Technically Advanced Dog Jackets
(Medium sized 23 inch top length jacket - Right side view)
As with most Outdoor Gear & Accessories, the amount of change that actually happens to an item to make it perform better is relatively small and that can be said with jackets that are used for sled dogs. The standard jacket that the majority of sled dog wear in an attempt to block the wind and add some minimal warmth value, consists of a jacket designed with a "cheap" outer layer of a nylon type material that is sew over a cheap layer of fleece. These sled dog jackets may run, depending on size anywhere from $20 to $30 bucks and may provide a thermal insulating value of perhaps an R-1.0.
Some of the enhanced sled dog jackets that are available, are manufactured with alittle better quality of smooth nylon on the outside and provide a layer of fiberous insulating material instead of cheap fleece, that is then sandwiched in-between the nylon shell and a layer of micro mesh that goes next to the dogs fur. These sled dog jackets tend to be better built for the price and also offer webbing straps and securing buckles along with wider hook & loop for helping to keep the jackets on the animal. We estimate that the insulating value on these jackets to be better then the lower end jackets and would guess that the R-value of insulation could reach somewhere around an R-1.5, plus or minus and are sold depending on purchase quantity in the range of $40 to $50 bucks.
The use of dog jackets, especially in distance racing is probably up for discussion and debate, as is perhaps everything else in life. We would guess some feel a sled dog doesn't need a jacket to block the wind and provide some added warmth, because that is why they were born with fur and sleep outside in the cold every night to further build the density and thickness of their fur. On the otherside of the debate are those that see the merits of providing additional wind blocking and insulation to there sled dogs, primarily when the temperatures are severely sub-zero during a race or extended training run, but the decision of which jacket their dogs use is probably more based on how much they want to spend versus the actual factor of "what does the jacket actually provide for my sled dog"?
Then the rebels with a cause enter the debate and throw out their perspective on the benefits that can be gained by keeping your sled dog warmer, during the extreme negative temperature timeframes in a long distance race. They might say, "yes it is understood that like humans, dog's also have a physiological mechanism for generating additonal heat ,which is called shivering", but how much extra energy or glycogen, is being burned up and used to facilatate this activity that could be lessoned with a warmer dog jacket?
To understand in simplistic terms what powers our human body, you must understand the concept of "glycogen" production. To understand what fuels the energy in your sled dog, you must also understand the concept of glycogen production and how it occurs. Think of glycogen as the "energy" fuel in your own personal gas tank. When the tank is empty, your physical output is at a minimum because you no longer have any energy left to contiunue performing whatever task that you were doing that made you completely tired and out of gas. This probably happened because you didn't eat anything or anything of value while you were engulfed in your physical activity, therefore low glycogen levels - empty fuel tank. To rebuild your glycogen levels and to start re-filling your personal fuel tank, you need to feed your body with foods that are high in "carbohydrates". These could come from various sources, just read the labels and they will tell you how many carb's the item contains. Easier ways to get carb's during periods of exercise is through the use of different Power Gels and nutrition bars that are available from grocery stores, sporting goods stores or bike shops. Your body will covert the carbohydrates into glycogen storage and from there it becomes either blood glycogen or muscle glycogen. To refuel and replenish your muscles after the physical exercise is completed, is the point where proteins are of primary importance and carbohydrates are less of importance, but that is a different discussion.
The production of glycogen in a dog or sled dog is processed and handled completely different then that of the human body. The process of producing energy fueling glycogen in a dog is done through their body's processing of high ratios of "protein's and fat's" and then breaking it down and converting it into glycogen storage. In a dog, carbohydrates ingested from eating dry dog food, pay little or almost zero benefit to their glycogen process. The important foods for the sled dogs glycogen process are the raw meats, chicken, fish and pure waste fats that they eat, especially during the pre-race extensive training season and during the actual distances races that they are participating in. For them, the lower the percentage of carbohydrates in their diets the better off they will be, as almost no benefit is gained from the added carb's.
Ok, we now in brief understand what fuels our bodies and what fuels the bodies of your sled dogs and that is glycogen that the body has converted from carbohydrates into in the case of humans and fats and proteins into in the case of dogs. Whew!
Now, specifically back to the subject of sled dogs and how they use up the glycogen that their bodies have produced. In the broadest sense when you are running a distance race and lets say the temperature is -30F to -40F outside, the glycogen in your dog is going to be used up in two ways. The first is from the physical activity of pulling you on the sled and the second is going to be from the natural physiological process of shivering in those periods when the dogs body tells it to do so in order to warm up again, which is its process of thermoregulation. A dog is going to shiver more if it is running without some type of external jacket on its body then a dog next to it that has one on, especially if the there is a brisk wind that is going along with the significantly cold ambient temperatures in this example. The available energy or glycogen storage levels that a dog has produced from its last feeding is going to be disapated faster if it is continually shivering to re-warm itself, versus a dog that is kept warm to some extent throught the addition and use of a jacket. The theory here being the more retained glycogen between rest breaks and feeding times, the more stamina, endurance and distance that you can achieve from the dog during the distance race.
We also believe that if you are on the side of the debate that supports the use of dog jackets for your sled dogs, that you will now understand the benefits of having your sled dogs given the opportunity to wear a better and warmer jacket when they are out on the trail! If you can minimize the effects of the normal shivering process, that can be excentuated especially in conditions like those experienced during the 2006 Iditarod, then you have the opportunity of having dogs that will perhaps last for a longer period during the race due to having a higher level of retained glycogen storage remaining in their system, left to be converted to either blood glucose or muscle glycogen.
The Technical Advantage Gear solution for a "better" Dog Jacket:
As we mentioned in our earlier text at the beginning of this article, the average dog jacket only provides a thermal insulation R-value of around an R-1.0 plus or minus and generally is constructed with an outer layer of a nylon material with an inner layer made of fleece or other insulating material that is there to provide a minimal amount of warmth and effective windblocking capability.
Our New Technical Advantage Arctic Dog Jackets are built with the following layering system:
1. The "Outer Layer" consists of 1.9 oz Coated Nylon Ripstop Fabric, that is not only extremely durable, but it is water proof and will not tear when punctured because of the ripstop characteric. Most if not all dog jacket manufacturers just use plain smooth nylon material. Ours are built to last.
2. The next layer inside of the Outer Ripstop Nylon Shell, is a synthetic polyester based thermal material that provides an additional 95% Windblocking capacity, is water resistant treated and is highly breathable.
3. The next layer inside of Layer #2, is a polyester based special reflective technology insulation material that reflects the heat back to the dog while allowing any sweat moisture vapors to pass through it and not cause it to become damp.
4. The inner most layer that goes against the fur of the dog, is a nylon based micro mesh that protects the inner layers while allowing immediate heat vapors to pass right through it.
Since the nylon shells used on the outside of any dog jacket provides zero thermal insulating value and neither does the use of any type of mesh fabric material, our Thermal R-value of Insulation is strictly based on the two inner most layers of fabric. The new Technical Advantage Arctic Dog Jackets provide an insulating value of R-3.35, making our jackets 2X to 3X times warmer then most other sled dog jackets that are being used today.
Our New Arctic Dog Jackets offer the following as compared to other Competitive Jackets:
1. Our Front Neck Flaps provide 2" wide Hook & Loop strips vs. Others use 1 1/2" and/or 2" wide hook & loop.
2. Our Front Neck Flap Hook & Loop strips are 1 to 2 inches longer then most others offer.
3. Our Front Neck Flap Webbing Strap & Buckle is 1" wide vs. Others use no additional strap or offer 3/4" wide strap &buckle.
4. Our Mid Belly Flap is sewn with 2 horizontal strips of 2" wide Hook material vs. Others use 2 strips of 1 1/2" wide Hook material.
5. Our Mid Belly Flap mounts to 3 verticle strips of Loop Material. Our 2 Outside strips are 2" wide & the added middle strip is 1 1/2" wide and we also provide a 1" wide webbing strap and buckle for added total security vs. Others that only provide 2 verticle velcro strips total and most are only 1 1/2" wide and most others do not provide the additional security webbing strap & buckle and if they do it is only 3/4" wide.
6. We also provide a Mid Belly Flap 1" Wide heavy duty webbing strap and 1" buckles to make sure that the belly flap always stays secure on your dog vs. Others that some do but most don't offer the additional webbing strap and buckles and when they do it's only a 3/4" strap and buckle configuration.
We have (2)two different sizes of the Arctic Dog Jackets that were built to run in the 2007 Iditarod, as well in other qualifier races that happen before the first weekend in March, 2007. In the 2007 Iditarod our Arctic Dog Jacket's performed exceptionally well during the entire race, especially so when our test musher was stranded up on Rainy Pass for over 24 hours in wind chilled temperatures estimated to exceed -90F below zero.
Arctic Dog Jacket sizes available:
MEDIUM ARCTIC SLED DOG JACKETS: Measure approximately 23 inches in length from the edge of the collar to the edge tip at the tail of the jacket.
LARGE ARCTIC SLED DOG JACKETS: Measure approximately 26 inches in length from the edge of the collar to the edge tip at the tail of the jacket.
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