Next weekend, the GoPro Mountain Games will come to Vail, bringing a host of gear vendors, athletes and, of course, dog lovers to the mountains. With Speed Retrieve, Extreme Vertical and Big Air DockDog competitions, plus a Rocky Dog Trail Run and dog-friendly Mud Run, the Mountain Games give you a chance to compete side by side with your pup. Before heading over the pass, make sure your best friend is equipped with all of the gear he or she will need to tackle land, water and air. Here are a few things you might want to investigate.
1. Air Collar by Spiffy Dog
The Air Collar by Spiffy Dog is noteworthy because of its quick-drying mesh material, great for any active mountain dog, especially swimmers. The material looks similar to mesh basketball shorts but is actually made from the same kind of mesh used in Nike and Adidas sneakers. Reinforced by a nylon strap and a solid buckle, the collar is both utilitarian and durable. They come in a variety of designs. Spiffy Dog’s line of collars accounts for around 80 percent of the Steamboat Springs-based company’s sales. They also make a line of harnesses, as well as leashes, toys and accessories. The Barnyard pet supply store, on Main Street in Frisco, carries a number of their collar designs.
• Retail: $15.95
2. Palisades Pack by Ruffwear
Outfit your pup with the Ruffwear Palisades Pack to help carry all of the swag and prizes you collect from the Mountain Games Gear Town. The pack comes in small, medium and large/extra large and features a harness with detachable saddlebags. My 32-pound Alaskan husky, Nika, wears a medium, and it fits her broader chest and narrow hindquarters really well. As a slender dog, it can be hard to find harnesses that fit her snugly without having the extra webbing dangling under her belly. The Ruffwear Palisades Pack lets you tuck in the straps so they don’t get in the way.
To get Nika used to the pack, we started by detaching the saddlebags and taking her for walks and hikes with just the harness. It has a clip loop for a leash, so she isn’t tugging at the neck, and a handle on the back for helping her over rocks and across deeper creeks. The saddlebags each have multiple pockets, including one on each side to hold the provided 1-liter water bladders, so Nika can carry her own water and pick-up bags and food and treats for longer hikes. She was a bit perplexed about the saddlebags the first time we put them on, but now when she sees the harness, she gets excited about the pending hike.
• Retail: $130
3. K9 Float Coat by Ruffwear
Your dog might not be a natural DockDog, but you still want to keep it safe in the water. Nika is a decent swimmer, but when we take her rafting, she, like everyone else on the boat, needs to wear a PFD. After trying multiple brands, we settled on the Ruffwear K9 Float Coat because it fit her well and had an adequate amount of buoyancy for her size and weight. This lifejacket, like all Ruffwear products that we have tried, is super durable, even when we eddy out and she’s running through the bushes along the shore.
Like the Palisades Pack, the Float Coat fits snugly with a lot of flexibility and has a handle on the back for pulling Nika back into the boat after she goes for a swim. The bright yellow color is great for keeping an eye on her on shore, and the leash and light loops come in handy for extended layovers and full-moon floats. Nika has been launched into an eddy or two, and she’s always able to self-rescue with the help of this PFD.
• Retail: $80
Paws and Claws on Airport Road in Breckenridge, The Barnyard on Main Street in Frisco and A&A Pet Supply and Feed on Highway 9 in Frisco all carry Ruffwear gear. Or if you are at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail next weekend, stop by the Ruffwear tent in Gear Town with your pooch to try out some of their products.