RuffWear is now offering a hands-free option for running on-leash while allowing runners to carry all the essentials for their time on the trail. The Trail-Runner Belt is built with a bounce-free, load-dispersing design and comes equipped with a leash-attachment that is compatible with any leash. My particular belt came with the Ridgeline Leash that allows dogs to roam side to side as they explore the trail. A zippered, water-resistant pocket and a stretch mesh pocket on each side of the belt give room for pick-up bags, treats and snacks, keys and other essentials, while a structured holster on the back keeps the included BPA-free Ruffwear water bottle securely in place.
When I first strapped on the belt I was going for a walk through my neighborhood on the sidewalk. My dog is great with the heel command and I was certain I found the best new dog walking tool there is. This was a casual walk with light jogging and I was able to carry my dog’s water, my phone, and snacks. I walked and jogged for an hour and had no issues whatsoever. The belt sat great on my hips and everything I needed for my time out was at hand.
When I went for my first trail run, I thought the same experience that I had on my walk was what I had to look forward to. Where I live, we have miles of single track trails with big climbs, rocks, and trees. I started out at the single track trailhead and ran a casual up for a few miles. What I found out about the belt and single track trail is that it is more beneficial for the dog to be off-leash. She had to be either in front or behind me on the narrow trail and the leash quickly turned to a tow strap. I reached the top of the trail and decided it was best that the dog runs free but I still had the belt around my waist. I began running back down the trail to the car and I quickly learned that the bounce-free design did not include downhill running. The belt bounced up and down and I found myself reaching down to re-adjust every 30 seconds or so. All the while, the dog was running happily and freely behind me. When I returned to the car, I realized that my running pack was a much better option for my trail runs.
The Trail-Runner Belt is a great option for long walks and easy, flat jogs where there is room for your dog at your side. It is comfortable and has more than enough storage for a few hours in the outdoors. If you find yourself desiring a long run on single track trails, I would suggest sticking with a different option to hold you and your dog’s supplies for the day.
Editors Note: Sometimes – especially with new products -we try something out and just plain don’t use it in the way it’s intended. It becomes a good exercise for both consumers and product designers to see how people actually put the product to use out in the real world. We’ve received some very helpful feedback from Ruffwear, and will be taking it back out on the trail to put some more miles on the belt. In the meantime, we’ve posted their response below for you to weigh with our review.
Review Response from Ruffwear:
“We designed the Trail Runner to have the internal elastic on the human strap that allows the belt to be snugged up, more that you would normally with a ‘static’ webbing belt, in order to help minimize the bounce and rearranging. I think that the Trail Runner and any running belt wants to normally sit a little higher at the waist, rather than down on the hips, because then it just tends to get squeezed up to the narrowest part of your body.In the picture, I noticed that he is running with the release webbing tightened down and his poor dog is connected to the collar, which is not ideal. When I run with Jake, the release webbing is loosened to form a triangle out in front to allow ranging back and forth. Jake is also in either a Front Range or Hi & Lite harness and he is quite content to run on tight single track primarily just in front of me or just behind, and the configuration works great.One more thing. The belt definitely needs to be a bit tighter if it’s on top of a jacket like he has. It’s difficult to stop anything from bouncing with layers underneath.” – Timothy Gorbold, Lead Design