10 Best Dog Leashes for Hiking

10 Best Dog Leashes for Hiking

10 best dog leashes for hiking

10 Best Dog Leashes for Hiking

There is nothing quite like seeing your dog running through the wilderness enjoying itself in its natural environment, but sometimes you need to keep your dog under close control. This list of the best dog leashes for hiking will hopefully give you some ideas for lightweight, compact, and durable designs.

Hiking with your dog is a fantastic way to spend any day of the week and I cannot think of anything else I would rather be doing right now. Some breeds of dog are better suited to hiking than others so always do some research into your breed or ask a vet about suitable distances. If you already have a decent 6-foot leash or Flexi-lead you are comfortable using for hiking then there is no need to change it. If you want a leash specifically for outdoor pursuits then check out these top 10 best dog leashes for hiking different options we can recommend.

Things you Need for Hiking with your Dog

You don’t need to pack much extra stuff when hiking with your dog but here are some of the essentials.

  • Reliable Dog Leash – Strength tested with a quality fastener.
  • Dog Collar / HarnessSubscribe or stay tuned for our up and coming articles on these items.
  • Water and Bowl – Check out the Ruffwear Bivy Dog Bowl for a portable dog bowl.
  • Food and Treats – A bag of biscuits, some treats, and an ultra special reward for the end of the day.
  • Poo Bags – These little dispensers can hold up to 50 bags and will dangle from the leash handle or on your backpack for fast access.
  • First Aid Kit – Check this out, Adventure Medical Kits make a specialist dogs series.

Types of Hiking Dog Leash

There are a few standard options to choose from and they have their use so pick which works best for you.

  • Standard Dog Leash – Typically 6 feet long with a comfortable handle and strong clip/carabiner attatchment made from nylon or leather.
  • Training Leash – These are generally made from tough nylon webbing and can range from 3 meters to almost 30 meters!
  • Slip Leash – Some knowledge or training is required to use these correctly but once mastered, you can teach any dog not to pull with some well-timed tugs and commands.
  • Flexi-leash – For hiking, I recommend only the solid webbed kind and not the thin cordage kind. The reason for this is that you have a lack of control and run the risk of getting some serious rope burn if you accidentally grab the cord.
  • Elasticated Leash – These stretchy dog leashes can be ok for hiking but the lack of control means your dog should be fairly well mannered.
  • Hands-Free Leash – These leashes are great for joggers and they can work well for hiking too. Be wary of doing this with big dogs for obvious reasons.

best dog leashes for hiking

Choosing the Best Dog Leash for Hiking

For trails with other people/dogs/wildlife/farm stock on them, I would recommend a standard 6-foot long leash nine times out of ten. They are possibly the most reliable type of dog leash for hiking and give you lots of hand control in close quarters.

Training leashes are ideal for hiking and camping because they allow your dog the freedom to roam at camp. The downside is they are quite bulky and can get easily tangled on hikes.

Slip leashes may be considered harsh by some but are very effective training tools for dogs that pull – if used correctly. For well-behaved dogs who don’t wear a collar then a slip leash is a fast and easy way to hike with your dog.

While Flexi-leashes don’t offer hardly any control, they are great for well-behaved dogs and is something I use a lot.

Stretchy or elasticated leashes offer comfort to both the dog and owner by reducing the ability to jolt one another. The resistance in a stretchy leash may help tire your dog out faster than normal as they are now battling the forces of physics as well as your muscles.

Hands-Free Leashes will work great for small dogs and well trained medium sized dogs but may not be ideal for hiking adventures. If you still value the hands-free option then why not add a climbing carabiner to any regular leash handle to attach to your belt or backpack?

Some tips for hiking with older dogs

Hiking with your dog can and should be an enjoyable experience for both owner and hound. As dogs get older, like people, they slow down and can’t run like they used to. This doesn’t mean they ever want to miss the chance of an adventure and so there are a more than a few ways to still include them.

  • Sticking to your dog’s pace – I don’t mean stopping for 5 minutes to thoroughly investigate every marking post or rabbit warren. Just understand that your dog cannot go as fast as they used to – don’t get frustrated, instead, use the extra time you have to take in the scenery and smell the roses.
  • Avoid hiking in the full heat of the day – Some breeds of dog cannot regulate their heat very well, check the weather forecast, do your research or speak to a vet before any bigger walks. Try not to hike during the mid-day heat and monitor your dog for heat exhaustion if it is hot.
  • Plan hikes with lots of water sources – Always have plenty of water at hand for regular doggy pit stops, or even better – plan a hike that follows or crosses streams along the way. Cooling down is just as important as staying hydrated but the cold water can also help reduce stiffness after the walk.
  • Shorter loops instead of big hikes – Circling a lake or the base of a mountain can make excellent routes for older dogs and avoids steep gradients which your dog doesn’t find as easy as they used to.
  • Allow for plenty of recovery time – Taking the time to let your dog catch its breath back is important but it is even more important to allow your older dogs to recover after a long hike. This can often take a few days so don’t expect them to run marathons every day like they used to.
  • Check for ticks when you get home – This goes for dogs of all ages and it is also a good idea to check their paws as well as their ears for grass seeds and sticky buds.

10 Best Dog Leashes for Hiking


RuffWear Ridgeline Leash

RuffWear Ridgeline Hiking Dog Leash

WEIGHT: 1.7 oz / 48 g

LENGTH: 2.5 – 4.25 ft / 0.75 – 1.3 m

MATERIAL: Ruffwear’s Wavelength™ 15 mm stretch webbing

The Ruffwear Ridgeline Leash is a minimalist and lightweight option for keeping your dog at heel while hiking. Ruffwear’s Wavelength™ stretchy webbing absorbs shock and allows your dog those precious extra milliseconds to sniff the grass before they have to come back to heel. Perfect for keeping in your pocket while your dog stretches its legs across the fields and then putting back on while passing through lands of livestock or nesting birds. Our winner of the best dog leashes for hiking awards.

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RuffWear Knot-A-Leash

RuffWear Knot-A-Leash Best Dog Leash for Hiking

WEIGHT: 5.6 oz / 160 g

LENGTH: 5 ft / 1.5 m

MATERIAL: Kernmantle Polypropylene climbing rope, Screw-gate carabiner

The Ruffwear Knot-a-Leash is a tough and secure leash inspired by climbers that is suitable for all medium to XXL sized dogs. If the rope is strong enough to abseil off a cliff then it should just about be strong enough for the largest Great Dane or strongest Husky. The screwgate carabiner keeps in theme with the climbing rope dog leash but also means you can reliable secure your dog without worry of escape.

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Mendota Slip Lead

Mendota Slip Lead

WEIGHT: 6.3 oz / 180 g

LENGTH: 6 ft / 1.8 m

MATERIAL: Waterproof polypropylene rope, oil tanned leather

The Mendota Slip Lead is a fast and easy all in one for dogs who don’t wear a collar. They require skill and experience to use for training purposes but if your dog does not pull then you might find this leash perfect for hiking. Always go for a thicker slip lead of about 1/2″ as opposed to a thinner one where possible as they perform better and are more comfortable to use.

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*Side note – I recommend always using a collar with identification tag while hiking as well as having your pet microchipped beforehand.


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Flexi Giant Tape Leash

Flexi Giant Tape Leash for Hiking

WEIGHT: 15.4 oz / 436 g (medium 26 ft)

LENGTH: 26 ft / 8 m

MATERIAL: Nylon webbing, tough plastic housing

The Flexi Giant Tape Leash is super long and comes in 4 different sizes for different breeds/weights of dogs and is ideal for dogs that you can’t trust off leash. The retractable style leash allows your dog lots of freedom to roam without you constantly having to pick up slack line. The webbed tape is incredibly robust and the buttons are all well defined for ease of use and better control. If you want the length of a training leash without the hassle then definitely check this one out.

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Primal Pet Gear 2 Handle Leash

Primal Pet Gear 2 Handle Leash

WEIGHT: 6.4 oz / 181 g

LENGTH: 1 ft or 8 ft / 0.3 m – 2.4 m

MATERIAL: HD stitched nylon

The Primal Pet Gear dual handle dog leash offers more control than maybe any other leash on this list. One padded handle at the end of the leash (8 ft) and another one close to the clip (1 ft) allows you to go from casual walking to up close control in an instant. The double handle design may not be necessary for some people but if you worry about your dog’s behavior then the more control you have the better.

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RuffWear Slackline Leash

RuffWear Slackline Dog Leash for Hikers and Joggers

WEIGHT: 4.8 oz / 136 g

LENGTH: 3.5 – 6 ft / 1.1 – 1.8 m

MATERIAL: Tubelok webbing, Talon Clip™ attachment

The Ruffwear Slackline Leash is and adjustable-length dog leash that can be worn around your waist hands-free or held in one hand like a regular leash. The adjustability is great for going from relaxed walks to bustling country towns with traffic and lots going on. The padded handle is super comfortable for long walks and the adjustable clip allows you to tie your dog to a post while you nip into a shop or have a pub lunch.

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Flexi Vario Tape Leash

Flexi Vario Tape Leash for Walking

WEIGHT: 16 oz / 455 g (medium 16 ft)

LENGTH: 16 ft / 5 m (also available in a large 26 ft option)

MATERIAL: Nylon webbing, tough plastic housing

The Flexi Vario Tape extendable is a user-friendly leash that is compact and customizable. The intuitive design allows you to easily put on the brakes with an ergonomic soft grip handle. There are some interesting add-ons such as LED side light, soft stop extension, led flashing extension, and poo bag/treat box which sits snugly under the grip. May come across as high tech, but the Vario series is very reliable and trail tested.

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Chai’s Choice Reflective Adventure Leash

Chai's Choice Reflective Adventure Leash

WEIGHT: 6.4 oz / 180 g

LENGTH: 6.5 ft / 1.8 m

MATERIAL: Padded nylon webbed mesh with 3M reflective strips

Chai’s Choice Reflective Adventure Leash is bright, lightweight, and comfortable for dog and owner on hikes. The 3M Scotchlite reflective material makes sure you can be seen in the dark and the bright orange color means it is easy to find if you drop it on the trail. The webbed mesh is extremely strong and dries out fast if it gets wet. Available in two different sizes and 5 colors in the link below.

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Mexvell Leash with Unbreakable Carabiner

Mexvell Leash with Unbreakable Carabiner

WEIGHT: 5.6 oz / 160 g

LENGTH: 6 ft / 1.8 m

MATERIAL: 100% Pure woven nylon

The Mexvell Dog Leash with an unbreakable carabiner is designed to stay securely attached to your dog’s collar until it is time to take it off, and not before. The tough woven nylon is built for heavy duty use with big dogs, but because it is so lightweight it works just as well for small dogs.

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Leash Boss Long Trainer Leash

Leashboss Long Trainer Leash

WEIGHT: 8.8 oz / 250 g

LENGTH: 15 ft / 4.5 m (also available in 20 ft, 30 ft, and 50 ft)

MATERIAL: High-quality USA woven nylon

The Leashboss Long Trainer is a tough and durable training lead that allows your dog plenty of freedom but still has lots of handler control. Although the leash is quite bulky, it rolls up nicely with fastener strap and only weighs .25 kg. Ideal for training hikes when you are teaching a new dog the rules and there is no better leash to use at campsites.

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Gear Assistant