Zouga Dog Gear: Strong, secure leashes for hiking with your dog

Are you looking for a strong and secure leash for hiking, running, or even just walking around the neighborhood with your dog? Look no further. Zouga Dog Gear has entered the market!

What’s so special about Zouga Dog Gear? It was created for strong dogs. Designed with the needs of an active Rhodesian Ridgeback in mind, the leashes have been tested to withstand more than 500lbs of force. As the owners of the company say, this “should be enough for a small bear, but don’t try that, unless of course, you happen to already have a friendly one.”

Full disclosure, the founder of Zouga Dog Gear did reach out to me about the launch of his high-quality dog gear company. He gave me an $85 credit to use towards purchasing some Zouga Dog Gear to try out, so I only paid about $10 for both the Zouga Wayfarer and Zouga Rambler leashes. Additionally, because I like these leashes so much, I have also signed up to be an affiliate marketer for these leashes, which means I can earn money from qualifying purchases of these leashes. For more information about affiliate marketing and how I pay to keep this blog running, head over to my post – How to Make Money Blogging About Your Dog (or Cat).

Alright, now that the disclosures are out of the way, let’s take a closer look at Zouga Dog Gear and their products.

About Zouga Dog Gear Company

Zouga Dog Gear is a family-owned company, founded by Marius and named after his Rhodesian Ridgeback, Zouga. Zouga lives with his family in Norway. Over the years, Zouga has broken or worn out a small collection of leashes, collars, and harnesses, so Marius set out to create something better.

Using high-end and more expensive components and materials, the leashes are designed to be secure and withstand up to 500 lbs of force. All of the gear is designed to be long-lasting.

Although as the website states: “In all fairness, it will likely not last forever. Forever is a really long time. It will however last for years to come and we will offer a product lifetime warranty on all collars and leashes.”


Right now there are 3 different pieces of dog gear available for sale on Zouga Dog Gear’s website (<- affiliate link).

  • Zouga Wayfarer: a 7′ 6″ long, hand held or waist worn, leash with a bungee
  • Zouga Rambler: a 5’6″ long, hand held or wasit worn, flat leash
  • Zouga Bowtie: a matching collar that fits dogs with neck sizes between 17″ – 25″

I ordered the two leashes, as neither Glia nor Sasha have neck sizes that will fit the current collar size. Also, Glia primarily wears martingale collars as she has a narrow head and it is easy for collars to slip off over her head.

So let’s take a look at the details of these leashes and then take a look at how they compare with my other hiking leashes: Ruffwear’s Flat Out leash and TuffMutt’s Hands-Free leash.

Zouga Wayfarer vs. Zouga Rambler Leash

The Zouga Wayfarer and Rambler leashes both have the following features:

  • A Padded Neoprene Handle
  • An Adjustable Handle/Waist Loop that can be adjusted from 12″ to 46″
  • A Zouga Quick Connect Aluminium Buckle to clip the handle/waist loop together
  • Durable Polyester Webbing
  • An Auto-locking Carabiner Clip to attach the leash to your dog

The Zouga Wayfarer is longer than the Zouga Rambler. It has 30″ of durable elastic bungee cord (that can extend to 45″) and a safety handle near the Carabiner Clip. Bungee leashes should always have a safety/traffic handle between the dog and the bungee so that you aren’t holding on to a variable-length leash if you need to hold your dog in a heel position as you navigate through high traffic or higher risk areas.

While a lot of these features are pretty standard, two features that set these leashes apart from other hiking leashes on the market are the Zouga Quick Connect Aluminum Buckle and the Auto-locking Carabiner Clip.

Zouga Quick Connect Aluminium Buckle

In standard leashes, the plastic buckle is often the weakest part of a leash. As the video below discusses, plastic buckles are only rated to around 150 to 250 lbs typically. I thought this short video by Ray Allen Manufacturing did a nice job of explaining different types of buckles.

Zouga’s Quick Connect aluminum buckle is a little different in design from the buckles in the video above. The Zouga Quick Connect aluminum buckle is lightweight and won’t get compacted with sand or other debris. It can take being stepped on, slammed by a car door, and is designed to last longer than plastic.

For the Zouga leashes, the buckle is still the weakest point of the leash, but in stress testing, it isn’t the actual aluminum buckle that breaks, but the webbing leash is torn in the buckle. The company states that this happened at just shy of 650 lbs. The carabiner, which I will talk about later, takes more than 800 pounds of force to break, same with the webbing leash itself. But I still recommend sticking to forces less than the labeled 500 lbs for the leash as a whole.

The different style of buckle does take a little getting used to if you are used to wearing a waist leash with a standard buckle. The buckle does have to be at the right angle to thread through. Zouga Dog Gear states that they could have had them pop apart/join together easier, but they worried that would compromise the security of the buckle.

Below you can see a close-up photo of the Zouga Quick Connect aluminum buckle as well as a short video showing how it works.

And below you can see the quick connect aluminum buckle in action.

So far the quick connect aluminum buckle has been working well for us. The aluminum is getting a little scratched up looking already (we have worn it on about 10 hours of hiking). The two aluminum pieces rub against each other, especially when connecting/disconnecting them. But the scratches are just cosmetic at this point. And all of our hiking leashes end up looking a little battered eventually.

Now that we have discussed the buckle that secures the handle or waist belt of the leash, let’s take a look at the connection of the leash to your dog.

Auto-Locking Carabiner

Have any of you had the frustrating/scary experience of hooking your dog up to a leash only to find yourself holding a leash that isn’t actually attached to a dog?

I have personally had two situations like this occur. Once when the leash clip became jammed with sand and wasn’t closing appropriately. The other was when my dog was rolling around on the ground and opened up the leash clip herself.

So I was very excited to see that the Zouga Dog Gear leashes both come with a strong auto-lock carabiner. I really can’t imagine a scenario where this carabiner would open on its own.

Like the Zouga Quick Connect aluminum buckle, I find that it takes a little time to learn how to quickly attach the carabiner. You have to keep the auto-lock rotated while pushing the carabiner open. You can do it one-handed, but it takes a little time to develop the muscle memory in your hands. But the extra time spent learning how to quickly attach (or detach) the carabiner is definitely worth the added security of the auto-lock carabiner. Especially for dogs that are higher flight risks or have reactive behaviors.

Below is a close-up photo of the auto-lock carabiner, as well as a short video of the carabiner being attached to Sasha’s size x-small Ruffwear Flagline Harness.

Now that we’ve talked about some of the special features of the Zouga dog leashes, let’s compare the Zouga dog leashes to my other favorite waist-worn leashes.

Best Waist Worn Leashes: Comparison Guide

A good waist-worn leash can be an asset when hiking with your dog. If you stop to pick up dog waste or take a picture, you can have both of your hands-free and not have to worry about dropping your dog’s leash. It also frees up your hands for balancing over uneven terrain. And with dogs in training, it makes it a lot easier to feed treats when your hands are free.

The first waist-worn leash that I purchased and used with my dogs was the TuffMutt Hands-Free Leash (link to blog post review). The best feature of that leash is that you can unclip the leash from the waist belt. And because the attachment of the waist belt to the leash is a swivel clip, it is easy to clip a second leash in and hike with two dogs on the same waist belt. I still use the waist belt frequently when I hike with both of the dogs. However, it is a little heavier than some of my other leashes and doesn’t convert into a standard hand-held leash. So when I am out backpacking and weight matters, I had started using a Ruffwear Flat Out Leash.

The Ruffwear Flat Out Leash (full review here) is lightweight and (like the Zouga Dog Gear leashes) can transition from a waist-worn to a hand-held leash. Because it can switch between styles, the leash portion cannot detach from the waist belt. It is a nice standard 6 feet when used as a hand-held leash. Additionally, it is sturdy and very lightweight. I weighed it in at 0.23 lbs (or 3.7 oz).

Because it is so lightweight and fits under the 6-foot leash length rule most Minnesota state parks have, it is a fantastic backpacking leash. However, the talon clip is a little bulky and I worry about security when Glia rolls around on the ground. All you need to do is press the side of the talon clip in order to release it.

In comparison, the Zouga Dog Gear Leashes are both very lightweight also (2.9oz for the Rambler and 4.8oz for the Wayfarer), but with a more secure locking carabiner clip. The Zouga Rambler is a little bit shorter than a standard 6-foot leash. And the Zouga Wayfarer is longer when handheld. Depending on your waist size, the Wayfarer is likely under 6 feet when waist-worn.

Below is a quick reference chart comparing these four leashes. Measurements are what I obtained at home and may not be exactly what is listed on the manufacturers’ websites.

*A quick note on bungee leashes before I show you some side-by-side photos of all four leashes. I don’t recommend bungee leashes for all dogs. While the bungee can be really nice in absorbing the shock of a sudden pull when running or hiking, they are not recommended for dogs in the early stages of training. Especially dogs who are working on loose leash walking or who are in training to reduce reactive behaviors. The bungee makes it harder for dogs to learn where the end of the leash is and encourages them to lean into the leash to get closer to whatever they are pulling towards. For reactive dogs, the bungee portion can allow your dog to lean in closer to an object they are reacting to. So make sure your dog is hiking well on a standard leash and is responsive to voice commands before upgrading to a bungee leash.

Alright, back to the leash comparison.

Handles/ Waist Belts

The Ruffwear and Zouga leashes, which are designed to convert into handheld leashes, all have padded handles. The padding on the Ruffwear leash is thicker than the padding on the Zouga leashes. The TuffMutt and Ruffwear leashes both use a black plastic buckle to secure the handle/waist belt. The Zouga leashes have the Quick Connect aluminum buckle. The Tuff Mutt leash has the added component of the leash clip on the waist belt.

Leash Attachment Clips

The next big difference between the leashes is how the leashes attach to the dog’s collar or harness. The TuffMutt has a pretty standard leash clip, the Ruffwear Flat Out has a “Talon” Clip, and the Zouga Dog Gear leashes have auto-locking carabiners. Honestly, this is where the Zouga dog leashes clearly excel. It doesn’t get much more secure than an auto-locking carabiner. Especially not one that can hold upwards of 600 pounds of force.

And here is another photo of all the leashes next to each other. You can see the differences in length in this photo. The Zouga Rambler is the shortest leash when waist-worn. Otherwise, the shortest leash of this set is the TuffMutt leash. But to be fair, I purchased the 4 ft leash option and you can purchase a 6-foot option for the Tuffmutt leash.

Overall Pros and Cons of the Zouga Dog Leashes

Overall, out of all these leashes, my favorite is the new Zouga Wayfarer leash! I love the security of the leash and am absolutely in love with the auto-locking carabiner! I am also so impressed that it is stress tested to withstand over 500 lbs of force. These leashes are quickly becoming my go-to leashes unless I am hiking with both dogs and want to have them on the same waist belt. In that case, I do still prefer the Tuff Mutt leash.

But no leash is perfect. The aluminum Quick Connect buckle is a little time-consuming to learn (even though that makes it more secure). And there are some improvements that I hope may be available in future versions of these leashes.

  • More color options! These leashes look nice, but I love fun designs like our Ruffwear Flat Out leash has.
  • Reflective component. I walk the dogs in the dark a lot during the winter and would love a little more visiblity with these leashes.
  • More scratch resistant coating of the quick connect aluminum buckle. After 10+ hours of use, our buckle is already started to look scratched.
  • A little more length on the Zouga Rambler. There are often hikes where I would choose a non bungee leash, and when waist worn the Zouga Rambler is under 4 feet in length.
  • A traffic control/saftey handle on the Zouga Rambler. I really like having these extra handles near the dogs.
  • An option for a two dog leash. I am imagining a waist belt similar to TuffMutt’s, but with the Quick Connect aluminum buckles instead of the black plastic buckle and a locking carabiner attachment to hook two leashes into instead of the classic leash attachment buckle.

Should You Purchase a Zouga Dog Gear leash?

For most dog and owner pairs, the answer is yes! These are high-quality leashes that have been stress tested to withstand over 500lbs of force. They are lightweight and great for hiking and backpacking with a strong dog (even well-trained dogs occasionally pull against a leash). And the autolocking carabiner is so secure. You can trust your dog’s leash won’t detach while hiking.

Additionally, these leashes come with a lifetime warranty:

All our products are covered for their lifetime against material failure and poor craftmanship. This basically means that if something breaks unexpectadly, return it and we will replace it. However if you manage to wear it out we hope you made some great memories on the way and that you will consider buying your next leash from us as well.

Zouga Dog Gear

Ready to purchase one of these strong, secure, and lightweight leashes? Head over to ZougaDogGear.com. You can get 20% at checkout by using the coupon code PAWSITIVELYINTREPID

And for more dog gear reviews, head over to our Gear Review Page.

P.S. If you enjoyed this dog gear review, share this post on Pinterest!


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.

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