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Gear Review: Ruffwear Slackline Leash

Gear Review: Ruffwear Slackline Leash

I was all set to start designing my perfect hands free dog leash. It would have an adjustable waist clip so that I could use it for walking and running. I could also easily attach my dog to an object if I needed two hands to do something.

It would have a sliding adjustment in case we were walking in a high traffic area and I wanted a shorter leash. I had gone so far as to draw out my ideal leash, and then I found that it already existed. The Ruffwear Slackline Leash is just about my vision of a perfect leash.

The Ruffwear Slackline Leash

This versatile leash can be adjusted from 6 to 3.5 feet in length, depending on your needs. Keep it long for a regular walk, or shorten it when you need more control. It can be used as a normal leash or clip it around your waist for hands free usage.

A reflective strip runs all the way down the center of the leash for safe walking in the dark. There is also a part at the handle that allows you clip on items like poop bag dispensers.

I once used it to create a makeshift harness for Sora when we were hiking in a slot canyon in Arizona. The ladder was too tall and steep to carry her normally, so I clipped it around her waist, made a few twists and fashioned a secure harness to get her up and over the ladder.

The Slackline Leash is my go to for just about everything: hiking, city walking, running, you name it.

Hands Free Dog Leash for Running or Hiking

The Slackline Leash is my go-to for running or hiking with a dog as you can use it hand held or waist worn. It’s especially great with Laila who is still learning the ropes of running. While I also enjoy running with a spring leash and belt like the Trail Runner System from Ruffwear, I’ll stick with the Slackline which allows me to control her better than a spring leash.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Running with a Dog to learn more about how to run with your best pal.

I’ll often adjust the length of the leash depending on the sort of terrain on which we’re running. For wide forest roads, I’ll leave the leash fully extended and allow my dog to run alongside me. If we’re on single track trails and I want them behind me, I’ll shorten it to such a length that I keep them close, but not too close that I trip or kick their faces.

I also love the Slackline leash for hiking. I’ll just shorten it to the length I want and clip it to my waist belt on my pack. The leash doesn’t drag along the ground and gives my dog plenty of room to walk ahead with slack.

The hand’s free feature allows me to keep my dogs close by, attached to my pack if I need to get something out or set up a photo. Further, I can tie them to a tree so I have my hand (and waist!) fully free to set up my tent or cook dinner.

At meals, especially with Laila, who is still learning that she doesn’t need to lunge at every passing creature, I’ll clip the leash to my thigh, shorten it so she can’t jump on people or lunge too far. This way, we avoid the embarrassment of knocked over tables and chairs for the sake of a poor cat.

Dave using the Slackline leash with Sora to cross country ski.

Adjustable Padded Handle with Buckle

An adjustable slider starts at the base of handle that is padded, so it’s easy to reach when you want to lengthen the leash or keep right where it is to maintain a regular walking leash.

The padded handle is super comfortable, especially for anyone with a very excited puppy who loves to pull. It also includes an accessory loop for keys or a poop bag dispenser.

The Talon Hook on the Ruffwear Slackline Leash makes for easy attachment to your dog's collar.

Talon Clip

Ruffwear-designed Talon Clip is my very favorite clip ever created for attaching a dog leash to a collar. Contrary to the trigger pulls most leashes use, this one pinches open with your full thumb using an ergonomic design.

It may seem a bit ridiculous that I’m focusing so much on an attachment piece, but it’s truly the best design I’ve seen. If my hands are freezing during a winter hike, I don’t have to remove my glove and work with numb fingertips to open the trigger. Or how about after a trip to the beach. My trigger pull leashes always get stuck with sand and salt and are a pain to open if I forget to rinse them. Not the Talon Clip.

Sora relaxing by a tree using the slackline leash.

One-Handed Slider

The super easy to adjust slider allows Dave and me to pass this leash between us mid-run in just a matter of seconds. There’s no fussing with the slider to get the right size, then pulling extra leash through another slider to adjust to perfection. Nope, just one simple slide, clip, and we’re back on our way.

I have also adjusted the slider mid-walk, say we’re approaching a crowd or  large group of dogs and I want better control. While still holding onto the handle, I can easily slide to my desired length with my free hand and remain in control without having to stop.

Laila being carried by Dave.

Lacks a Traffic Handle

If this were truly my perfect leash, it would also include a traffic handle. While a makeshift one can be created using the slider, it’s just not a secure or comfortable. I rarely have the leash shortened all the way to the 3.5 feet, and would prefer a firmer, more secure grip if I need that much control.

Ruffwear makes a similar leash called the Flat Out, which does include the traffic handle, though the leash is not adjustable in the same way. If only the two leashes could marry!

So, would we recommend this leash? Absolutely! It’s hands down my favorite leash, even without the traffic handle. It’s versatility is great for those who travel often or just want less stuff since you get several leashes in one.

Check on Amazon for latest prices for the Ruffwear Slackline Leash.

Disclaimer: Ruffwear generously provided us a Slackline Leash with no expectations for a review. I love this leash and I will sing its praises to everyone I can. I was not otherwise compensated for this article and all opinions are my own.


An honest gear review of our favorite hands-free, multi-purpose dog leash: The Ruffwear Slackline Leash.

David Durdan

Friday 7th of December 2018

I just wanted to second this recommendation. I first read about the Slackline leash in an earlier post, and decided to try it out. While we have never used it running, the other features make it a very flexible leash and it has worked well with our Labrador.


Jen Sotolongo

Friday 7th of December 2018

I'm so glad to hear that you like it! It is such a well-designed leash and I love that it can go practically anywhere and serve a purpose!