I live in Minnesota with a dog who doesn’t appreciate snow, ice, and winter temperatures. Growing up with a Labrador Retriever who mostly did well in the cold, I never expected to have a dog that needed winter coats and boots to make it through winter hikes. But here I am, reviewing another pair of winter dog boots.
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Ruffwear’s Polar Trex dog boots* are the first boots I have tried that have a rubber sole. The “Vibram Icetrek” sole is designed to provide traction on frozen surfaces, as well as provide a more durable barrier against cold and snow-melt chemicals. Although, I love Glia’s dog booties and have been happy with her fleece-lined Muttluks, both of these can result in some serious traction concerns in icy conditions. I worry that she will slip and injure herself.
As a result, I decided to invest in a pair of the Polar Trex boots. So far they are providing better traction for Glia. Not quite as good as her bare paw, but better than the dog booties or Muttluks. Keep reading for our full review of the Polar Trex dog boots.
Features of the Ruffwear Polar Trex Dog Boots
Let’s start with a quick overview of some of the facts and features of these dog boots. If you know about the features of these dog boots already, scroll down to read about how well they worked for Glia.
The Polar Trex boots were designed to provide warmth, traction, and protection in winter conditions. (If you need year-round boots, head over to Ruffwear.com* to look at the Summit Trex or Grip Grex boots instead.)
The Polar Trex boots have several high quality features:
- Insulated softshell upper fabric – reported as breathable and weatherproof.
- Vibram Icetrek outsole to provide traction and a solid barrier between your dog’s paws and the elements.
- Hook and Loop closure that cinches at the narrowest part of the dog’s leg for a secure fit.
- Zippered stretch gaiter over the closure to protect the hook and loop from snow build-up.
- Reflective trim for visibility in low-light conditions.
The Vibram Icetrek outsole is specifically well designed. The pattern of this rubber sole was designed to provide improved grip on very cold, icy, or snowy surfaces. Click on the link at the start of this paragraph to learn more about the design of this rubber compound.
These dog boots are a higher-end dog boot, and the price reflects that, with a pair of 2 dog boots selling for around $50. But as you can see in the list above, these boots are packed full of high-quality materials and design details.
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Ruffwear sells the Polar Trex boots in sets of two, as most dogs have larger front paws than hind paws. The boots come in 8 different sizes and are reported to fit paws with widths between 1.5″ to 3.25″.
I will note that after reading RobinVentures review on the previous version of these boots, they may not be the best option for small dogs. So read her review first if your dog’s paws only measure 1.5″ wide.
Here is a quick video from Ruffwear about how to measure your dog’s paws for their boots.
Glia’s front paws measure just under 2.25″, so I ordered the 2.25″ Polar Trex boots. We just purchased a single pair to try out. If we love them, I will get her a pair for her back paws. For now, I will mix and match with her other dog boots.
Bark’N Boot Dog Socks
Ruffwear also sells dog socks* to pair with the dog boots. I had heard some reports of the Polar Trex dog boots causing some rubbing and irritation on dogs’ paws. Especially for dogs with a dewclaw.
Since Glia has front dewclaws, I purchased the Bark’N Boot socks for her to wear underneath the Polar Trex dog boots. She has worn the socks with the boots each time we have tried out the boots, so just keep that in mind.
Also, the socks are great. Whether or not we use the Polar Trex boots regularly, the socks will make a great extra layer when needed under any of her other dog boots or booties.
Alright, let’s get on to the review and answering some of the most important questions
How easy are the Polar Trex to get on?
Subjectively, I would say these boots are relatively easy to put on, but with the sock, a velcro hook and loop, and a zipper, they take longer to put on compared to Glia’s other boots.
For a more objective answer, I timed myself putting on the Polar Trex dog boots vs. the Fleece Line Muttluks and DogBooties. Here are those results:
|Average Time to Put one Boot/Sock On|
|Bark’N Boots Socks||13 seconds|
|Polar Trex Boots||31 seconds|
|Fleece-Lined Muttluks||31 seconds|
|Dog Booties||11 seconds|
Time to put on isn’t a big deal if your dog stands still, doesn’t mind having boots put on, and you put the boots on in the house. If like me, you wait to put boots on until your dog shows signs of needing the boots, then it may matter more how quickly you can put them on.
Ever stood outside in sub-zero temperatures with your gloves off while putting dog boots on? Whether it takes under 60 seconds or more than 2 minutes can really change how cold your hands are by the time you are finished getting your dog into their boots. So if it is really cold and you don’t want to put your dogs boots on ahead of time, Polar Trex dog boots might not be the right boot for you and your dog.
How well do the Polar Trex boots stay on?
So far I have been really pleased with how well these boots have stayed on. We haven’t had very deep snow on our trails recently, but I am not able to tug these boots off without undoing the hook and loop velcro and we haven’t had one fall off yet.
It is important to fasten the velcro strap snuggly in order to get this good fit. Just like a hiking shoe with loose laces can slip around on your foot, these boots can slip off a dog’s paw if not tightened.
How well can a dog walk in the Polar Trex boots?
We tried these boots on in the house first, and honestly, Glia was not a fan. I put a Polar Trex boot on one of her front paws and a Dog Bootie on her other front paw. She walked away from me, laid down on a rug, and proceed to try to pull the Polar Trex boot off with her teeth. It was obviously bothering her more than the Dog Bootie.
To be fair though, she hates wearing boots and only tolerates them outside as they help her keep hiking longer in the winter.
I then took the boots out to our local hiking trail. Since Glia is not used to wearing a firmer sole, she adjusted her gait a little more when starting out in these boots compared to her other ones. I saw her trip over the toe of the boot twice while she was figuring out the feel of the boots.
She did adjust to them okay on the trail and never lifted a paw or attempted to lick or chew at the boot while outside.
The first day we tried these boots out was a little icy, so it was a perfect test for the traction of the sole. I did not put any boots on Glia’s back paws during this trial run as it wasn’t that cold out and she really didn’t need dog boots on this day.
Compared to her bare paws, the Polar Trex slid on the icy snow a bit. But they did a lot better than Glia’s Muttluks (or even her dog booties) do on slippery surfaces.
The Polar Trex dog boots are high-quality dog boots with an impressive design. The Vibram Icetrek sole provides superior traction compared to soft soled leather or fabric dog boots. The boots stay on when well-fitted and function well on the trail.
Be aware that the firm rubber sole may be harder for your dog to learn to walk in. The adjustment period for wearing these boots will likely be longer than when wearing a fabric bootie. Additionally, the hard sole makes it harder for your dog to feel the ground. Dogs wearing Polar Trex boots will likely have to adjust the way they walk more compared to a flexible soled boot.
Additionally, these boots take longer to put on and take up more room in your pocket. So if you are carrying along dog boots “just in case” these might not be the right dog boots for you. They do fit in the pockets of the new Switchbak harness though!
I don’t think the Polar Trex dog boots will be replacing our Dog Booties for our regular hikes. But for cold days with icy trails (when traction really matters) or with a combination of snow and more abrasive surfaces (when a thicker sole may be useful), these high-tech, quality dog boots will be a great addition to Glia’s winter wardrobe.
Have more questions? Ask me in the comments section below.
And Happy Hiking Everyone!
Kate, Glia, & Sasha
P.S. Here is a video version of our review of the Ruffwear Polar Trex Dog Boots.