Ruffwear Summit Trex Dog Boot Review
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The Ruffwear Summit Trex dog boot is touted by Ruffwear as “everyday paw protection” for your dog. Ruffwear, and myself included, are not implying that you need to put a pair of boots on your dogs everyday to meet their needs and keep them on the go. Rather, that one boot can do it all when it comes to protecting your dogs feet in the various extremes, hot summer days to cold winter days. Stella, an energetic 2 year old Airedale Terrier, has been putting the Summit Trex to the test while hiking, running, snowshoeing, nordic and backcountry skiing with her owners.
Ruffwear Summit Trex Traction + Protection
The Ruffwear Summit Trex dog boot is a versatile boot thanks to the inclusion of sticky rubber outsole, that is highly flexible. When compared to the Ruffwear Grip Trex, the Summit Trex outsole is not nearly as burly or thick, which can be seen as a pro and a con. For starters, the Summit Trex has greater flexibility that allows your dog to move and flex its’ paw more naturally as if there isn’t a boot on at all. The con of it is that the rubber may not provide the same high level of protection against scree or sharp/jagged rocks and may not last as long due to being thinner. The Summit Trex has circular shaped lugs to provide traction, and has performed well in a wide array of conditions, including gravel, pavement, and snowy trails. The lug shape does not allow things to get stuck, but the lugs are not that raised and would likely get worn down faster (like running shoes), if used only on pavement. The one surface that both the Summit Trex and Grip Trex have difficulty with is packed down snow and ice, which no boot we have tested (nor plain paw), can walk without occasional slips.
In addition to traction, the outsole offers protection from the elements and transitions seamlessly to the synthetic upper. The upper helps to block moisture, like rain and snow, but is not designed to be waterproof. On snowy hikes, it did a good job of keeping the snow out and Stella’s paws were only slightly damp. We didn’t test the boots in rain, as it rarely rains out here in Colorado and typically muddy conditions are not a problem. The upper does have small pores that would lead me to believe that they evaporate some heat that builds up within the boot. Unfortunately, Stella is unable to tell me how this function works, but I assume she isn’t too bothered as she will wear these on warm days without a fuss.
Unlike previous dog boots tested at AGR, the Ruffwear Summit Trex design is a bit different as it includes an integrated stretch gaiter. The concept of the gaiter is a good one, adding an extra bit of height to the boot and helping to keep out rocks and debris. Stella does not have a dew claw, but I would believe that the gaiter is soft and should not cause a problem for dogs with one. The gaiter does make putting the boot on a bit more difficult as you have to ensure that a claw isn’t getting hung up on it. In deep wet snow, the gaiter does help the ice/snow from balling up near the velcro strap, which is a nice feature and helps the boots to stay on longer.
Size and Fit
Getting the right size of boot is key. Too big of a boot and you will likely lose boots quite quickly. Too small of a boot and your pup will not be happy with hot-spots or blistering. To get the best fit, simply follow Ruffwears’ “how-to” video provided here.
Breaking it down into steps: have your dog stand upright on firm ground with a piece of paper under one of his/her front paws, raise the dog’s opposite front paw and measure the widest part of the paw still firmly on the paper, repeat on the opposite front paw, measure the distance between each width marking for both paws. If you would rather not measure on your own, you can also print out a paw size tool online, available here. Just make sure that you have the scale correctly, otherwise the sizing may be off.
The width marking you obtain is the size that you should purchase. The Ruffwear Summit Trex is available in 8 sizes, starting at 1.5″ width and moving up by a 1/4 inch/size with the max size being 3.25″. In some cases, your dog may have a significant discrepancy between front and rear paw sizes or even between front paw sizing. If that is the case, you can always order single boots in various sizes to make a set or per Ruffwear, talk to a Customer Service agent and they may be able to help you directly. Single boots retail for $14.99, while a set of 4 are $59.95. Getting the correct fit for your dog will fortunately not cost you extra and is a nice feature that is not available across the board in the dog boot market.
Our gal, Stella, fortunately fit within one of the standard sizes and we trialed a set of 4 based on her measurement. She has had no issues with hot spots or rubbing after use in summer and winter. We have had issues with getting the right adjustment or tightness with the velcro strap. The attached gaiter is a great feature, yet it provides a smooth surface that you are wrapping the velcro around or against. What I mean by this is that with the Ruffwear Grip Tex Boot, you are strapping the boot with the fur underneath or above the strap, which provides a bit more traction or stickiness when secured. In the long run, this wasn’t a big deal, it simply took a bit more time to figure out the sweet spot for securing the boot without it shifting or falling off. We did not experience “spinning” of the boots or finding them too big, as Stella is a medium sized dog, but it seems that users with small dogs have had difficulty getting the boot cinched down enough. Fortunately, the folks at Ruffwear are great and if you purchase the wrong size or can’t seem to make the product meet your needs, in our experience, they will work with you to solve the problem.
Does my dog really need a pair a boots?
This is a question many dog owners can answer in a million different ways. I find that boots, such as the Ruffwear Summit Trex are a nice tool to have in your pack or car for conditions that are outside your dogs norm. If your dog is not used to rocky-crags, they may suffer damage to their paws on your planned 3 day backpacking trip. Perhaps the temperatures dip 30 degrees below normal, some dogs don’t like cold paws, not to mention if they use various chemicals or salt in your area, which can be harmful. Or maybe your dog is like Stella, with curly fur that easily mats and holds onto certain snow types, then a pair of boots such as the Summitt Trex come in handy to prevent the stop/starting associated with trying to get ice-balls out of the paws. It is a very personal choice, and many may make fun of you for it. But I like to include the Ruffwear Summit Trex in my pack for just in-case, as they weigh next to nothing and take up little space, which is a major bonus in my book. So why not?
As mentioned above, the Summit Trex is available in a wide array of sizes and two colors on Ruffwear.com; burnt orange and gray. REI.com also features them in green.
For more info on these and other Ruffwear products visit www.rei.com/ruffwear.
For information about the Ruffwear Grip Trex, please visit here.