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Which dog harnesses for hiking are best?

There are lots of benefits to harnessing your dog on walks, regardless of your dog’s size or breed. The distribution of pressure is more comfortable for your dog when wearing a harness, plus it helps to prevent excessive strain on the neck for dogs who tend to pull.

If you enjoy taking your dog hiking, a harness can be particularly beneficial. But what’s the difference between a standard dog harness and a dog harness for hiking? There are a few small differences that help go a long way. If you’re looking for a harness that can work hard and hold up over time, the Ruffwear Multiuse Support Dog Harness is durable, reliable and comfortable for both you and your pup.

What to know before you buy a dog harness for hiking

If you do a lot of hiking with your pup, a standard dog harness might not be meeting all of your needs. Harnesses made for hiking and rugged outdoor use can have useful extras like reflective strips or pockets for storage. They are more customized and often include additional features to accommodate any scenario you might encounter out on the trails. 

A good fit

The most important thing about a dog harness is getting the fit right. A dog harness for hiking shouldn’t be too tight but it also can’t be loose enough for your dog to wriggle out of it. If you want to check a harness’s tightness, try to stick your hand between the harness and your dog’s body. You know you have a good fit if the harness fits no more than two fingers.

Storage options 

Some harnesses come with small pockets while other hiking harnesses double as backpacks so your dog can carry some of their snacks or toys with them as you go. In determining whether you want a saddlebag/backpack harness, consider your dog’s size, age and how much hiking you intend to do together.

Bonus features

Hiking harnesses can have bonus features unique to spending time around rough or rural terrain. They can have strong handles on the back, chest clips for alternative leashing methods or glow strips for better visibility at night. If it’s likely you’ll spend a lot of time out in the early morning or late at night, consider getting a harness that can accommodate a light source. 

What to look for in a quality dog harness for hiking

A quality dog harness for hiking perfectly blends comfort, safety and practically. You wouldn’t want to cut a hike short because your own gear isn’t up to the task and it is the same thing when it comes to your dog. A hiking harness is part of your dog’s outdoor gear and should be able to withstand the elements. 

A design that conforms to body type

A good harness for hiking is designed specifically for your dog’s body type, whether they be small and stocky or thin and long. The best harness for a large dog might not be the best harness for a small dog. Take into consideration what other users have said about using the harness with a dog the same breed or size as your own.


The best harnesses hold up against the elements. The metal hardware doesn’t rust when it gets wet and doesn’t corrode quickly over time. All metal pieces are strong, secure and reliable. 

Breathable fabric

A breathable dog harness dries quickly and keeps your dog cool on hot days. It’s soft, lightweight, padded and water-resistant. It utilizes mesh and other quick-drying components so that if your dog gets way they dry easily without uncomfortable chafing. 

How much you can expect to spend on a dog harness for hiking

A dog harness for hiking usually costs $15-$60, depending on the quality of the materials used and size.

Dog harness for hiking FAQ

What are points of adjustment?

A. Points of adjustment are areas on the harness which can be tightened or loosened so that your dog gets a comfortable fit. The more points of adjustment, the more customizable the fit is.

Does an unleashed dog still need a harness for hiking?

pet tracker

A. Even if you allow your dog to run around off leash during hikes, a reliable hiking harness is still a good idea. The color or reflective properties can help you to keep an eye on them amongst the trees and if you’re worried about getting separated you can attach a pet tracker to their harness or collar. If you want to grab them quickly, there’s a handle to reach for instead of their collar. 

What’s the best dog harness for hiking to buy?

Top dog harness for hiking

Ruffwear Multi Use Support Dog Harness

Ruffwear Multiuse Support Dog Harness

What you need to know: This durable hiking and trail harness offers plenty of coverage in three colors and five sizes.

What you’ll love: It is padded with a reinforced handle and five points of adjustment for a secure fit. It’s lightweight, durable, and features a reflective trim. It’s not easy to escape from and it comes with a light loop for securing a safety light (sold separately). 

What you should consider: There is no identification tag pocket on the harness.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Backcountry

Top dog harness for hiking for the money

Ruffwear Front Range Dog Harness

Ruffwear Front Range Dog Harness

What you need to know: This lightweight pull-over harness comes in ten colors and five sizes with leash attachment points on the chest and back.

What you’ll love: It has foam-padded strips for even distribution of weight and can be adjusted in four places for a secure fit. It’s designed for your dog’s comfort and comes with a reflective trim, as well as an ID pocket for storing your dog’s tags.

What you should consider: It runs a little small.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Backcountry

Worth checking out

Kurgo Dog Saddlebag Backpack Harness

Kurgo Dog Saddlebag Backpack Harness

What you need to know: This polyester backpack/harness combo comes in three sizes and two colors.

What you’ll love: It features a two-sided pack for storing dog supplies or first aid materials. There are eight points of adjustment for a reliable fit and the trim is reflective for better visibility. It has leash attachments on the front and back plus the rear leash ring doubles as a bottle opener.

What you should consider: The packs are not removable and the harness as a whole might require additional adjustments as you hike.  

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Emily Verona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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