A Gift for Man’s Best Friend

For those that have read my few trip reports, I have been trying to get my dog, Layla, better acclimated to hiking this year. With my new job and move to a new city, this is even more important because I don’t know anyone in town to take care of her yet.

Well so far I have failed at this goal. I am picking up new thoughts on how to make her experience better though. I will be posting her current gear list soon, but I just finished work on a prototype of a new piece of gear that I hope will make her more comfortable: a fleece coat.

I don’t have a fun name for this project yet, but I am open to any suggestions others may have. My goal with the jacket is to make a sleep system for Layla during the warmer months, as well as something that works as a hiking jacket for the cooler months. During our last trip, I gave her my rain coat as a jacket, which she seemed fine with, except when she got up to fidget, it would slide off and I would have to situate it back on her.

The jacket weights in at 4.2oz and compresses down to a size that will easily fit into her size Small Granite Gear Ruff Rider pack (which seems to be out of production), with space left for a soft bottle or some food. The most important thing is that she doesn’t seem to mind it very much, which is odd for a dog who dislikes just about anything resembling a blanket.

I patterned the jacket from pictures of the Ruffwear Overcoat and this pattern I found online. Two things should be noted about the pattern I made. First, I only used the back piece from the website, and that I changed quite a bit. Second, my future plans include making a version using scrap Apex and a tough nylon, so I made my pattern with the idea of nonstretch fabric. In the pictures you can see that I bound the fleece edges with white grosgrain to stop the fleece from stretching, especially the neck.

The jacket currently utilizes two side buckles that connect the belly piece to the back. And the head opening is a fixed size that just slips over her head.

The jacket is a slim design, but it is not a fitted design as of now. It is slim to make it more difficult for Layla to get snagged on things as she walked.

The changes I plan to make in the very near future include:

  1. Adding a collar to the neck to create a tighter seal for more warmth.
  2. Adding in a separating zipper at the neck so that the jacket does not have to be a pullover anymore. Layla hates having things pull on over her head.
  3. Incorporating darts (my girlfriend is teaching me the concept) so that the back end of the jacket curves to fit her body.
  4. Possibly the addition of some 1.9oz ripstop nylon for more wind resistance and to help protect the fleece.

I’ll be compiling my patterns together shortly to add a guide to this page. Until then, I can say this project has proven to be one of those things that really does save the maker money. The Ruffwear Overcoat comes in at a minimal price (using a quick Google search) of $50. So far on this project, I have spent $10, and supplied everything from either Walmart or Joann fabric. A nicer fleece could be purchased online, which would increase the price by about $10-$20.

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