Sunday, September 4, 2016

Product Review: Alpine Outfitters Adjustable Urban Trails Harness

Alpine Outfitters can barely keep up with the demand for their original custom Urban Trails Harness, so they've introduced a ready-to-go adjustable harness in standard sizes. Don't want to wait for a custom-sized mushing harness? Need something that buckles at the neck for your head-shy dog? Want one harness that can be adjusted to fit multiple dogs? The Urban Trails Ready-to-Go Adjustable Harness comes in four sizes and five colors to fit dogs 25-95 lbs.
Adjustable ergonomic mushing harness for scootering, canicross, bikejoring, and skiijoring
Photo by Erin Koski

Once upon a time, back in 2005, I ordered an Urban Trails custom mushing harness for Brisbane. He was only eight months old, and I had grand plans involving scooters and trails and sled dog commands. Unfortunately, Brisbane was not a fan of pulling. In retrospect, I could probably have done more training to teach him that it was cool, but I did put quite a lot of work into it. 

Several years later, I realized Brisbane had outgrown his custom harness. I contacted Alpine Outfitters about possibly having his original harness altered, and they sent me a brand new custom harness in exchange for the old one back! That happened several years ago, so I was stunned when I met the people behind the company at SuperZoo, and they actually remembered me. They asked if I had another dog and then gave me a brand new ready-to-go Urban Trails harness for Sisci! I had been seriously considering ordering one to see how it compares to the custom Urban Trails, but I got this one free in exchange for my review.
All-purpose mushing harness for dog-powered sports
Photo by Erin Koski

I was sure that the addition of adjustment sliders would detract from this harness, so I was very surprised when I got to play with it and see how well it was put together. The extra straps tuck in nicely, and don't leave too much unpadded length. 

I think my favorite feature of this harness is the buckles themselves. Not only are they curved to fit the shape of the dog, they are also wrapped in little elastic sleeves that help keep crud out of the buckle! Have you ever had a quick-release side-squeeze buckle get gunked up with sand or mud? Obviously someone at Alpine Outfitters did too. 

This is truly an all-purpose harness. It's awesome for regular walking, stays well clear of the dog's throat, and is padded to prevent chafing. The buckle at the neck means I don't have to pull it over anyone's head. It's comfortable to pull in, I've had Sis Godzilla help pull my wagon full of agility stuff from the car to the field. Basically the Urban Trails harness works for any activity where the line attaches to something higher than the dog's back. So, not sledding or weight pull or carting with shafts, but anything else.
Padded fleece-lined front-clip harness
Photo by Erin Koski

In a stroke of pure genius, the folks at Alpine Outfitters have added a ring at the front of the harness. When the leash is attached to this ring, it can be used as a no-pull harness. That's right, the best pulling harness can also be used the most comfortable no-pull harness. 

Alpine Outfitters now makes a backpack accessory for the Urban Trails Harness. It's designed to fit over the shoulders, keeping the weight off the dog's back. The pack also allows free movement of the shoulders, and sits nicely against their body so it's comfortable to wear on adventures.

Pros: Adjustable to fit different dogs. Reflective. Padded with non-absorbent polar fleece made mostly from recycled materials. Made in the USA. Front leash ring also allows harness to be used to discourage pulling. Really spectacular and personal customer service.

Cons: I'm a bit worried that the light pink color is going to get really dirty really fast. That's what I'm testing now.

Bottom Line: Whether you're using a bike, scooter, skis, skateboard, or baby stroller, this is definitely the harness you want. Dog with super sensitive skin? Right here. Got a hard to fit dog? Drop them a line and they'll happily help you figure out the right size. 

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