Every dog loves a good walk in the woods, and so it’s not surprising that many hikers like to bring their dog along. It’s a great way to exercise yourself and your dog at the same time, and it is good for one’s mental health as well. However, it is of the utmost importance that you control your dog properly on these outings, and that’s why you need a good stout harness. With that in mind, let’s try to figure out which is the best dog harness for hiking.
Quick Picks: The 5 Top-Rated Dog Hiking Harnesses
Last update on 2024-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
In a hurry? Then check out our best pick above or keep reading for product reviews and buying guide!
5 Reviews of the Best Dog Harnesses for Hiking
There are many dog harnesses out there, but most of them are not durable enough for regular outdoor use. While these are not your only options, but they are some of the best that we could find.
The Most Secure Option
This one is made of highly breathable nylon, and is thus more durable than it looks. At the same time, it also offers a high degree of breathability due to the use of a mesh-like material. It isn’t easy to offer strength, breathability, and padding in one package, but Ruffwear has combined them nicely here. Its bright colors make it easier to find your dog in the dark, and it has three straps instead of the usual two.
That extra strap has no buckle and must be slipped over the dog’s head/legs. That makes it a little less convenient when you are putting it on and taking it off. This is also one of the more expensive options we have seen, but it is a high-quality one, nevertheless.
- Three straps for extra security
- Comfortably well-padded
- Strong but highly breathable
- Takes longer to attach or remove
- A little expensive
Best for Small Dogs
This is very similar to our previous choice, but it was unique enough to warrant its own entry. Like the other one, it is made of padded and breathable nylon mesh, offering a good mix of security and comfort. That being said, this one was designed with less durability in mind. As such, it wouldn’t be the best choice for a high-energy dog, and it’s definitely no good for chewers.
Still, we like the fact that this one has four points of adjustment. That makes it easier to get the perfect fit, adding to the comfort factor even more. It’s also high-visibility and very breathable. We would recommend this one for smaller and less-rowdy dogs in spite of its minor issues.
- 4 points of adjustment
- Leash attaches in front or back
- Padded and breathable
- Somewhat expensive
- Not reinforced enough
The Best Value
This is probably the second-strongest option on our list, and that’s why it’s marketed for medium-to-large dogs. Small dog owners can’t really use this one, but it fills its niche quite well. More to the point, it’s one of the cheapest options we have found. If you want something that offers high reliability and low cost, this isn’t a bad one to consider.
This one has four points of adjustment, which is all you really need. At the same time, we do wish that those clasps and buckles were not made of plastic. It is thick plastic, but steel would inspire a lot more confidence. Still, most reviews indicate that it’s sufficient for all but the strongest dogs.
- Strong and well-reinforced
- Great value
- Available in many colors
- 4 points of adjustment
- Not meant for smaller dogs
- Clips are made of plastic
The Most Comfortable Harness
Rating: 4 stars
This one offers a very high level of safety, as it does not constrict the back or belly at all. Thus, it will not choke your dog no matter how hard he pulls. It also comes with a 1-year warranty, which is not common for products of this type. The thick padding means that it’s bound to be pretty comfortable too, so this one gets high marks in the safety and comfort departments. It’s also made of reflective material and seems tough.
This one does suffer from two problems, however. First of all, some dogs can slip this kind of harness easily. Not all of them can do so, but it is a potential problem. There’s only one point of adjustment, which makes it even more likely that a dog could escape. This one is good, but don’t use it for dogs that are good at escaping.
- No chance of choking your dog
- Very reflective
- 1-year warranty
- Padding is very thick
- Only one point of adjustment
- Some dogs can slip these harnesses
Best Lightweight Harness
Rating: 3 stars
This is a lightweight and well-padded option, so most dogs should find it pleasant to wear. Like any good harness, it does not present any choking hazards, and we especially like the fact that all its buckles and clasps are made of steel. This steel is well-coated to avoid rust, lengthening its service life. As a nice little bonus, it comes with a D-ring and a short leash, which is great for controlling your dog in the car.
Our only complaints come in the durability department. The back handle doesn’t have enough reinforcement to the stitching, and those straps look like any dog could chew them up with little effort.
- Bright and reflective
- Comes with a short leash
- All buckles are made of steel
- Padded and breathable
- Far too easy to chew up
- Back handle is not reinforced enough
Best Dog Harnesses for Hiking – Buying Guide
You have now seen some good examples of dog harnesses that are well-suited for hiking. However, that is not quite enough. There is a large chance that you might choose something other than the options presented here, whether because of convenience, availability, or some other reason. Therefore, you must learn how to evaluate a dog harness independently. To that end, we would like to give you some guidelines on which to judge a product of this type.
Durability Is The King
When you are evaluating a harness that is intended for hiking, the first thing you should consider is durability. A lot of harnesses simply aren’t tough enough for repeated outdoor usage, as we said in the beginning. As such, this quality is what sets a hiking harness apart from most others.
The first thing you have to consider is the size and strength of your dog. Obviously, those with small dogs do not need to buy a reinforced harness like our first option. Pay attention to the material of which the harness is made.
As you may have noticed, a lot of our choices are made of nylon, which isn’t a bad choice. Nylon has a very high tensile strength, which is why they use it to make parachute cord. A single strand of nylon parachute cord is said to hold up to 500 pounds, although this is probably an estimate. Still, it gives you an idea of how strong this stuff can be.
The buckles and clasps are also key areas to examine. If they are made of thin plastic, that should be a hard pass every time. Those buckles and clasps are the pieces that hold everything together. If they go, the whole harness goes. To put it in perspective, if our top choice had been made with thin plastic hardware, it would not have even made our list. All that thick leather won’t do any good if it is held in place by something weak.
Breathability Is Also Important
Exercise is one of the main benefits that you get from a good hike. Obviously, the same is true for your dog. However, you should ask yourself: Would you want to work out while wearing a thick and uncomfortable harness? Chances are, you will be using workout clothing that is light and breathable. By doing this, you reduce the amount of sweating that will occur. All those same principles apply to your dog.
Nylon can be made into a very durable mesh that offers both strength and breathability. When you wear something made of that mesh, sweat and other bodily secretions are better able to evaporate into the surrounding air. Not only that, but it helps to keep you cool and comfortable throughout the entire walk.
With all this talk about harnesses, we should not forget the importance of a good leash. Without that, a harness will do you little good, so you need to think about how well your chosen harness will work with your leash. Some of them attach in the front, some of them attach at the top of the back, while some others might attach in weirder locations. Either way, you definitely need to think about what happens when your dog pulls.
A lot of people prefer no-pull leashes for hiking, and there are good reasons for that fact. Your dog will probably get excited while out on a hike and will be inclined to pull against the leash. No matter how well-behaved your dog might be, this can happen from time to time. For instance, they might see a squirrel along the trail and give chase. Assuming that you are a good dog owner who cares about your beastly friend, you probably don’t want to choke them or constrict their breathing. For brachycephalic dogs (who have breathing issues, to begin with), this is especially important and may actually be more important than the durability factor.
Before we even talk about this factor, we should mention that it isn’t all that important. However, most people would agree that they don’t want something that looks ugly. After all, there is a good chance you will encounter other hikers, and it’s natural to desire a good appearance.
That being said, if you have to choose between appearance and more practical factors, you should always disregard the cosmetic issues. A lot of people find that you can’t go wrong with dark earthy colors. Still, these colors are non-reflective and could make your animal harder to find (in they wander off). You may have noticed that our reviews mostly favor bright colors, and that is the reason.
Last but not least, we should definitely consider the factor of comfort. Admittedly, this one is a little harder to evaluate because we cannot read a dog’s mind. They also cannot talk to us directly, but they still find many ways to communicate. For instance, they tend to jump up and paw at you when they want attention. In like manner, they will usually show signs of discomfort when wearing a harness that is too tight or one that makes it harder to move.
Before the point of sale, the best thing you can do is look at the harness and ask yourself: “If I were a dog, would I want to wear this thing?” That is a key question that should not be overlooked. See if any of the straps are likely to constrict the belly or neck, as either of these will make it hard for the dog to breathe. You should look at the hard pieces (buckles, clips, leash attachment rings, etc.) and see if they are going to rub against the dog’s skin. You want only soft material to come in direct contact with your animal.
You should also look at the adjustment points and try to determine if there are enough of them. A good fit is essential for both security and comfort, so you want as many adjustment points as possible. If a harness is too loose, it will move around and cause chafing. Have you ever worn shoes that were too big for your feet? Not much fun, was it? Well, your dog probably won’t like that either.
Although we think Ruffwear Hiking and Trail Running Harness is the best dog harness for hiking, we also recognize that not all dogs are the same. As such, we hope that we have given you the information that you need in order to buy the best harness for your needs. Our runner-ups would have to be PetLove Padded No Pull Dog Harness and Kurgo Journey Dog Harness, as they only suffered from small flaws.
We have leaned towards durability and safety as our top concerns, so interpret our reviews accordingly. Thank you for reading, and we hope to see you again soon.