Are reflective coats for dogs and LED harnesses a bit much? I thought so until I saw people crossing the road either dressed in black and essentially invisible, or dressed in reflective clothes themselves without realising the dog walking ahead or behind them on the lead didn’t have a chance of being seen by oncoming traffic. I think this is important, here’s why:
1 – When drivers see us early, they often adjust their speed and road position. I’ve avoided being splashed by standing water and drivers are clearly better prepped to react if one of the dogs unexpectedly steps into the road or lags behind when crossing.
2 – People cycle on the pavement (especially in the dark), they shouldn’t but they do and a collision wouldn’t end well.
3 – If your dog goes for a wander, it’s a nightmare trying to pick them out in the dark; you’ll definitely be wishing they were more visible and less earth coloured. If they stray towards a road, it gives them half a chance of staying safe.
4 – Not all dogs like other dogs! It’s a huge help if everyone can see dogs coming so owners have time to secure reactive dogs ahead of meeting.
To improve our visibility, we’ve started with reflective coats. We headed to Pets at Home where they have a range called ‘Reflectives’ by the brand ‘Dog Walk’. We didn’t want to spend a fortune so we looked at the cheapest option, the Lightweight Vest.
Dog Walk Reflectives – Lightweight Vest – £5
Described as – lightweight, reflective trim and easy to adjust. It’s essentially a fine yellow material vest with some chunky reflective strips over the top and sides. There’s a velcro strap at the front and under the stomach. It looks like something you’d wear for directing traffic in a carpark.
- Fabric – The main fabric isn’t reflective but is quite a bright yellow, (a bit like a highlighter pen). If you happen to have a mud-magnet spaniel or a dog that goes off-lead, the fabric gets wet and dirty pretty quickly, making the vest considerably less visible. After all the mud, you discover it’s wipe-clean only.
- Size – The shape and sizing left me feeling like it had been designed by someone that had read about dogs but was yet to meet one in real life. We couldn’t get one to fit Bessie, they were far too big at the sides, not long enough and just all wrong for her somehow. Pippa ended up with the medium (says for Beagle/Scottish Terrier/Dachshund!) which doesn’t cover her nearly as much as I’d like, but the large was like a tent.
- Shape – As it’s a vest it only partially covers the body; from behind and in-front you don’t get any reflection but from the side it’s great.
- Look – Pippa looks ridiculous in it, like a sort of doggy site-foreman. Obviously I don’t care so long as she’s seen.
- Reflection – The reflective strips are chunky and quite slippery material so mud doesn’t seem to stick to them. They definitely pick-up the light of a torch or car headlight with ease.
- Practicality – It’s easy to put on/remove and it fits over a harness fine. There’s no hole to thread the D-ring of a harness through but we’ve been able to use it with our harness without a problem.
- Pippa is totally oblivious to it and isn’t restricted by it.
This is great if your dog hates proper coats and happens to fit the weird sizing. Obviously, unlike something with LEDs, it only works if a light source hits it so you need to decide if that’s enough for your needs. For us, it has certainly been a lot easier to pick Pippa out with the torch when she’s mooching in a field and she’s more visible when crossing the road. At £5 it has been a worthwhile investment but I wouldn’t pay more.
Score – 7/10 – For 10 I would want to see better sizing, a more dirt-resistant and washable fabric and for it to cover more of the body.
As the vest didn’t fit Bessie, we then tried a proper coat from the same range:
Dog Walk Reflectives – Rip-Stop Jacket – £12-£15
Described as – Reflective trim, shower-proof, fleece lining, easy-adjust. Unlike the vest, this is an actual coat. It fastens with velcro at the front and under the stomach. It’s a yellow and grey fabric with a small amount of reflective piping around the edge.
- Not entirely fit for purpose – This has no business sitting in the ‘Reflectives’ range. It has a very small amount of reflective piping which is far too little in the first place and gets worse when the jacket is dirty. Bessie is black and tan and is easier to spot in this jacket, however it lacks the vivid colouring of the lightweight vest and isn’t picked-out as strongly at distance. If it’s called ‘Reflectives’ I think it should offer a decent amount of reflection. The strips used on the vest would have been ideal. NB – the above pictures are a bit misleading. The coat is not that bright to the human-eye and that is right under a torch.
- Size – A little short in the body for Bessie (terrier) but it may be that she’s an odd size.
- Water-resistance – We got caught in the heaviest rain imaginable; I was genuinely soaked to the skin. The coat is sold as shower-proof, not waterproof but not a single drop got though. She was bone dry and if you’d experienced that rain, believe me, you’d be impressed!
- Practicality – The coat has a zippered hole in it to thread through the D-ring of your harness. As it’s a zip rather than stitched, it’s not going to rip and you can close it tightly up to the D-ring to stop water seeping through.
- Bessie’s feedback – Bess hates coats but now she’s older, she seems to appreciate the furry lining on this and stays out longer on walks as a result. It’s clearly cozy but I think it also reduces the scratchy sound that non-lined coats can make. It’s very light and has the honour of being the first coat she hasn’t tried to remove or constantly shook to get comfortable in.
If you walk at dusk and keep your dog on a lead/extender lead and want them to be a bit easier to see then this is fine. However, I think it needs to be pared with an LED collar or additional reflective items for true night-time walking. If you’re walking in the dark and/or letting your dog off-lead I don’t think this is bright or reflective enough.
Reflection aside, as a standard coat this is good for the price. It’s made well and although very light, it’s great in the rain and enough to give a coat-phobic, older or thin-coated dog a bit of warmth without over-doing it.
As a reflective jacket – 5/10
As a standard jacket – 9/10 as the sizing isn’t right for us but huge kudos for getting Bess through that rain-storm. If we can get this coat in a less garish colour for the day-time then we definitely will.
We’ll be looking at options to make Pippa and Bessie more visible in no-light conditions so we’ll let you know how we get on.
If you have any questions or have suggestions about how to stay safe this winter, please leave a comment!
We’re not paid to feature any products; items were purchased with our own hard-earned cash so this review is a true representation of our experience.
See you next time, from Bessie, Pippa and the human staff x
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