Best Dog Harness for Hiking (Our 9 Choices for 2019)

Off we go, on another doggy adventure! This time, we’re travelling to the wonderful world of dog harnesses and hiking.

We love to travel, particularly when we can take our four-legged friends on the adventure. We’ve been to dog-friendly hotels, beaches, parks and city locations. It’s only when reading authors like Bill Bryson that we rediscovered our love of the outdoors. Fond memories of camping, trails, walks and the great outdoors – be it in the UK, USA or abroad.

Taking our dogs on these trips seemed simple until we realised, like children, extra gear and provisions make it much easier. There’s extra equipment; from food to water. How do we get up a hilly path? How do we negotiate difficult terrain? What about lakes and rivers? The heat? Will our pets chafe themselves to irritation on a long walk.

This is when we discovered hiking harnesses. These were not only useful for the dog but made our lives easier. This article covers our experiences of dog hiking harnesses. We will share our findings and include nine of our preferred harnesses when out and about.

Hiking Dog Harnesses: Summary Table

PositionHarnessOnline RatingAvailable Online
1🏆 Ruffwear Multi-Use Dog HarnessBuy on Amazon
2Ruffwear Hiking Pack for DogsBuy on Amazon
3T3 K9 Quick Harness [USA]Buy on Amazon
4Mountain Paws Hiking Dog HarnessBuy on Amazon
5Ruffwear Approach Dog BackpackBuy on Amazon
6Kurgo Journey Dog HarnessBuy on Amazon
7ICEFANG Tactical Dog Harness [USA]Buy on Amazon
8OneTigris Dog Pack [USA]Buy on Amazon
9Outward Hound Daypak Dog BackpackBuy on Amazon

Why Use a Hiking Harness

Hiking with your dog wearing only a collar is not advised. Even if they walk well off-leash, it won’t provide that added support you may need on whilst trekking.

Many people choose to use their standard walking harnesses. This is generally fine as a good dog harness is not only familiar but both useful and comfortable. Some dogs, for example, are trained on no-pull dog harnesses and are happy to walk on and off lead wearing them.

But if you are going on a hike, particularly an extended one, you may need something a little more practical. What you need depends on the length of time, the environment and the weather.

Remember, if your trekking for an extended period of time, you may need to carry things. Not only human things but all the things your dog need to. Some of the harnesses can help with this. Before we delve into the specifics – we will discuss the types of harnesses available.

What are the best dog harnesses for hiking?

Types of Hiking Harnesses for All Scenarios

Most people going on a hike will be fine with a normal hiking harness. Your trail may longer, involve camping, have weather considerations or have varying terrains. There are harnesses and additions for every occasion.

  • Dog Hiking Harness. These are the dog harnesses we’ll focus on in this article. Generally, these have more straps than a standard walking harness. This is not only so they don’t slip off or your dog wriggles out – but they also help spread the load if they need help. They also tend to have a grip handle, again for helping them. This could be aiding in lifting your dog from the water or over fallen trees. They’re also often more lightweight and breathable, important if you’re in hot conditions. Some may also include saddlebags for carrying provisions and equipment.
  • Dog Backpack. Some of these are part of the harness, others are an addition. Usually, saddlebags which rest on the sides of the harness. These are for storing the essentials for your dog, from water bottles and bowls to treats to poop bags. They’re particularly handy for camping. It also means you don’t have to carry everything yourself.
  • Dog Life Jackets. You may have a dog who loves the water. If you’re going to spend a lot of time around lakes and rivers, you may want to consider a dog life vest. We’ve compiled a handy guide to these jackets here as well as some of our recommendations.
  • Dog Cooling Vest. One of the biggest challenges to hiking in the summer is the heat. Not only do you have to keep your dog hydrated, but you should also keep them cool. One option is cooling vests worn with their harnesses. For a full guide on dog cooling vests – check out our article here.
  • Waterproof Rain Jacket. Like humans, there are waterproof jackets available for dogs. These are often reflective and worn over the harness.

Outdoor Hiking - Best Dog Harness

What to Look For in a Hiking Harness

Comfort is key. If you are going on a long trek you want something that isn’t going to chafe a dogs skin. Not only will this irritate them, but it could also lead to sores and infections.

The harness should fit well. Sizing and correct measurements are important for any harness. Check out our guide to fitting and measuring your dog for a harness. Always check the measurement charts from the manufacturer. A harness which is too small will be tight and decrease mobility. If the harness is too large, your dog may escape. If you find your dog measures between two sizes – go with the larger size and adjust the straps for a better fit.

Your dog may need help on your trek. A handle on the harness capable of holding their weight can be very useful. They may need help over rough terrain or up steep climbs. It will also help to control your dog should they need to be held in place.

Finally, consider the heat from a long hike. Make sure the material used is lightweight and breathable.

Our Nine Best Dog Harnesses for Hiking

1. 🏆 Ruffwear Multi-Use Dog Harness

RUFFWEAR - Web Master, Multi-Use Support Dog Harness, Hiking and Trail Running, Service and Working, Everyday Wear, Red Currant, Large/X-Large The Ruffwear web-master multi-use harness is designed especially for rugged environments. Available in five sizes (XXS-XL) it’s great for hiking, trail running and climbing outdoor activity with your pup.

Using robust woven straps adapted from mountaineering technology, this harness fits comfortably and securely on your dog’s body. It’s easy to put on, over your dogs head then clip the straps on behind your dogs front and before your dogs back legs. There are six adjustment points in total on the harness for a more secure fit when needed.

There are shoulder, chest and belly straps which can be adjusted for a better fit. These are also padded for comfort and to avoid chafing. The harness has two leash attachment points for increased control when out trekking. The first, located at the top, is a strong aluminium V-ring. A lead can simply be attached for normal walking. If you require a little more control or security, there is a second webbing loop at the back. If you have a double-ended training leash such as a HALTI you can connect both ends to the harness.

The top of the Ruffwear also has a strong grab handle for assisting your dog over difficult terrain or to help lift them when needed.

The outer layer has a reflective trim for better visibility in the dark.

This is a fantastic harness for day hiking and one we’ve had a lot of success with. Its five-point design makes it great for the outdoors without the worry your dog will wriggle free and escape. This is very much designed for movement and flexibility. There are no saddlebags like others in this article – but if you don’t need your dog to do any carrying, this may be the perfect harness for you.

2. Ruffwear Hiking Pack for Dogs

RUFFWEAR - Approach Pack, Meadow Green (2017), Small Combining a dog back-pack and a hiking harness, the Ruffwear pack is a great option for longer treks.

Made from lightweight, water-resistant nylon material – this is an evolution of the previous multi-use harness.

Available in four sizes (XS-XL) and two colours, this is a strong and reliable harness with a little extra added in. Like the web master, this has two lead attachment points at the top and back for normal walking or better control.

The key difference is the large saddlebags at the side. These are used carrying water bottles, treats, pick-up bags, and other essentials. There are four bags in total, two large and two smaller.

If your adventure involves longer hikes and camping – this is one to check out. It may take a few attempts to get the weighting right, don’t put all the weight on one side. It looks like a bulky thing, and that may put some people off, but if you can view it for its practical purpose – it’s amazing and handy.

I didn’t include the larger version of this harness which I have a) not used and b) is a lot more expensive – but there is a heavy duty version with six pockets in total which you can check out here.

Overall this harness features all the pros of the previous multi-harness with the addition of handy saddle bags. It can be very handy, not just for help with carrying but also so you have a simple place to reach your dog’s provisions when needed.

3. T3 K9 Quick Harness [USA]

PreviewProductRating
T3 K9 Quick Harness, Ranger Green T3 K9 Quick Harness, Ranger Green No ratings yet

T3 K9 Quick Harness, Ranger Green This Navy SEAL approved harness is extremely rugged and strong. It is designed to be versatile, not restricting your dog’s movements, and light for keeping your dog cool.

The handle at the top is reinforced allowing you to lift and assist your dog when required.

The K9 Harness is made from 1000 weight Cordura and goes on with a single one clip Cobra buckle.

If you’re looking for something strong, lightweight, resilient with a handle – this is a wonderfully simple yet robust dog hiking vest.

It’s not for everyone and obviously lacks the features of other harness types – but it’s one to check out.

4. Mountain Paws Hiking Dog Harness

Mountain Paws Hiking Dog Harness - Red (M) If you’re looking for a sound walking harness on a lower budget, the Mountain Paws is a good choice. Available in four sizes (Small to Extra Large), this dog harness has a handy lift-assist handle at the top. As one online reviewer stated, “handy to lift the dog out of ponds!”.

The harness uses a combination of polyester and polypropylene webbing fabrics. These are not only strong and breathable but should also help keep your dogs cooler. There are flexible foam chest panels for keeping your dog comfortable.

The outer layer uses a reflective fabric. This is great for increased visibility at night and in dark conditions.

The leash attaches at the top using an aluminium D-ring.

Mountain Paws have created a very adjustable hiking harness. It’s designed to be very secure on your dog with straps around the neck, chest, and belly. This makes a total of six adjustment straps which is ideal for creating that perfect fit.

To put this harness on, unbuckle the chest and belly clips. Place the harness over your dogs head, then clip the chest and belly straps and adjust as needed.

There are no extra features on this hiking harness, but it is a reliable and safe option for general hiking.

One thing we would have changed in the design of this harness is the straps. The buckles may rub against your dog’s skin after long hiking periods causing irritation. It’s also not a great harness for the water. It will dry, but it’s not really designed for extended immersion in water.

This is a great and affordable summer harness. It will give you the control and comfort you need on a trek. But if you are looking for something less for summer conditions, you may want to consider alternatives.

5. Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack

A slightly different design to the previous Ruffwear’s in this collection. This dog hiking pack has excellent front weight distribution. You can read our full review of this harness here.

The harness element has slip girth straps and a paddle handle at the top. This helps assist your dog over more difficult terrain or holding them in position when needed.

6. Kurgo Journey Dog Harness

Kurgo Dog Harness for Large, Medium & Small Dogs | Reflective Harness for Running, Walking & Hiking | Everyday Adventure Pet Journey Air Style | Black | Blue | Red Kurgo’s front-range harness looks different from many of the others in this article, but it’s still a powerful option for your outdoor adventures. This is a great no-pull harness to reduce pulling in your dog. There is a normal walking leash attachment at the back (top) and an additional front D-ring leash attachment (chest) for use with a training lead.

The Kurgo is incredibly strong, designed with strong all-steel nesting buckles like those used by climbers. Another example of a dog hiking harness with handles, this can be used for aiding your dog over difficult terrain.

It’s a different option for anyone looking for something closer to a traditional walking harness. It doesn’t have a lot of added features nor any backpack/saddlebag so may not suit every adventurer.

7. ICEFANG Tactical Dog Harness [USA]

This MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) harness is an extremely strong tactical harness. Constructed from 1050D Nylon with Pu Water Resistant Coating. It uses an Alloy Metal Buckle (1000 lb Proof-Load Test ) to replace the standard plastic types.

8. OneTigris Dog Pack [USA]

It’s important to note that the handle on this is not for lifting. This is a rather unfortunate negative. It can be used for aiding and holding your dog in place, but will not cope with lifting. If your train is likely to involve assisting or lifting your dog, this is not for you.

9. Outward Hound Daypak Dog Backpack

One of the most affordable dog backpack hiking harnesses, the Outward is a good choice if you’re looking for gear for only a few trips. It’s not the best out there, the sizings are a little off, the materials don’t all last and the weighting isn’t ideal – but it’s still a good choice when hiking on a budget.

Summary

We hope you found our collection of the best dog harnesses for hiking helpful. When out hiking it is crucial you keep your dog hydrated, cool and pack the right provisions. Hiking harnesses can be a great tool for control, mobility, and assistance where required. Consider the weather and terrain you’re likely to face. Also, consider whether your canine needs to carry some of the equipment themselves. After all, it’s easier to pull a treat from your dog’s backpack than fumble about with your own backpack.

Happy Trails!

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Not Danish, Dane is the other half of Collar & Harness. Having worked in the technology sector for many years - he now immerses himself in all things dogs. Writes about subjects ranging from dog food to canine psychology with a little bit of pup technology thrown in. Dane has been writing for nearly 15 years on the topics he loves. Lives in London.

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