Many of you wonder what’s the best dog harness for hiking. We are going to share our experience and also give you some advice on how to choose yours.
In evaluating options we will discuss three categories, to avoid, to use and the compromise. Since we practice cani-hiking, we have had the opportunity to test several models before being able to find the right one. All the harnesses mentioned in this article have been tested, with good or bad results. Yes, we have made mistakes along the way and we will talk about those in the “Experiments” chapter in greater details.
Harnesses to avoid
Julius K9 harness review
This model is really not recommended because it completely blocks the shoulders of the dog! It is an “anti traction” harness, therefore the opposite of what it should be!
Imagine that you are blocking your pelvis to walk, it becomes much more difficult to move forward and also more tiring. Not to mention that the rest of your body takes a serious hit. So it’s obviously the same for your dog!
The Julius model is also heavy (350 gr, which is 100 grams more than the best ones. Moreover it is too rigid and uncomfortable for your dog. The Julius is a Norwegian type harness, it was rather used for tracking by defense dogs, hence the usefulness of its grip. If it is used for traction or cani-hiking you risk lumbar displacement, early cervical osteoarthritis so avoid at all costs.
Our personal experience was quite short due to its downsides. Five years ago, the Julius K9 harness was very trendy and recommended by all “experts”. The power of social networks was not yet the same as it is today in terms of getting real opinions.
So the general rule is to stay away from anti-traction devices that block the shoulders. We must keep in mind the musculoskeletal impact which is much more important if the activity and the morphology of the dog is not adapted to this type of harness”, which is almost always the case.
The best dog harness for hiking
We are going to discuss two NonStop harnesses. This is our favorite brand for everything related to cani-hiking. However, we will suggest other similar models at the end of this chapter to expand your options and to also suit a wide range of dog morphologies.
Non-Stop Ultra Harness
We’ve been looking for best dog harness for hiking for a long time. It had to meet several essential criteria for us but especially for your dog such as:
- Shoulders well clear
- Materials resistant to water
- Handle (which is very practical to help it overcome obstacles)
The Ultra Harness is innovative for its breathable fabric. In addition, it has three attachment points, front, lower abdomen, and back. The aesthetic did not matter to me because I wanted afunctional harness above all, for hiking without traction. Its lining is also recommended for warmer climates.
At the time of writing this article we have used the NonStop Ultra Harness for two months now. The harness has already been through a swim in sea water, three rivers, dense vegetation and of course many times in the washing machine!
It still looks like new, but obviously it is not the everyday harness because daily walks are done with a collar. We noticed that our dog was more comfortable with the harness while swimming. Indeed, the harness is quite light, most certainly due to the technology of the ventilated material and we must admit, it makes a real difference!
Regarding the handle, for our part, it is quite appropriate as it is well proportioned to the harness, neither too thin nor too big, which would make the harness heavier). We did not notice any irritation under the armpits of our dog after various cani-hikes. Note that we only use this harness for small-cani-rando without traction.
With respect to size, we use the medium model which suits our dog perfectly. The size guide was reliable for him based on neck and chest circumference and it still leaves enough room for unexpected factors.
Alternatives to the NonStop Ultra Harness are Dog Copenhage, Ruffwear front range, TrueLove and Hurtta Active.
Non-Stop Nansen Nome harness
In the best dog harness for hiking category, this model is right at the top of the list. First, this is cani-cross harness approved for competitions. These types of harnesses are specially designed for extreme high intensity traction. The crossing of the straps located downwards, is automatically balancing the harness towards the point of traction.
The straps, forming an X, are perfectly matching the body of the dog, as if they are molded on him. When your dog is in traction mode, the X-Back shaped harness leaves his body free to move, providing him with full comfort. Because the harness is perfectly adapted to its size and morphology, your dog does not risk any injury.
With respect to the harness size, carefully choose it to fit the size and shape of your canine friend. This type of harness cannot be measured “on the fly” and requires a lot of precision, so it’s absolutely necessary to measure inch by inch and as close as possible to the skin. This worth the time because once you have the correct harness you will never have to measure again. In the case of the Nansen Nome harness, we followed the size guide chart and selected size 7.5/8 for our dog and in the end, he ended up with size 9.
When it comes to comfort, the width of the straps and the padding are really great and make it a comfortable harness for hiking with traction. We only use it when we know there is going to be traction required, which is usually required for trails with lots of uphill and downhill areas.
Some of the alternatives to the Nansen Nome are the X-Back ManMat (good for smaller size dogs), Zero DC short (also ideal for small dogs (as the attachment point is lower, allowing the elbows to be released and avoiding friction under the armpits), X-Back Nome and the NonStop Dogwear for Nordics (fully adjustable).
The best dog harness for hiking: the compromise
This is an entry-level harness with an attractive price if you have never practiced cani-hiking. It has the advantage of being light, with a honeycomb fabric inside. It also has a handle on the top of the harness. On the other hand, the passage of the head through the harness is a problem. Indeed, it slips over the dog like a T-shirt with a non-adjustable but elastic neckline. So if you cani-hike with traction, the elastic will eventually relax and consequently, it will interfere with the natural movement of your dog.
To be honest with you, if you start practicing cani-hiking rather intensely, this model will quickly reach it limits. The elastic will get slack with the repeated passages of the head and if in regular contact with water. The adjustment of the straps are also a a problem and they are constantly out of control during the hikes. Obviously, this is not very practical and is especially uncomfortable forthe dog.
On the other hand, we appreciated the handle as it has a good vertical grip, which is very useful to help your dog work his way through obstacles. In short, this harness is good enough if you practice cani-hiking 3-4 times a year.
The important thing to remember is to stay away from anti-traction harnesses. They will have the opposite effect of what you need. One of the objectives of cani-hiking is to bond with your dog while discovering places. Therefore, the activity must be pleasant for both and this is possible if you use appropriate equipment.
Favor light harnesses that comfortable and flexible so that it can be used in all types of environment (water, warm or cold weather, obstacles, vegetation, etc.). If you expect to practice cani-hiking regularly, it’s best to invest in the best dog harness for hiking right at the start. Get a model that is durable and base your choice on elements such as traction, handle, morphology and size of your dog.