Ruffwear is a well-known company in the world of dog-apparel and harnesses. If you have read many articles on this blog (or if you follow us on social media), you may have noticed that our dogs are frequently photographed wearing Ruffwear Webmaster Harnesses. The Webmaster Harness fits both dogs well and has held up to a lot of abuse on hiking trails. So when Ruffwear announced an updated version of the Webmaster Harness, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the new Flagline Harness.
The Flagline Harness is one of the newest additions to Ruffwear’s line of adventure dog harnesses. It is a lightweight harness designed to be easy to get on and off. The harness includes a padded handle along the back of the harness and a lightly padded load-dispersing chest/belly panel. It is highly adjustable and has 3 different points for leash attachment. To top it all off, the Flagline Harness has a debris resistant liner and reflective trim for visibility in low-light conditions.
Below we will discuss each feature in detail, compare them to the features of the Webmaster Harness, and let you know how these features work for us. But if you want to visit the official Ruffwear website, here is a link to the Flagline Harness (opens in new tab).
The Flagline Harness is significantly smaller than either of the two Ruffwear harnesses (the Front Range and the Webmaster) that I have used on Glia previously. This small, lightweight design makes the Flagline Harness more packable and also allows for more natural movement for your dog.
Below you can see the amount of back coverage of the Webmaster (left) compared to the new Flagline (right).
When we researched different harness types for hiking dogs, we found a couple of research studies that concluded that the less surface area a harness covered, the less it altered a dog’s natural gait. (Our review of this research can be found in our post “3 Tips for Choosing the Best Harness for Your Dog’s Next Adventure.”)
Although we aren’t aware of any research directly comparing how the Webmaster and Flagline harnesses affect a dog’s gait, we are hopeful that the smaller, lightweight design of the Flagline harness will help reduce alterations to normal movement.
Overall, we like the lightweight design, but there may be a few drawbacks to the smaller harness. Prior to purchasing the Flagline Harness we read a couple of customer reviews concerned that the lightweight design might make the harness less durable. But so far, the construction of this harness looks sound. And it performed wonderfully on the first few hikes we have taken with this harness. We will update this post if that changes over the next few months.
Easy to Get On and Off
The Ruffwear Flagline Harness has a total of 4 buckles (that’s two more than the Webmaster). This means that your dog doesn’t have to step into this harness. Simply slide the harness over your dog’s head and start buckling.
In the picture below you can see the two buckles on one side of the harness. The other side of the harness looks identical to the side pictured.
If you are familiar with Groundbird Gear harnesses, then this system might be very familiar to you. In fact, the Ruffwear Flagline Harness reminds us a lot of our Groundbird Gear harness. Both are lightweight, easy on/off, and include a full chest/belly panel (which we will discuss in more detail later).
So if you don’t need the pack system for your dog, the Flagline could be a cheaper/ non-custom version of the Groundbird Gear harness. That being said, we love Groundbird Gear’s trekking packs. So if you are looking for a pack system for your dog (or want the custom harness), head over to read our Groundbird Gear review.
Below is an image of the Groundbird Gear harness for comparison with the Flagline Harness pictured above.
Just like the Webmaster, the Flagline features a handle along the back of the harness. This has been one of our favorite features of the Webmaster, and we are sure we will use this feature of the Flagline frequently. The handle comes in handy for helping your dog over difficult terrain or for extra secure restraint.
The handle is a little smaller on the Flagline than on the Webmaster, so if you have large hands, be aware that it might not fit a fully gloved adult hand. It also seems to be a little further back along the harness, which may make it a little further away from a dog’s center of gravity. But of course, that will depend on your dog’s body shape.
Load-Dispersing Chest/Belly Panel
This is a great feature of the Flagline Harness. The Webmaster had a much narrower attachment between the chest straps. And the belly strap was not attached to the chest straps at all. As a result, if you needed to pick up your dog, there was minimal support along the chest and belly. The Flagline looks much more comfortable for the dog when lifted.
In this picture we posted to Instagram last winter, you can see the narrow chest band of the Webmaster Harness.
The pictures below compare the Webmaster to the Flagline again. You can see how the belly strap is not connected to the chest straps of the Webmaster. The new design of the Flagline connects these straps with a solid chest/belly panel. This provides much better support when needing to lift the dog by the padded handle.
One of our concerns about the Flagline was that due to the lack of adjustability along the chest/belly panel, that the harness wouldn’t fit around Glia’s deep chest as well as the Webmaster. We were happy to find that the belly panel did still extend past the end of Glia’s sternum and it doesn’t appear that she will be able to slip out of this harness. (Our biggest complaint with the Front Range is that Glia could back out of that harness).
Another bonus is that the fixed chest panel actually results in more space between the straps and Glia’s armpit area. Even with full extension of the adjustable chest panel strap on the Webmaster, the Webmaster did not allow as much room as the Flagline Harness does.
We were happy with the adjustability of the Flagline Harness. Glia is a size small in Ruffwear harnesses, but she is almost on the border between sizes. Her chest size measures 26.5 to 27 inches depending on her current weight. And she often wears sweaters in the winter, which increases her chest circumference.
The size small Flagline Harness is intended for dogs with chest circumferences from 22 to 27 inches. Despite Glia being on the high side of that range, we still had plenty of strap left for future adjustments after fitting the harness to Glia’s current size/shape.
Check out this video from Ruffwear on how to fit and adjust the Flagline Harness.
Multiple Points for Leash Attachment
While we almost exclusively use the main attachment (an aluminum V-ring) along the back of the harness, we know of many other dog owners who will love the front leash attachment.
Below you can see the front leash attachment, which is a fabric attachment unlike the aluminum V-ring on the back of the harness.
The front clip leash attachment is great for helping train dogs who like to pull while they hike. The Front Range Harness has had this front leash attachment point for years and people have been asking for a Webmaster style harness with this attachment. So for those of you who have been asking, this harness looks like a great solution.
The third leash attachment point is at the back of the harness. Honestly, I don’t think we will use this attachment point at all. But if your dog does an encouraged pulling (skijoring, etc), then this attachment point may work for that.
Reflective Trim for Better Visibility in Low Light
If you walk in high traffic areas, this is a great feature. Here in Minnesota, it is already dark by the time we walk throughout the fall, winter, and early spring. Reflective trim helps us keep safe on our nightly walks.
Overall, we are very impressed with the new Flagline Harness from Ruffwear. This harness is sure to become as much of a staple piece of hiking gear as the Ruffwear Webmaster has been. Our biggest complaint is that the color choices are still lacking.
We loved the color options of the Front Range Harness and were hoping for some fun pinks and purples to be released with the new harness. But color doesn’t affect the functionality and we love the upgrades that have been incorporated into the Ruffwear Flagline Harness.
Ready to purchase the Flagline Harness? Below is a link to find this harness on Amazon. Please note, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Not ready to purchase? Read more about the Flagline Harness and how it compares with the Web Master Harness in this comparison post. Ruffwear released an updated version of this harness in 2022. Check out the new colors!
And of course, don’t hesitate to comment below if you have any other questions about the Flagline Harness? We are happy to reply to your comments.