A hiking dog harness is a type of harness that is specifically designed for dogs to wear while going on hikes or other outdoor adventures. It is typically made from durable materials such as nylon or polyester and is meant to withstand the rugged terrain and conditions that dogs may encounter while hiking.
- 1 What to Look for In Dog Harness for Hiking
- 2 Pros and Cons of Hiking Dog Harnesses
- 3 How do I put a harness on my dog?
- 4 How do I adjust a hiking harness?
- 5 Can I use a regular leash with a hiking harness?
- 6 Can I use a hiking harness for everyday use?
- 7 Is It Better to Walk a Dog with A Harness or Collar?
- 8 What Kind of Harness Is Best for A Dog that Pulls?
- 9 Should You Leave a Harness on A Dog All the Time?
- 10 Can a Dog Wear a Collar and A Harness at The Same Time?
The harness usually has a series of buckles and straps that allow it to be easily adjusted to fit the dog’s body, as well as attachment points for leash and other gear. Some hiking dog harnesses also have additional features such as reflective elements for visibility, padded chest and shoulder areas for comfort, and pockets for carrying supplies. These harnesses are a great way to keep your dog safe and comfortable while exploring the great outdoors.
The 9 Best Hiking Dog Harnesses for 2023:Tested and Reviewed
- Best Overall:RUFFWEAR, Web Master
- Best Lightweight:RUFFWEAR – Front Range
- PREMIUM CHOICE:rabbitgoo Dog Harness
- Best Budget:Blue-9 Buckle-Neck Balance Harness
- Best for Medium and Large Dogs:Big Dog Harness No Pull Adjustable
- Best for Small Dogs:OneTigris Tactical Dog Harness Vest with Handle
- Best Budget Backpack:Kurgo Dog Harness for Medium
- Best Heavy Duty:Outward Hound DayPak Blue Dog Saddleback Backpack
- Best with Pocket:Gooby – Pioneer Dog Harness
#1.RUFFWEAR, Web Master
- Rugged, padded material
- Lift handle
- Five points of adjustment
- No front clip for leash
It has padded chest and belly straps, plus five points of adjustment for a secure fit. The leash attachment point is an aluminum V-ring on the back of the harness. The fabric is sturdy and there’s a label inside where you can put your dog’s information, in case he or she accidentally ventures off without you.
The harness includes a built-in, padded handle so you can lift your pup over obstacles on the trail, or into and out of a vehicle. The Web Master comes in three colors and there’s reflective trim for safety. According to Ruffwear, this harness is preferred by many service dog handlers, avalanche rescue dog programs, as well as owners of dogs that have lost a leg.
#2.RUFFWEAR – Front Range
- This harness really has it all: bright colors, a reinforced D-ring for a leash on the back, a front-clip option for around-town use, comfy for most dogs, very well made. I love the reflective trim, and use the front leash clip to hold bells or lights.
- The xx-small size still is too large for many micro-sized dogs. The smallest size is best for dogs that are at least 13 inches tall at the shoulder, which is taller than most toy-sized dogs. It can be a bit long in the neck-to-belly strap for some dogs, resulting in sagging between the front legs. Finally, it lacks the handle that makes the Webmaster (below) so great!
#3.rabbitgoo Dog Harness
- Soft padded panels
- Comfort and durability
- Breathable fabric
- No-slip lock system buckles
- Four adjustment points
- Front and back leash attachments
- Top handle
- Reflective strips
- Six color choices
- Some dogs may escape or become entangled
Offered in six bold color choices, this harness has soft padded panels made of Nylon Oxford, which not only allow for comfort and durability but also provide air flow to keep your dog cool as they’re blazing down the trail.
This harness comes with two sturdy leash attachment loops. Use the back loop for casual walks and long hikes, and the front clip comes in handy for reducing your dog’s tendency to pull. There’s also a top handle incorporated into the harness for increased control and for lifting your dog. The reflective strips help keep your dog safe in low light.
#4.Blue-9 Buckle-Neck Balance Harness
- Six spots for adjustment
- Buckle-on neck loop
- Lightweight, not bulky
- No padding
Depending on their body type or how they move, your dog might feel restricted, or the extra material could cause chafing. The Blue-9 Balance Harness is a simple strap harness with six points of adjustment, plus rings on the front or the back to attach a leash. The straps stay out of the way and offer a smooth range of motion. There’s even a buckle neck loop for dogs that don’t like having things pulled over their heads. The Blue-9 Balance Harness comes in five sizes and nine colors.
#5.Big Dog Harness No Pull Adjustable
- This harness is really a lifesaver for owners of ultra big dogs. While Ruffwear certainly makes some hefty harnesses, this harness is designed for large and deep-chested breeds. The reflective strips are quite generous, and the harness is nearly as solidly made as the Ruffwear products. The buckles are well-made and designed to be easy to use.
- This harness has some color options, but the colors are mostly on the top of the harness, rather than the entire body of the harness, which would be better for visibility when hiking off-leash.
#6.OneTigris Tactical Dog Harness Vest with Handle
- Professional-looking design
- Three pouches for carrying supplies
- Two sturdy top handles
- Durable 1000D nylon
- Soft interior
- Not for small dogs
- No front leash attachment
If you’re planning several days of backpacking and hiking with your dog, you may want to spend the extra money on our premium choice, the OneTigris tactical dog vest harness. As the name implies, this dog harness is designed for professional medical and emergency use. On the trail, your dog can carry their own supplies and first aid materials.
#7.Kurgo Dog Harness for Medium
- Four adjustment points
- Lift handle
- Can be difficult to adjust neck area
The Kurgo Journey Air is made of a sturdy ripstop fabric, and is both padded and reflective. For smaller dogs (or strong owners of big dogs), there’s a back handle for lift assistance. There are also four adjustment points, and the harness snaps on and off easily with strong plastic buckles. Aluminum hook leash attachments can be found in both the back and on the front, for if your dog is a puller (front attachments redirect a dog’s pulling to the sides, back toward you). There’s a mesh lining in the chest plate for breathability, but the harness is relatively lightweight overall.
#8.Outward Hound DayPak Blue Dog Saddleback Backpack
- Two pouches with four expandable pockets
- Breathable mesh fabric
- Sturdy D-ring leash attachment
- Adjustable straps
- Built-in top handle
- Two vivid color choices
- Reflective accents
- No front leash attachment
- Difficulty with maintaining proper fit
- Some rubbing and chafing may occur with extended use
This cleverly designed dog harness employs two evenly distributed pouches with four expandable pockets to provide ample room for plenty of necessary items.
This harness is built for long hikes with its breathable mesh fabric that will help keep your dog comfortable all day long. It comes with a sturdy D-ring leash attachment located only on the back, and it has a built-in top handle.The adjustable straps help secure a better fit. As with any harness that has added storage, keeping the vest in its proper position may become an issue. Also, we learned of some dogs experiencing rubbing and chafing along the straps.
Also read:The 14 Best Dog Harnesses of 2023
#9.Gooby – Pioneer Dog Harness
- Lift handle
- Double fasteners around the chest
- The front leash attachment is fabric, not metal
Tiny dogs want to go hiking too. Harnesses for small pups can be difficult to find, but this Gooby version is just for them—it comes in four sizes, and the largest only fits dogs up to 35 pounds. Made of padded neoprene for protection and comfort, the harness is adjustable around the neck and chest. The Gooby Pioneer Dog Harness fastens around the chest, using double fasteners with both Velcro and plastic clips for extra security. Even with this fail-safe design, the harness is still easy to slip on and off. Leash attachment points are located on both the front and back, plus there’s a handle for easy lifting.
What to Look for In Dog Harness for Hiking
Depending on your dog breed, shape, and size you may be looking for different things. For a small but stout dog like a pug or bulldog then a wide fitting harness that isn’t too long will work best. Bigger dogs may need more heavy-duty attachments as well as other features. Here are some of the qualities you can look for:
Most dog walking harnesses will have a top attachment that sits at the center of their back just behind their shoulders. This allows any tension the dog creates by pulling to be spread across its chest instead of its windpipe. For small dogs, this is perfect as you have a good amount of control but with bigger dogs, it can be trickier. You can also get front attachments but I find these aren’t very practical and will end up twisting the hardness if you aren’t careful.
Fit and Sizing
Dog harnesses often come in at least 3 different sizes to suit different types of dogs but without trying them on how do you know which size harness to get? The first thing you should do is take measurements of your dog’s chest stomach, neck, and length from collar to the base of the tail. Once you know this you can start to match it to different harness sizes.
Most dog harnesses for hiking will feature a plastic buckle or velcro strap to secure it in place. Both of these work without fail although if your dog likes to get muddy then maybe a buckle clip is the better choice. You can also decide where you want your attachment to be as some are underneath, others are at the side, and some might have 2 closures at the front and back.
If your dog likes to run through streams, roll about in the mud, and run through the thick bush then pay special attention to the type of material the harness is made from. Ideally, you want something that can resist water and doesn’t get soaked and filthy easily. Additionally, you don’t want a material that will attract grass seeds and sticky buds which can be uncomfortable for the dog and annoying to remove constantly.
With any kind of outdoor dog gear, I always think the more visible the better and if you can have some kind of reflective strip on your dog it is much safer around roads or traffic. Bright orange and yellow leashes are also much easier to find if they drop out of your pocket on a hike. If your harness doesn’t have good visibility then you might think about customizing it with some reflective stickers or attaching an LED keyring etc.
Pros and Cons of Hiking Dog Harnesses
There are several pros and cons to using a hiking dog harness:
- A hiking harness can distribute weight more evenly across your dog’s body, making it more comfortable for them to carry a pack.
- A harness can give you more control over your dog while on the trail, especially if they are prone to pulling on the leash.
- Some harnesses are designed with reflective material or other safety features, which can be helpful for visibility and protection on the trail.
- Some dogs may find wearing a harness to be uncomfortable or constricting. It’s important to choose a well-fitting harness and to break it in gradually to allow your dog to get used to it.
- A harness may not be suitable for all dogs, especially those with short noses or respiratory issues, as it can put pressure on their trachea.
- A harness may not be as effective at preventing pulling on the leash as a head collar or front-clip harness.
Dog Harnesses for Hiking FAQs
How do I put a harness on my dog?
Most harnesses have step-in or over-the-head designs. To put on a step-in harness, have your dog step one paw into each loop, then fasten the buckle. For an over-the-head harness, slide it over your dog’s head and adjust the straps before fastening the buckle.
How do I adjust a hiking harness?
Adjust the harness so that it fits snugly but not too tightly. You should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your dog’s body. The harness should not ride up too high on your dog’s neck or chest, as this can cause chafing or discomfort.
Can I use a regular leash with a hiking harness?
Yes, you can use a regular leash with a hiking harness. Just make sure that the leash is attached to the harness at the designated attachment point (usually on the back or chest). Avoid attaching the leash to the rings on the sides of the harness, as this can cause the harness to twist and potentially cause discomfort for your dog.
Can I use a hiking harness for everyday use?
A hiking harness can certainly be used for everyday use, as long as it fits well and is comfortable for your dog. However, some harnesses are designed specifically for hiking and may not be as well-suited for everyday use.
Is It Better to Walk a Dog with A Harness or Collar?
For certain breeds of dogs that have short noses or struggle with breathing and for dogs that constantly pull, harnesses are often the better choice for hiking. Harnesses don’t restrict breathing as much as collars and if you are hiking up a mountain with a small dog then they will need all the air they can get. If you can train your dog to not pull or be trusted off-leash then this is better than using a harness to solve the problem.
Collars do give you more control if you need to correct your dog’s behavior and are less bulky for the dog to wear. It really does come down to your dog breed and whether it pulls or not.Dog Harness Vs. Collar: Safety Pros and Cons of Each
What Kind of Harness Is Best for A Dog that Pulls?
The best type of harness for a dog that pulls is one that fits securely around your dog’s chest and doesn’t put any pressure on your dog’s throat. If your dog is a particularly bad puller then I would recommend using a collar as well as a harness so that you can give corrections if the pulling gets too much. Remember that quick sharp tugs are 10 times more effective than a dragging pull (watch the dog whisperer for more info)
Should You Leave a Harness on A Dog All the Time?
If you have ever been rock climbing or worn a harness for any reason then you will know that you can’t wait to take it off once you don’t need it anymore. The same is true for your dog’s harness. If you are done with the walk and you are back home then you should take the harness off. It is always a good idea to leave a collar on though as this allows you to always keep your contact details visible in case your dog runs off.Is it safe to leave a harness on a dog all the time?
Can a Dog Wear a Collar and A Harness at The Same Time?
Your dog can and probably should wear a collar as well as a harness. The collar allows you to attach an identity stage as well as always have something to grab onto if you need more control than your leash. Also, having both a collar and a harness means that even when the harness comes off your dog always has something on you can grab or clip a lead to in a hurry.Dog Harness vs Collar: Which is Better?