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The 14 Best Dog Harnesses For Hiking

Whether your dog is an experienced hiker or is new to hiking, a harness that fits properly is essential. They relieve the strain on your dog's neck caused by pulling on a leash. However, there are some additional benefits to consider for your pet. If your dog pulls, for example, seek for a leash clip on the chest that will redirect your dog's tugging laterally, back toward you. Consider a backpack or pocket harness if you want your dog to help carry the burden.

According to specialists and BestForPets's (bestforpets.org) extensive study, the following are the best dog harnesses for hiking, with alternatives for any type of dog.

What to Look for When Purchasing a Hiking Harness

  • A Proper and Adjustable Fit

Harnesses and backpacks wrap around your dog’s chest and girth, resting on the back and belly with straps or fabric between the legs. Because all of that extra clothing can create chafing and irritation, it’s critical to acquire a decent fit. Measure your dog as advised by the harness maker and use its sizing instructions to get the optimum harness for your dog. Because fit is so crucial, it’s often worth emailing or chatting for advice on your dog’s exact body shape. Narrow-chested dogs, for example, require different equipment than broad-chested dogs.

“When selecting a harness for hiking with your dog, ensure that it does not obstruct the natural movement of your dog’s shoulders and forelimbs,” explains expert trainer Rachel Callery. “It’s also critical that the harness doesn’t sit too close beneath the armpits, as this is a sensitive area that chafes easily.”

  • Points of Connection for Leashes

Some harnesses merely have a back clip to which you can attach your leash. However, if your dog pulls, you may want to consider a harness with a front clip as well. Front clipping your leash can deter certain dogs from pulling excessively.

  • Storage

Some harnesses double as backpacks, allowing your dog to accompany you into the wilderness while carrying water, food, or poop bags. Consider a backpack or a harness with a storage compartment if you need assistance transporting your things. Just make sure to progressively load up your dog over a few trips so they grow used to carrying weight, and never burden your dog with more than a quarter of their body weight in gear.

Reviews

Best Overall: Web Master Dog Harness with Handle by Ruffwear

  • Xx-small, x-small, small, medium, large/x-large are the available sizes.
  • Colors include red currant, blue dusk, and twilight gray.
  • Polyester ripstop fabric

What We Enjoy

  • a tough, cushioned material
  • Handle for lifting
  • Five areas for improvement

What We Dislike

  • There is no front clip for the leash.

The Ruffwear Web Master Dog Harness is our favorite all-around choice for most dogs since it is tough and durable. It contains padded chest and belly straps, as well as five adjustment points for a secure fit. An aluminum V-ring on the back of the harness serves as the leash attachment point. The cloth is strong, and there’s a label inside with your dog’s information in case he or she wanders off without you.

The harness has a padded handle built in so you can lift your dog over obstacles on the route or into and out of a vehicle. The Web Master is available in three colors with reflective trim for added safety. This harness is recommended by many service dog handlers, avalanche rescue dog programs, and owners of dogs who have lost a leg, according to Ruffwear.

Katherine Aromaa, owner and chief trainer at Cooper’s Dog Training in Portland, Oregon, also favors Ruffwear.

“I’ve found that their backpacks and harnesses are consistently well-made, long-lasting, and pleasant for the dogs.” “They also have a lot of various possibilities,” Aromaa adds. “I believe that using a leash or backpack harness when hiking with dogs is a terrific idea.” If they start to slip or any other perilous circumstance emerges, you may need to grip onto something.”

Best Lightweight: Blue-9 Harness for Balance

  • X-small, small, medium, medium/large, and large
  • Black, blue, camo, hot pink, orange, purple, red, sky blue, hunter green are the color(s) available.
  • Nylon is the primary material.

What We Enjoy

  • Six adjustment points
  • Neck loop with a buckle
  • Lightweight and unobtrusive

What We Dislike

  • There is no cushioning.

Some dogs dislike the bulkiness of typical hiking harnesses. Your dog may feel limited, or the excess material may cause chafing, depending on their body shape or how they move. The Blue-9 Balance Harness is a simple strap harness with six points of adjustability and leash rings on the front or back. The straps are kept out of the way and provide a comfortable range of motion. For dogs who dislike having items pulled over their heads, there’s even a buckle neck loop. The Blue-9 Balance Harness is available in five different sizes and nine different colors.

Rachel Callery, licensed professional dog trainer and proprietor of Unleash ATL Dog Training in Atlanta, frequently recommends this harness.

“It’s the best in terms of considering your dog’s anatomy and movement (no straps where they shouldn’t be) and providing a comfortable, minimalist fit,” Callery explains. “It’s not the design that many people are looking for in a hiking harness, as it lacks padding and extra storage—but in my opinion, this is exactly what makes it so comfy!”

Best Budget: Front Range Ruffwear Dog Collar

  • Xx-small, x-small, small, medium, large/x-large are the available sizes.
  • Aurora teal, blue moon, campfire orange, twilight gray, hibiscus pink, huckleberry blue, red sumac, tumalo teal are some of the colors available.
  • Polyester ripstop is the primary fabric.

What We Enjoy

  • Two leash attachment points
  • There are numerous color options.
  • ID tag storage pocket

What We Dislike

  • There is no lift handle.

The Front Range harness, like all Ruffwear gear, is tough and stylish. It’s well-padded and well-built, with large buckles, thick stitching, and sturdy fabric. It’s a little simpler than some of the other models, but it still features four fit adjustment points and two leash attachment points (front and back).

This harness lacks a lift handle, but because it has a lower profile and less material, it can be just as helpful on city streets as it is on wilderness trails. You can tuck your dog’s ID tags into a cute little pouch on the neck to avoid them from jingling or getting hooked on anything. The harness is available in five different sizes and eight different colors.

Best for Medium and Large Dogs: Air Dog Harness Kurgo Journey

  • X-small, small, medium, big, and x-large
  • Blue, red, black, orange, violet, and coral
  • Ripstop cloth is the primary material.

What We Enjoy

  • There are four adjustment points.
  • Handle for lifting
  • Lightweight

What We Dislike

  • It may be tough to modify the neck area.

This stylish harness is suitable for dogs weighing up to 110 pounds. The Kurgo Journey Air is cushioned and luminous, and it is composed of a strong ripstop fabric. There is a back handle for hoist help for smaller dogs (or strong owners of large dogs). The harness has four adjustment positions and clicks on and off effortlessly with durable plastic buckles. If your dog pulls, aluminum hook leash attachments are available in both the back and the front (front attachments redirect a dog’s pulling to the sides, back toward you). The chest plate has a mesh covering for breathability, although the harness is generally lightweight. The Kurgo Journey Air is available in six different colors and five different sizes.

It’s worth noting that the front cloth loops are decorative and should not be utilized as leash attachment points.

Best for Small Dogs: Pioneer Dog Harness by Gooby

  • Small, medium, big, and x-large (up to 35 pounds)
  • Blue, gray, red, sand, and turquoise
  • Neoprene is the primary material.

What We Enjoy

  • Padded
  • Handle for lifting
  • Around the chest, there are two fasteners.

What We Dislike

  • The front leash attachment is made of cloth rather than metal.

Tiny dogs, too, want to go trekking. Small dog harnesses can be tough to locate, but this Gooby version is designed just for them—it comes in four sizes, with the largest only fitting dogs weighing up to 35 pounds. The harness is adjustable around the neck and chest and is made of padded neoprene for protection and comfort. The Gooby Pioneer Dog Harness is double-fastened around the chest with Velcro and plastic clips for further security. Despite its fail-safe construction, the harness is very simple to put on and take off. There are leash attachment spots on both the front and back, as well as a handle for simple lifting.

The Gooby Pioneer Dog Harness is available in five distinct colors in addition to the four existing sizes.

Best Budget Backpack: DayPak Dog Saddleback Backpack by Outward Hound

  • Small/medium, medium, large, and big/xlarge
  • Blue and green
  • Nylon is the primary material.

What We Enjoy

  • There are four storage sections.
  • Handle for lifting
  • Lightweight

What We Dislike

  • Not very robust.

The Outward Hound DayPak is a wonderful introductory backpack for puppy packers who want to give their dog the option to share the weight. The DayPak Dog Saddleback Backpack is made of breathable mesh and is lightweight, but it still includes four storage compartments incorporated into two capacious saddlebags that distribute weight evenly on either side. Adjustable straps ensure a comfortable fit.

In addition to the D-ring leash attachment on the back, the backpack has a handle for lifting your dog out of any jams. While not very sturdy and definitely not large enough for multi-day camping trips, the DayPak has plenty of room for poop bags, snacks, and other day walk essentials.

The Outward Hound DayPak is available in two bright colors for maximum visibility.

Best with Pocket: Dog Harness Kurgo Stash n’ Dash

  • X-small, small, medium, big, and x-large
  • Black color(s)
  • Ripstop cloth is the primary material.

What We Enjoy

  • Pouch for easy storage
  • Lightweight
  • There are four adjustability points and two leash clips.

What We Dislike

  • There is only one color available.

Kurgo’s useful harness has two great features: a pocket for small objects and foldability. Small trail items such as poop bags or snacks can be stored in the snap-close pocket on the rear. If you wish to entrust your dog with your car keys, there’s even a carabiner inside to hold clip-on objects. The Kurgo Stash n’ Dash Harness folds into its own pouch, and the carabiner doubles as a clip for attaching the harness to your own backpack or belt loop.

The lightweight Stash n’ Dash Harness offers four adjustability points as well as leash attachment points on both the back and front. A layer of mesh fabric is also included for extra comfort and breathability. The Kurgo Stash n’ Dash is only available in black and has reflective trim for additional evening safety.

 

FAQ

Is it safe to take my dog on a hike with only a leash and collar?

Hiking with just a leash and collar is riskier, according to Callery.

“Flat collars provide only a limited area of contact, which sits squarely on one of the most sensitive and delicate sections of a dog’s anatomy (the neck and trachea area),” adds Callery. “In the event of an emergency or unplanned fall or stumble, a harness would provide extra protection, as the pressure would be distributed across numerous points of contact.”

Are dog backpack harnesses comfortable?

Part owners prefer backpack harnesses because they allow pets to carry some of their supplies, such as poop bags and snacks. If you use a backpack, make sure your dog is used to it before hitting the trails, first by hiking with it empty, then gradually adding weight over consecutive trips.

“Just a suggestion, don’t put your cell phone or any gadgets in the dog’s backpack,” Aromaa advises. “They might just go swimming.”

Callery, on the other hand, dislikes dog backpacks.

“I think a backpack harness could be comfortable for a dog, but I don’t like them,” she explains. “They alter your dog’s weight distribution, which may limit natural movement and increase the likelihood of injury.”

Conclusion

In any case, we appreciate that, out of the dozens of websites available, you’ve chosen BestForPets (bestforpets.org) to read about the best dog harnesses for hiking.

Hopefully, you will find the perfect product for your pet by reading this post.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher

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