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Best Hiking Leash For Dogs: Ruffwear Roamer Leash (Gear Review)


There’s nothing better than going for a hike with your dog, but finding the right leash for the trail can be challenging. The Ruffwear Roamer Leash is perfect for both experienced dog owners and newbies looking for a leash that it durable and hands-free.

You should always have a leash with you when hiking with your dog. Many trails require dogs to be on-leash. This helps to prevent negative dog-dog, dog-human, and dog-wildlife interactions. Even in areas where dogs can legally hike off-leash, it’s important to keep your dog under control and have a leash handy in case you run into other dogs or people who aren’t comfortable with off-leash dogs.

This article shares my favorite hands-free and heavy duty hiking leash for dogs- the Ruffwear Roamer Leash. Whether you’re hiking in the mountains of Colorado, the desert of Southern Utah, or the beaches of California, the Ruffwear Roamer Leash is designed to withstand any environment. Keep reading to find out why the Ruffwear Roamer Leash is the best hiking leash for dogs.

Hiking with Becket in Moab, Utah.

Best Hiking Leash For Dogs: Ruffwear Roamer Leash

My number one recommendation for a hiking leash for dogs is the Ruffwear Roamer Leash. The leash is hands-free and can be worn around your waist. It also has a stretchy, bungee style rope, which gives your dog some room to roam without getting you tangled. 

I’ve been hiking with my dog, Becket regularly since I adopted him in 2017. We’ve gone through a number of different hiking leashes over the years while hiking dog-friendly trails in Colorado and Utah, so I can attest that the Roamer Leash is miles ahead of other leashes on the market in terms of function and durability.

I bought the Ruffwear Roamer Leash back in 2021. I’ve used it on dozens of hikes in varying terrain across the Western United States, and it’s still in fantastic condition. Ruffwear has updated the leash since I purchased it, but from what I’ve gathered the only thing they’ve changed are the color options (the current options are much nicer than the gray leash I have!).

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Woman holding a beer and walking through the water at the beach with a leash around her waist walking her black dog.

Ruffwear’s Roamer Leash is not only durable, but the hands-free design is a game changer when it comes to hiking with dogs. The primary reason I love it is because wearing the leash around my waist frees up my hands for hiking poles or other items. This is particularly nice on backpacking trips in areas that require dogs to be leashed, like the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness in Colorado. However, I will note, that a hands-free hiking leash might not be a good option for dogs that tend to pull on their leash.

Hiking on a dog-friendly trail during my Olympic National Park honeymoon.

Other Outdoor Activities

In addition to being a great hiking leash, the Ruffwear Roamer Leash is also great for trail running and camping with your dog. When trail running, the leash keeps your dog close, but it also provides enough slack to keep you from getting tripped up. At camp, the bungee cord allows your dog to have room to explore, while keeping them from running off.

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Ruffwear Roamer Leash Specs

  • Can be held or worn around the waist.
  • Currently comes in 2 different colors: River Rock Green & Orion Blue
  • Comes in 2 different lengths. 5.5-7 ft. & 7.3-11 ft.
  • Comes with a strong, aluminum clip to securely attach the leash to your dog’s harness or collar.
  • Shock-absorbing webbing is made from Polyester.
  • Currently on sale during the REI anniversary sale.
Hiking in Crested Butte in the fall.

What to Consider When Choosing a Hiking Leash For Dogs

Durability

Depending on the type of hiking that you do, you may subject your leash to a variety of rough conditions. The Ruffwear Roamer Leash can withstand any element, from mud, to snow, to sand. I’ve put Becket’s leash through the ringer over the past 3 years and it’s still as durable as ever. 

In general, the Ruffwear brand is my go-to for outdoor dog gear because of the durability. They make products specifically geared towards adventurous people and their dogs, so I know if I buy a product from them I’m getting something designed for the outdoors.

In addition to the Roamer Leash, my dog has a Flat Out Collar and the K-9 Float Coat. My husband also keeps the Dirtbag Seat Cover on the backseat of his truck. Obviously, we’re big Ruffwear fans!

Man hiking with a black dog on a leash in front of a reservoir.
Hiking the Dillon Pinnacles Trail in Curecanti National Recreation Area in Colorado.

Type of Leash

Traditional, hand-held leashes are the most common type of hiking leashes that you’ll find. The main drawback to hiking with a traditional dog leash is that you have to physically hold the leash. This can be frustrating on a long hike. In my opinion, it’s also easier to get tangled up in a traditional leash than it is with something stretchy, like the Ruffwear Roamer Leash.

While retractable leashes can be convenient and give your dog a greater birth when hiking, they can also be dangerous. Retractable leashes can potentially cause burns, and extreme cases, finger amputations. Retractable leashes also snap easier than durable leashes. If this happens, not only can the leash snap back and injure you, but your dog can run off.

If you want to give your dog some space when hiking, the Ruffwear Roamer Leash is a great alternative to a retractable leash. The Roamer Leash has a stretchy bungee cord that allows dogs to move freely while hiking or trail running.

Personally, I think the best type of hiking leash for dogs is a stretchy, hands-free leash that you can wear around your waist. This is why I think the Ruffwear Roamer Leash is the best leash you can have for hiking with your dog.

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Have questions about the Ruffwear Roamer Leash? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Caryn Gontarek says:

    Can I ask which length of the leash you prefer…the 5.5 foot or 7.3 foot? Thank you SO much!
    😊 Caryn

    • Kate Jaquith says:

      I have the 5.5 ft. and think it’s the perfect length. Some areas require dogs to be on leashes under 6 ft., so the shorter leash would be my pick (although I don’t think anyone is actually going around measuring how long leashes are!).

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