Hands-free dog leashes offer a lot of advantages for the average hiking human-dog pair when compared to a traditional leash . These hands-free leashes are typically worn around your waist and allow you to not worry about dropping the leash when picking you after your dog, getting water out of your hiking pack, or even just taking pictures.
There are a lot of hands-free dog leashes on the market, but our current favorite is the TuffMutt Hands Free Dog Leash. To be fair, we only have two hands-free leashes right now (the other is the Ruffwear Front Range leash), but we researched extensively online prior to purchasing this leash and two years later, we are still very happy with our TuffMutt leash purchase.
Why do we like the TuffMutt Hands Free Leash so much? This leash/waist belt combination has a lot of great features including:
- A leash that can be unclipped from the waist belt
- A bungee leash that absorbs shock
- Two handles
- Bright colors and reflective trim
- Good durability
- Easy-glide leash attachment on the waist belt
Check out the video from TuffMutt below to see this leash in action. Then keep reading to find out more about how each of the above features works for Glia, Sasha and I.
TuffMutt Hands Free Leash Features
A leash that can be unclipped from the waist belt
The TuffMutt Leash has two clip attachment points. One is a clip on the waistband that is attached to a ring on the leash. The second is a clip that attaches the leash to the collar or harness.
In the photo below (taken at Great Sand Dunes National Park), you can see the clip that attaches the leash to the waist belt.
We love that the leash can be separated from the waist belt. This is a feature that our Ruffwear hands-free leash does not have and is one of the reasons that we prefer our TuffMutt leash. If there is a situation where I want to hold the leash in my hand and not be fully attached, I don’t have to unbuckle the waist belt. I can simply grab the clip, release the leash, and then use either handle to hold the leash.
This comes in useful when navigating steep inclines. It can be difficult to navigate steep descents when a dog is attached to your waist on a 4-foot leash (which is the length that we have). I often want to have the option to drop the leash if I begin to slide at all. The leash can easily be reattached to the belt when it is safe to do so.
If you need a little more length, you can remove the entire waist belt (which is easy to do by unbuckling one buckle). Holding the waist belt as the “handle” of the leash adds a foot or two to the length of the leash.
Another reason it is nice to have the clip at the waist belt is that a standard leash splitter can be used with the waist belt. This allows you to walk two dogs at the same time with one belt.
The leash that comes with the TuffMutt hands-free leash system has a metal ring that the clip can attach to. But I often clip a second standard leash with a thin handle into the clip when I walk Glia and Sasha together.
Bungee Leash Absorbs Shock
The bungee on this leash is a lovely feature. The standard leash that comes with the TuffMutt Hands Free Leash is 48 inches (or 4 feet) in length. When stretched it extends to 60 inches in length.
This extra stretch helps absorb impact when you or the dog pulls on the leash. There are have been several instances when Glia has darted off after a squirrel and my back and hips have been very grateful when the bungee portion of the leash absorbed some of the impact.
The bungee is also nice to absorb some of the normal pulls and tugs of two different living beings moving quickly while attached to each other. This comes in extra handy if either the person or the dog needs to make a sudden stop.
Of course, a bungee leash isn’t 100% ideal for every dog. Some dogs can use the bungee to really lean into to pull. Training helps prevent this, but just be aware that bungee leashes can reinforce pulling for a dog who isn’t leash trained yet. And you need to remember how far your leash can stretch and account for that when passing other people and dogs on the trail.
This photo (taken at Hot Springs National Park) shows the bungee section of the leash well. The bungee portion runs between the two handles.
The dual handles are one of my favorite features of this leash. One handle is at the “top” of the leash near the waist belt. The second handle is near the dog.
We love this feature as I can easily detach the leash from the waist belt and hold it by the upper handle to make it a standard hand-held leash. But I can also lean down slightly and hold the handle near Glia’s harness/collar if I need to keep her closer to my side (such as if we are navigating through a crowded area.
I have yet to find any other leash on the market that has the same leash handle placement.
For example, check out the placement on some similar leashes that made a recent best hands-free leash post on BreedingBusiness.com. No other leashes have a handle both by the waist belt and by the dog’s collar. Several have two handles, but not in the same placement.
For Glia and I, we could perhaps get away with having the top handle a little lower. But it is very important for us to have the handle by her collar, as the bungee leash stretches significantly and it is hard to hold the leash well when grabbing the bungee part.
For crowded areas where I need better control of Glia’s movements, I need to hold a leash close to her collar. The handle of the Ruffwear Webmaster Harness she is wearing below is a good substitute for handle near the dog, but she doesn’t always wear this harness when hiking.
Bright Colors and Reflective
It is always nice to have color options. This leash comes in seven different colors, including purple and coral.
I love the bright yellow-green of our TuffMutt leash against the blue of Glia’s harness in the picture above (taken at Grand Canyon National Park).
It also pops against her blue and purple Groundbird Gear Trekking Packs.
A reflective thread runs the length of this leash, which is a nice feature for those running, walking or hiking at night.
This hands-free leash has lasted over 2 years with us now and that’s even after taking it on a 3-month road-trip with lots of hiking. It has survived several episodes of Glia’s full body weight (40 pounds) hitting the end of the leash.
(We have heard some reports of it not holding up quite as well if your dog is significantly bigger, but our personal experience has been great.)
Recently, the bungee inside the leash is starting to feel a little thin at the top of the leash, so we will likely be replacing this leash soon, just in case.
Easy Glide Leash Attachment on Waist Belt
A final feature that we love is that the leash attachment clip is not fixed in one place on the waist belt. This allows the attachment clip to move from side to side in the event that your dog switches position from your left side to your right side.
It will not pass over the belt buckle, or the plastic piece that allows you to adjust the length of the belt. However, for me and Glia, that still gives us over half of the waist belt for the clip to slide on. Glia mostly hikes in front of me, but it is nice to have a little room for her to stop and sniff items on either side of the trail without the leash pulling me sideways.
Overall Pros and Cons
I really love this leash and would recommend it to anyone looking for a hands-free leash. I especially love it when Glia and I head out backpacking. It fits nicely with my pack and leaves my hands open for other tasks. Holding a leash for hours of hiking is less than ideal.
Additionally, when we get to our camping site, I can clip the belt around a tree or other solid object and use this leash as a short tie-out for her at camp.
Our pros are basically what is listed above: the waist belt clip, bungee leash in between the handles, the two handles (one located near the waist belt and the other near the dog’s harness/collar), bright reflective colors, durability, and the fact that the attachment point on the waist belt slides as a dog moves from side to side.
Our only complaint about this leash is that the bungee portion of the leash is fatiguing after 2+ years of hard wear.
Alright dear readers, have you used this leash with your dog? What are your thoughts? Do you have a different leash that is your favorite hands-free leash for hiking? Let us know in the comments below.