By Stephen Haynes
The outdoor industry is littered with success stories of forward-thinking entrepreneurs who, through grit, determination and an unmet need, have made their dreams a reality through hard work and great products.
One such story is that of the active dog equipment company, Ruff Wear, whose founder began tinkering with his ideas as an adolescent on his mother’s sewing machine in the 1970’s. Fast forward to the 21st century and Ruff Wear is now a giant in the recreational outdoor equipment category, with an ever-expanding product line and a deep sense of community and idealism.
We got our paws on a few choice products to try out with our favorite companion, Bandit. After a three month shakedown, here are our thoughts.
Front Range Leash – $19.95
Walking the dog is a thrice daily activity, at a minimum. With the sole connection point between human and canine being the leash, it’s important for both of you to feel that the connection is comfortable yet robust.
The lightweight webbing material of the Front Range leash is reminiscent of climbing gear harnesses and while looking and feeling inadequate to keep an 85lb. hulk like Bandit at bay, it is quite up to the task.
The handle is lined with soft padding, which is easy on the humans’ hand and the proprietary Swiveling Crux Clip™ is an easy one-handed operation. In addition, there is a secondary handle nearer to the clip for easier restraint and guidance, should you need it.
Overall the Front Range leash has been a welcome addition to our daily rituals, providing sound restraint when needed and otherwise being so light as to almost be forgotten. Available in six distinct colors.
Top Rope Collar – $29.95
Generally, the only piece of clothing our dog has on, the collar tends to be part of a dog’s identity. Indeed, it often carries their vital information and serves as a connection point for the owner’s leash. As such, the collar needs to be comfortable, secure and hearty enough to withstand the rigors of an adventurous dog. The Top Rope collar is certainly up to the challenge.
Once again employing lightweight webbing as the foundation of the piece, Ruff Wear delivers a hard-wearing collar in a featherlight package. It also has a reflective stripe woven into the middle of the collar, making it easier to spot your pal in low-light.
The proprietary, all-metal Talon Buckle™ takes a bit of getting used to, but is a simple one-handed operation after the first few attempts. The buckle itself has a slim profile making it difficult to snag, a good thing if your dog is a serial collar-killer.
Unlike most conventional collars, the Top Rope has an integrated V-ring which sits opposite the buckle, making it easier to engage with both, while not fighting with either. The collar also has a separate ring for tags, further alleviating any leash-collar interface squabbles.
The Top Rope collar is a great piece any dog would be proud to wear. Available in four distinct colors.
Bivy Bowl – $24.95
We’ve all been there. You trek out as a family, stop to take a break, enjoy a thirst-quenching blast from your bottle or hydration pack and realize that you have to awkwardly hydrate the dog as well.
In the past, we’ve done this by pouring or gently squeezing out part of the contents of our bottle into the lapping maw of our buddy, or pouring the liquid into our hand for him to lap up with a little more dignity.
Alas! The Bivy Bowl from Ruff Wear is here to resolve the problem and ease the burden from our tormented souls. Ok, ok, enough melodrama.
The ultralight, collapsible, fully-welded, single-wall bowl holds up to 60 fluid ounces and weighs but a pittance (2.96 ounces) in return. It has a reflective stripe near the lip, so you won’t lose it in low-light and comes in any color you want, as long as that color is blue.
Dirtbag Seat Cover – $79.95
Dogs are curious creatures. As such, they tend to go where you might not want them to go when out adventuring. This is generally fine, and sometimes downright funny until you get back to your vehicle and realize that your best friend just rolled in something that been dead for a while and wants to jump in the backseat… Enter the Dirtbag Seat Cover.
While it won’t subdue the smell your friend may have picked up, it will at least stop her from imparting it into your backrest. Constructed of waterproof, tear-resistant fabric, the Dirtbag covers your back seats from the headrest down and can be deployed in hammock formation or backseat only. Openings for buckles means you can still restrain your kids while keeping the mud-dogger from permanently damaging your interior.
The whole ensemble can be folded down into a self-contained, zippered pocket like an ‘80s windbreaker so you can have it at the ready, should your canine companion (or your kids) become besmirched with something you’d rather not be a permanent part of your vehicle.
Available in charcoal or brown and well worth the asking price.