Hurtta was founded in Finland with the goal of offering products that can protect dogs from the elements. Today they are among the best-known dog gear brand around the globe! They create well-designed, durable products that will last for a long time regardless if you use them on steep trails or strolling on city streets.
Some would argue that wolves or hunting/guarding/herding dogs never needed a colling vest or a cooling mat, and they were all fine, so all these products are just the result of the “dog mom culture.”
Well, if you think about it, there are many differences in our dogs’ lives these days compared to even a few hundred years ago. First of all, dogs used to live outside 24/7, so they had weeks/months to get used to the weather warming up at the beginning of the season. These days, most family pets spend most of their time in an airconditioned or at least a somewhat temperature-controlled environment, so it's much harder for them to handle the heat when they go out.
Another difference is that traditional working dogs used to sleep through the hottest part of the day - preferably in a hole dug under a bush - and they didn't venture out unless there was something worth checking out.
These days we might have to take the dogs for a quick walk in our lunch break, or we take them with us for a vacation to a sunny beach, or they sit with us on a boat/SUP in the sun. There are also service dogs and working dogs who need to work even when it's hot, and their owner can't choose to only walk them early in the morning and late at night when it's cooler.
There are also many widely different breeds with very different needs and limitations. Originally dogs were bred for practical reasons, but as we all know, in the modern ages, most breeds were more bred for looks which took them far from those original working dogs/wolves.
Dogs are involved in our lives in very different ways than they used to, and many of them need some help to adjust to the situations we put them in. Does that mean that all dogs need a cooling vest/cooling mat or another cooling product? Absolutely not, but learning about these products and knowing when and how to use them can save dogs’ lives.
Evaporation-based Cooling Vests work by creating a big surface for evaporation. They utilize the same process when humans sweat to cool down because when the water changes from liquid to a gaseous state, it pulls energy from its surroundings, creating a small temperature drop.
You could achieve the same effect if you soak the dog before heading out for a walk, but wet fur can cause rubbing and hot spots on long-haired, double-coated dogs, while short/thin-haired dogs dry too fast for this to be effective over a longer period. I always carry plenty of water when hiking with Mia, but it can be hard to pour it on a double-coated dog effectively. Most of the water poured on the coat usually just repels, and half an hour later, the dog is dry again. This makes using water directly on the dog very ineffective and unrealistic if you hike and would need to carry all that extra water.
A cooling vest makes applying water much easier and more effective while it provides a longer-lasting cooling effect. However, the disadvantage of this solution is that the effectiveness of the evaporation process will depend on humidity levels.
On a humid day, the evaporation will be very slow or even non-existent, so instead of cooling the dog with the vest, they just have an extra layer on warming them. On the other hand, if the air is dry and there is a strong wind, the evaporation process will be speedy, and the cooling vest might over cools the dog first then dries soon after.
The Cooling Wrap is a soft and thick vest that snugly covers the chest area of the dog. The inner layer is made of a high-performance microfiber that can absorb a large amount of water. The 100% PES 3D mesh fabric on the outer layer allows airflow, while the other side has a 100% PES technical moisture-wicking lining to keep the dog comfortable under the Wrap.
It has only one lightweight buckle that you need to turn to open/close. The chest strap is highly elastic and has a wide range of adjustments.
We started testing the Hurtta Cooling Wrap a month ago, and it was handy during a few heatwaves. This Wrap makes applying water much more straightforward and dries much slower than Mia's hair. I was worried that she would get warm and dump under it, but she was comfortably cool when checking under the Wrap.
The Wrap is designed to cover the dog's chest area, where they are the least insulated and are the easiest to cool since the main blood vessels start and end here. Many cooling vests cover mainly the dog's back which is helpful when you want to reflect the sun, but it's less ideal for cooling.
As we discussed above, the drying time will significantly differ depending on the humidity of the air, wind, and sun, but this Wrap stayed wet for hours when we used it. It needs more water to evenly and adequately wet it once it's on the dog, but it can be quickly done if laid flat on the ground. I used probably ~2 cups (~4 dl) of water, waited a few minutes to let it soak up, lightly squeezed out the excess water, and it was ready to use. If the area allows it, you can also just send the dog into a pond/stream with the vest or soak it somewhere before putting it on. The vest will keep the dog cool long after its fur dried.
Mia was between sizes, so after talking to Hurtta, we went with the bigger one since having a little looser fit isn't an issue with a cooling vest. It was an okay fit but kept sliding down on her shoulders, especially when it was wet, and she was running off-leash. Most of the images in this review show the larger size - like the one below.
After sending back some photos to Hurtta, we received the smaller size as well to see how that fits. This one seems to be much better on the neck-shoulder area, although the chest strap has to be extended all the way. The Wrap's material is soft and elastic, so in this case, there is no need to worry about rubbing the armpits or restricting the shoulders; the Wrap easily moves with the dog.
(Smaller size on the left, larger on the right)
To subjectively test the effectiveness of the Wrap, I took Mia for a half-hour walk on a hot day. At the beginning of the walk, I applied half a liter (~2 cups) of water to the Wrap. After the walk, I removed the Wrap and took the attached photo with a thermal camera WITHOUT the Wrap. The fur under the vest wasn't completely dry but wasn't dump either, and it was significantly cooler than the other areas of the dog. As you see in the photo, “cooler” means that her fur's surface temperature was close to the temperature of the grass in the shade, so we are not talking about overcooling the dog's shoulder and chest area.
Although this thermal image still only shows the surface temperature on a double-coated dog, it confirms that it does work, and it's fair to assume it somewhat helps them keep their temperature lower. It is impossible to tell upfront how much an evaporation vest would benefit a specific dog because it depends on many unique features. For example, while a Greyhound might be too cold under an evaporation vest, while a Golden might not feel a difference while wearing it. All I can say is that it seems to help Mia stay cool longer and cool down faster after a search task.
While the soft material makes it very comfortable for the dog to wear the Wrap even over a longer period, I am not sure how resistant it would be if the dog is running through dense undergrowth. We will keep using it over the summer and update the review if we see any issues with this.
The only other con we can mention is that it can be hard to put it on a dog excited to go for a walk/start a hike. The chest strap opens up all the way, but you have to get the dog to step into both holes for the legs, then pull the strap through an opening on the top layer. This is not a complicated process on a calm dog, but it can get problematic if the dog doesn't like their legs to be lifted or they just can't stay still.
This was the first evaporation vest that we tested, and it was surprising how well it performed. The design is well-made; the material is thick and holds enough water to stay cool for hours. Applying water is much easier, quicker, and more effective on the Wrap than it would be directly on Mia's fur.
Altogether this is a great product that can come in handy if your dog struggles with the heat over the summer.
You can find the Cooling Wrap on Hurtta America's website, and they also have sites and retailers in most countries.
For reference, the smaller Wrap was size 22-26”, while the bigger is 26-30”.
Many of you asked Mia's measurements to better understand the different products’ fit. Your best chance of finding a good fitting gear is always to measure (and remeasure) your dog. Even we grab the measuring tape before getting a new product - even though we tested a lot of them, and have a good feeling of her size by now.
I share her measurements below, but don't go ahead and order the same size just because your dog is similar to Mia ;)
• Shoulder height: 19.5 inches (50 cm)
• Weight: 37-44 pounds (17-20 kg)
• Widest chest circumference (where the most harness would have the chest strap): 25-26 inches (63-65 cm)
• Neck circumference for collars: 15-16 inches (38-40 cm)
• Back lengths: 22 inches (56 cm)