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.
Many owners think using boots is stupid, while many believe it is necessary for all dogs. Well, like with every other gear, the answer is: it depends.
Different boots can be used for different reasons, such as protecting the paws on hot or very cold pavement or preventing the paws from drying out while walking on salted roads over the winter. Many also use them on icy snow when the dog's paws would get cuts or in powdery snow if it tends to get stuck between the toes. It can also be used inside if a dog has arthritis or slides around a lot on the floor.
Some dogs are just more sensitive than others, so you have to know your dog and see how they can handle different terrain and temperatures.
We wrote an article about things to keep in mind when using boots on hikes over the summer since there are just as many pros as cons around the topic. We also have another article on the different types of winter boots, the differences between summer vs. winter boots, and much more. If you want to read more on the subject, check these out under our Articles page!
The best is always to follow the sizing guide on the product site. Measuring your dog's paws is the easiest if you put their feet on a paper, lift the opposite leg to put weight on the leg you are trying to measure and draw lines on both sides of the paw. You can measure the distance on the paper later without stressing the dog with it. It is always recommended to measure all paws! Commonly, the front paws are wider than the back ones, but the opposite can also be true for some dogs.
You have to figure out how tight and snug they have to be for the optimal fit. Many think that leaving the straps looser or ordering one size bigger will make the boots comfier for the dog, but if you have ever tried to hike in oversized boots, you know it's not true. If the paws are sliding around in the shoes, the dog will lose balance much easier, and the shoes will chafe their paws much faster, so you want to measure it as precisely as possible.
The Hurtta Outback Boots are weatherproof but not waterproof. The top layer is made of Softshell, but the boots’ front is reinforced for durability and protection. It also features 3M reflectors for visibility at night.
The back of the boots has a wide velcro section to secure the straps.
The bottom is thicker but still flexible, non-slip rubber that provides excellent grip on slippery surfaces or steep trails.
The sides open up almost all the way, making putting them on the dog's paw much easier. This split design also ensures that the material doesn't fold under the straps and chafe the paws.
The boots are lined with a material that seems to be fleece, and they have no sharp/rough edges inside that could hurt the paws. This is helpful to avoid chafing and also insulates somewhat. The recommended temperature range for using the Outbacks is between 0 and -25C (+30 and -15F).
The Outbacks are very well-made and designed down to the smallest detail. They have 3M reflective lining running along the edges; they are reinforced where needed but kept lightweight and soft on the top.
The height of the boots is perfect on Mia to keep the carpal pads clear. Some boots end right under the carpal pads and end up chafing it on a longer hike.
These boots come in pairs that allow you to choose a different size for the back and front paws, which is necessary for many dogs. When selecting the size, I measured Mia's paws at least ten times over two days because I did not want to believe that there would be two size differences between her back and front paws. On paper, it was clear that she needed XL for the fronts and M for the back, so I went with that.
As you see below, there is a considerable size difference between XL and M, and Mia did NOT need an XL despite the ranges in the size chart. Boot sizes are always tough to measure, but I feel the sizing of the Outbacks is especially hard to get right.
We sent the XLs back and received L for the front paws. I tried on the mediums for the front, and they were just a tad too small. Fine for very short walks but not comfortable for anything longer. On the other hand, the large boots are just a tad too big for her front paws, making them somewhat slide down and rotate unless the straps are very tightly secured. You can see on the photo below how they are not a snug fit on the paws after running around a bit.
The issue also could be that the measurements and sizing use the width of the paws - which seems fine on Mia - but it seems they leave more wiggle room for the length. Everyone I talked to and had sizing issues said that the boots ended up being too big, so I would recommend to size down if your dog is between sizes - even though companies usually recommend sizing up. It feels there is a significant jump between sizes, and the next size will be disproportionally long if your dog is on the lower end of the size range.
Sizing up and not tightening the straps enough can cause the boots to rotate, especially if you let your dog off-leash while wearing them. This only happened with us the first time we used them, after that I got a much better feeling of how tight and snug they need to be for a more secure fit.
A well-known problem with the Outbacks is the lengths and the design of the straps. They are way too long on most dogs and tend to flap around, getting stuck on something. Dogs can even step on the excess straps on the front boots, making them fall off. There is a reasonably big velcro panel on the back, but it's just not big enough, or the velcro is not strong enough to hold the straps if you have to bring it around one more time.
If both sides of the straps were covered with velcro, you could attach the end over the first layer, although it would probably collect a lot more dirt and would be hard to use after a while.
Another solution could be to add a velcro panel to the front as well, so there is not only one connection point for the straps. We haven't used these boots in snow yet, but I suspect icy, hard snow would push the straps from the back velcro after a while since that part of the boots are the most exposed to the constant chafing of an ice layer on top of the snow.
The solution that many of you shared with us was to tuck in the end of the straps under the previous layer. This does the trick, but it's not easy to pull them through even on Mia-sized boots, and I can't imagine doing it on a smaller dog for daily walks. It gets pretty time-consuming to sit there trying to get the straps tight enough while also leaving room for the end to go under it.
These boots also come in a left and right design, so if your dog has different sized boots for front and back, there will be only one boot that fits one paw. This is great to provide the ideal fit but looking for the right boot makes putting them on somewhat longer.
A smart detail is to have a section for the phone number in the boots in case your dog would lose them somewhere.
The Outbacks are surprisingly lightweight and flexible, and Mia seemed comfortable wearing them. Putting them on is fairly easy with the big opening, but securing the straps takes some time. Even after using the “tuck-in” method for the straps, I needed to stop from time to time when they got loose again.
It feels this could be a great product, but they need just one more round of planning to solve the problems with the straps.
I have mixed feelings about these boots. The choice of materials is excellent all around; they are durable, beautifully made, and protect while still being flexible, allowing free movement and a good grip on the terrain.
The sizing and the velcro straps are the weak points of these boots, and it seems it would be easy to come up with a 2.0 design to fix them. I talked to a few people about their experience with these boots, and they already had the same opinion years ago. The straps should be either shorter, or the design needs to be modified to secure the entire length of the straps.
These will not be an issue for some dogs, and it might even be fine, especially if you walk the dog on roads, on a leash, but I don't think it can handle more serious hikes in mud or snow as is. I hope they will update this design because it does have the potential to be a fantastic boot!
You can find the Cooling Wrap on Hurtta America's website, and they also have sites and retailers in most countries.