By Ronnie Wendt
If someone had asked me a few months ago, if my dog needed a pack for hiking or a life preserver for kayaking, I’d have told them no. I would have informed them that my dog, Piper, is a Brittany Spaniel and as such, she is bred for hunting, an excellent swimmer, and that I carry everything she needs in my own pack.
That was before I tested the EZY Dog Summit Backpack and the EZY Dog Life Jacket for two months.
My answer today is this: Anyone who hikes with their dogs will appreciate the convenience of the canine backpack. And, to anyone who takes their dog on the water with them, I’d say a life jacket is a necessity not a luxury.
Last weekend, while kayaking, the EZY Dog Life Jacket was put to the test in a perilous, real-life situation. Wisconsin has had tons of rain in recent weeks, and its rivers are high. We decided to kayak up by Horicon Marsh. When we put in, I noticed the water was swift, but being that we are experienced kayakers, and have never had a spill, I didn’t give it a second thought. Piper and I climbed into our kayak and she sat in the front, nose pointed in the air with a big smile on her face.
Neither of our smiles lasted long. Before I could get to the other side of the river where the water was moving more slowly, my kayak was sucked into a strong current caused by both sweepers (branches hanging low or into the water) and strainers (branches under the water). When we got tangled in this, Piper shifted suddenly and the kayak capsized, and both the dog and I found ourselves in the river with a raging current pulling us downstream.
I was not wearing my life jacket (it was in the kayak and I can assure you that will never happen again). However, Piper was wearing her EZY Dog Life Jacket. I grabbed a branch and pulled myself to safety. Piper struggled but the life jacket kept her afloat until she could swim to shore. It was a difficult swim for her, but the life preserver kept her nose above water so that it was possible.
Though not everyone will experience a situation like this, it’s nice to know that the EZY Dog Life Preserver will keep your dog safe if you ever do. Had Piper not been wearing her life preserver that day, I am confident I would have lost her.
The EZY Dog PDF’s neoprene straps adjust easily to form an ergonomic and secure fit. In my case, this fit ensured that the life vest stayed snug, even as the current swept my dog away. It has a high-strength buckle anchor point (a sturdy, nylon D-ring) where you can attach a leash; and a convenient grab handle to help you guide your dog in and out of the water. This feature came in really handy as we lifted Piper in and out of the kayak. A contoured neck helps the dog stay comfortable, and its heavy-duty polyester construction holds up well in rugged conditions. Though our vest is a little muddy after our spill, the material is still in tip-top shape. Best of all, this vest has 50 percent more ultra-buoyant material than others on the market. This material is strategically placed to keep your dog in a natural, easy swimming position always.
I really liked that Piper seemed to enjoy wearing the vest, that it didn’t hinder her movement or restrict her in any way, and best of all, that it kept her floating like a “bobber on the end of a fishing line” when we capsized.
The vests come in red or yellow. The one I tested was yellow, which, along with its high visibility reflective piping, made Piper very easy to spot in the water. The size options include extra-small, small, medium, large and extra-large. It is important that you select the right size for your dog, a vest that is too small won’t be worn, and one that is too large, won’t stay on when you need it to.
At $42, this vest is priced well. In my opinion, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind on the water.
At $75, the EZY Dog Backpack is a little pricier. Die-hard hikers might say it’s more than is needed for a dog while hiking. But I disagree. I found this pack convenient and I really liked getting a few things off my own back. Piper’s pack carried water, a collapsible dish, bags to clean up any messes, dog treats, a basic first aid kit, and sometimes my cell phone and keys if we were traveling light.
I have put an estimated 100 miles on this pack already, and when it comes out, Piper goes crazy. She’s associated it with fun walks/runs in the woods.
Given that I have some shoulder issues, I was worried that putting her in a backpack as opposed to a pinch collar and leash, was going to make it hard for me to control her in the outdoors. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The chest plate harness design gave me great control of her from the parking lot to the trail and back.
I was also worried that the pack would seem too heavy for Piper and she wouldn’t want to wear it. But she has worn this pack for hours without it slowing her down at all. It is a very ergonomic and comfortable fit. It is constructed of breathable material and mesh to increase airflow. It has a built-in handle to help you move the dog over obstacles, or in my case in and out of our large pickup. A rust-proof stainless-steel D-ring allows convenient attachment to a leash in either the back or the front of the pack.
What I love is the side bags on each side of the EZY Dog Backpack. They are roomy but not so large that you can load them up too much. The pack is made of ripstop material with waterproof zippers, and its reflective trim provides extra visibility at night. There is an additional girth strap for larger dogs. The backpack comes in red or gray and in small, medium or large.
The EZY Dog Backpack holds up well as you climb over rocks or trek through heavy brush. It is a must for anyone who hikes with their dogs. However, if your dog is hunting or working off leash for extended periods of time, this is not something I would use. In my opinion, these situations warrant a well-trained dog working off leash. Most parks, however, require dogs to be on leash, and for those situations, the EZY Dog Backpack works very well.
As I write this, I’m perusing EZY Dogs products to see what I might add in the future. On my list are the car harness and seat protection for the car, a waterproof collar and a new leash (since I lost mine in the river last week).
Learn more about EZY Dog products here.