Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Gear Review: Hurtta Ultimate Warmer

We've had the Hurtta Ultimate Warmer for a couple of months now and with trails of ice and disappointing weather on all my potential hike days, it's finally time to write a review.

I bought the Ultimate Warmer via Backcountry K-9 for the purpose of keeping Ty warm on the super cold (summit temps below 10*), windy, above treeline hikes I was aiming to do this winter.  While we didn't do quite as much of that as anticipated, Ty still sported the jacket enough for me to know we're both really happy with it and it will hold up to colder temperatures than she's experienced yet.

Full disclosure, we already have a Ruffwear Quinzee and we love it.  It's warm, easy to put on, ideal for layering, and durable.  However, I felt that for some hikes, Ty needed more coverage.

We got off to a rough start with sizing.  I highly recommend measuring your dog multiple times, reading Hurtta's instructions, and sizing up when in doubt.  Tybee ended up in a 22" (per Backcountry K-9's sizing conversion) after having to swap out a couple of smaller sizes that weren't long enough to button the leg flaps behind her rear end.  It looked bulky but I finally realized it is to allow full range of motion.

Very good fit - comfortable but not loose fitting from tail to chest, even with leg extension
To Ty's dismay, I was intrigued by the coat's adjustability and toyed with the options for awhile before leaving the house.  Some basic notes:
  • Its interior is very soft (not that Ty can tell but I like it).
  • The collar has an upper and lower bungee adjustment to make it nice and snug against the neck.
  • A well designed slit in the back to attach a leash to a hidden harness or collar without compromising on its thermal or waterproof properties.
  • Chest flaps that provide extra front leg coverage.
  • Vest style with broad chest and upper torso coverage.
  • Fantastic back leg coverage including
    • Optional leg loops that were loose on Ty (in a good way; they perform their function of keeping the jacket in place without being constricting). Some dogs may take a few outings to adjust to them.
    • A snap that allows the leg flaps to come together to offer complete protection around the rear end 
    • If full coverage is not desired, there is a snap on each side of the interior that allows some of the fabric to be folded back and secured.  Very helpful for a dog who hasn't pottied yet!
  • Waterproof exterior.  We haven't used it in the rain/snow yet but I've spilled on it and watched the liquid bead off
  • Lightweight, though it is the bulkiest of Ty's jackets (not that it matters to a packrat like me with her 55L winter pack!)
  • Ample, durable 3M reflective trim
Thick collar that can be squished down and tightened
as needed by the chords
Full protection that doesn't restrict movement
(be sure when fitting your pet her front legs have full range of motion too).
Lilo models the back leg straps.  I like pit butts and I cannot lie!
Back leg flaps partially folded and affixed to the interior buttons 
Ty's used the Hurtta jacket on several hikes and I have no question she is well protected from the cold.  Her feet still get chilly when we stop (she'd rather be cold than wear boots, believe me, I've tried!).  For that reason, it took a couple hikes to make sure I was accurately reading her body language and ensure her legs, torso, and neck were as toasty as I'd hoped. Ty wore this coat through weather mostly in the upper teens to 20's but the wind chills dropped to the single digits enough for me to feel confident recommending it for colder weather.

Sit down. Stay awhile!
I've also assigned this coat to camping duty due to its snuggie-like coverage and warmth, even at rest.   In the summertime, Ty is fine with her Ruffwear Highlands Bed for overnights but, given my new goal of more camping, I wanted to see if this would extend the months we can hike in, especially since I was gifted a 20* bag recently!  Over the weekend we slept in the car in New York while accompanying a friend to adopt her new pup and she got a little too warm when the outside air temperature was about 40*!

With this in mind and knowing the seasonal transition is slow in the Whites, I know this jacket has at least a few more uses in it this year.  Hopefully people looking to get a head start on collecting gear for next winter will find their way to this review and they'll still have some time to test it out before the black flies return!  (It's also on sale right now!)

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