If you are looking for a great harness for your dog to wear while hiking, then you have probably heard about Ruffwear dog gear. Ruffwear harnesses are some of the best harnesses currently on the market for active dogs.
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to worry about price or sustainability and could just buy your dog one of every harness. But realistically, for those looking for an everyday full-body harness, the decision in the Ruffwear catalog comes down to the Flagline or the Web Master.
If you forced me to choose just one for Glia and Sasha, I would choose the Flagline. But I also haven’t stopped using the Web Master since I added the Flagline to the dogs’ closet. This blog post is a comparison post intended to help those of you on the fence make a decision about which Ruffwear harness to purchase for your pup. Below is a comparison table, a video of both harnesses on my dog Glia, and several paragraphs discussing the differences and similarities of the two harnesses.
Ruffwear makes several harnesses. The current collection of harnesses can be viewed on Ruffwear’s website. There are also a few new changes/additions coming in 2020. Check out the 2020 catalog to view the upcoming products.
The first harness I tried on Glia was the Front Range and while the quality was great, this harness was not very secure. She almost backed out of it a couple of times. Yikes! So we upgraded to the Ruffwear Web Master.
If you have been following our national parks journey for long then you are probably aware that we have been really impressed with Ruffwear’s Web Master harness (we just wish it came in as many colors as the front range). Both Sasha and Glia have the Web Master in Blue Dusk, but we can’t wait for some pinks or purples.
Since we have been so impressed with the Web Master, when the Flagline was announced, we couldn’t wait to try the latest full-body harness from Ruffwear.
Now that we have had the Flagline for several months, we wanted to write a quick comparison post for those of you trying to decide which harness to purchase.
About the Harnesses
The Ruffwear Web Master harness and the Ruffwear Flagline harness have a lot in common. They are both full-body harnesses, meaning they are intended to fit to the end or past the dog’s ribcage. This extra length provides more support when lifting/assisting the dog and reduces the chance that a dog will slip out of the harness.
Both harnesses come in the same sizing options (Glia wears a size S and Sasha wears size XS) and both have multiple points of adjustment to help get a good fit. Color options are pretty similar as both come in a variant of blue, variant of red, and black/gray. However, there are a few differences between the harnesses.
Web Master Harness
The Web Master is Ruffwear’s original full-body harness. It is also the harness style used for Ruffwear’s dog packs. Since it has been around a while and is incorporated into the dog packs, it has a few accessories (like the core cooler and brush guard) to help customize it to your dog’s needs.
Here is what Ruffwear has to say about the Webmaster harness:
The Ruffwear Web Master Harness is a secure, supportive, multi-use harness built for maneuvering and assisting dogs up and over obstacles as well as for designated working dogs. Thin, durable foam provides support without hindering range of motion and a platform for attaching patches and signage for working dogs. Five points of adjustment create a secure fit, while padded chest and belly straps make the Web Master comfortable for all-day wear. The preferred harness of many avalanche rescue dog programs, service dog handlers, and amputee dogs, the Web Master is a great collar alternative and ideal for hiking, scrambling, and mobility assistance.https://ruffwear.com/collections/dog-harnesses/products/web-master-harness
The Flagline harness was released in the fall of 2019. It is a more lightweight and packable harness compared to the Web Master. It also has a front leash attachment point and has buckles on both sides of the harness to make it easy to get on and off your dog.
(In the image below the Flagline harness is a little loose as we had not re-adjusted the straps after Glia wore it over her sweater.)
Here is Ruffwear’s description of the Flagline harness:
The Flagline Harness is a fast, light, and comfortable harness that keeps dogs in their flow, from scrambling in the backcountry to conquering everyday obstacles. A handle and load-dispersing chest/belly panel make for easy lift-and-assist in a nimble design good for all-day wear. High adjustability and easy on/off make the Flagline secure and accessible, giving dogs a little boost and a lot of freedom when the path ahead is anything but flat.https://ruffwear.com/collections/dog-harnesses/products/dog-harness-flagline
Time to Compare
Let’s start with a quick table showing the specs of both harnesses side by side. Then below this table, is an 8-minute video that shows how the two harnesses fit on Glia. After the video, we will discuss each aspect mentioned in the table plus some other differences between the two harnesses. Scroll all the way to the bottom for my overall opinion on which harness is better.
|# of Buckles
|Adjustable Chest Piece Length
|Solid Chest and Belly Panel
|# of Leash Attachment Points
|# of Color Options
If price is most important to you, both of these harnesses might be too expensive. However, the Webmaster is currently $10 cheaper than the Flagline harness. If you are on the fence about which one to purchase, you might as well save the $10.
The Flagline harness size small weighs 1.9oz less than the Web Master (at least when measured on my kitchen scale at home). This isn’t a huge difference in weight but might matter to someone who is thru-hiking or even just weekend backpacking with their dog.
For me, Glia, and Sasha, ~2 oz of weight isn’t a dealbreaker. However, the packability of the Flagline is a nice feature. The stiffer back of the Web Master is harder to fold down and put in a pack when not in use.
That being said, the stiff back of the Web Master is very durable and doesn’t shift as much from front to back. Sometimes when Glia pulls backward in her Flagline, the harness bunches up and pulls forward more than the Web Master does.
The larger back panel fo the Web Master also comes with a slightly larger handle for assisting your dog. Both handles fit my hand just fine without gloves. But in gloves, the Flagline is just enough tighter that I don’t think my hand would fit in the handle easily if it was any larger. (I don’t know exactly how wide my hand is off the top of my head, but I wear a size 6.5 surgical glove if that helps anyone.)
One other difference with the stiffer Web Master versus the lighter Flagline design is that the Web Master seems to slide around a little more on Glia when she is not wearing a sweater underneath the harness. This might be because the stiffer back holds the harness away from Glia a little more and I don’t tighten the straps as much. The Flagline seems to stay in place better.
That being said, the Web Master does not shift much at all over a sweater. And Glia seems to prefer the wider back when she is wearing a sweater. She seems to roll around more like her back is itchy when she has the narrower Flagline on over her sweater.
The Flagline harness worn over sweaters in the winter. The Web Master harness on both dogs.
Number of Buckles
The Web Master has two buckles, both of which are on the left side of the harness. The Flagline has four buckles, two on each side of the harness. This means that your dog has to step into the Web Master, but not the Flagline.
This is not a big deal for either Glia or Sasha, but the four buckles are a great improvement for dogs with mobility or balance issues.
Adjustable Chest Piece Length
The Web Master has an adjustment piece on the strap that runs between the dog’s front legs. This is nice as you can adjust the fit/length of the chest strap. However, for Glia, the size small doesn’t quite extend as far as I would like it to.
The Flagline has a solid chest panel (more like the Front Range harness), so you lose the ability to adjust this panel. Luckily, it is longer than the Web Master’s chest strap, so it will fit most dogs. However, the longer chest panel does bunch a little bit and move around more on Glia compared to the short chest strap of the Web Master.
Solid Chest and Belly Panel
The solid chest and belly panel of the Flagline looks much more comfortable for the dog, especially when a dog is being lifted/assisted via the handle on the harness. To be fair, many Web Master users have “solved” this difference by using the brush guard or core cooler to help prevent the straps of the Web Master from digging into the dog when lifted.
The only drawback to the solid panel is that the belly strap does not extend as far back on the Flagline as it could on the Web Master. I had originally purchased the Web Master as an “escape-proof” harness for Glia when she started to demonstrate reactive behavior and it has lived up to its escape-proof promise.
When I purchased the Flagline, I was a little worried about how far the belly panel would extend. Luckily, the Flagline works for Glia. As you can see in the pictures and video above, the belly panel extends just far enough to secure Glia in the Flagline harness. But depending on the shape of your dog, the Flagline harness may not be quite as secure as the Web Master.
Number of Leash Attachment Points
The Web Master has two leash attachment points. One mid-back and one at the very back of the harness. The Flagline has both these attachment points plus a front clip leash attachment.
The front clip is helpful for dogs who like to pull, as it directs the dog’s weight sideways when they lean into a leash that is attached at the front of their chest. This reduces how much they can lean into the harness/leash without changing their center of balance, which reduces how hard they can pull.
Number of Color Options
Unfortunately, the Flagline only has three color options just like the Web Master. We hope that someday Ruffwear will give these harnesses as many options as the Front Range has.
Currently, the Web Master comes in Twilight Gray, Red Currant, and Blue Dusk. The Flagline comes in Red Rock, Meltwater Teal, and Granite Gray.
So which harness should you choose?
Honestly, I love both harness so much. Ruffwear makes excellent full-body harnesses. But if you forced me to choose, the Flagline is a little better for most dogs in my opinion.
The solid chest/belly panel of the Flagline offers a more comfortable assist/lift. The extra buckles mean that dogs with mobility or balance issues will be able to get in and out of this harness better. And for those with dogs who pull, the front clip is a great resource. The Flagline is also easier to pack into a full bag so it is with you and ready when you need it.
However, for a few dogs, the Web Master will be better. For dogs that are escape artists, the Web Master is one of the best harnesses on the market. And if you need a brush guard or core cooler, the Flagline does not have compatible options as of yet. Finally, if you have a larger hand and need to use the handle of the harness frequently, you may prefer the Web Master.
I hope this blog post helps those of you who are on the fence about deciding which harness to purchase. If you have any other questions about how the harnesses have worked for Glia and Sasha, don’t hesitate to comment below.
And if you want to see more pictures of Sasha and Glia in their Ruffwear harnesses, we invite you to check out our Instagram page. There is plenty of evidence of there that we use both of these harnesses on a regular basis. Click on the picture below to head over to our Instagram account. Or search #PawsitivelyIntrepid to find some of our Instagram posts.