Ruffwear’s Flat-Out Leash: Sturdy and Versatile

There are a lot of hands-free leashes on the market these days. It can be hard to sort through all the options to choose the best one for you and your dog. But there are definitely some leashes that stand out from the others. The Ruffwear Flat Out leash is one of these.

The Ruffwear Flat Out leash deserves to be ranked among the best of the hands-free leashes on the market today. This sturdy leash is 6 feet in length when hand-held, has a convenient traffic handle near the Talon Clip (Ruffwear’s unique leash clip) for better guidance of your dog in crowded situations, and comes in a variety of fun colors.

Below I talk about why I chose a Ruffwear leash, other Ruffwear leash options, and the specifics of the Flat Out leash. So keep reading for the full review.

Why I Chose a Ruffwear Leash

Our first hands-free leash purchase was a TuffMutt leash (link to our review of this leash). We loved this leash and even took it on a 3-month road trip with the dogs. It held up well, but sadly after several years, the bungee in the leash is starting to fatigue. Even though we love this leash, instead of re-ordering the same one, we decided to try out another brand.

So I started looking at other brands of leashes. Over the past few years, I have developed a big appreciation for Ruffwear dog gear. We started with a Front Range harness that wasn’t a perfect fit for my dog, Glia. But then we tried the Web Master harness (link to our review), which was everything we needed in a harness. And when Ruffwear launched their new Flagline harness (link to our review), we quickly made the purchase. The Flagline harness is now our go-to everyday harness.

Images of Ruffwear harnesses below are links to Amazon. For these and all other Amazon links in this blog post, please be aware that I am an Amazon associated and I earn from qualifying purchases.

Since we were so happy with the harnesses, I figured, why not try a leash from Ruffwear?

Ruffwear Leashes

As of spring 2020, Ruffwear has 10 different leashes to choose from (if you don’t include the omnijoring, trail running, or knot-a-hitch systems). We were looking for a hands-free (or waist-worn) option, which narrowed our selection down to 3 Ruffwear leashes:

Images below are links to Amazon.

Crag Reflective Leash

  • Hand-held or waist-worn
  • Fully extends to 6 feet, shortens to 3.5 ft
  • Padded handle with accessory loop
  • Integrated reflectivity
  • Swiveling Talon Clip

Flat Out Leash

  • Hand-held or waist-worn
  • Length: 6 feet
  • Padded handle with accessory loop
  • Traffic handle by leash attachment
  • Swiveling Talon Clip

Roamer Leash

  • Hand-held or waist-worn
  • Length options: 5.5 – 7 feet OR 7.3 – 11 feet (with a waist adjustability up to 48 inches)
  • Padded handle with accessory loop
  • Wavelength stretch webbing
  • Traffic handle
  • Swiveling Talon Clip

Although we had liked the bungee component of the TuffMutt leash, that was the part of the leash that had given out first, so we elected to try a leash without the bungee for this purchase. The decision to forgo the bungee component was made even easier when I realized that Ruffwear’s shortest bungee leash extends to 7 feet with tension. That was too long for Glia and I on a crowded trail.

So that ruled out the Roamer leash for us. Then, when comparing the Flat Out leash to the Crag leash, I was worried that the adjustability in length on the Crag leash would slide with lots of wear (the way an old collar buckle can slide and make the collar loose). So for our first Ruffwear leash, we chose the Ruffwear Flat Out leash.

The Flat Out Leash

You would think choosing which leash to purchase would be the hardest part. But after I chose a leash style, I found out the Flat Out leash came in 9 different collars. Ultimately I ended up choosing a color that would match both of my pup’s red rock Flagline harnesses. And one of the reds in the lotus pattern does just that.

We have had this leash for several months now and are excited to share our review of this leash.

Flat Out Leash Features

As mentioned above the Flat Out leash is 6 feet in length when hand-held. The leash is shorter when waist-worn as the waist belt is part of the 6 feet of leash. It is fairly lightweight, weighing in at 3.6 oz. The heaviest part is the Talon Clip.

For weight reference, our Tuff Mutt leash and belt weighs in at 9.2 oz. So the Flat Out leash definitely wins in the lightweight department.

Talon Clip

The Talon Clip is a Ruffwear trademark. This clip is designed to allow for one-handed attachment to your dog’s collar or leash.

Honestly, I find the clip a bit bulky, especially when I use this leash on my 12 pound Cavalier mix, Sasha. But so far it has proven to be strong and secure. And it is fairly easy to get on and off.

The Waist Belt

After using the TuffMutt leash for several years, I was used to a hands-free leash that was detachable from the waist belt. The Flat Out leash is one solid leash, with the “belt” just being an extension of the handle.

Like the adjustable buckle on a collar, this leash has a plastic buckle that can be adjusted to different positions on the leash. This means that the leash can be adjusted into a standard leash with a padded handle or fitted to most human waists. It could also be adjusted to secure your dog around a tree or post.

There is an aluminum uniloop near the plastic release buckle to help keep the handle/waist belt adjusted at the length you have chosen. So far, we have not had any problems with the waist belt loosening during hiking.

The portion of the leash that would be used as a standard leash handle is padded, but the rest of the leash is not. So most of the leash around your waist is not padded. The leash has still been comfortable to wear despite the lack of padding.

Traffic Handle

Ruffwear calls the extra loop on the leash near the Talon Clip a traffic handle. And honestly, this is a great description of the handle. Having a handle at this location is a great addition to any hands-free leash, as it gives you a point close to your dog to hold on to in order to help guide your dog through crowded, high-traffic areas.

We used the traffic handle a lot with the Tuff Mutt leash, as the bungee portion of the leash meant Glia could stretch and pull significantly on that leash if she wanted to. The Flat Out leash does not stretch, so it is easier to hold on to mid-leash, but the traffic handle adds an extra level of security.

If your dog doesn’t have a reliable heel through crowded areas, a traffic handle is a perfect solution. The traffic handle feature is one of the reasons why this leash has made it on my list of Best Hiking Gear for Reactive Dogs.

Accessory Loop

Another fun feature of this leash is the small accessory loop near the plastic release buckle. This is the perfect spot to tie a poop bag or other dog poop container for use on your hikes/walks. Since we hike with a small treat pouch on our hikes to help reinforce positive behaviors on trail, this is a great spot to clip that pouch.


Overall, we have been happy with our Ruffwear Flat Out leash purchase. The leash has been sturdy and held up well so far. It is attractive and comfortable to wear. And like our TuffMutt leash, it does a great job of keeping my hands free for feeding treats and taking pictures on our hikes. Additionally, the versatility of converting back to a standard 6-foot hand-held leash is a great feature.

Our main cons are the bulky talon clip and the fact that, since the leash does not detach from the waistbelt, it is a little harder to detach Glia from me when backpacking.

I often need to detach Glia from my waist when we are hiking steep inclines or declines. Having the leash in my hands gives us both a little more space to maneuver on tricky terrain. I should mention, however, that as long as I don’t have a backpack clipped around my waist, the leash is easy to unclip from and re-clip around my waist.

But besides those two negatives, this leash has been a great addition to our collection of dog hiking gear. Honestly, the overall quality and lightweight design make up for these 2 drawbacks.

We haven’t made a review video for this leash yet, so in the meantime, check out this YouTube review of the Ruffwear Flat Out Leash.

And if you are ready to purchase this leash, here is another link to Amazon. Just click on the picture below. (Again, I am an Amazon Associate and earn from qualifying purchases.)

If you are interested in other gear reviews, head on over to our gear review page! And let us know if there are any products on the market that you would like us to review. We are always looking for more quality adventure dog gear.

Best regards,

Kate and Glia


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.

4 thoughts on “Ruffwear’s Flat-Out Leash: Sturdy and Versatile

  1. Hi Kate, I had a shoulder surgery from my dog pulling hard on the leash(no give to it)..Doesn’t the bungee component on a leash help with the give part ? If so I don’t know if I can handle this leash with no bungee in it. Which would you choose between roamer and ridgeline?

    1. Yes, the bungee component does help reduce the shock of a quick pull from your pup. (Just be aware that some dogs will pull into the bungee a little harder as a result). Personally, I would choose the Roamer, as it has the option to convert from a standard leash to a waist-worn leash. The Ridgeline is a good option if you just want a hand-held leash though. Or if you have a belt you want to attach the Ridgeline to. I hope your shoulder has healed up well!

  2. I currently use a Tuffmutt leash when I go hiking or backpacking with my dog. I can let her off leash at times and am working with a dog trainer to get better recall and to have her stay closer to me.
    I like being able to detach her from the waist belt.
    I liked your review of the Ruffwear Flat Out leash which is significantly lighter than Tuffmutt.
    Do you like the Flat Out leash better and would you recommend I get one.

    1. Honestly, I find that I still reach for my Tuffmutt leash the most often. Like you, I appreciated being able to detach my dog from the waist belt. And I find that the weight doesn’t bother me much when it is spread out between me and the dog (my dog isn’t trained for off-leash hiking). That being said, I do bring the Flat Out leash along for situations where I think I might need to hold the leash as much/often as I wear it around my waist. The Flat Out converts to a traditional 6-foot leash, giving my dogs a bit more range when traversing challenging terrain. And the lack of a bungee is preferable for me in higher traffic areas. Both are great leashes though. If you like the bungee and mostly just want to wear the leash around your waist, I would stick with the Tuffmutt. If you want something that works well as a handheld or waist-worn leash, the Flat Out leash is a great purchase.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

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