Best Harness for Hiking with Dogs


Hiking is fun, adventurous and good for the body. At the same time, hiking can also be tiresome, challenging and a lot of work. If you are anything like me, you take your dog hiking as much as possible, and want the best gear for the trails. There are a lot of dog harnesses out there, but some are better for hiking than others. The best harness for hiking with dogs needs a few specifics.

The Ruffwear Singletrak Pack has been our best harness for hiking.
Abbey hikes with a blue, Singletrak Pack

Abbey has worn several different types of harnesses while hiking. We reviewed the first few in a previous article, but today we are getting activity specific. Your dog could wear any harness while hiking. However, not every harness is made with hiking in mind. The best harness for hiking with dogs will have three main features:

  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Storage

The Best Harness Should be Comfortable

Sadly, our dogs are unable to let us know if they are wearing something uncomfortable. It’s up to us to inspect the harness and make sure it will not cause damage during activities. Some harnesses contain no padding, and can be hard on certain body parts. Other harnesses can be comfy, but easily escaped. So far, the Ruffwear harnesses appear the most comfortable, and they’re nearly impossible to escape.

The Best Harness Should be Durable

A dog harness needs to be durable and able to handle rough terrain while hiking. It should be able to withstand the test of time without breaking down. If a harness loses a strap here, or a leash loop there, your dog could escape your presence. We’ve used the Ruffwear Frontrange harness for more than a year, and found it to be extremely durable.

Some Storage is Preferable

Most likely, you will need to carry some essentials with you on the trails. The best harness for hiking will have just the right amount of storage space. Too much storage space will restrict a dogs movement potential. A lack of storage space will provide no way to carry any items. Ruffwear makes a harness called the Singletrak Pack which has the best of both worlds. It’s similar to a lightweight backpack, and is perfect for hiking.

Abbey hiking with the Ruffwear Singletrak Pack.

What is the Best Harness for Hiking?

There are a few good harnesses designed with hiking in mind, but one stands out above the rest. We feel the Ruffwear Singletrak Pack is the best harness for hiking with dogs. It may not be cheap, but it is unique and multifunctional.

We purchased our Singletrak Pack from Southpaw Waggery in downtown San Antonio. I had my eye on it for a long time, but didn’t pull the trigger until the weather cooled off here. Oh, I also wanted to use my rewards points because it’s pricey for a harness. I decided to let Abbey try the Singletrak Pack in the fall when she could hike longer distances without the risk of heat exhaustion.

Ruffwear makes a really good harness. The Singletrak Pack allows Abbey to climb rocks, and make short jumps even when filled with water. It has two small storage pouches on each side which look similar to wings from the right angle. I call it her backpack, but it’s a harness with two small storage compartments. They’re noticeable, but much less intrusive than the bags which sag on either side.

Side view of the Ruffwear Singletrak Pack while hiking.

Just Enough Space for the Basics

The storage space on the sides of the Singletrak Packs increase with each size. Abbey wears a medium because she is about 60 pounds. It weighs nearly one pound and has 3.3 liters of capacity. The large holds 4.7 liters, while the small holds three. It doesn’t look like a lot of space, but here is an idea of what will fit:

  • Two bottles of water
  • Two small bags of food
  • A thin lightweight leash
  • Poop bags
  • Dog tags
  • Dog collar

The harness comes with two collapsible water pouches. Each holds 0.6 liters of water and fold flat when empty. You can squirt the water into your dogs mouth, or empty them into a water bowl.

On the outside of the Singletrak Pack there are two straps which buckle in place, two loops on the back, and one handle. There is padding underneath the back side, and on three sections of the straps. It only comes in two colors right now: blue or red. The $90 price point can be a dealbreaker for some.

Reasons Not to Buy the Ruffwear Singletrak Pack

Cons

Very expensive

Only available in blue or red

Chest strap seems to slide toward one leg

Reasons to Buy the Ruffwear Singletrak Pack

Pros

Appears comfortable

Very durable

Just enough storage for basics

Collapsable water pouches

Carrying handle

Allows freedom of movement

Aesthetics (sleek and bright)

Three adjustment points

Form fitting (no drooping)

A product which is better in quality is usually higher in price. The case is no different for this Ruffwear harness. I really wish it came in more than two colors. Some camouflage options would be great for the trails. An attachment point in the front for tags, or a leash would be great as well. Other than that, this “backpack” has everything we need for hiking.

Abbey hikes the rocky trails with here Ruffwear backpack.
Let the adventure begin

The Ruffwear Singletrak Pack Wins

If your dog needs a better harness for hiking the trails like a champ, you can’t go wrong with the Singletrak Pack. I recommend purchasing from the Southpaw waggery, which is my go-to small business in San Antonio for all things dog friendly. If you do not live near San Antonio, you can run out to your local store, or purchase a Ruffwear harness from our Shop Page.

No harness is going to be perfect, but the good must outweigh the bad. We love the appearance and overall usability of the Singletrak Pack. In our opinion Ruffwear makes the best harness for hiking with dogs. They call it the Singletrak Pack. It allows your dog to carry the essentials without impeding her movement or distance on the trails.


I’m a certified personal trainer in San Antonio. After adopting Abbey, I created Places for Pups to help you get outside, exercise with your dog and have fun doing it.

We have mastered hiking in Texas Hill Country. Though we emerge from the woods unharmed, we are not responsible for you or your pets. You are solely responsible for trying exercises, or places discussed on this site.

Grab the best hiking gear and go dog friendly.  I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.

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David Earley

CPT, CES



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