Ok here goes my review of the "FIRE WATCHER" harness.
Obviously I was one of the successful applicants invited to test their vest.
I was informed my item had been shipped and it arrived the very next day!
Sizing wise I chose a medium. My dog is a mixed breed Labradoodle around 25KG
The first few outings "Dougal" was a bit subdued walked behind me feeling sorry for himself
I adjusted the straps a few times to get a fit that was snug. The straps have a useful velcro strip sewn on so once wound up towards the main vest, allows the loose strapping to be secured to the strap in contact with the dog. This negates having to trim it or have it flapping about. After a few days he got over his trepidation and treated it like a collar without any real issues
The lower Y shaped sternum strap is secured with 2 female to male buckles on the front of the main top vest, and 2 more to the rear. The Y shaped design I personally would have liked to see a few CM longer in order to go under the main vest, In order to give a little more padding and aesthetic appeal. But it adjusts well over all.
The vest is fairly short compared to others so the rear securing straps are pretty much centred on the middle of the chest. This may have been an error of judgement in my ordering. Perhaps if I had gone for the larger size it may have been possible to secure the rear straps more towards the withers. On the couple of occasions I had to assist lift Dougal using the grab handle it caused the rear straps to slide up towards the front straps, and the vest to bunch up. No pouches were attached to the vest.
The main body of the vest has molle webbing strips attached to the side with female velcro sewn over the webbing. It appears robust in construction. The top of the vest has elasticated bungee cord threaded through the molle to create a criss/cross pattern for securing smaller items. I secured a small battery pack for some LED Christmas lights just to demonstrate this feature. See photo above.
Overall the vest is good quality and seems robust. If I had a choice of different styles of vests, is this the one I would choose? Probably not, as I found it too short it really only worked on the upper part of the chest, (more like a sports bra than a vest) if you understand that analogy. Again this may be due to my sizing. or not fully understanding the concept behind the design.
What did work great was the handle. For the height of my dog the handle was in a perfect position for my fingers to touch without bending. There is also a metal d loop for attaching a lead. I live in a rural area my dog walks to heel and I never use his lead.
The points I highlighted above suggest it does not slide about once adjusted to a snug fit, accept when the handle is pulled to assist the dog up over fencing etc. The rear sternum strap sits high up the dogs rip cage /torso around the largest part of the dogs chest. When the vest is put under strain it will still slide forward, although the rear straps will lock against the animals front legs.
The front buckles when being secured may catch on long haired dogs, this could be alleviated by extending the main mounting points on the underbelly, towards the Y part of the vest, so it fits snuggly under the top part of the vest. This would also enhance the aesthetic look of the vest. The velcro strips that assist secure the excess strap I rolled forwards towards the buckles and secured on the underside of the live part of the strap. This created 4 raised lumps of excess strapping close to the buckles. Albeit it is not a great problem and does not effect the functionality of the vest. I I was to modify this vest for a working dog, I would attach ladder lock buckles behind the main part of the male buckle then thread the excess through the secondary ladder lock. This would create a flatter profile with potentially less tendency to snag on undergrowth bushes shrubs etc. Also the velcro in time will wear away become clogged with hair and debris, resulting in loose excess strapping.
To summarise, the vest does not slip, slide or rotate in normal use. The top centre of the vest stayed in alignment with my dogs spine whilst running around the English countryside. I hope that assists clarify my assessment.
Just to clarify, I have not modified the vest, (but if I were to modify it ) I would, place ladder lock buckles behind the male buckle in order to secure the webbing in a flatter profile as opposed to sewing the velcro hook and loop to the ends, which is then rolled up to secure the excess web strapping.
I attach an example from a UK Air Support Bergen I modified, (the excess straps on the 6 external pouches are all secured this way). In my opinion it just looks neater low profile and less prone to snag. Velcro hook and loop might soon deteriorate on a working dogs harness.
Credit: @JOECROWE, 1TG