What Is The Best Dog Harness For Hiking?

Hiking is a wonderful means of exercise and can boost our physical and mental health. Many dog owners like to include their furry friends in their escapades, as a good means of both companionship and safety.

The problem is, dogs need good equipment, especially something like a harness, which is often a requirement for leash laws. A bad dog harness can be like a bad hiking shoe when the going gets tough. So how can you make sure your hiking buddy stays comfortable?

a dog in nature at night


Harness Over Collars

You may wonder why you need a harness in the first place instead of just your regular collar. Collars are generally more comfortable, but harnesses are better suited to hikes.

Dr. Sorin McKnight, DVM, agrees that harnesses are better suited to breeds that may have difficulty breathing, such as pugs, putting less strain on their throats and keeping them safer on long hikes.[1]

Harnesses also reduce pulling, especially if the leash-hook is near the front, and are more secure than collars. Since they wrap around the dog’s body, it is not as easy for active dogs to just be able to slip out and disappear, an essential quality when you’re in the wilderness.

Qualities of a Good Harness

The most important things for a dog harness are safety and comfort.

Well Fitting

Dog harnesses in general should fit well, but this can be especially important for a hiking harness, as a dog could slip out and easily disappear into the wilderness. Many dogs go missing on trails each year, so this should be taken seriously.

A good harness should be adjustable and fit quite snuggly to a dog’s body. A rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit a finger on either side of the strap to make sure that the dog can’t slip out or chafe.[2]

The best dog harnesses also will allow the shoulder a full range of motion, which allows your dog to have a much more natural and comfortable stride.

a dog wearing a no pull harnessSparkpaws Catalog

Multiple Attachment Points

Dog harnesses should be adaptable for their purpose. For example, having more than one leash attachment point. Considering breed is also important, both for sizing and comfort.

Medium and large dogs may do better with a front or side leash attachment, which will prevent them from being able to tug you along rugged paths. It forces them to slow down a little and not pull you off your feet if they try and bolt.

Meanwhile, smaller dogs may do better with only a backward leash attachment so that you are able to quickly pull them out of the way to safety if you encounter a hazard.

Regardless of dog size, having multiple leash attachment points will let you adjust for terrain. E.g. you may choose to walk with the leash clipped in front for wide, open terrain, but switch to a back-clipping option for more control when walking on rugged terrain or crossing a stream.

Minimal Coverage and Light To Carry

Dogs are more prone to overheating than humans, this is why a good dog harness should never cover too much of the body. Dogs may not sweat, but their skin still needs to be able to breathe to remove heat.

A thick, heavy, or soaked-through harness can become very heavy very quickly, which will tire out your pup and may even lead to serious issues such as overexertion.

Most dogs can only carry around 10-15% of their body weight safely.[3] This may sound like a lot, but it can add up quickly. If you are also adding a pack or other weight to your dog, then choosing a harness that is as light as possible is a priority, especially for smaller dogs.

a dog wearing a harness on a hike

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Good Quality, Breathable Materials

Good quality dog harnesses should be made of a smooth, comfortable material that won’t cause chafing as it sits around the body. If it has to sit over the body, make sure that the dog harness is made of a light, breathable material will also help ensure that your dog is cool and not about to tire out too quickly.

Dog harnesses should preferably be a bright, easily visible color in case of emergencies.

Sparkpaws’ Options

Here at Sparkpaws’ we have two main options for harnesses. Based on the criteria above, as well as your personal needs, have a look at some of the comparisons.

Comfort Control No-Pull Dog Harness

Activewear Harness

Full Price

$97 (Full Set)

$47 (Only Harness)

$80 (Full set)

$30 (Only Harness)


-Multiple D-rings

-Triple stitching and heavy duty for heavy pullers

-Harness is adjustable around the neck/torso and waist area, and can comfortably fit broad-chested breeds

-Front and back D-rings

-Soft & lightweight: made with human athletic fabrics

-Extra Cushioning around torso

-Adjustable around the neck and body

Recommended Body Weight

40-150 lbs / 18-68 kg

5-50 lbs / 3-23 kg

Leash set

The leash is lightweight nylon

The leash is waterproof PVC

Full Range of motion



Brightly colored

A number of brightly colored options are available

Currently, not many brightly colored options are available

Activewear vs No-pull - Detailed comparison


Sparkpaw’s Activewear harness meets many of the criteria above for good hiking dog harnesses. This particular harness is better suited to small and medium-sized dogs.

It is designed using fabrics commonly used for human sportswear, allowing your dog’s skin to breathe and stay cool. The cushioned harness is also very comfortable, and will keep your smaller dog safe if you need to yank them out of the way of danger.

The fit is easily controlled with adjustable straps around the neck and body, ensuring a snug but comfortable fit. It is also slim enough to allow you to put a jacket or sweater over it if you are thinking of hiking in cooler conditions.

The two D-ring options allow you to go for a no-pull option, or a more-secure back-held option, to make sure that it's equipped for every training level. There are also additional handles stitched into the fabric to allow you more safety and control.

a dog lying in autumn leaves

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Comfort Control No-Pull Dog Harness

This lightweight harness is a perfect hiking harness for larger dogs, especially if your dog pulls you along. This no-pull harness offers more protection than hiking with just a collar and comes in a number of bright colors.

The No-Pull Dog Harness is highly customizable with adjustable straps, with the neck, torso, and waist all being adjustable to suit large-chested breeds. 

There are also three separate D-rings for the leash to clip onto. The forward clip also means that your dog won’t be able to pull you on difficult trails. The harness is made of triple stitched military grade nylon exterior, with soft neoprene interior padding.

This neoprene lining is also odor-resistant and quick-drying, making it a perfect fit for long hikes.

Extra Information to Consider

Leash Law

Harnesses are included in most U.S. Leash Laws (Provided the leash is attached when needed). However, some venues and local areas may insist that you include an ID tag of some kind. This should not be a problem with harnesses that have multiple D-rings; but be prepared just in case. 

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Care Instructions

If camping, don’t leave a harness on your dog all night unless strictly necessary. Though Sparkpaws prioritizes comfort, it is still not good for your dog to wear a harness at all times.

Keep the harness inside your tent, or in a waterproof storage of some kind. Leaving it outside will damage any leash/harness, regardless of quality. A wet harness will also weigh more and is more likely to cause chafing against the skin and fur.

Remember to adjust the harness size if you’re planning on wearing it over a coat or sweater of some kind.


Sparkpaws’ two harness options try to maximize your control in a dangerous environment or situation, but no harness is a cover for a lack of training. Make sure your dog is properly trained before taking them hiking.

Important commands involve coming when called, being able to walk alongside you, and not leaving your general area. Some places may allow you to have your dog off leash for a time, but keep the harness on and make sure they will respond quickly to a call.

Leash training will also save you time and stress on a hike by ensuring that your dog is able to match your pace, and isn’t likely to run off and get in trouble with other dogs or wildlife.


To summarize, a good dog harness for a hike should be made of good quality material, should be light and easy for the dog to carry and move around in, should preferably have multiple attach points for safety, and fit well enough that a dog cannot easily escape.

Sparkpaws offers two harnesses that would be good in this instance - The Activewear Harness and the Comfort Control No-Pull Dog Harness.

The Activewear is more suited to smaller and lighter dogs, while the Comfort Control No-Pull Dog Harness is better suited to larger and stronger dogs. Both options meet the criteria for a good hiking harness, but the No-pull harness offers more in terms of customization and color.

Both options are made from good quality, durable materials that will provide cushioning and comfort to a dog on a long endurance hike.

Always remember that a harness should not replace good training, and that you should still do your best to make sure your dog stays as safe, dry, and unencumbered as possible during a long trek.

Check out the Sparkpaws  Activewear collection and our Comfort Control No-Pull Harness collection now.

We hope that you enjoy hiking with your furry companion soon.

External Resources:

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com

[2] https://www.petsradar.com

[3] https://thekaspack.com