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I’ve never had Barley in the car during an accident, but it’s a serious fear of mine. Barley and I drive together a lot – hours and hours every week, plus several cross-country (or international) road trips per year.
This means I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to keep Barley safe in the car.
Ruffwear is one of my favorite dog gear companies.
They’re dedicated to providing high-quality dog gear to dogs on the go. Barley already wears their Front Range harness as his daily harness, we skijore and canicross with the Omnijore harness setup, and his Palisades backpack is our go-to for long trips.
So I was delighted when Ruffwear agreed to send me a Load Up Harness for free in exchange for my honest opinion.
Ruffwear Load Up Harness Quick Stats:
- Over-the-head style might scare some dogs.
- Ultra-wide chest pad offers extra comfort.
- Single attachment point is comfy for the dog, allowing more movement.
- Metal buckles are secure but can be difficult to get on and off.
- Dynamically tested at the MGA Research Corp, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contracted test facility. Read about the testing here.
My verdict on the Ruffwear Load Up Harness: this is now my daily car safety harness for Barley. It’s super easy to attach inside the car, and I don’t have many problems with the seatbelt locking him into an awkward position.
It’s a bit of a pain to get it on and off of him, and I’d worry about purchasing it if my hands were arthritic. We’ll see if I struggle to use those metal buckles when my fingers are freezing in Montana’s winters!
About Ruffwear’s Load Up Harness
Ruffwear is a premier dog gear company. They really specialize in functional, high-quality dog gear.
So it’s no surprise that the Ruffwear Load Up harness feels well-constructed and comfortable.
The harness only comes in black (unlike Sleepypod’s colorful Clickit Sport safety harness), but that’s not a problem. Function over fashion, right?
The metal buckles on this harness can be a bit of a pain – they’re not normal snap buckles, but rather a threading system that I worry will be hard to use when my hands are freezing in Montana’s winters.
The over-the-head style of the harness is pretty normal for Ruffwear gear. Barley is used to this, but if your dog is hand-shy or doesn’t like ultra-snug harnesses being fitted over her head, this might be a problem.
The harness has a single loop at the back that you slip the seatbelt through. This allows for some movement for the dog, which I really like. We do a lot of long drives, and I appreciate letting Barley sit up, lie down, or even shift around a bit while I drive.
The Ruffwear Load Up Harness Review in Photos
What I Love About the Ruffwear Load Up Harness
Overall, I really like this harness.
It’s got secure metal buckles with serious padding to keep them from digging into your dog’s skin. The large chest pad helps spread out impact and protect your dog’s chest in case of a crash.
The harness is super easy to attach to the seatbelt, with a single large loop as a point of contact. This means it’s also less restrictive for your canine. Barley is able to sit, lie down, and shift positions relatively easily with it on.
For dogs already familiar with Ruffwear’s harnesses, this harness should feel comfortable and familiar.
Recap of What I Love:
- Secure metal buckles with extra padding to protect dog
- Easy attachment to the seatbelt
- Tested by a 3rd-party company to ensure safety (read more).
- Large chest pad to keep dog’s chest/ribs safe
- Doesn’t restrict movement too much
- Should feel familiar to dogs who already use Ruffwear gear
What I Don’t Like About the Ruffwear Load Up Harness
Some dogs don’t like having snug things pulled over their head and neck. Those dogs won’t like this harness one bit!
It’s a relatively tight fit to pull this harness on, and it must be snug for safety. Barley doesn’t mind, but some dogs might.
Because this harness offers more mobility for your dog, it doesn’t prevent as much wiggling or repositioning. It might not be as secure in a rollover crash, though I’m not sure.
The buckles on the harness take a bit of getting used to. They’re not normal snap buckles, and can feel like they leave you fumbling.
Finally, this harness isn’t well-suited for long potty breaks or walks. I find myself taking it off at every stop, which isn’t a huge deal. Just something to keep in mind.
Recap of Downsides:
- Must fit snugly over your dog’s head, which can make some dogs nervous
- The extra mobility might mean your dog is a bit less secure in a rollover crash – though this is totally conjecture on my part.
- Not great for long potty breaks.
- Buckles can be a bit annoying
This harness has quickly become my go-to car harness, though the Sleepypod feels more secure. It’s just so much easier to get it set up with the seatbelt! Barley appreciates having the extra mobility, too.
Kayla founded Journey Dog Training in 2013 to provide high-quality and affordable dog behavior advice. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant who’s worked with hundreds of private clients, thousands of shelter dogs, and dozens of working detection dogs. Kayla’s dog and cat behavior advice has been featured in NPR, the Chicago Tribune, and Pet MD. She’s an avid adventurer who is currently doing #vanlife on the Pan-American Highway with her two border collies and a cat. Aside from running Journey Dog Training, Kayla also runs the nonprofit K9 Conservationists, where she and the dogs work as conservation detection dog teams. You can get 1:1 advice with a Journey Dog Training team member here.