It’s all about canicross belts (how to choose and wear them)

With so many more new people coming into the dog sport of canicross and not having seen the range of canicross belts in person, it can be very difficult to know what to buy for yourself. We’ve personally tried and tested every single belt sold on the K9 Trail Time website so you can always ask us if you have any specific questions, however in this blog we hope to give you the information you need to make a sensible choice from our selection.

Having the right canicross belt can make your runs much more comfortable for you and your dog

The first thing to say is that belts for canicross have always been called waistbelts but the reality is that they should all be worn sitting on the hips, not high around the waist and even if you have one of the wider padded belts, we always recommend to pull them down onto your hips. This is to prevent the force of your dog pulling being anywhere near your lower back. I have heard people try and differentiate between the styles by referring to some of the belts as ‘hip belts’ but I think this just confuses things because they should all be worn on the hips. The belts should probably just be called ‘belts’ to avoid any confusion!

The next thing to say is that a canicross belt is as individual for a person as a harness is for a dog, so don’t expect to buy the belt your friend has and for you to love it as they do. It might be they are a different shape to you, or their dog pulls differently to yours, or you just want different things from a belt. So try to avoid just buying what everyone else has and make the decision based on what your requirements are, that said, the popular belts are popular for a reason.

To help choose, identify what is most important to you in a belt, do you need pockets? I would say you can carry things like water, your phone, poo bags and keys in a separate way and not to rely on having a big pocket on your belt, as the type of belt that suits you best might not have pockets.

The Zero DC belts, which come in a range of colours, also have large pockets

Many people are now going for the lightweight belts such as the Non-stop Running Belt, the Neewa Canicross Belt and the Zero DC Speedy Belts. This type of belt directs the pull low down and across the backside so you feel like you are being ‘lifted’ forward if you have a strong pulling dog, rather than being pulled from slightly higher up. These belts all have a small pocket and leg straps you have to use for the belt to work correctly, so leg straps is another option you will have to consider.

It’s a myth that leg straps will chafe. I can count on one hand the number of people who have said their leg straps rub and it’s usually down to not having the belt fitted correctly. The belts have been designed by people who have been doing the sports for years and understand the needs of the belt, so have positioned the leg straps so they work to keep the belt in place without chafing.

The Non-Stop Running Belt is very lightweight and designed to pull from low down with integrated leg straps to keep it in place – Photo courtesy of Houndscape

The other main style of belt is the more traditional belt which has a padded middle section, perhaps with leg straps but some without. The Zero DC Canicross Belt, the Non-stop Trekking Belt, the Neewa Trekking Belt and Howling Dog Alaska Canicross Belt are examples of these. The Zero DC and Non-stop have removable leg straps, the Neewa has no leg straps and the Howling Dog Alaska has integral leg straps. Of these belts the Zero DC and Neewa have pockets, the other two do not. These are the type of belt I see most often being worn incorrectly, with the band high up on the waist and in the small of the back. I would always have it sitting on the top of the hips to protect the back, even if you’re just using the belt for walking.

The Howling Dog Alaska Canicross Belt is made in a more traditional style but should still be worn low down on the hips

There are a couple of other belts which sort of sit in the middle of the styles, the Non-stop Comfort Belt and the Dragrattan Ergo belt. Both have integral leg straps and spread the pull over the entire area of the material of the belt, the Non-stop Comfort is mesh material with a pocket and the Dragrattan Ergo is more padded but with no pocket. Both are good for strong pullers but have different attachment points at the front, which brings me to another difference in the belts which might influence your decision.

The Dragrattan Ergo Belt sits low down but is padded and has a sliding trigger clip for your your line

The Non-stop Trekking, Non-stop Comfort, Howling Dog Alaska and Neewa Trekking Belts all have a fixed point of attachment at the front, either a ring or in the case of the Non-stop, a clever hook and ring system (which allows quick release). The Zero DC belts have a rope to attach your line to, either by pulling it through on itself using the handle of the line or by using a carabiner in addition. The Non-stop Running Belt and the Neewa Canicross Belt have rings to attach your line to which slide over material at the front and you attach your line in the same way (thread through handle or use a carabiner in addition) and the Dragrattan Ergo belt has a trigger clip that slides on the rope, which negates the need for a carabiner.

Why would you prefer either a sliding attachment point or a fixed attachment point? The fixed attachment point gives you more control as your dog can’t move quite a far side to side on the belt, the sliding attachment point means if your dog is strong and pulls around a corner, you have a more gentle experience than if your line is fixed in the middle of the belt. It might not make any difference to you at all but these are things which I have found influence the decision people make when choosing a belt for themselves and from my own observations of how the belts work.

The Neewa Canicross Belt which is lightweight, has a pocket for storage and a sliding ring to attach your line to

Most of the belts available are ‘one size fits all’ however if you’re concerned that the belt may not adjust big or small enough for you then please do drop me an e-mail to check. Some of the belts do come in different sizes although this usually just means the material section is slightly bigger and the straps are more or less the same length regardless of size. We also have a couple of childrens’ belts in stock to cater for the very young or very small child, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for then again just ask and there’s bound to be an option that will work for your needs.

We have some exceptionally small handmade belts in stock at K9 Trail Time for children

If all this is still not helping you make a decision, drop me a line at emilyt@k9trailtime.com and I can help you with any specific questions but do have an idea of what your needs are, as I can’t make the decision for you, or even narrow down the options unless you have thought about what you might prefer first.

A well fitted canicross belt can make the experience so much more comfortable for you, so make sure you do get some good advice that is personal to you before making a purchase and ideally if you can get to a club who have a kit bag for you to try the belts out first, then that will ensure you are happy with your purchase.

Happy trails!

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K9 Trail Time – Top Selling Belts

Continuing the theme of best-sellers, the waist belts we sell here at K9 Trail Time have gradually been expanding in range too, as the top brands bring out better materials and designs based on feedback from the growing number of participants.

We have seen a number of innovative styles released since we first started canicross and as manufacturers respond to the canicrossers’ needs, we’re sure we will see more new belts being brought out in the future.

One thing that we do often get asked is for a ‘hip belt’ rather than a ‘waist belt’ but the term really just describes where you might wear it, as we call all of our belts ‘waist belts’ but they should all (in our opinion) be worn low down on the hips to prevent any strains to the lower back.

So from our current range, our 3 top-selling belts are as follows:

1 – Non-stop Running Belt – Top of the range and fully adjustable, this belt is the one people seem to stop upgrading at, so we have to class it as number one!

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/non-stop-running-belt.html

The Non-stop Running Belt - the innovative waist belt from Non-stop

The Non-stop Running Belt – the innovative waist belt from Non-stop

2 – Neewa Canicross Belt – Relatively new and with a great price tag as well as a comfortable design, this belt has been flying out of our online shop

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/neewa-canicross-waist-belt.html

The Neewa Canicross Belt is the newest of our 'hip belts'

The Neewa Canicross Belt is the newest of our ‘hip belts’

3 – Zero DC Canicross Belt – A more traditional design but with detachable leg straps for those who aren’t sure if they will like them, plus a huge back pocket, this belt has been very popular for years.

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/zero-dc-canicross-waist-belt.html

The Zero DC Canicross Belt, with detachable leg straps seems to offer the best of everything

The Zero DC Canicross Belt, with detachable leg straps seems to offer the best of everything

Of course we have many, many more belts in stock and would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of them with any customer. The Zero DC Speedy belt is a personal favourite of mine and the Dragrattan Ergo and Howling Dog Alaska belts are all up there but just fractionally behind in sales when compared with the 3 above this year – that doesn’t mean they won’t be up there next year though!

 

Product Feature – The Neewa Canicross Belt

The Neewa Canicross Belt is the newest addition to our ever-expanding range of waist belts for canicrossers. The belts are known as waist belts but now I would say the term ‘hip belt’ is probably more accurate and I would always advise anyone using a belt for running with your dog, to adjust it low down the body on the hips. The Neewa Canicross Belt’s lightweight design lends itself to this position because the mesh of the belt supports the runners bottom and the top of the belt clips around the hips rather than the waist.

The Neewa Canicross Belt is the newest of our 'hip belts'

The Neewa Canicross Belt is the newest of our ‘hip belts’

The belt has integrated leg straps which (together with the strap that clips around the hips) keeps the belt in place when running and prevents unwanted movement. The Neewa Canicross Belt has a small pocket in the mesh at the back of the belt, large enough for keys and a few poo bags but nothing more. The belt also feature a metal ring which slides along the webbing strap in front of the runners hips to attach your dog’s line to. You can either just loop the webbing handle of a line through on itself, through this ring, or use an additional carabiner to attach the line.

The Neewa Canicross Belt being tested earlier this year

The Neewa Canicross Belt being tested earlier this year

The main advantages of this belt are that it is lightweight, adjustable to fit most sizes and has the sliding ring on the front to attach your dog to, which I am a big fan of. The Neewa Canicross belt is also very good value for money and that makes it a great starter belt, as well as one for the more experienced canicrosser. The only disadvantage I can see with the belt is that it’s style might not suit everyone, it does sit low down on the body with minimal material and this might not appeal to every canicrosser. On the whole though, this belt comes highly recommended by us for every day use and for racing with one or more dogs, it has been tested with three enthusiastic collie crosses and passed with flying colours!

For more information or to buy this belt please follow this link:

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/neewa-canicross-waist-belt.html

 

The new Neewa Canicross Belt is an excellent all round belt at a great price

The new Neewa Canicross Belt is an excellent all round canicross belt at a great price

Belt & Braces – How to Choose a Canicross Belt

I’ve been asked a lot about canicross waistbelts recently, which one do I think is most suitable and which one is the best? There are so many new options coming onto the market, it’s hard to know just from the descriptions which belt does what.

My answer is the same as with the dog harnesses, because everyone is an individual, I believe that certain canicross belts will suit certain people but not others. This makes it difficult to advise people on the perfect belt for them, however I can offer a few things to think about when choosing a belt that may help you decide for yourself which will be the right option for you.

1 – Where do you want the pull to come from?

Some people prefer a canicross belt to fit high up around the waist and others (myself included) prefer the belts to direct the pull from much lower down on the hips. Most belts can be adjusted so the pull is either from the waist or the hips but for higher up I would recommend the more padded belts (Zero DC Canicross Waist Belt, Neewa Trekking Belt and Howling Dog Alaska Canicross Belt are a few of the options) Related to this is:

2 – Do you want leg straps?

Closely connected with – does your dog pull you very hard? If your dog pulls hard out in front of you, the chances are that any belt you will try, will ride up on your waist and into the small of your back unless you have leg straps. The exception to this seems to be in people who have a less defined waistline and (without being rude!) a more ‘H’ shaped body than an ‘A’ shaped body, the belts seem to ride up more where the waist tapers in.

The Canadog Deluxe Canicross/Walking Belt in action, as you can see it does rise up with two dogs attached!

This canicross/walking belt (no leg straps) as you can see does rise up on me with two dogs attached, which is why I prefer leg straps and wear the belts lower down on the hips.

If you’re dog doesn’t pull particularly hard then you are in the lucky position of being able to chose any belt and it will probably be suitable, as  it will stay comfortably wherever you adjust it to fit. If you’re still not sure if you need leg straps or not, then some of the belts have detachable leg straps so you can make up your mind whether you need the straps or not based on your individual situation. For example you might run one dog without the leg straps but add them back on to run two. The Zero DC Canicross Belt is one of these canicross belts with the option to remove leg straps:

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/zero-dc-canicross-waist-belt.html

The Zero DC Canicross Belt, with detachable leg straps seems to offer the best of everything

The Zero DC Canicross Belt, with detachable leg straps seems to offer the best of everything

3. How much padding do you want?

Another thing you may want to consider is the amount of padding you would like in the waistband of your belt. More padding can make the belt much more comfortable but can also add to the weight of the belt and when you are running in the spring and summer months or longer distances, this might be something to think about carefully.

The Skijor Deluxe Padded Belt in action

A more padded waist belt in action, but pulled low on the hips this time.

Alternative belts with similar padding are the Non-stop Trekking Belt

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/non-stop-trekking-belt.html

or the Dragrattan Ergo Belt

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/dragrattan-ergo-belt.html

the Neewa Trekking Belt, the Howling Dog Alaska Belt and Zero DC Canicross Waist Belt

4. Will you be racing in the belt?

If you are going to be racing in your canicross belt then you might want to consider less padding and a lighter weight option of belt. Many of the belts that K9 Trail Time stock are designed with this in mind and have little padding, but spread the force of the pull through the strapping and / or mesh. The Neewa Canicross Belt is an example of one of these, Neewa have designed a canicross belt to distribute pull across your behind and with integral leg straps you hardly notice it is there

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/neewa-canicross-waist-belt.html

One of the lightest belts on the market is the Running Belt from Non-stop, which has been designed by the top professional canicrossers in Europe to provide a lightweight racing belt that can comfortably cope with the pull of a very strong dog. I have switched to this belt for racing as it is exceptional in it’s ability to distribute pull and has even managed to incorporate a pocket!

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/non-stop-running-belt.html

The Non-stop Running Belt - the innovative new waist belt from Non-stop

The Non-stop Running Belt – the innovative new waist belt from Non-stop

The other lightweight style of belts are the ‘nappy’ belts, designed in Europe to be extremely lightweight but very effective at absorbing the forward motion of a heavy hound. The pull is dispersed across the hips and bum and offers the canicrosser a great deal of comfort considering there is no padding. The two I sell are the Non-stop Comfort Belt as pictured below

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/non-stop-comfort-belt.html

and the Zero DC Euro ‘Speedy’ Belt

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/zero-dc-speedy-canicross-belt.html

The Non-stop Comfort Belt

The Non-stop Comfort Belt

5. Do you need pockets?

Another consideration is if you need storage in your belt for keys, a mobile phone or poo bags when you’re running. The belts with pockets are the Non-Stop Running & Comfort Belts, The Zero DC Canicross & ‘Speedy’ Belts and the Neewa Canicross & Trekking Belts.

I hope this short guide gives you a few things to think about when choosing or upgrading your belt but if you do have any more questions please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail: emilyt@k9trailtime.com