Dog wearing the best hiking harness for dogs

The Best Hiking Harnesses for Dogs on the Trail in 2018

Hiking harnesses for dogs have a few advantages over traditional collars. The primary benefit of a harness over a collar is that there is no pressure put on the dog’s neck. Collars can restrict a dog’s airway, especially if the dog is lunging or pulling. Aside from comfort, reducing pressure on your dog’s neck also allows for easier breathing. This is especially important when your dog is exerting a lot of energy, such as on a hike or long run. Many dogs also pull less in a harness, especially one that fastens in the front. While a harness will not replace adequate training, you may find that your dog is more pleasant to walk on a leash in a harness.

Hiking harnesses are especially helpful when hiking and backpacking with your dog because they are designed for strenuous activity. Most harnesses suitable for hiking include a loop at the back of the harnesses to help you lift your dog if he needs help getting over a fallen log or up a steep slope.

ProductAttachmentsFeaturesCost
Ruffwear Webmaster2 attachment pointsComfortable$$$
Kurgo Journey2 attachment pointsDoubles as a car harness$$
Ruffwear Front Range No-Pull Harness2 attachment pointsEasy to get on and off$$
Expawlorer Outdoor Adventure Pet Vest2 attachment pointsIncludes seat belt handle$
Urban Trail Adjustable Dog Harness2 attachment pointsCustom made$$$
EzyDog Quick FitBack attachmentEasy to fit$
Puppia Soft Dog HarnessBack attachmentGood for small dogs$
Hurtta Active Dog HarnessBack attachmentAdjustable at the chest and collar$$

What to look for when choosing the best hiking harness for dogs

When it comes to shopping for a hiking harness, closely consider the attachment point, overall fit, and material of the harness.

Decide on a front or back attachment

Harnesses include either one or two rings for attaching a leash, either on the dog’s chest, back, or both. The reasons you might decide on one style over another depend on your dog and how you plan to use the harness.

Harnesses with both front and back attachments can be used with a double-ended dog lead for training, allowing you more control over your dog’s pace and posture while you walk. You also have the option to use a traditional lead at just one of the attachment points as needed.

The primary advantage of a front attachment option is that front-attaching harnesses discourage pulling, making them a favorite among pet trainers. As an added bonus, front-attaching harnesses keep the dog closer to you, almost in a natural heeling position. If you have a dog that pulls or lunges on walks, a front-attaching harness will help you train more polite leash skills.

Back-attaching harnesses give the dog more freedom and control. Attaching your lead to the back of the harness gives your dog a more natural feel on the hike, more closely mimicking an off-leash experience than a front-attaching harness. It is best to purchase a back-attaching harness only after your dog has some basic leash skills, or opt for something with both front and back attachment points.

Back harnesses are also good if you need to comfortably leash your dog when camping. Our guide to camping with dogs takes you through everything you need to consider for a safe and happy time at the campground with your hound.

Woman walking with dogs

Fit is important

An ill-fitting harness will chafe or dig in under your dog’s shoulders, negating any benefit in comfort over a traditional collar. The best way you can prevent discomfort for your dog is to make sure you purchase a harness in the correct size. Sizing varies among brands and styles, but most rely on a chest measurement. Measuring around your dog’s chest is a great place to start when looking for a harness.

The best hiking harnesses for dogs will have a adjustement points to ensure that the fit is as comfortable as possible. Harnesses like the Kurgo Journey have four adjustment points and give you better control over the fit. But they can also be time-consuming to adjust until you get used to the harness. If you need a harness that can be taken on and off quickly, opt for something with fewer adjustment points like the EzyDog Quick Fit.

Consider the material

The conditions you expect to encounter on the trail should influence your priorities when it comes to the harness material. If you will be hiking in mud or dust, opt for a harness that is easy to wash like the Soft Dog Harness from Puppia or the Kurgo Journey or a harness that is easy to keep clean without washing like the Ruffwear Webmaster.

If you take a lot of early morning or evening hikes, reflective material that improves visibility in low light will be important. Many of the styles on this list include a reflective component, such as the Webmaster from Ruffwear and the Outdoor Adventure Pet Vest from Expawlorer.

If your dog will be swimming in the harness as well, choose a something that does not contain a lot of extra material that can get weighed down when wet. Padded back and chest plates make for a comfortable fit, but something slimmer like Urban Trail’s Adjustable Dog Harness would be better suited for swimming.

Now that you know what to look for in the best hiking harness for dogs, here are our top eight choices, separated by dual- and back-attaching styles:

The best hiking harness for dogs: styles with two attachment points

Ruffwear Webmaster

Ruffwear Webmaster

Ruffwear’s Webmaster harness is made from a durable, easy-to-clean material with reflective trim so your dog is easy to spot on the trail in low light. An optional beacon light is available for purchase as well if you need additional light at night. The harness comes with two aluminum connection points — front and back — padded straps, and a padded handle for helping your dog over difficult inclines. Of all the hiking harnesses on our list, the Ruffwear Webmaster is the best fit for dogs with only three legs thanks to multiple adjustable straps.

Pros

  • Comfortable and secure
  • Reflective trim
  • Multiple adjustment points

Cons

  • Padding increases warmth
  • Adjustable straps take some time to get fitted correctly

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Kurgo Journey

Kurgo Journey

The Kurgo Journey is a heavy-duty harness with thick chest and back plates that make the harness suitable for both a hiking harness and for securing your dog in the car. A V-neck design keeps the harness from riding up onto your dog’s neck when tackling the steep uphills. Four adjustment points give you complete control over the fit. And although the thickness of the material does make the harness heavier and hotter than some on our list, this is a great option if you need a heavy-duty harness for regular use.

Pros

  • Machine washable
  • Fully adjustable
  • Doubles as a car harness

Cons

  • Heavier than many harnesses
  • Difficult to fit

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Ruffwear Front Range No-Pull Harness

Ruffwear Front Range No-Pull Harness

Another fantastic option if you want a harness that offers both front and back attachment points is the Front Range No-Pull Harness from Ruffwear. With four separate adjustment points, fitting the harness takes some time, but side clips make this one of the easiest harnesses to get on and off your dog in a hurry once you do have the correct fit. Even though the attachment points are reinforced with webbing, some dog owners have found that regular use with a persistent dog can wear down the front attachment point. For times when you prefer to remove your dog’s collar when using a harness, a handy pocket at the back of the harness is the perfect place for storing ID tags on your hike.

Pros

  • Price
  • Easy to get on and off
  • Built-in ID pocket

Cons

  • Front attachment point can wear with frequent use
  • Sizing runs small

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Expawlorer Outdoor Adventure Pet Vest

Expawlorer Outdoor Adventure Pet Vest

With five sizes available and multiple adjustment points, the Outdoor Adventure Pet Vest from Expawlorer is the ideal harness when your dog is in between sizes and you can’t find a harness that fits just right. In addition to the sizing options, the harness includes thoughtful features like reflective webbing for night visibility and a handle for attaching a seat belt during car rides. Wide padding along the chest and belly prevent chafing or ties digging in to your dog’s sides.

Pros

  • Price
  • Includes seat belt handle
  • 5 different sizes

Cons

  • Only 3 color options
  • Some dogs can slip out of the harness

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Urban Trail Adjustable Dog Harness

Urban Trail Adjustable Dog Harness

Urban Trail’s Adjustable Dog Harness is our top pick if you need something truly custom-made for your dog. Everything from the color to the placement of the lead attachment points can be customized for your pet. Despite the harness being fully padded to prevent chafing, it is still incredibly lightweight, and the cut of the harness is designed to support a steep pull angle for biking in addition to hiking or running. If you prefer a ready-to-wear harness in one of four standard sizes, those are available for purchase as well.

Pros

  • Front and back attachment points standard with side rings optional
  • Padded with lightweight fleece
  • Can be completely customised

Cons

  • Custom orders have a longer wait time
  • Price (depending on features selected)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Alpine Outfitters


Best hiking harness for dogs: back attachment styles
EzyDog Quick Fit

EzyDog Quick Fit

If a complicated adjustment system is keeping you from trying a hiking harness with your dog, take at look at the EzyDog Quick Fit adjustable harness. Fitting this harness to your dog is as easy as fitting a collar thanks to a special one-click fitting system. For most dogs, the quick fit is an advantage, although it’s always a good idea to check the fit thoroughly. Reflective stitching keeps you and your dog safe at dusk and dawn.

Pros

  • Easy to fit
  • Reflective stitching
  • Price

Cons

  • Limited adjustment options
  • No back loop for lifting your dog

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Puppia Soft Dog Harness

Puppia Soft Dog Harness

Puppia’s Soft Dog Harness is the softest harness on our list, made from a stretch fabric that is designed to fit your dog close to the body without chafing or restricting your dog’s movement. Measuring your dog before you order is absolutely required because the harness is only adjustable around the chest — not around the neck or shoulders. The one-piece design is smooth and comfortable, but it does make proper sizing more important than ever.

Pros

  • Especially good for small dogs
  • Padded neck opening
  • Machine washable

Cons

  • Stretches out some
  • Line dry only
  • Sizing must be just right

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Hurtta Active Dog Harness

Hurtta Active Dog Harness

Hurtta is a favorite brand for active dog owners, and for good reason. Their line of rain gear, hiking belts, and harnesses is perfect for hitting the trail with your canine companion. Their Active Dog Harness is their harness best suited for hiking and backpacking thanks to a nonrestrictive fit and adjustable chest and collar straps. Two of the eight color options include reflective stitching and neon fabric for high visibility in failing light. For even more backpacking and hiking options, pair this harness with any of their other outdoor accessories for dogs.

Pros

  • 8 color options
  • Does not restrict movement
  • Adjustable at the chest and collar

Cons

  • Price
  • Sizing runs small

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Getting the best hiking harness for your dog will make hiking safe and enjoyable for both you and your four-legged companion. Not only will your dog appreciate the freedom of movement and decreased pressure around his neck, but you will also love how easy it is to control your pup without pulling or dragging on the trail.

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