Ruffwear Flagline Harness Review (and how it compares to the Webmaster Harness)

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).

Lightweight Design

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.

Padded Handle

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.

Highly Adjustable

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 Review

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.


Kate is the writer of Pawsitively Intrepid. She has spent the last 9 years working full-time as a veterinarian, treating dogs and cats. But as of June 2023, she is taking a year to travel with her dog, volunteer, and work on some passion projects.

25 thoughts on “Ruffwear Flagline Harness Review (and how it compares to the Webmaster Harness)

  1. Do you think the flag line harness is better for a front amputee? My dog just had her left leg amputated. And I’m looking for a good harness to help her around upstairs down a step I just want to have a good handle on her. Any information you give me would be great. Thank you so much, Corine

    1. Corine, I hope your pup is recovering well. That is a big surgery, but I know several dogs who have adjusted very well afterward. To answer your question, yes, I do think this harness would provide good support for helping to lift a dog and assist with balance when going up and down stairs. I really like the continuous belly/chest panel that this harness has to help distribute the dog’s weight along the harness. The handle is a little smaller on this harness than on the webmaster, but as long as you don’t have large hands this shouldn’t be a problem. The only thing I am not sure of is if the harness would rotate at all without a second front leg to keep it centered. It doesn’t slip around much on either of my dogs, so I think it would be okay for a front-leg amputee. If you end up trying it out for your dog, I would love to hear how it works for you.

  2. Hello – I have a greyhound (80lb male, 33 inch girth). The Front Range harness I have currently rubs his chest. Ruffwear recommended either the Web Master of Flag Line as a better fit for a greyhound. Wondering based on your knowledge of the two, which would fit a large shoulder, deep chested dog. We do mostly trail walking, no heavy duty hiking. Thanks!!

    1. Honestly, I haven’t used Ruffwear’s gear on a dog your greyhound’s size yet. And although my own smaller deep-chested dog has fairly thin fur, I haven’t had rubbing problems with either the Webmaster or the Flagline. But if I were to choose one that I would think would rub less, I like the fit of the Ruffwear Flagline better as the chest panel is softer, the straps are further away from my dog’s armpits, and it slides around less on her compared to the Webmaster. I have a few more pictures in my updated post: Ruffwear’s Flagline Harness vs. the Web Master Harness: which should you choose?

      Hope that helps and thanks for the comment!

  3. my pooch is a male mini schnauzer with a square body.
    He has a deep chest which measures 54cm.
    Do you think I should upsize to the S or would XS be suitable.

    1. Ruffwear says that if you are in between sizes, to choose the larger size. But honestly, I didn’t for my larger dog. For reference, Glia, has a deep chest that measures 69cm and I sized her in the small (she is on the border between S and M) and I really like the fit. However, I did size my smaller one, Sasha, up from an XXS to an XS. That harness fits really well for length, but is a little loose around her neck. It looks like 54 cm is right at the upper end of the XS, so you should be okay with the XS. But when in doubt, you can always ask Ruffwear. They have great customer service 🙂

  4. Thanks for the review! Would the flagline be good for all day use like they advertise the front range for? I was looking between the flagline and the front range. One of my dogs is more prone to chaffing than the other so I am trying to decide between the two for her. I read that the front range is more padded to prevent chaffing. I just do not want to miss out on the other features of the flagline.

    1. Both of my pups can wear the Flagline harness for full-day hikes without any problems. I have never noticed any redness on their chests or near their armpits after hours of wear (even despite often wearing the harness wet after swimming in lakes in the summer). However, neither of them have had any chaffing in previous harnesses either, so they might not be that prone to chaffing in the first place. I really like the Flagline and typically recommend that harness for most dogs. If you do end up purchasing the Flagline and having any chaffing issues, I would appreciate it if you would let me know. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for the pictures and comparison! My dog recently slipped his harness (backed out flawlessly) when he got scared. We happened to be in a parking lot so I opened my door and he jumped in but we were close to a busy road and it scared me! I had been looking at the webmaster but am now considering the flagline and will check out the groundbird gear you mentioned. How does those 2 compare?

    I also decided against the webmaster when I saw the material coverage – I have an Aussie that is really heat intolerant so don’t want to add lots of covering and make him even hotter.

  6. Thank you for doing this review! If you don’t mind I have a question – I have the webmaster and for 8 years it’s been amazing. However, recently it is causing an injury to my dogs shoulder. (She lunged after a squirrel I did not see and got snapped back). The strap that crosses her shoulder to the breast plate attachment cut into her shoulder and essentially caused a tendinitis injury. It was suggested I get a different harness. My dog wiggles out of most harnesses (55lb lab/border collie mix but her neck is bigger than her head). Is the padding/ wider straps substantially different from the webmaster in your opinion? Or are they super similar in the shoulder and I should look elsewhere? Thank you for your time.

    1. Sorry to hear that your pup suffered a tendinitis injury from pulling that hard into the harness. Hope she is healing well! The Flagline does have a little more fabric underneath the strap and sits a little bit different, but honestly, I don’t know if it is enough to significantly change the pressure placed across the dog’s shoulder joint. It might be possible to adjust the neck opening so that it sits higher (and further away from the shoulder joint). I have a few more side by side photos of the two harnesses in a post I wrote that directly compares the two harnesses. Hope that helps.

  7. My dog is a Houdini! Would this keep her from backing out? I have tried many harnesses & nothing has worked forcing us to use a claw choke collar which she has even managed to break when seeing a small dog which she hates due to being bit in the face twice by them. We have had her to 3 different certified trainers who gave up on her due to her lack of attention & deemed her fear aggressive. Yes she is a rescue taken from her mom at a very young age.
    Please help!

    1. To answer your question, with a correctly fitted Web Master harness, it would be very difficult for a dog to back out of the harness. Personally, my dog has not come close to backing out of the Web Master, but she has a deep chest and slender waist. You may need to try the harness on your own dog to confirm that it would fit your dog’s body shape as well as it fits my dog. The Flagline doesn’t come back as far on a dog’s abdomen, so there is a higher risk of slipping out of the Flagline compared to the Web Master.

      And sorry to hear about your struggles with reactivity and aggression with your pup. It can be challenging to work with and help a reactive dog. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to consider a consult with a veterinary behaviorist. And in the meantime, check out the CARE for Reactive Dogs website. Both resources were helpful for me when working with my own reactive dog.

  8. Hi! My dog should wear a small, but I’m worried about the belly panel being long enough… could you possibly give me the length of the chest/belly panel? Thanks!

    1. Sure. The entire chest/belly panel is about 14 inches long on the size small Flagline. You can find some more measurements with pictures next to a ruler in this post:

  9. Hi, I just bought Ruffwear flagline harness size L/XL and I hope it would fit my English Labrador retriever that is 92 cm in this chest. I’ve read it’s up to 107cm.

    He pulls quite often when he sees another dogs or animals and I do hope that this harness will help me with this pulling problems.

    Has anyone English lab that pulls ? Would you recommend it?


  10. Hi,
    have you had any problems long the spine (specifically where the light attachment is) of rubbing against the spine. Mine for some reason has a sore and now a small bald spot in that area from either the buckles or the stiitching area rubbing against her spine.

    1. Hi Betty. Sorry to hear that the harness is resulting in some fur loss. I haven’t had any problems with areas rubbing at all. I wonder if you could adjust the fit a little by changing how tight it fits?

  11. Hi,
    have you had any problems long the spine (specifically where the light attachment is) of rubbing against the spine. Mine for some reason has a sore and now a small bald spot in that area from either the buckles or the stiitching area rubbing against her spine.

  12. I have a pembroke welsh corgi. Her chest measures 22 inches and her neck 15 inches. What size do you recommend I go with?

    1. Hi! You could probably pick either an XS or an S. However, assuming your pup is not overweight and with Corgi’s being a longer dog, I would probably choose the S for more full-body coverage.

  13. I have a Spineone/Dalmatian cross, her chest is 26 and her neck is 15.5 in, her body length from the base of her tail to her shoulders is 25in, and she stands at 22.5 tall at the shoulder – by her chest size it recommends a small, but I feel like that might be *small* for her… She’s still in her scrawny puppy phase and I’m hoping she’ll fill out eventually… What size do you recommend?

    1. Hi! Thanks for leaving a comment. It’s always so hard when dog’s are a little in between sizes. If you think she still has a little growing to do, my recommendation is to size up into the medium. The extra length might be nice since she is so long, tall, and slender. Let me know if that size doesn’t work for her though. – Happy Hiking, Kate

  14. Hello, thank you for your very thorough reviews and comparison post! My rescue pup slipped out of the front range a while back and I haven’t used it since, so I’m considering either the webmaster or the flagline. I know the webmaster is considered to be very secure and “escape-proof” which would give me more peace of mind, but since my dog is also reactive, I do like having a front clip which the webmaster doesn’t have. My dog is on the smaller side (about 17 lbs, yorkie/shih tzu/poodle mix), so I also wonder whether the webmaster might be a bit bulky for him. Do you think the flagline would be better and secure enough for him, or should I sacrifice the front leash attachment and go with webmaster to be on the safe side? For reference he’s about 17 lbs, 15 in length, 19 in girth, and 12 in neck and had XS for front range

    1. Hi! Thank you for reading the review and leaving a comment. Honestly, that’s a hard decision. My deep chested larger black dog has not every actually slipped out of the Flagline, but if I don’t have it tightened well it can pull up around her shoulders. The back strap just doesn’t make it far enough past her ribcage to stay as secure as the Web Master. But my 12 pound dog seems to be more secure in the Flagline, as the back strap of the harness sits further back on her body. I think it would be worth ordering the Flaline and seeing how it fits your pup. It really is my favorite hiking harness. If it doesn’t seem secure enough, Ruffwear does have a pretty good return policy.

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