Fall is just around the corner. The Phoenix mornings are filled with cooler temperatures and we don't see the mercury hitting 100 degrees till the afternoon. Ok maybe our Fall season is not the same as yours, but when back in the backcountry the temps drop in the evenings. Rocco has a thin coat and an incredibly low tolerance for cold temperatures. A few years back I experimented with creating a fleece dog coat for him to stay warm. It sort of worked, but he looked like an idiot. My lack of skills in building clothes let to large gaps in the coat, allowing cool air to slide in. Eventually I reevaluated his comfort and picked up a Ruffwear Climate Changer.
Initial Thoughts- The Ruffwear Climate Changer is a fleece coat designed for dogs. The coat is made of recycled material which is highly appealing. The fleece is thick and of high quality, but does not have a high loft. I would compare the material to your standard fleece jacket. Like most of Ruffwear's gear it incorporates reflective trim and has a loop for light on the top. The Climate Changer has a zipper that extends the length of the coat. You can open the coat completely and slide your dog's legs through the two leg holes. On Rocco the jacket extends to just the beginning of his nub. The neck openings fits snug, but not constricting. This minimizes the airflow entering through the neck opening, helping to retain heat.
Use- Rocco has used this jacket quite a bit on backcountry trips. The jacket is easy to get on an off thanks to the generous zipper. The only tricky part is not catching your dog's dewclaws when sliding their legs through the leg openings. If you are careful this is not an issue, but if you are in a rush it can be. The Climate Changer is not waterproof and is highly breathable, so it's warmth factor is limited. We use the jacket as the base layer for Rocco's Quinzee coat. The combination of the two provides him warmth down into the 30s. Of course this is when he is sleeping inside the tent with us also, so that increase the warmth. For dogs with longer coats the range may extend further outside the comfort of the tent. The zippers and material have held up to repeated abuse from Rocco. No snags have formed in the material and the jacket (with the exception of hair) appears rather new, even after many washings. The coat also acts as a catch for stray Rocco hair that would otherwise find itself imbedded in our sleeping gear. When removing the coat Rocco is eager to scratch his back, but i am unsure if this is a result of the material or just my dog.
Final Thoughts- The Ruffwear Climate Changer is a great jacket that can be used as a outer layer in moderate temperatures. Thick coated dogs may find the jacket to be sufficient, but we find ourselves using it more as a base layer and incorporating other coats. The jacket is build out of high quality and durable materials. Although the initial investment is high, the 'cost per use' is low due to the longevity. If your dog is in need of a moderate layer to increase warmth then the Ruffwear Climate Changer is a great option. You can find out more about the jacket here.
*This product was purchased for this test.