You wouldn’t hit the trails in the wrong shoes, so why should your dog go for a hike without the right equipment? If you and your pup are looking for a fun day of hiking, you need the best dog hiking harness.
I avoided getting one for the longest time, thinking a nice leash and collar were good enough.
And the truth is they were, until I started doing longer hikes and steeper hikes. At that point a harness became absolutely necessary to keep my furry friend safe.
I’ve since been hiking with my dogs for over 10 years and the Ruffwear Web Master is the best harness currently available.
Ruffwear Web Master
This Ruffwear Web Master dog hiking harness has the honor of being the preferred choice for avalanche rescue dog teams in the U.S.
It comes in five available sizes and five points of adjustment, which help you adjust the harness for the perfect fit for your dog’s form.
It’s five available sizes and five points of adjustment are perfect for custom-fitting to your dog’s form.
This is also the harness I personally use on most of our hikes.
The video below is me and my Carolina Dog (named Story). Around the 27 second mark you can see how this harness handle allows me to secure her on steeper sections of the hike/climb, and in some cases even lift her up.
Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona from Wesley Banks on Vimeo.
The Web Master features a foam-padded chest and adjustable belly straps on the bottom side, and two leash attachment rings.
The trim is reflective, which adds visibility in low-light situations. With load-balanced dispersion, you can be sure your pup feels comfy on the trails in this harness.
It also has a built-in handle on the top (one of my favorite features) to assist in handling and maneuvering dogs through obstacles you may come across on the trails.
Kurgo Tru-Fit Dog Harness
With five adjustment points and five sizes, the Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness is a durable and comfortable choice for active dogs ready for their next adventure.
The plastic quick-release buckles allow for easy removal and putting on – crucial in any activity harness! The Tru-Fit also comes with a 10-inch leash that easily clips on with a carabiner. It can be paired with your car seat belt for maximum safety on the ride to and from your adventure destination.
The chest plate is specially designed to be no-pull, swiveling when your pup attempts to tug you around.
This design will also reduce pressure on your dog’s neck and shoulders, keeping them from accidentally choking themselves.
8 Best Hiking Harnesses for Your Dog
Note: You can click on the harness in the table below for more information.
|Rank||Picture||Name||Where to Buy|
|1||Ruffwear Web Master Harness||See it on Amazon|
|2||Kurgo Tru-Fit Dog Harness||See it on Amazon|
|3||Kurgo Journey Dog Harness||See it on Amazon|
|4||EzyDog Convert Trail-Ready Dog Harness||See it on Amazon|
|5||Ruffwear Hi & Light Harness||See it on Amazon|
|6||Ruffwear Doubleback Harness||See it on Amazon|
What to look for in a hiking harness
Not all hiking harnesses are created equal. When selecting the best dog harness for your dog, you want to invest in one that will hold up for years of hikes. One way to think about it is the more time you invest in hiking, the more you should invest in a high-quality hiking harness. You want your dog’s harness to be comfortable and have the necessary handles, pockets, and materials for you and your dog’s needs. Before you click the ” ‘Check Out Now” button, consider the following:
How far are your average hikes?
The longer you hike, the more comfort matters. Additionally, you may want a harness with pockets for water, possibly food, and your dog’s travel bowl. Some harnesses come with detachable packs for versatility.
Do you hike during times when visibility is low?
Reflective materials come in handy during dawn, evening, and after sundown. Brighter colors are also better.
What kind of terrain do you hike in?
For steep, slippery, and rough hikes, you want sturdy handles.
Does your dog have special considerations or needs?
Some dog breeds, like Pitbulls, have broad chests, which can make fitting a bit more difficult.
Does your dog like to swim, wade, or splash around?
Quick-drying, breathable materials can cut down on discomfort, odor, and hot spots or sores.
Rust-resistant hardware will also last much longer should your dog go for a swim or get caught in the rain.
After contemplating your answers to these questions, make a list of must-haves in your dog’s hiking harness. To find the best dog hiking harness, consider fit, function, and mobility.
Finding the right dog hiking harness fit
To know what size harness your dog needs you’ll have to measure their girth. Girth is the measurement around the widest part of your dog’s rib cage.
Use a soft tape measure especially before ordering online to make sure you get the size exactly right.
Sizing plays a huge role in keeping your dog secure in the harness of your choosing. Too small can restrict their breathing, especially during rigorous outdoor activity.
On the other side of the spectrum, a harness that is too big will put your pup in danger of slipping out of it and running off or hurting themselves.
Function. The harness you choose for outdoor adventures should be made to withstand the type of activity you have planned.
For example, if you’re planning on a weekend trip with multiple trail hikes, the harness should be comfortable enough for long-term wear.
If you know in advance that the trail you’re attempting may be particularly difficult for your pup to navigate, you can purchase a harness with an agility handle to help them over the rough patches.
Mobility. A hiking harness or pack should be as lightweight as possible and allow your dog to easily navigate the adventures you have planned together.
Fabric should be considered depending on the climate in which you plan your hikes.
If the weather is hot and humid, you want to be sure to choose a breathable fabric that doesn’t overheat your dog.
If cold weather is anticipated, you may want to layer a harness with a dog activity vest or coat.
Any hiking harness with added storage pockets should have the weight dispersed properly to keep from dragging your dog down. The goal is to keep them happy, while keeping them safe!
Reviews: Dog Hiking Harnesses
1. Ruffwear Web Master
This dog hiking harness sets the standard. It’s light-weight, durable, and designed for the most active and hardest working dogs. The Ruffwear Web Master has all the bells and whistles to keep your dog safe and comfortable no matter what the trail has in store for you.
- Sturdy leash points and rust-proof D-rings
- Highly customizable
- Allows for full range of motion
- Strong handle with a light attachment for better visibility
- Reflective trim
Pros: One of the most comfortable dog hiking harnesses you will find. It is also extremely durable with an open form for maneuverability.
Cons: Can be a bit bulky for petite breeds
Perfect for: extra-small to extra-large breeds and dogs that are specially-abled
2. Kurgo Tru-Fit Dog Harness
This is a versatile and light-weight harness that is built to keep dogs safe in a wide variety of conditions.
It has high-quality attachments and with minimal fabric, it dries quickly and helps your dog stay cool, even on the hottest days. Its buckle locations allow for ease of gearing up and winding down.
For those that go on low to medium-intensity hikes, this harness has everything you need: front and back clips, a sturdy handle, and 5 adjustments. points.
Pros: Great value and light-weight
Cons: Does not have reflective material and can be slightly difficult to fit on awkwardly shaped dogs like Dachshund and Corgis
Perfect for: Dogs from small to extra-large and day hikes
3. Kurgo Journey Dog Harness
The Kurgo Journey Dog Harness is fantastic for normal weekday walks or more treacherous trails with your hiking buddy.
It features a back handle and padded chest piece for comfortably navigating your pup whenever the next adventure lies. Four adjustment points and four available size options help to custom-fit the harness to your dog.
The D-ring attachment allows this harness to be used as a no-pull harness. Made of strong, breathable ripstop fabric with a cross-hatched weave, this harness is machine washable.
It also comes with a 10-inch lead line for training purposes that can also act as a doggy seatbelt.
Pros: Durability, great for hiking and climbing. Comfortable for everyday wear, too!
Cons: No leg loops,
Perfect For: Hiking and climbing pooches 5-110 lbs!
4. Ruffwear Hi & Light Harness
The Hi & Light harness offers all the durability of the best Ruffwear gear with improved visibility and comfort.. This harness has four adjustment points, a stash pocket, and reflective trim. It also comes in brilliant blue, “sockeye” red, and twilight gray.
We love its side-release buckles so you don’t have to wrestle your dog into it or struggle to get them back out. It also has a beacon attachment loop for a light for improved safety. It’s designed to snuggly fit almost any breed and its smooth nylon exterior allows dirt to fall way.
When you’re traveling light and ready to get wet, this harness has your dog’s back.
Pros: Ultra light-weight and easy to put on. Also highly visible.
Cons: One leash clipping point and no handle.
Perfect for: Dogs of all sizes, day hikes, and trail running.
5. EzyDog Convert Trail-Ready Dog Harness
With seven available sizes, the EzyDog Convert Trail-Ready Dog Harness can fit any active dog.
A tear-resistant polyester outer layer prevents wear and tear while the soft cotton interior is comfy against your pup’s coat.
Perfect for trails, biking, or city walks, this harness is made with breathable materials to keep your dog safe and cool.
A quick-release plastic side buckle makes this model easy to put on and remove.
Designed to be utilitarian, and yet stylish, this harness combines simplicity with durability to keep your dog secure in any environment.
Pros: Simple design, many sizes.
6. Ruffwear Doubleback Harness
Another Ruffwear favorite is their Doubleback Harness.
This harness is uniquely designed to be used not only as a hiking harness, but as a climbing harness too!
This model has been strength-tested to allow your pup to be belayed to previously inaccessible heights with the use of proper climbing gear.
The padded support around the stomach and support leg loops help to disperse weight evenly and stabilize your pup.
Foldable leg loops make for a total of seven adjustment points on this harness, and the anodized aluminum Doubleback buckles are designed for ultimate safety.
Comes in four available sizes to custom-fit your climbing pup!
Pros: Strength-tested, leg loops fold up for
Cons: Only one color option.
Perfect For: All size pups that aren’t afraid of heights!
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between a walking harness and a hiking harness?
The major differences between an everyday walking harness and a hiking harness can be the durability and the overall design.
Hiking harness materials tend to be stronger and made to withstand heavier wear-and-tear over time.
The clips and leash attachment points should be heavy-duty and rust-resistant, and be made to easily swivel or work with a lead to keep you and your dog from getting tangled on long hikes.
Hiking harnesses also have extra design aspects such as padded handles for assisting them over rough terrain, or reflective lining to help with visibility.
What dog harness is best for trail running?
When choosing a harness for trail running, you want to avoid packs or a loose fit. Uneven weight can cause a harness to shift with every stride, causing chafing and discomfort. The Ruffwear Web Master harness works well for trail running. You may also want to consider a hands-free leash with elastic to prevent injury.
Can I wash my dog’s hiking harness?
Yes, and you should. Almost all dog hiking harnesses can be washed by hand then air-dried. Laundry detergent or dish detergent (I like Dawn) will work. Baking soda can neutralize odors and peppermint can be an extra measure to protect your dog from fleas.
Which harness works best for special needs or amputee dogs?
It won’t come as a surprise, but the Ruffwear Web Master takes the prize for this one, too. Its highly-adjustable design and secure fit make it a great choice for dogs that are missing a front leg or need a little extra assistance due to hip dysplasia.
Can my dog wear a collar for hiking?
Harnesses keep your dog safer because it provides you better control over your dog’s movement. Additionally, dog harnesses are better for your dog’s long-term neck health. Strain from collars can cause neck injuries and chronic breathing issues.
Which dog hiking harness is the most versatile?
If you and your dog go hiking in a wide array of terrain and conditions, you want to choose a versatile harness like the Kurgo Tru-Fi Dog Harness.
What are some common issues to be aware of with dog hiking harnesses?
Some of the most common issues with hiking harnesses include:
- Broken leash ring attachment loops.
- Causing irritation, particularly under a dog’s armpits
- Difficulty putting it on or taking it off your dog.
- “Wet-dog smell”
- Leash clip position causes dogs to trip or tangle easily
Which harness is best for extreme hiking conditions?
Hands down the Ruffwear Web Master is a great choice for rough terrain and a wide range of conditions.
What’s the difference between a tactical harness and a hiking harness?
It’s very likely that you came across tactical dog harnesses while searching for hiking vests. And the question always arises, “can I just get my dog a tactical harness for hiking?” The answer is yes and no.
Tactical harnesses are designed to mimic military-grade dog vests. They’re made from heavier material and are designed to carry extra equipment and supplies. Why the heavier material? These harnesses are designed to protect dogs in the most rugged terrain and conditions.
A tactical harness may be a great choice if you’re going on a hiking-camping trip, but it will likely prove too extreme for average hikes. In fact, a tactical harness may be counterproductive and unsafe for some dogs. The extra weight and heavy-duty material of a tactical dog vest may slow your dog down and make them overheat easier.
Adjust Your Dog’s Hiking Harness and Get Out There
Hiking deepens the bond between you and your dog. From its mental health benefits to a boost in physical health, the effects of hiking last long beyond the time you get home. Don’t detract from the joy of the great outdoors by having to constantly tighten a loosening harness.
Additionally, the last thing you want is to discover raw and irritated pinch-points on your dog from an ill-fitting harness. To find the best dog hiking harness for your pup, be sure you measure your dog’s chest, invest in a harness that will last and keep your dog going the distance, and consider the hiking conditions.
Once you’ve picked out the perfect hiking harness, you know your dog will stay safely secured and comfortable, no matter the terrain.
Steve Piper says
Great article, thank you. My pups and I are huge Ruffwear fans. I also wanted to compliment you guys on your cover choice breed of dog. Australian Cattle Dogs make the VERY best hiking dogs ever!!
James Hasapis says
The RuffWear Web Master is the best hiking harness I’ve used. And both of my dogs are comfy in them. They see me take their harnesses off of the rack and they run up to me for me to put them on. I don’t have to say word.
And these harnesses are so secure. No backing out of them like others I have used.