What is canicross?
Canicross is a sport where people and dogs run together. Sometimes the dog runs by their person, but most of the time, they run up front, pulling on a bungee leash while taking verbal cues for direction.
What do I need to start running with my dog?
You don’t need specific equipment if your dog jogs next to you without pulling on the leash, but you want to invest in proper, well-fitting gear if your dog pulls you. The traditional canicross setup consists of a well-fitting, padded Y-harness (a half/long canicross harness if the dog pulls), a bungee leash, and a belt to attach the leash to you.
We already have reviews on different canicross harnesses and bungee leashes, so here we wanted to talk about the human equipment: the running belt!
Canicross Belt Comparison
Musher Koyuk Belt Review
The Musher Koyuk Canicross Belt is a minimalistic but well-padded running belt with two adjustable loops around the legs to keep the belt from sliding up. The sliding carabiner moves freely on the green strap at front when the dog changes direction. This way, you never have slack in front of you, and it also keeps equal pressure on the back by preventing the belt from rotating.
When writing this review, the Koyuk Belt comes in one size and 12 colors.
Musher also offers a Pawtrail Pocket that fits on their belts so you can get a decent amount of storage for your phone, tissues, etc.
This design is a great, low-profile option for hiking, hands-free walking or to run with a dog who is not pulling into their harness.
Musher Takotna Belt Review
With the Takotna Running Belt, Musher created a belt that fits snugly and brings the pulling point lower than in the case of the Koyuk Belt!
This makes it ideal for people with lower back pain since the more minimalistic belts tend to ride up on the back when the dog pulls into them. The top webbing ensures that the belt cannot slide down while the three bottom straps distribute the weight evenly below the back. It is less padded than the Koyuk Belt but distributes the pulling on multiple straps, so it is still very comfortable.
The light grey section is elastic, so you can adjust it snugly while keeping it comfortable when moving. It doesn’t bear any pulling force since the dog is connected to the top and bottom webbing. It also features a panic hook for emergency release.
When writing this review, the Koyuk Belt comes in three sizes and 12 colors.
Non-Stop Dogwear Canix Belt Review
The Non-Stop Dogwear Canix Belt is an excellent canicross belt - somewhat similar to the Takotna Belt in design and functionality since it also puts the pressure lower. It also has a top section that keeps it from sliding down despite the low position of the main section.
The most significant difference is that it is very light (the medium-size belt weighs only 280 grams!), and the material is thin compared to the other heavily padded belts we tried. However, it is still durable and strong!
It distributes the pulling force well due to its design and doesn’t chafe. The back of the belt has a little pocket that can fit a smaller phone, a key, or other small items.
The Canix Belt comes with a screw-lock Carabiner, so if it’s locked, there is no way to quickly detach the dog if needed but can be left open to quickly open it. The orange lock on the side (see the last photo below) allows for a quick release, but it’s not the easiest to manage if there is pressure on the leash.
The light, thin and breathable material makes this belt packable and ideal for running in hot weather.
How to Choose a Canicross Belt?
A big part of this decision comes down to personal preferences. The only three objective differences I can highlight are the padding, the pockets, and the pulling point.
I assumed more padding is always better until I tried the Musher Takotna Belt and the Non-Stop Dogwear Canix Belt. They are so well-designed that I didn’t even feel the lack of padding (in the case of the Canix Belt) or the minimal padding (in the case of the Takotna belt).
With the simple belt design of the Koyuk Belt, the padding adds well-needed support since the pulling force distributes only on the lower back, but it does get hot under it if you try to use it over the summer.
Having a pocket can come in handy when going for a run. I like that the Musher has the flexibility to attach and detach it as needed. At the same time, the Canix belt’s pocket is minimalistic, and having a phone in it didn’t bother me, but it has minimal room.
And to talk about the pulling point: running with the Takotna or the Canix Belt is an entirely different experience than with the “traditional” belts.
I always used something similar to the Koyuk belt and never thought I needed a different design. However, the other two fit a lot snugger - meaning it stays in place and moves less while it changes the pulling point and the whole experience of running with a dog!
I needed to get used to the lower pressure point first, but now I feel it provides better distribution and supports a more natural way of running than having a belt sliding up on the lower back.
Again, much of this comes down to your dog’s running style, the weather during your running season, and your personal preference. Still, I hope you found our article helpful in figuring out what would be the best fit for you!