A gundog is almost indispensable for duck hunting. Since you are probably dropping a lot of money on your own gear, it is reasonable that you want the best dog hunting vest for your four legged partner. There are quite a few products available on the market and it is easy to get lost in all those different options. This article will provide you with informations and reviews of the best hunting dog vests so you know what to buy.
The best tactical dog hunting vests serve as sturdy harnesses and are made with a durable and are made from strong lightweight materials able to withstand almost anything while still keeping the dog comfortable at all times. Since most of these linings have an inner mesh type material included, the dog is able to cool down after working up a sweat (actually dogs can’t sweat) or when in hot areas. During a long cold day outside the hunting dog vest should also provide some form of insulation and protect your four-legged partner from freezing cold temperatures and arctic winds.
The best dog hunting vests usually have an edge on normal backpack type dog harnesses due to the high level of durability and the additional flexibility they provide through systems like MOLLE. Many provide buckles, handles and extra pouches in order to safely pick up your dog or have them carry accessories along the way. Many military dogs use tactical vests and usually have them on over long periods of time. Fortunately those vests remain comfortable throughout the day and are fairly lightweight. While it might take some time for your gundog to get used to it initially, after a while he will completely forget that he is wearing one at all.
How To Choose The Right Vest
In some areas hunters choose dog hunting vests that provide warmth and wind protection. Sure, your dog is way better adapted to cold temperatures than you are, but sitting and waiting for several hours in sub zero temperatures cools out almost any dog. Huskies aren’t the most popular hunting dogs and your golden retriever will thank you for some additional insulation. If that should be the purpose of the vest then you should look for one made from neoprene. A classic duck hunting dog vest will do the trick and usually comes with a suitable camo pattern.
If the purpose of the vest is actual to make your dog more visible, for instance during a big game hunt, a blaze orange dog vest would be the best choice. Your dog will barely even notice that he is wearing one while at the same time he is far easier to spot for hunters. There are quite a few out there and they are usually cheaper than tactical or neoprene dog vests.
The third option would be a tactical dog vest, the most complex version discussed here. They offer a wide range of features but don’t insulate at all. Great for big game hunting where your dog follows tracks for miles being out of sight. Read further down for more information.
Materials Used For The Best Dog Hunting Vests
There is not much variety in terms of material when you look at dog vests. There are a few attributes that a material has to cover. The first one is definitely lightweight. The weight your dog should carry is limited so you want to use it for things like gear, tracking systems and bags and not for unnecessarily heavy materials. It should also be sturdy, nothing should tear up too easily and lifting your dog with the provided handles shouldn’t be a problem at all. This explains while the most common fabric used for dog hunting vests is a form of nylon or neoprene. Nylon is breathable and water resistant, meaning it does not soak up when your gundog looks for that shot down duck. Neoprene keeps your dog warm, when he is soaking wet and still has to remain still during a winter duck hunt for instance.
The Best Dog Vests For Duck Hunting
The challenges your dog faces during a duck hunt are definitely different from others. A well trained gundog can be the single best tool for waterfowling next to your gun. While you stay warm and dry he goes all in and gets you those birds you shot down and he enjoys to do so! A good dog hunting vest can make this job easier. It should insulate well and have a handle so if necessary you can lift your dog into a boat or blind. The options below perform well in said situations and will make hunting for you and your dog even more enjoyable.
Banded Dog Vest
Made from 5mm neoprene covered in Realtree Max-5 or Mossy Oak Shadow Blades camo patterns, it is pretty obvious for which type of hunting this vest was designed for. Both patterns are incredibly popular among duck hunters and blend in great in wetlands or swamps with high grass. If you ever wore 5mm neoprene before, for instance in your waders, you know what to expect from this material. It really keeps you warm! Same effect on the dog, who will highly appreciate the additional insulation. Another thing that’s often annoying in neoprene waders is there buoyancy. This however is a benefit for the dog as it makes swimming less exhausting. Banded integrated some additional floating pads to enhance this effect.
Lifting your dog out of the water won’t be an issue, thanks to an integrated handle, although that probably depends more on the weight of your dog. However, no matter what size your dog is, the Banded dog vest offers six sizes, so you should be able to get a good fitting. Since neoprene is easily trimmed, some slight adaptations around the neck and the legs can be made with scissors.
Avery Boater’s Hunting Dog Parka
Another vest made from 5mm neoprene and if you think about how perfect this material suits for duck hunting, it’s really no surprise. Since Realtree Max-5 and Duck Blind can be found all over duck hunters that’s also the pattern Avery chose for this vest. Easily put onto your dog with a heavy duty zipper and with double-tacked seams as well as easy carry handles, this sturdy vest is ideal to get you hunting buddy right back into the boat. An interior webbing harness makes sure that the weight of your dog gets spread evenly so the process of lifting won’t be uncomfortable for him in any way. 5mm neoprene will keep him warm even when he has to remain still, by simply trapping the dog’s body heat. Once your dog is wet, the neoprene will insulate way better than his fur.
In terms of sizing they provide an easy sizing chart on their website. You only have to measure the chest and neck of your dog and choose the correct size. We tested it on our lab and it worked perfectly. It’s also possible to cut the neoprene to the perfect size, without damaging the seams in any way.
Blaze Orange Dog Hunting Vest
As mentioned earlier, some hunters look for something that makes their dog more visible to the human eye without scaring animals. While that would be pretty hard for waterfowl, deer and other bigger game animals don’t see orange as we see it. For them it’s more like a grayish color which blends in into everything else they see. Therefor a blaze orange dog hunting vest is a good choice if you want to improve the safety of your dog.
The one we choose here is one that is decently priced and has proven to be as sturdy as you want it to be. For a product like that you really only want it to do it’s job without being stuffed with unnecessary features. The more seasons it holds onto your dog without ripping apart the better it is. That’s why we chose a pretty basic one from Amazon. It’s decently priced and with two velcro straps it holds onto almost every dog, no matter what size. You can’t reall go wrong here and it’s name is “Dog Not Gone Visibility Safety Dog Vest”.
Whether it’s being used for a military style mission, gundog equipment for waterfowling or a simple walk in the park, the best tactical vests for dogs are incredibly convenient and offer quite a few benefits. The best hunting dog vests should be comfortable to wear, have multiple handles for pain-free pickup, are made with sturdy material and include a MOLLE system for the transportation of any accessories needed. Your dog tries his best to be a good partner, so make sure to get him some gear that will serve him well.