Expert Review: Chaco Buckle Dog Leash

This review is my honest opinion of the leash, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2022.

A woman walking a dog. The dogs leash is buckled around her waist.

The waist feature is awesome! All photos courtesy of Hunter Reed

Published on

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the leash, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2022.

My take

The Chaco Buckle Dog Leash is a durable, safe leash for my pup that makes it easy to attach her to things when camping and leaves me free to use my hands while hiking!

A border collie on a leash walking.

About the gear

  • Model: Chaco Buckle Dog Leash 2022
  • Size: One size

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: January 2022
  • Days tested: 150 days
  • Terrain: Hiking on rocky and dirt trails, around the town and neighborhood
  • Used for: Day hiking, neighborhood walking, trail running, hanging out around camp
  • Where I’ve used it: Utah
  • Seasons I’ve used it in: Spring/summer/fall/winter

About my dog

  • Breed: Border Collie
  • Weight: 40 lbs
  • Age: 5.5

How it performs

Ease of Use
Release Reliability

What I was looking for

At the time I purchased this leash, I had been so sick of holding a leash in my hand when walking with my dog. Though I do run in a lot of off-trail areas, I also run a good bit in my neighborhood or on-leash areas. I found myself not wanting to run around the neighborhood because I didn’t want to deal with holding a leash the whole time, and I felt guilty leaving my dog at home. I wanted something with a waist buckle so that I didn’t need to hold the leash anymore.

Why I chose this gear

I decided on this product because it seemed really simple. Ruffwear has a few models with a bungee section, or an almost fanny pack-like attachment to keep poop bags, etc. Those are cool features for some situations, but I wanted something lightweight and simple. Also, I was not too fond of the bungee option on similar leashes because my dog will every once in a while run at people or squirrels, and I didn’t want her to be able to get too far away from me, so I liked that the Chaco Buckle leash didn’t have that.

I also wanted an easy-to-adjust waistband because my partner sometimes walks my dog and adjusts it to fit him, so I didn’t want to spend a ton of time messing with that every time.

Two dogs, the closer one has a leash attached to a face lead.

The handle near the clip that attaches to the dogs collar/lead makes handling them on trail easy!

What I love about it

  • Durability: I have put a lot of use on this leash, and it still looks brand new. The pattern I went with was a white and brown cow pattern, and after I ordered it, I was worried that it would get dirty, but it does not show any dirt and still looks great. The buckle feels really secure, and I have never been worried about her getting away if she decides to run at something.
  • Comfort: The waist belt is so comfortable, and I hardly notice I am wearing it. I have seen similar leashes that have padding around the waist, but this one does not have that padding. Since my dog doesn’t pull a ton, I would rather have the more streamlined, unpadded version of this leash that weighs less.
  • Material: The leash is made from Chaco Polyester webbing, and from owning their shoes (made of the same material), I can attest to the fact that this material is super durable! The buckle is durable plastic, and the part that connects to my pup’s collar is a high-quality metal.
  • Ease of Use: This leash is super easy to use. There is a handle right above where the leash attaches to my dog in case I need to get a good grip on holding her closer, and the clip is intuitive. I have seen a few clips around that are very hard to use with one hand because I have to squeeze it to clip on and off of my dog’s collar, but this one is easy to use with one hand. And as I mentioned, the waist belt is also super simple and adjustable.
  • Versatility: The adjustable waist makes it pretty versatile. I also like the option of the closer hand loop right above the clip in case I am training my dog or need to hold her closer while on a busy trail, etc. There have been a few times while camping that I needed to attach her to a table or a car or something for a few minutes, and I have been able to use the waistband for that, which is awesome because, with just a simple leash, that would have been more tricky. I’ve also had a few stints of watching friends’ dogs where I can clip their regular handheld leashes to my waist belt and buckle it so I can go hands-free, which is another awesome feature!
  • Reliability: All of the material on this leash seems really sturdy. I haven’t had any close calls or times that my dog has almost gotten away with this leash.
  • Day Hiking: This is awesome for day hiking because I can strap my pup to my waist and have my hands free for balance. There is a little hand loop located right above where the leash attaches to the dogs harness/collar in case I need to hold my dog close, but other than that, it’s really great for day hiking and makes it way more enjoyable, in my opinion, since I don’t have to hold a leash the whole time.
  • Features: It comes in so many different fun patterns and colors! I went with a cow print, but there are a ton of options, and they usually have an option for matching patterned Chaco sandals, which doesn’t affect the performance but is fun!

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Weight: Personally, it’s perfect for me because it matches what I need, but there are probably lighter options out there. On off-leash hikes, it’s a bit cumbersome to hold in a jacket pocket, for example, because it has a buckle and is a bit bigger than many handheld leashes. Compared to other around-the-waist leashes, it is lightweight because it doesn’t have pockets/padding on the waist belt. But if a lightweight leash is someone's top priority and they don’t care about the waist belt, other options exist!
A dog at the end of a leash lying in the grass.

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with this was during a summer walk I was on with my pup and another dog that I was watching. I had the handheld leash of the other dog clipped into my waist belt of the Chaco leash, and my dog was on her Chaco Buckle leash. I came around the corner, and there was a moose about 50 feet away. It was in June when there are typically a lot of baby moose around, and the moms are really aggressive, especially towards dogs, so I was a bit stressed! But luckily, only the other dog tried to run at the moose, and since I had him clipped in, he couldn't get away. So I just grabbed my pup with the loop section and pulled them both back down the trail from where we came with no problems!

This is my favorite moment of being glad that I had this leash, but in general, I have just had so many more great trail and neighborhood runs with my dog since getting this leash. It’s the perfect length that she can run out front or to the side without being too close to me, so I don’t worry about accidentally running into her, and it’s awesome not to have something in my hand the entire run as I did before. It makes our exercise together way more enjoyable overall!

Value for the money vs. other options

At approximately $30, I think this leash is a steal. I have given one as a gift to two friends who recently got pups because I believe it’s seriously an awesome leash that will keep their dogs safe and will make walks, runs, and hikes way more enjoyable. The Ruffwear Bungee Leash that I was also looking at but decided against is $10 more, but I’m not fond of the features as much. When it comes to my dog’s safety, I just want something simple and reliable, and the Buckle Leash from Chaco hits the nail on the head. There are likely other options that are similar and cheaper from a different brand. Still, I have used Chaco’s products before and think they are dialed in, so I would rather pay more, which is super reasonable anyway, and know that I am getting something that's good quality.

Final verdict

The Chaco Buckle Dog Leash is the best dog leash on the market, in my opinion. I think everyone who hikes or camps or runs with a dog needs one! They are safe, durable, easy to use, and have made my time on trails with my dog even more enjoyable than it was before!

Selling Chaco on
Chaco Dog Leash
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Written By
Growing up in Utah makes it hard to not fall in love with camping and hiking! Lucky for me my parents got me out at a young age and I've been enjoying trails and campsites all across the west since I was little girl! There's just something special about making some dinner over a fire and going to sl...

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