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Top five: best dog harness for hiking

Hiking is a great outdoor activity to keep both you and your dog active. For a successful hike, a good harness is necessary. A leash attached to a collar can be dangerous on the trail. If your dog pulls, then they are not ready for a hike. Even a dog with excellent leash manners can slip out of a collar. This may happen if they get too excited by a scent or surrounding wildlife. When you encounter a stream, mud, or a fallen tree you will be safer having the most control possible over your dog. Select the best dog harness for hiking, and you’ll be ready no matter what surprises the trail has in store for you.

How to choose the best dog harness for hiking

The first question to ask yourself when shopping for a harness is “what will my dog be carrying”? If the answer is nothing, and you’re going to carry his or her water and snacks then you will not need a dog backpack. In this case, the same type of harness you wear for jogging or regular walks with your pup will work.

There are even harnesses on the market that gives you options. Some harnesses have detachable bags or pockets. This will allow you to remove them when they are not needed. If you do not already own a harness, consider this type. You may want to use it for regular walks or jogging when your dog doesn’t need to carry supplies. You can also detach the bags and carry them yourself if you are on a long walk to give your dog a break.

I like to use a step-in mesh harness for my dog, but no matter what type you choose it should be the correct size. Make sure that you measure your dog before shopping. Do this even if you have bought a harness for your dog in the past, since the sizes may vary among brands. The fit should be secure. Just like a collar, you should be able to slip two fingers between it and your dog’s body. The harness should not appear loose in any area.

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Doggy backpacks 

If you have decided your dog will carry a few items, invest in a doggy backpack. This is a great idea since you won’t have to haul around any doggy items. Dog backpacks are especially helpful when camping or going on multi-day journeys. You can make your own pack even more lightweight. If your dog has never worn a dog backpack before, do some practice. Take small walks with it on, and work your way up to your goal hike duration.

Let your dog get used to carrying a small item like treats,  poop bags, and then add the water. Make sure their pack is not too heavy.  Chances are your dog will enjoy it. Dogs feel proud that they can carry their own items, especially a dog that is a traditional working breed. Whether you are going for a full day or an hour, your dog needs water. Bring double the amount you estimate they will need. Always make sure you have packed extra water in your pack or vehicle.

dog in camper van

Your dog’s pack should be lightweight and comfortable. The bag or pockets should not pull down the harness in any areas. It should be easy to adjust to your dog’s size. The bag should not slide around as he or she moves. Mesh or breathable material may be a good choice here to keep your dog cool. Waterproof materials are good to look for when hiking in spring and rainy locations. Nylon material tends to be more durable, without tearing too easily. You will want to make sure that any zippers and buttons are good quality and in working order. If you plan to do a lot of hiking, look for a harness that has a warranty.

Top five best dog harnesses for hiking

rabbitgoo Dog Harnessamazon associates

rabbitgoo Dog Harness

If your dog won’t need his or her own backpack, this harness is simple and sturdy enough for a hike. It is padded and adjustable, made of breathable mesh. Mesh will dry quickly in the case of rain or if your dog may be enjoying a dip in a fresh mountain spring. It’s good to select a harness with a handle for hiking, just in case you come across any hazards. Check price here.


  • Lightweight
  • Breathable material
  • Adjustable
  • Available in a variety of colors and sizes
  • Reflective
  • Two side buckles
  • Buckles are padded
  • Front clip for leash helps reduce pulling
  • Back Control Handle


  • No pouches or bag
  • Some reviews mentioned straps may be difficult to adjust

Outward Hound, Lightweight Dog Backpackamazon associates

Outward Hound, Lightweight Dog Backpack

This is a very popular dog backpack. Its main features are the two saddlebags with four expandable pockets. It is made of lightweight and breathable material. You have the choice to attach the leash to the front or from the back to allow them the freedom to roam a bit more. Check price here.


  • Mesh keeps the dog cool
  • Lightweight
  • Compression webbing helps balance the load
  • Visible bright green color
  • Can fit a regular-sized water bottle in the pocket
  • Back control handle
  • Dual D-ring allows the leash to be attached at front or back


  • Not waterproof (but can be sprayed with a waterproofing solution)
  • Some assembly required
  • Pockets are not detachable
  • Some reviews suggested material was not the most durable
  • Saddlebags cannot be moved
  • May not suit all dog body shapes

Kurgo Dog Saddlebag Backpack

Kurgo Dog Saddlebag Backpack

This dog harness for hiking has a more rugged and athletic look. This may be a good investment for the serious hiker who wants their trail companion to join hikes frequently. The saddlebags are not detachable, but they are roomy. This harness has many configurations to adjust the straps to your dog’s unique body shape. Check price here.


  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Water-resistant
  • Leash attachment doubles a bottle opener
  • Reflective trim
  • Saddlebags can hold up to 7.5lbs
  • Many ways to adjust
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Back control handle
  • Saddlebags can be moved up or down


  • Not fully waterproof (although could be treated with a waterproofing solution)
  • Zippers open from front so can be a bit awkward
  • Have to balance the load in both pockets to ensure it does not move to one side

Tri Cloud Sports Dog Tactical Harness

Tri Cloud Sports Dog Tactical Harness

The hunters reading will love the camouflage look of this rugged dog harness for hiking. It has a very athletic, almost military feel to it. You can definitely picture a service dog wearing this. Although there is a label that reads “service dog” it is attached with velcro and can easily be removed. The look and feel is very heavy duty. This harness may be appealing to anyone planning to spend a lot of time hiking with their dog. Check price here.


  • Removable pouches
  • Lightweight
  • 1000D Nylon material is very durable
  • Includes three pouches
  • Includes three velcro patches
  • Can attach any velcro patches to this harness
  • Includes BPA free collapsible water bowl with carabiner
  • MOLLE straps allow you to organize pouches to your preference
  • back control handle
  • Tactical leash included in matching print
  • Easy to adjust
  • Professional look and feel


  • Not waterproof (although could be treated with a waterproofing solution)
  • Have to configure pouches in a way that will balance the loadamazon associates

GoPro Fetch Dog Harness

GoPro Fetch Dog Harness

And now for something a little different. What if your furry friend is your cameraman? Who better than to keep track of your adventures? This harness will mount any GoPro camera to your dog’s chest or back, so you can see things from his or her point of view. It’s water-friendly so your pup can capture all the action even if he or she is going for a dip. This is a fun one, but it’s not intended for the kind of control you want in a harness. It could be worn with another harness, or for a pup who is an expert hiker already. Check price here.


  • Fully adjustable
  • Lightweight
  • Quick-release base to remove the camera easily
  • Elastic straps are soft and comfortable
  • Waterproof
  • Washable


  • Not suitable for smaller dogs
  • No pouches (but could be worn with a dog backpack)
  • No back control handle


As with all doggy items, be thoughtful when shopping. Consider your needs, and your individual dog when making your selection.  For my dog Thor the Tri Cloud Sports Dog Tactical Harness is my favorite dog harness for hiking. The durability is the highlight since we do tend to spend a lot of time outdoors. The rugged look suits his personality too. He doesn’t wear too many cutesy items!  Thor has a lot of outdoor experience, so the professional look suits him too. For me, the customizable options of the detachable pouches are what I need in a harness for hiking. Sometimes, my dog Thor will only need some poop bags and treats, but for longer hikes, he can carry more items. If you have a similar active dog, this may be a great option for you too!

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