cute black dog in desert arizona

Top five: best dog leashes for hiking

Hiking with your dog can be a great exercise for both of you. Bonding in nature, and having a bit of peace away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life is good for the soul. Like any outdoor expedition, you need to be prepared with the right equipment. If you are a beginner, you might be wondering what is the “best dog leash for hiking?”. There are a few points to consider when shopping, and I’ve done all the hard work for you.

Go with a hands-free leash for hiking

Whether your dog is a first-timer or an expert hiker, a hands-free leash is a must. You will need your hands available in case you need to grab onto a wall or a tree to steady yourself. If you need to fuel up, a quick granola bar or water break is necessary. Maybe a mosquito is flying around your head, and you need to swat it away! Your pooch may need a snack too, and it can get messy. This is all so much simpler when you don’t have your dog’s leash in hand.

Hands-free leashes also allow you to turn easily. If you have a larger dog, you can let him or her walk around your body and the leash will move around your body with them. No getting all tangled up. This means you don’t have to make any awkward maneuvers on the trail.

For safely, hands-free leashes offer a benefit. If your dog is a puller, they probably aren’t ready for hiking yet. But, even if your dog has great leash manners, the trail is full of distractions. They may become suddenly excited by a scent, other hikers, or a squirrel. Going hands-free makes it harder for them to pull you off balance, due to the location of your center of gravity. Falling on a trail is definitely something to avoid at all costs.

two dogs hiking with bandanas on

Pick a leash with extra storage

A well-prepared hiker always has a few extra items. Even on a short day hike, you will want to bring water, a snack, and some sun protection. The same is true for our furry friends. They will need treats, poop bags, and water all within reach. To save time while you are out on the trail, you want to avoid opening up your backpack every time you need something. While you might have lots of pockets, a leash that provides some room for storage can help to keep you organized.

You should also carry all your full poop bags to throw away in the garbage disposal at the trailhead. If you are nervous about leakage, double bag. It is irresponsible to leave dog waste on the trail, bagged or otherwise. Squashing them in a pocket or tying them to a loop is efficient. It will be hard to forget about those full bags when they are around your waist. The last thing you want is to open a backpack a few days later and find that surprising. A belt with a few carabiners is perfect. Many hands-free leashes include belts with extra loops you can clip items onto. 

A soft water flask can also fit into a small pouch or pocket. You should have convenient access to water for your dog on every hike. Never allow your dog to drink from a lake, pond, or stream. No matter how pristine it appears, freshwater may contain bacteria that is harmful to our dogs. If your pup is thirsty, they might go for it. Offering water is great to redirect your pooch’s attention to if they have the temptation.

hiking trail, man and dog

Look for some shock absorption

Your pup may make a sudden move, get excited and pull, or you may need to maneuver both of you to avoid a hazard. This is where shock absorption comes into play. A traditional flat leash will not reduce impact when it comes to sudden movements. You will want to look for a bungee inside the leash to give it a bit of stretch. This will be more comfortable for you and your dog.

A comfortable grip

Hands-free is the best type of leash to use but there are moments that you will need to have your hands on the leash. For example, use two hands when crossing a small stream or a fallen tree. At times, you will need to guide your dog to stay on the trail. For this purpose, I recommend selecting a hands-free leash that has two comfortable handles. This way, you can use both of your hands if needed. Most hands-free leashes are designed this way, but I have seen some that do not have good handles. They should be soft to touch, and the more grip the better.

Top five best dog leashes for hikingLANNEY Hands Free Dog Leash

LANNEY Hands Free Dog Leash

This hands-free leash has a sizable pouch bag. What sets it apart is an earphone hole that can also be used for a poop bag dispenser. It is excellent for medium to large dogs (up to 150lbs). It is adjustable for a waist size of  34“-46” for women and men. Check price here.

Pros:

  • Designed for dogs up to 150lbs
  • Pouch bag can fit items for a day hike
  • Bungee leash
  • Reflective stitching
  • Two padded handles
  • The pouch can be detached for other uses
  • O ring design allows dog to move freely
  • Sturdy
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Not waterproof
  • Some may find the pouch too small 

TaoTronics Hands Free Dog Leash

TaoTronics Hands Free Dog Leash

This hands-free leash may meet your needs if you already have a pouch or fanny pack you like to carry hiking. It does not have any pockets but it is slightly more affordable than the LANNEY above. At the time of writing this article, they are both reasonably priced for anyone on a budget. Check price here.

Pros:

  • Designed for dogs up to 150lbs
  • Bungee leash
  • Reflective stitching
  • Two padded handles
  • The pouch can be detached for other uses
  • O ring design allows dog to move freely
  • Sturdy
  • Most affordable of all items listed here

Cons:

  • No pouch bag
  • Some reviewers suggested not ideal for dogs who pull

FURRY BUDDY Hands Free Dog Leash

FURRY BUDDY Hands Free Dog Leash

If you are looking for a leash with even more pockets, you may want to consider the FURRY BUDDY. It accommodates a slightly larger range of waist sizes from 28” to 48”. There is a version available for two dogs. Although this leash is slightly higher in price, it is waterproof and includes a “3-Year No Questions Asked Warranty”. Check price here.

Pros:

  • Very large pouch bag
  • Pouch is waterproof
  • 3 separate sections of the pouch
  • Designed for dogs up to 180lbs
  • Bungee leash
  • Reflective stitching
  • Two padded handles
  • The pouch can be detached for other uses
  • D-ring design allows dog to move freely
  • Sturdy
  • Three-year guarantee

Cons:

  • The bag is not detachable
  • Some reviewers suggested not ideal for dogs who pull
  • Some cell phones may not fit in pocket

YOUTHINK Hands Free Dog Leash

YOUTHINK Hands Free Dog Leash

This hands-free leash also includes a treat pouch and a collapsible water bowl (attached). If you are working on obedience training, you can detach the pouch for use when you are not on the trail. Check price here.

Pros:

  • Detachable treat pouch bag included
  • Collapsible water bowl included
  • Designed for dogs up to 150lbs
  • Bungee leash
  • Reflective stitching
  • Two padded handles
  • Can be configured in 9 ways
  • D-ring design allows dog to move freely
  • Sturdy
  • Includes waste bag dispenser

Cons:

  • Some reviewers suggested did not fit on a larger waist
  • Pouch bag is not waterproof

Pet Dreamland Hands Free Double Dog LeashPet Dreamland Hands Free Double Dog Leash

Pet Dreamland Hands Free Double Dog Leash

Two pooches are better than one! If you are hiking with more than one dog, this hands-free double dog leash would be a great choice. It does not have a pouch or pocket, so you may want to combine this with a different waist belt or a cross-chest pouch. Check price here.

Pros:

  • Available in two sizes
  • Bungee leash
  • Reflective stitching
  • Two padded handles
  • Splitter with swivel makes sure dogs don’t get tangled
  • Sturdy
  • One year money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • No pouch bag
  • Inability to choose length on the individual leashes

Conclusion

After comparing all these hands-free leash options, I would consider the FURRY BUDDY Hands Free Dog Leash to be the best dog leash for hiking. My favorite thing about it is the waterproof pouch. You never know if it is going to rain while you are out on the trails. The extra pockets make it convenient to stay organized. I would not recommend hiking with a dog who does not have good leash behavior. For the reviewers who suggested it’s not great for pullers, this would not be a concern of mine. I like to buy items with a warranty. So, the fact that this one has a three-year guarantee is a highlight for me.

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