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Ruffwear Float Coat Review

A well fitted canine flotation aid with the right amount of coverage to protect your pup without hindering their movements
Ruffwear Float Coat
Credit: Ruffwear
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $90 List | $89.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Top-notch flotation, very secure, no flapping strap tails, available in 6 sizes
Cons:  Not breathable, stiff, pricey
Manufacturer:   Ruffwear
By Sara James ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 8, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 15
  • Flotation - 25% 8.0
  • Fit - 25% 9.0
  • Comfort and Mobility - 20% 8.0
  • Quality of Construction - 15% 9.0
  • Features and Versatility - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Ruffwear Float Coat is our top choice for pups due to its fit and ease of adjustability. This is one of the most straightforward jackets to put on your dog and is equally simple to cinch down to get that snug fit. The sculpted panels of the Float Coat provide just the right amount of buoyancy without hindering movement via unwanted excess bulk. This jacket is easy to run, jump, swim, and sit in. With a low profile handle on the top of the spine, velcro straps to manage any dangling straps, and a loop for a light, this is a well-designed and durable jacket and, as a result, costs a bit more than most of its competitors.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Ruffwear Float Coat
Awards Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $89.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$45 List
$44.95 at Amazon
$70 List
$69.99 at Amazon
$94.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$45 List
$44.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Top-notch flotation, very secure, no flapping strap tails, available in 6 sizesVery breathable, comfortable, large pocketRescue handle, padded head support, open back for seat comfortGreat mobility, stays put, durableAccommodating sizing, large armholes, great price, lightweight
Cons Not breathable, stiff, priceyLess secure, takes time to adjust, less flotation than someHard to swim in, doesn't turn a child onto their backNo pockets, a bit long, full coverage is less breathableNo pockets, top strap hard to tighten, torso length too big for smaller paddlers
Bottom Line A well fitted canine flotation aid with the right amount of coverage to protect your pup without hindering their movementsA very comfortable and breathable jacket for laidback dogs and confident swimmers in calmer watersAn easy entry PFD that has an open back for seat comfort and offers extra neck and head support for your floating childA simple, comfortable paddle vest that stays in place and provides a great valueA super adjustable, surprisingly comfortable option that's simple and easy to wear
Rating Categories Ruffwear Float Coat NRS CFD Stohlquist Child NRS Vapor Stohlquist Fit
Flotation (25%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Fit (25%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Comfort and Mobility (20%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
Quality of Construction (15%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Features and Versatility (15%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
Specs Ruffwear Float Coat NRS CFD Stohlquist Child NRS Vapor Stohlquist Fit
Intended User Dog Dog Infant ( <30 lbs)
Child (30-50 lbs)
Unisex Unisex
Intended Use Dog safety Dog safety Canoeing, kayaking, sailing Paddling Paddling, general boating
Entry Style Over-the-head, bottom clip 1 neck and 2 bottom clips Front zip, 1 chest strap, between the leg strap Side entry, side clip Front clip
Wear Type Top and bottom flotation Top flotation only Vest Vest Vest
Sizes Available XXS (13-17")
XS (17-22")
S (22-27")
M (27-32")
L (32-36")
XL (36-42")
XS (18-24" chest, < 20 lbs)
S (22-28", 20-40 lbs)
M (26-30", 40-60 lbs)
L (30-37", 60-80 lbs)
XL (36-41", > 80 lbs)
Youth (30-50 lbs) XS/M (30-42")
L/XL (42-52")
XL/XXL (50-56")
Youth (50-90 lbs)
Youth L/Adult XS (75-125 lbs, 27-33" chest)
Universal (30-52")
Adult XL (48-60")
Size We Tested Large (30-37") Large (32-36") Youth (30-50 lbs) XS/M (30-42") Universal (30-52")
Measured Weight 18 oz 15 oz 13 oz 28 oz 14 oz
Foam Type Foam buoyancy cells Not specified PVC & PE foam Soft foam PE foam
Main Material Nylon 1000D cordura shell 200D nylon 400D urethane-coated ripstop nylon shell, 200D nylon liner 200D nylon shell, 200D oxford liner
Claimed Designed Buoyancy No rating provided 6.4 lbs 8.38 lbs 16.3 lbs 16 to 18 lbs
USCG Classification N/A N/A Type III Type III Type III

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ruffwear Float Coat was our favorite flotation vest for our canine companions. Striking the winning balance for ease of use, flotation, and freedom of movement, our dogs seemed quite comfortable in this life vest, and we were comfortable knowing they had suitable protection. Available in a whopping six sizes, there is a Float Coat that is right for your pup.

Performance Comparison


Ruffwear Float Coat life jacket - the ruffwear float coat provides buoyancy on top and underneath your...
The Ruffwear Float Coat provides buoyancy on top AND underneath your dog for extra security.
Credit: Sara James

Flotation


The Float Coat wraps around your dog's torso, providing strategic flotation that supports their natural swimming position. If your dog is not yet a water lover, this support can help encourage water confidence. For the more adventurous hounds, this PFD would be suitable for swimming in aerated water and is designed to provide similar flotation to an Adult human Type III life vest.


Ruffwear does not assign a weight rating to their doggie PFDs, and the USCG is not yet interested in certifying this piece of gear. However, when compared side by side during our in-house float testing, the large Float Coat provided more flotation than the other large doggie PFDs we tested in this review.

Ruffwear Float Coat life jacket - once secured, this jacket will stay on regardless of what your dog...
Once secured, this jacket will stay on regardless of what your dog chooses to get up to.
Credit: Sara James

Fit


The Float Coat provides the same secure fit that humans expect from their PFDs, except it is designed to fit the unique profile of your dog. The two girth straps offer 7 inches of adjustability around the torso, helping to ensure that the jacket is well contoured to the dog's body with no unnecessary gaps. An additional adjustment point at the neck of this jacket enables you to telescope the vest's collar to suit your dogs' dimensions. This option was particularly appreciated for pups with relatively broad chests compared to the rest of their body.


The adjustability of this jacket means that it can grow with your dog. We have seen a dog grow over four years, gain 30 pounds, and still fit into the same Float Coat. Out of all the canine PFDs we tested, this one is available in the most sizes (six), covering XXS (13-17 inches) to XL (36-42 inches). Regardless if you have a Chihuahua or a Great Dane, there is a Float Coat suitable for their next aquatic adventure.

Ruffwear Float Coat life jacket - swim, jump, or run, this jacket doesn&#039;t hinder the movement of your...
Swim, jump, or run, this jacket doesn't hinder the movement of your dog.
Credit: Sara James

Comfort and Mobility


In order to ascertain the comfort of the dog PFDs in our lineup, we utilized the WAG test. The Float Coat was a top performer, with our dog's tail wagging positively throughout the test. This was definitely not the case with all the PFDs we tested. Although the Float Coat delivers ample flotation and provides a lot of coverage, it does not look cumbersome on the dog. This isn't the lowest profile dog PFD we tested, but is still a comfortable option. The ease with which you can slip this jacket on helps to avoid any agitation before the adventure begins.


The contoured profile of this PFD does not interfere with movement on land or in the water; our doggies testers could still swim, run, jump and frolic as if they had nothing on.

Ruffwear Float Coat life jacket - this pfd passed the comfort test, our dog&#039;s tail was always wagging...
This PFD passed the comfort test, our dog's tail was always wagging when this vest was on.
Credit: Sara James

Quality of Construction


The shell of the Float Coat is made of 800-denier ballistic polyester, so it should be able to withstand whatever rough and tumble play your dog puts it through. Throughout our testing period, we had no concerns with this jacket's quality and think it will last for many years to come. We have seen previous models of the Float Coat last over five years so we are pretty comfortable that the newer designs will have a similar longevity


Our dogs really like to put their gear through its paces, not only swimming in their PFD but play-fighting with other dogs, running through marshes, rolling in puddles, and squeezing through bushes. At the end of our testing sessions, the eye-catching "Blue Dusk" color finish of our jacket was more like a " Brown Mud ."Luckily this PFD will tolerate a gentle wash on a cold cycle.

Ruffwear Float Coat life jacket - the telescoping neck suited the build of our dog and was adjustable...
The telescoping neck suited the build of our dog and was adjustable for his furry friends that aren't quite so broad.
Credit: Sara James

Features and Versatility


The low-profile handle on the top of this PFD is well-positioned and padded. It is not the beefiest handle we came across in testing, but it was ample to haul our 80-pound wet canine companion out of the water. In addition, it is streamlined enough not to present a huge snag hazard.


The velcro tabs are helpful so you can avoid dangling straps. In addition, we appreciated the D-ring attachment point so we could transition to using a leash on land. There is also a nifty fabric loop on the handle designed for you to attach a light for low-light adventures.

Ruffwear Float Coat life jacket - the handle is low profile but leaves plenty of space to get a secure...
The handle is low profile but leaves plenty of space to get a secure hold on your dog.
Credit: Sara James

Value


The Float Coat is more expensive than the other dog vests we tested, but it also outperformed them all. This jacket's ease of use and peace of mind make it well worth the cost if you plan to take your dog on some water-based adventure.

Conclusion


The Ruffwear Float Coat is the one we reach for when we want to bring our dog along for playtime in the water. It has become a total hit with our testers, and our doggo now gets excited when we take this jacket out of the closet as he knows it's a sign of fun times to come.

Ruffwear Float Coat life jacket - a comfortable and practical option, this jacket stood out all around.
A comfortable and practical option, this jacket stood out all around.
Credit: Sara James

Sara James
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