FROG DOG Modular Patrol Vest (v2.0)
It easily overlooked that dogs are used by the military in war zones; many people do not realise that they are used at all. Current numbers indicate that there are more than 2,500 military working dogs currently in service. One study indicates that 1 military working dog will save at least 500 soldiers’ lives during its career. Because of their great ability to seek out enemy positions, sniff out IEDs and weapons caches, they’re saving so many lives.
In support of our canine warriors and their handlers, well-known gear manufacturing companies now offer a myriad of gear and protective equipment designed specifically for professional working dogs. From highly sophisticated tech like the Intruder Camera by Canadian company, K9 Storm and the a host of other products like bungee leashes, vests, doggles, footwear and pretty much anything you can think of, there is a company out there who makes it just for the working dog.
The overall appearance of the Frog Dog Modular Patrol Vest shares many proven design features with other K9 vests on the market and aesthetically, somewhat reminds me, (at least in part ) of the vest worn by fictional MWD, “Riley” from the popular video game COD Ghosts. In an industry, where there is no one company that has invented every new feature, each company learns from its peers and combines common elements in existing designs with new features to make the garments uniquely theirs. With the FROG DOG Modular Patrol Vest v2.0, S.E.G. (now operating as Cerberus K9 Solutions) did just that.
3 leash loop points
Reinforced carry handles
Heavy duty Nylon mesh for maximum airflow
Side Velcro loop panels for attaching
Removable rear end support strap
7 total attachment points
Full lower chassis support
Customizable top panel
Parachute rated quick release buckles
1000D PU coated Nylon fabric
Bar-tack and double stitched
Reinforced Attachment loops
MOLLE top panel with GoPro attachment loop
TSE Recon Camera Panel
Girth extender panels
Rear end security strap
Saddle Bag Pouch
Materials and Construction:
The product in this review is given the v2.0 designation and represents the second (pre-production version) of the Modular Patrol Vest which I am told is expected to be officially released by early 2017).
The Modular Patrol Vest is primarily constructed out of 1000 Denier Poly Urethane Coated Nylon Fabric and is sewn together using bar tack stitching with using Coats Industrial thread according to MILSPEC standards. All Stress points such as the tracking and shoulder strap loops, and side cinch straps are double stitched. The body panels use a heavy duty nylon mesh that offers elasticity, comfort and maximum airflow. Inside each of the 6 attachment loops (5 on the v1.0) a heavy duty nylon rope is stitched to the vest for maximum strength and durability. The materials used are designed to withstand below zero temperatures and inclement weather.
Size and Fit:
The vests are designed to fit a variety of medium to large working dog breeds; particularly those typically used by the military and police. (ie. German, Dutch, and Belgian Shepherds; Doberman Pincher Labrador retriever etc.). The spine of the vest is a standard 17” in length from the tip of the collar to the back end of the vest. The lower panel is “V” cut and is about 3” inches shorter than the spine to accommodate the male dog anatomy. Proper fit should be snug but not restrictive and should accommodate dogs weighing upto about 120lbs and falling within the following measurements:
Rib circumference; (measured at the widest point just behind the front elbows) : 29” – 33.25”
Waist circumference; (measured just behind the last rib): 22.5” – 26”
Out of the package, the vest will fit dogs with a rib measurement between 24.5” – 29” and a waist measurement of 18” – 22”, however if the dog’s measurements are 29”-33” x 21.5” – 25.5” then you will require 2 girth expander panels. The girth expander panel is made of nylon mesh each one measuring 2.25” at the front end and narrowing down to1.75” and are attached to vest at the zipper closures. When the girth expanders are added it gives the vest a maximum of 33” around the rib area and 25.5” at the waist area. Bear in mind that the cinch straps provide about a 2” variable adjustment on either side. To accommodate deep chested dogs, which most shepherds are, the vest has an adjustable sternum strap.
(Note: the vest will not fit large stockier breeds such as Mastiffs, or St Bernard’s. or any dogs with a weight exceeding 100lbs)
On the spine of the vest is a removable molle panel that comes with 7 rows of PALs webbing and can be used to attach anything that is Molle compatible. Toward the rear of the top panel, is a 2″ wide nylon loop that is meant to accommodate the GoPro mounting plate which can be used to attach the GoPro camera. Underneath the molle panel is a 5” x 14” Velcro loop panel that holds the various accessory panels such as TSE Recon Camera panel in place. There is an integrated closed loop bungee chord located toward the rear of the Velcro loop panel and can be used as tie down to secure a variety of items.
At the each end of the top panel of the vest are two grab handles that make lifting the dog very easy and come in handy when lifting the dog onto the back of the truck or over obstacles. Each handle is made of a nylon strap and covered in a 1” rubberised handle. The handle is sturdy and has several textured grooves designed to aid in grip and comfort even when wet.
On the left side of the top panel are two nylon loops which are designed as attachment points for connecting to the handlers’ harness for rappel or aerial applications. These loops can also be connected to the 2 lower loops located on the lower chassis of the vest when using the backpack/shoulder straps. The shoulder straps give the handler a hands free option when navigating over rough terrain or when climbing ladders and other obstacles. There is an elastic pass through that each of these 4 loops can be tucked into to flatten the loops down and minimize accidental snagging.
The majority of vest is made up of a nylon mesh material which allows maximum airflow and quick drying should the vets get wet. The Nylon mesh has a bit of stretch to it which adds a snug, yet comfortable fit around the dog’s rib cage area. There is an oversized, full length zipper at each side of the vest which secures the top and bottom panels of the vest around the dog. Once zipped, the side cinch straps are then tightened around the dog. When attached correctly, there should be very little tension, if any, on the zippers themselves.
The vest is secured on each side by four 45mm webbing straps that wrap around each side of the vest. There is about a 1”-2” adjustment on each side where the vest can be tightened or loosened to compensate for some weight gain or loss.
The cinch straps are connected via a A836 quick release parachute (QRP) buckle, similar to the Cobra style buckles. The straps can be loosened and tightened as needed. The quick release aluminum parachute buckles, have an anodized finish matching the color of the vest.
There is an integrated collar, made of 1’ webbing that can be adjusted and is attached via the two plastic buckles on each side.
At the front of the vest, running perpendicular to the collar is a nylon sternum strap that, like the side cinch straps passes through a QRP buckle and folds down onto itself where it is held in place by Velcro. This strap can be loosened and tightened as needed in a similar fashion as the side straps.
On both sides of the vest, between the cinch straps, is a 7” x 2” velcro loop panel designed for the attachment of department tags, flags, glint tape or any other IFF. Above and below the Velcro panels are 2 elastic loops which can be used for attaching glow sticks or marking lights to the vest.
To the rear of the vest, underneath the rear carry handle is one of two tracking loops, which is also used as an attachment point for the rear end strap.
The removable rear strap is a “Y” shaped strap made of 1” webbing that is connected to the vest at the tracking loop and then connected to the two lower buckles which are sewn into near the corner of the lower vest panel. This strap is designed to add rear-end security when rappelling or during aerial operations.
The vest design has 7 attachment points in total; 4 loops on the right side of the vest for the backpack/shoulder strap, one leash loop at the top of the vest, and two more at the lower part, toward the lower carry handle. The latter two loops are idea for use when attaching a tracking line or when attaching a back tie for agitation work when training protection.
Insight and Conclusion:
The Frog Dog Modular Patrol Harness is a great product, ideal for Military Working Dogs, SAR dogs, Police K9’s and pretty much any working dog.
The vest can be suitable for use as harness for protection work in Schutzhund, Mondio or and a variety of ring sport activities however it may be considered a bit of ‘overkill’ in comparison with the typical harnesses more commonly used in dog sports. In parts of the world where the temperatures reach the higher hundreds, or even during the summer months when heat exhaustion can be a very real and sometimes fatal risk to all dogs particularly breeds with heavier coats like labs or shepherds one must consider that while the vest’s mesh design provides optimal airflow and air circulation, heat can tend to become trapped underneath the top panel under the Velcro area. In these climates it may be advisable to consider a cooling pack which can be worn underneath the vest. There are several cooling options available for working dogs through a variety of well-known suppliers many of which can be worn with this vest. Ballistic and cooling vests can be worn underneath this vest by simply adding the girth expander panels which allows a roomier fit to accommodate the added inner vest.
I have not had a chance to try out the camera panel which was designed to fit the TSE Recon Camera but I am told that it can also be made to fit the K9 Storm Intruder camera. The camera is secured via a Velcro strap closure and an elastic webbing strap; (2”H x 2.625”W x 9.75”D). Next to this area is a quad flap pouch which can be expanded to a maximum storage capacity of 3.5″ x 4″ x 10″ or reduced to 1″ x 4″ x 10″ if needed. This pouch can be used to hold anything from an AN/PRC, supplies, or tools.
Update (10.04.2016): On a recent backcountry expedition, I also found that in absence of a designated hiking add-on, the quad flap pouch can also be used to carry 3 days worth of kibble and the elastic loop and 1′ nylon tie-down can be used to secure rope, a tracking line or other long narrow items and despite the weight distribution being off center when the quad-flap pouch is full the vest does not shift significantly to either side. Also by clipping the leash to the collar and then running it under the grab handles and through the 4 loops that make up the rappel and tracking attachment points, it keeps the leash from getting tangled between the dog’s legs while walking. Additionally, when not in use, wrapping the leash on itself in this manner makes for a suitable one handed grab handle. I found that the side zips open up slightly which mildly irritates the OCD in me but functionally, it does seem to provide just that little bit of ‘give’ and added mobility which can’t be a bad thing. Over 4 days, my dog was wearing the vest every day for at least 8 hours a day and by the end of the trip it I noticed that the edges of the chest strap had begun to cuase a bit of chaffing at the front of his shoulders and by the rib cage just behind the front elbows which I feel could be alleviated by adding some padding (like sheep wool) on the inside, and allowing some minor user adjustments to be made to provide more room in this area particularly for deep-chested dogs like shepherds. As far as durability and resistance to the elements, I would give this product a thumbs up and over the course of the past year that I have been using the frog Dog Vest v2.0, I have had zero busted seams, or visible wear. Should the vest get dirty, a quick hose down and a bit of hang time and it is back in action. The product seems adequately resistant to stains and weather discoloration as well.
While the manufacturer provides a tie-down for the excess straps ,I personally I found the side cinch straps could be made at least 3″shorter so I cut these down with a pair of scissors and burned the edges to prevent fraying. Alternatively using an edge stable strap material for these would allow the end user to cut these down to their preferred length which in my opinion would have been a great feature.
I personally found the included molle panel to be the most the useful add-on as most readily available pouches can be easily secured to the PALs webbing which has nearly endless options and configurations. This attachment also features a GoPro adapter which is designed to be compatible with the GoPro K-9 camera mount (GPM2) available through Elite K9.
With the addition of the saddlebag pouch panel (not pictured here) the vest can be modified to carry a load such as the dogs’ water, food and other miscellaneous items which is a handy option particularly for those who do a lot of hiking and backpacking with their dogs. The back pack straps are a handy feature especially when hiking off trail; should you come across an obstacle that is too steep or tall for the dog to overcome, or in cases where your dog’s paws get injured or is unable to walk, the backpack straps can be used to allow you to attach the dog to you while keeping your hands free. Alternatively, the side leash loops can also be clipped to a backpack with karabiners or with the shoulder straps. As someone who does a lot of backcountry hiking and climbing this was one of the features of this product that I liked the most.
In conclusion, I would say that this product is ideal for professional K9 handlers and it is evident that this vest was designed with them in mind; however its adaptability to civilian life provides a myriad of utility features. The vest will be especially useful to active outdoor enthusiasts who like to take their dogs with them. As a backpacking vest where the user intends to have their dog carry food, water and other supplies, the vest can adapt with the addition of the saddlebag attachment panel but if this is your primary reason for considering this vest I would suggest going into your local REI and checking out their many doggy backpack offerings which will tend to be a much cheaper option and likely be more suited to your needs.
Check out our brief look at latest version of the Frog Dog Modular K9 Tactical Vest 3.0 from Cerberus K9 Solutions here.
(While not yet official, I have been told that when the final version is released we can expect the final MSRP to be in around the $600usd – $700usd price range)