Best Dog Harness for Hiking in 2021: 7 Picks for Comfort & Safety

Best Dog Harness for Hiking
Image by Canva Photos

Craving adventure and feeling antsy? So is your dog! Get some fresh air and take in a hefty dose of nature by taking your dog hiking! What’s more fun for your dog than a walk around the block? A walk in the woods, of course! So many fun smells and sights for both of you to enjoy. Hiking with your dog does not require a lot of additional gear, but it is important to find the best dog harness for hiking so that your pup will be comfortable and useful on your hikes.

Whether you are an avid hiker or just wanting a change of scenery for you and your dog, it is essential to get your dog a sturdy, well-made harness. There are many harnesses out there, but not all of them are great or even suitable for hiking. But don’t worry! We did the research and tested out candidates for the best dog hiking harness, so you don’t have to!

Our Top Picks: Best Dog Harness for Hiking

In a hurry to hit the trail? Here a quick overview of our top picks:

  • Best Overall: Outward Hound DayPak. With expandable pouches and breathable mesh lining, this harness by Outward Hound is perfect for all-day hikes.
  • Best for Little Dogs: ZippyPaws Adventure Dog Backpack. Lightweight but durable construction and adjustable straps make this a great option for little guys.
  • Best for Water Adventures: Lifeunion Waterproof Life Jacket Backpack. You and your pup can traverse rivers, creeks, and more with this life jacket/harness/backpack combo.
  • Best for Turning Your Dog Into a Pack Mule: Kurgo Baxter Dog Backpack. If you are planning an all-day hike with your dog and everyone in your quarantine pod, this is a must-have.
  • Best for Winter Hiking: Xanday Dog Jacket with Harness. Keep your dog warm without adding lots of bulk, which can reduce their range of motion and cause discomfort.
  • Best Luxury Dog Hiking Harness: EzyDog High Performance Summit Dog Backpack. You and your dog go hiking regularly. Time to upgrade their gear!
  • Best Multi-Day Hiking Dog Harness: Ruffwear Palisades Dog Pack. Comes with plenty of room for your dog’s essentials, includes water bladders.

1. Outward Hound DayPak

The best dog harness for hiking overall

Outward Hound DayPak

Brand: Outward Hound | Material: Mesh & Nylon | Size Options: 3 | Price: 💰

This sturdy dog pack is perfect for day-trippers who need to get outside and explore. The DayPak features four expandable pockets and a D-ring leash clip. It generally comes in two colors: blue and green. Adjustable straps make the dog harness a perfect fit. It comes in three sizes, so no matter what breed or size of dog you have, this harness will fit! It will hold all of your essentials so you can be pack-free if you choose. Velcro fasteners ensure that your belongings won’t get lost along the trail.

  • Lightweight: Must but that breezy mesh and nylon combo
  • Helps reduce pulling, making hikes more enjoyable and less hard on your leash-holding arm
  • Use it to slow your dog down! Add weights or water bottles, and your high-energy dog will be ready for a nap after a long hike.

  • Difficulty getting it to stay in place and fit properly
  • If contents of pack aren’t evenly distributed, pack will shift to heavier side
  • Not terribly sturdy: some reviewers complained that they nylon ripped after a few wears

2. ZippyPaws Adventure Dog Backpack

The best dog hiking harness for little dogs

ZippyPaws Adventure Dog Backpack

Brand: ZippyPaws | Material: Mesh & Nylon | Size Options: 4 | Price: 💰

The ZippyPaws pack comes in several sizes, but at under half a pound in weight, it is perfect for little guys! Your small breed nugget will love feeling like a pack member — literally — when they wear this stylish hiking dog harness. This lightweight pack lets your dog carry its own supplies on day hikes and short trips, so your load is lighter, and outings are more fun! Roomy dual pockets on both sides distribute the load properly. The breathable polyester fabric keeps your pup cool in summer.

  • Quite affordable
  • Easy-to-adjust straps for the perfect fit
  • Stylish fabric elevates this pack from mere hiking gear to a fashion accessory

  • Saddlebags do not hold much 
  • Not made of the most outdoor-friendly fabrics

3. Lifeunion Waterproof Life Jacket

The best dog hiking harness for water adventures

Lifeunion Adjustable

Brand: Lifeunion | Material: Nylon & Padded Foam | Size Options: 2 | Price: 💰

Lifeunion’s waterproof dog jacket is durable, high-quality nylon. It is lightweight and comfortable for long days of enjoying the great outdoors. A sturdy metal ring and padded handle give you proper control. Large side pockets are ideal for carrying everything you and your dog need. This pack can be used as a life jacket in addition to a day pack just in case your hike includes a swim. 

  • Easy to adjust to get the sizing perfect
  • Comfortable feeling material and straps
  • Even if your dog doesn’t know how to swim, they will enjoy being in the water while wearing the life jacket harness

  • Might not be buoyant enough for heavier breeds
  • Saddlebags ripped when used to store hiking essentials
  • Measurements seem off — measure carefully before ordering

4. Kurgo Baxter Dog Backpack

The best dog harness for turning your dog into a pack mule

Kurgo Baxter Dog Backpack

Brand: Kurgo | Material: Polyester | Size Options: 2 | Price: 💰💰

Get your dog packed up and ready for any adventure with the Kurgo Baxter Dog Backpack. Lightweight and tough, this backpack is strong enough to withstand rugged conditions while giving your dog a custom fit with eight different attachment points. The ergonomic, padded spine support contours to your dog’s back for a comfortable fit and provides even weight distribution for the two saddlebags that hold all the travel essentials. A rear-mounted leash hook works like a harness for dogs who need to be on leash. There is also a large, padded handle that you can use to assist your pup over rocky terrain.

  • Helps reduce pulling
  • Buckles and straps seem to remain secure even on long, rocky hikes
  • Saddlebags can hold a lot of gear — just make sure the weight balances on both sides

  • Takes a few tries to get the harness to fit properly
  • The pack must balance out for it to be comfortable

5. Xanday Dog Jacket with Harness

The best winter hiking dog harness

Xanday Dog Jacket with Harness

Brand: Xanday | Material: Polyester & Poly Fleece | Size Options: 8 | Price: 💰

Hiking during the winter months is nothing like traversing the wilderness in summer. One thing you must take into account when prepping for a winter hiking trek is that your dog could get cold. Dress your pup up in the Xanday dog jacket with a built-in harness. It isn’t a day pack with saddlebags, but it will keep your pup warm without adding bulk. Not only will this dog jacket keep your pup feeling toasty, it is also waterproof! If your dog does get wet, their jacket will still provide dry warmth. This hiking jacket comes in various colors and sizes.

  • Reflective strips provide excellent visibility
  • Long jacket goes from collar to base of tail
  • Velcro straps stay in place even on the most active dogs

  • Not sturdy enough for dogs that are bad leash pullers
  • Difficult to zip up a hyperactive dog that will not hold still
  • Some reviewers said the stitching did not seem sturdy enough

6. EzyDog High Performance Summit Dog Backpack

The best luxury dog hiking harness

EzyDog High Performance Summit Dog Backpack

Brand: EzyDog | Material: Polyester & Ripstop | Size Options: 3 | Price: 💰💰

Hit the trails running with the EzyDog High Performance Summit Dog Backpack. Built for function and fun, the ergonomic and comfortable backpack comes with everything you need for an outing with your best bud. The saddlebag style features handy storage on both sides, so you can bring everything you need for the day’s activities. Its main compartments are a breathable ripstop material with waterproof zippers for extra protection. The wide, flip-top opening panel allows easy access to the essentials. Rust-proof, stainless-steel D-rings in the back and front of the pack allow for multiple leash attachment configurations.

  • Holds everything your dog needs for a long hike
  • Stylish; be ready to get lots of compliments along the trails
  • Water-repellant; can handle getting splashed as you and your pup traverse creeks and take in the sights of a mountain-side waterfall

  • Saddlebag netting is prone to ripping
  • Sits too far forward for some pet owners
  • May not be big enough for giant breeds like akitas

7. Ruffwear Palisades Dog Pack

The best multi-day hiking dog harness

RUFFWEAR Dog Pack

Brand: Ruffwear | Material: Fabric, Padding, and Mesh Webbing | Size Options: 3 | Price: 💰💰💰

You’re ready for a multi-day camping and hiking trip, but is your dog? The Ruffwear Palisades Dog Pack is designed for multi-day use and includes two 1-liter collapsible hydration bladders. Attach the saddlebags with its secure aluminum hardware and compression system for easy carrying while hiking. The bags are removable so your dog can still wear the harness without the attached gear. Plenty of stash pockets will hold you and your dog’s stuff while you hike and explore. You can even hang some of your gear on exterior loops for easy grab on the go.

This is one of the best dog harnesses for hiking because of its adjustable 5-point harness for ultimate comfort. Reflective trim and a light loop to affix another light source make it great for before sunrise or after sunset hikes.

  • Watertight zipper on each pack keeps contents dry
  • Comfortable enough to wear for up to 9 hours at a time
  • Durable handle is excellent for carrying pups over rugged terrain

  • Ripped after their dog went through some thick brush
  • Too much capacity for even the most skilled hiking dog

How to Fit Your Dog for a Hiking Harness

Golden Retriever Wearing the Best Dog Harness for Hiking
Image by Wiese Harald / Canva Photos

If your dog has never carried a pack before, it is crucial that you start them off with very little weight in their pack. Your dog will get used to it, and then you can add more weight. However, to start, you must not weigh them down with more than 25% of their body weight, which includes both the pack and its contents.

Make sure that the straps are snug but not too tight. If the straps rub your dog, it can cause irritation and infection; make sure the fit feels right. You should be able to stick two of your fingers in between the strap and your dog. If that’s a struggle, the strap is too snug. 

Our Process

Compiling a best-of list can be tricky: deciding on criteria and rating metrics, weeding through hundreds of products, and then articulating the list from a place of knowledge and experience.

This reviewer has several years of veterinary experience and education and loves hiking with their dog, and can speak intelligently on the topic of dog hiking harnesses. Even so, we read hundreds of reviews (both positive and negative) from multiple sources in order to compare data and create our list of the top 7 best dog harnesses for hiking available for purchase.


Further Reading

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Best Hiking Shoes for Women
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Best Hydration Packs for Hiking
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