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Reviews > Animal Companion Gear > Dog Wear > Ruff Wear Jet Stream Cooling Vest > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

RUFFWEAR 

Jet Stream Cooling Vest

Initial Report - June 21 2018
Field Report - September 18 2018
Long Term Report - November 14 2018

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.com
Age: 52
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 210 lb (90.7 kg)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to offer.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lb (14 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer:

RUFFWEAR

Year of Manufacture:

2018

Manufacturer’s Website:

www.ruffwear.com

MSRP:

$39.95 USD

Size:

Available in 6 sizes ranging  from XXSMALL to XLARGE. (detailed sizing guide on website)

Weight:

Listed: Not Listed
Measured:  4.7 oz / 131 g

Color:

Available in 2 colors:
"BLUE LAGOON" and "SALAMANDER ORANGE"

Product pix

Product Description:

The Ruffwear Jet Stream cooling vest is designed to help cool dogs by way of evaporative cooling and shading. The vest consists of an absorptive belly section that cools by evaporating the absorbed water, and a spandex shading section that covers the dog's back and sides which along with shielding the dog from some of the sunlight, also wicks and evaporates water from the absorptive section. The vest is designed to fit snug and utilizes a side zipper opening for getting it on/off. Cooling is activated by soaking the vest (or at least the absorptive section) in water.

Initial Report

June 14 2018

Full attentionMeg's Bio:
Before joining our family Meg was apparently abused and abandoned. Best we can tell she is a chocolate lab and bull (pit?) mix and the vet estimates she was born around April 2016 making her a little over 2 years old. Her chest is about 33" (84cm), belly 25" (64cm) and from base of neck to tail 21" (53cm). Weight about 70lbs (32kg). She has short dark brown fur with some white spots. She is almost all muscle and bone (the vet has described her as "freakishly strong"), overheats in the heat/sun very easily, and has very bad hip dysplasia. Despite her size and sometimes intimidating looks, she is one of the most cuddly and lovable dogs I have ever met, and really seems to love children (and for some reason our cat, who seems to hate and torment her at every opportunity).

For full disclosure Meg owns a Ruffwear "WEB MASTER" harness which we purchased a few days after she joined our family and has worn very often since. She also had the pleasure of testing the Ruffwear "APPROACH" pack (see review on this site), so we are rather familiar with the Ruffwear company and products. We also have harnesses and packs from other manufacturers that we use.

Prior to starting this test I contacted Ruffwear via their web site to ask about sizing information. Based on Meg's size and breed they suggested the Swamp Cooler vest might afford her a better fit but since this test is for the Jet Stream I requested the size (Large) that best matched her dimensions based on the sizing information on the Ruffwear website. Upon receiving the product I inspected it for any viable flaws or defects but found none.

The underside of the vest is an absorptive material with a mesh cover on the exterior to encourage evaporation. I wonder if this is likely to pick up debris and dirt and will be keeping an eye on that. The rest of the vest is a somewhat bright orange spandex with plenty of stretch in all directions. On Meg's left side is a zipper that opens the entire side of the vest for putting it on and taking it off. The zipper has a short loop of cord in place of the more standard metal pull tab as well as a small flap on the inside to help avoid snagging the dog's fur in the zipper. I kind of wish the flap was a bit wider. It is narrow enough that I worry about snagging her fur and will be paying attention to that. All of the edges are wrapped in material tape to provide clean finished edges and avoid rubbing.

bottomThe vest fits snug but not too tight and the ample leg openings seem to allow a snug fit without hindering her movements. Getting the vest on involves opening the side zipper and slipping Meg's front legs through the large leg openings. It is important that she stays still for this because the openings are so large that her legs easily come out of the holes until I get the zipper at least partially closed. Once her legs are in the leg openings, I wrap the vest around her back and join the zipper (at the head end of the vest), and begin closing the zipper while being careful to not snag her fur. I think it might be beneficial if the garment had some sort of quick attachment like snap or hook-n-loop to hold the vest in place while positioning and closing the zipper (I have leg gators with this feature and find it rather helpful). Putting the vest on the first time took a few tries but now that I know how and Meg is starting to understand the process it has become easier. Getting the vest off is simply a matter of opening the zipper, allowing it to fall away, and her to step out of the leg openings. After getting it on the first time it only took a few moments for Meg to become comfortable with it on. I left it on her for about 1 hour the first time and she seemed to completely ignore it, walking, playing and even napping with it on.

The instructions say to soak the vest in water and wring out the excess water prior to putting it on. The vest seems to absorb water quickly. I wonder about re-wetting it while on the trail. I hope I can find a way to do this without having to remove it each time.

One immediate advantage of the Jet Stream vest is its design lends itself to being used under other products like packs and harnesses.


Likes:
Well-constructed, large leg openings, absorbs water quickly, fits well

Room for Improvement:
Small zipper flap, can be difficult to get on if the dog is not willing to sit still

Field Report

September 18 2018
Dry StreamUsage
  • 3 day camping trip, Western Washington -intermittent rain
  • 3 day camping trip, Bend Oregon, ~3600’ (1100m) -hot and dry
  • 3 day camping trip, Prosser Washington (Beer and Whiskey Festival), 720' (220m) warm and dry
  • 2 night backpack, Bumping Lake trail, 3500 (1000m)- warm and dry
  • 2 night Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) scouting, central Washington ~5500’ (1700m) – warm, intermittent wind/fog, deep snow on trail
  • Daily walks (x6) Yakima Washington 1200' (365m)
We did not use the vest on all of the above outings but we brought it with us on all of them. We only used it once during our camping trips and that was a day we spent in a park while in Bend Oregon. On our first backpacking trip it was not warm enough to need the cooling vest but we used it anyway. It came in handy to help protect Meg from the brush (and maybe ticks?) as well as the ants that infested the area. Upon returning home I found numerous ant bites on Meg but only in areas not covered by the vest. She has also worn the vest on about 6 daily afternoon walks in our neighborhood (we kind of alternated using and not on hot days to compare the difference). During our backpacking trips Meg wore the cooling vest under her RuffWear Webmaster harness, and on some of our walks she wore it under a harness from a different manufacturer.

I can say with confidence that this vest is very effective at cooling Meg. I performed a test where I had her go outside on a very hot day and I used an infared thermometer to measure the heat of her body/fur vs the heat of the vest. Her fur was 90F (32C) while the vest was 75F (24C). And during our daily walks I could easily see a difference in her energy level. With the cooling vest she had much more energy and rarely wanted to stop to rest. While without it she was quite sluggish and would stop at least 2-3 times during our walk (when she could find shade with cool grass) to lay down. The vest seems to fit quite well with the elastic material stretching to conform to her body and allow for free movement. I found no evidence of rubbing or chafing.

TempThere are a couple of things we are not overly fond of. First off is that while she has always associated a harness with something fun and eager to get one put on her, after only a couple of uses she became reluctant to put the cooling vest on. I suspect she is not fond of the feeling of the damp material, and I can't blame her. Next is that in the dry heat of our area I have found the vest to be effective for about 45min before it needs to be rewetted. Short of dunking her in a stream/lake there seems to be no effective way of rewetting the vest without taking it off. So the vest is fine for our normal day hikes but this limits its usefulness for full day outings.

Overall I like the cooling vest. It seems well constructed and is very effective at providing cooling. The vest works well with all of the harnesses we have. It is not too difficult to get on and quite easy to remove. However I am finding it most effective for short day hikes (walks) but not as useful for full day or multi day hikes.

Likes: Good fit, easy on/off, very effective at cooling.
Opportunities: Only cools for around 45min, Meg does not really like to put it on

Long Term Report

November 14 2018
Since the Field report we have not had the weather or opportunity to use the vest so I will just wrap up the LTR with a summary of our experience and opinion of the product.

Overall it is well made and works quite well for cooling Meg on hot days. Her short dark fur can make it quite miserable for her to be out on hot days, and any sort of activity is even worse. The Jet Stream Cooling Vest allowed us to be much more active on those hot sunny days. Meg did quickly become less than thrilled to put the damp vest on, and I can't really blame her, but once on she seemed to ignore it. From a hiking/backpacking perspective its limited cooling time (as little as 45min) and needing to be removed to re wet, kind of limited its usefulness for longer outings. However even when we were not using it for cooling it had the bonus feature of some protection from elements (e.g. those nasty ants). So while the vest has been put away for the season, I anticipate pulling it out again for more use, primarily for our daily walks, when the hot weather returns.

This concludes my report. I would like to thank the folks at Ruffwear and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

 



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Reviews > Animal Companion Gear > Dog Wear > Ruff Wear Jet Stream Cooling Vest > Test Report by David Wilkes



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