no obstacles, but I find they are unnecessary on those infrequent occasions. Our hikes usually start out on these types of trails or along an old logging road, and then end up bushwhacking or along unmaintained trails. She will start out without them on then I will put them on when we start to get into heavier terrain. Either she will carry them in her pack or I toss them into an outside pocket in mine.
One hike we went on had us climbing over melon sized rocks along the shores of Lake Superior. On that particular day I forgot the boots at home. At the end of the day, Morgan's feet were sore. I was feeling terrible that I was such a bad parent for forgetting about her feet when we left the house. We will definitely not be doing that again without the Bark'n Boots!
Other than the boots being very dirty, they are holding up very well. There aren't any areas of excessive wear, stitching coming loose, or other issues. Morgan does not try to chew or pull at them to get them off, but she is obviously has no concern for being careful with the boots. They are well engineered and manufactured.
LONG TERM REPORT
September 2, 2008
Morgan has continued to wear the boots periodically while we are hiking on my local area trails. A description of the trails can be found in the Field Report. We hiked about an additional 10 km (6.2 mi) with the boots over the past two months. She also wore the boots while swimming. The beach and under water surface was sandy with small pebbles.
The weather has been cool for summer; temperatures have ranged from 15 to 28 C (59 to 82 F). The skies have been clear, cloudy, and dark with thunderstorms over the long term testing period.
In the Field Performance:
Although Morgan continued to wear the boots on our hikes, it became increasingly evident that where the strap compresses her dew claw it causes irritation. She would stop and lick at her leg at the top of the cuff after a short period of time on the trail. This was less of an issue when she was swimming.
When swimming without boots, Morgan frequently gets 'hot spots' between the pads of her feet, most likely from the friction of the sand and small pebbles. The Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots kept the sand and pebbles from building up and causing irritation. She wore them for about 2 hours without a problem.
Other than being very dirty, the boots are completely intact and have many more hikes left in them. They stay on very well.
Despite the issue with the dew claws, the boots performed well. They kept the pads of Morgan's feet from any injuries. Many dogs have had their dew claws removed or possibly further up their legs wouldn't have the same problem as Morgan. In future I would check where the boots ride on my dog's legs before making a decision on boots.
Ease of putting on and taking off
Irritation to Morgan's dew claws
This concludes my Long Term Report. Thank you to BackpackGearTest and to Ruff Wear, Inc. for the opportunity to test the Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots Grip Trex.
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Reviews > Animal Companion Gear > Dog Wear > Ruff Wear Barkn Boots > Test Report by James E. Triplett