Beginners Guide

Alpine Outfitters - Getting Started

Where to begin and what to get? Whether you have one dog that LOVES to run and pull or have a team of sled dogs training for the Iditarod, having the right equipment will go a long way in ensuring maximum performance as well as a safe and comfortable trail run.

HARNESS Your Dog's Power!

Any dog that will run and pull needs to have a properly fitted and comfortable harness. A harness should maximize a dog's pulling ability and be padded along the different pressure points that would otherwise provide discomfort or chafing. At Alpine Outfitters, we offer two types of harnesses - the X-Back Harness and the Urban Trail Harness, both of which are custom made to your dog's measurements (measuring is really simple!), so that your dog gets the best fit possible.

The X-Back Harness is the most popular type of harness used for dog sledding. It goes along the entire length of the dog's body and is padded around the neck, chest, and throughout the length of the ribcage. This is perfect for dog sledding, carting, scootering, bikejoring, skijoring and other activities where the dog is expected to be running and pulling in front of you. Please note that the X-Back harness does NOT conform to your dog's body unless the dog is pulling or leaning into it, and so this harness should only be used when your dog is expected to pull. Dogs can back out of this harness and a belly band is recommended for such situations.

X-Back Harness Measuring Instructions

The Urban Trail Harness, on the other hand, only covers half of the dog's body. Other than along the top strap, it is completely padded and securely cradles your dog's torso at all times. It comes equipped with a D-ring positioned at around mid-back to which you can attach your line - this is a wonderful harness to use for a variety of urban mushing type activities such as dog scootering, bikejoring, canicross, rollerblading, and skateboarding and can also be used for non-pulling activities such as walking around the neighborhood or hiking along a trail. You can also get additional D-rings along the sides of the harness so that it can be used to attach to bicycle exercise devices such as the Springer or the Walky Dog.

Urban Trail Harness Measuring Instructions


It's easy to figure out which lines you need - from urban mushing with a scooter and one dog to dog sledding with 18 huskies out on the frozen tundra.

Scooter Lines - Urban Mushing, whether done with a scooter or a bike, has become a widely popular way of exercising and having fun with the family pet. Our scooter lines come with everything you need to attach the line to your scooter or bicycle: the single scooter line is perfect for running one dog. It comes with a built-in bungee and a scooter post connector so you can easily wrap it around and attach it to the neck of your scooter or bicycle. Our double scooter line, on the other hand, is a Y-line with a built-in bungee and can be used for running one or two dogs. It also comes with a double neckline so that you can attach your dogs at their collars when running in tandem.

Alpine Outfitters - Ganglines
are used for running 3 or more dogs to a team. Our ganglines are modular and can be configured in 2-dog sections. Other than the leader section, which goes in front of a gangline and is a Y-line to which you can hook up two lead dogs, each 2-dog section is comprised of a mainline, which has two tug lines in the rear and two single necklines in front. This allows you to run two dogs side-by-side (or you can just run one dog and leave one tug line and one single neckline unused). Adding more dogs to your team is easily accomplished by simply attaching a 2-dog section at a time.
Tug lines have a snap on one end, allowing you to easily hook and unhook your dogs from the team. Necklines have either one or two snaps - single necklines have one snap while double necklines, which are used for attaching leaders to each other's collars, have a snap on each end. Tug lines and necklines, as well as the snaps, can be ordered as replacements.

For ease of ordering, you can purchase a complete gangline setup, whether it's for 4, 6, 8, up to as many as 18 dogs. Because these are modular in design, you can easily reduce or increase your team size by simply attaching or detaching a 2-dog section. Thus, if you purchase a 10-dog gangline, you will have a leader section plus four 2-dog sections. On days when you want to run only 6 dogs, then you can easily detach two 2-dog sections and voila!... you now have a 6-dog gangline! And if later on you increase your team size to 12, then all you would need to do is add an additional 2-dog section.

We also give you the option of purchasing rope only ganglines OR ganglines with galvanized steel aircraft cable-filled mainlines. Cable-filled mainlines will prevent your lines from breaking due to dogs that chew. You also have the option of purchasing these lines with cable-filled necklines.

We have a variety of colors available - most order the mainline in one color and the tug lines and necklines in a different color, allowing them to more easily sort out which line is which should tangles occur. Our ganglines are made to standard measurements, but if you need custom lengths, please let us know and we would be happy to make them per your specifications!

SHOCKLINE, SNUB LINE - Other lines to consider

A shockline is a bungee section that would go in-between the gangline and your sled or cart and is designed to provide shock absorption from the sudden jerking motion that often occurs with a team of overly excited dogs that just want to run. Most mushers use this but some prefer not to. It is also available in a heavy duty, cable-filled version for bigger teams.

Alpine Outfitters - Ganglines
A snubline, on the other hand, when purchased with a swivel quick release mechanism, allows you to tie off your sled or cart to a stationary object, such as a post, tree or truck, to prevent your team from taking off without you while you are hooking up your dog team. And with one quick tug of the handle, the quick release mechanism will immediately release your rig and off you go!

The snow hook line is used to keep the snow hook connected to the sled so that you can keep it anchored in the snow, allowing you to step away from your sled when you need to stop along the trail.

COLLARS - for Safety, Security, and Identity

While every dog, whether at work or at play, uses a collar, you need to make sure that your dog is using a comfortable and secure collar when running in harness. Choke or prong collars are definitely NOT to be used when your dogs are necklined to one another, but at the same time, you want to make sure that the collars do not break or slip over their heads.

Alpine Outfitters offers durable, 1" wide nylon collars with dual steel sliders that will allow you to adjust it to a perfect fit around your dog's neck. Our Limited Slip Collar can be easily slipped on and off your dog's head, will tighten enough to prevent your dog from backing out of the collar when pulled on, yet it will not choke your dog as it is designed with a stop to prevent it from completely compressing around your dog's neck. Our Full Circle Collar, on the other hand completely conforms to your dog's neck at all times.

To help prevent your dog from getting lost, we can also sew on embroidered tags with your dog's name or your phone number. Several other ID Types are available as well, including engraved metal tags.

Our collars are available in a variety of colors and can also be purchased with reflective bands for low-light, nighttime safety.

That about covers the basics and we hope this helps you get started. If you have questions regarding our equipment and what is best for your dog, please call or e-mail us...we are here to help!

The Alpine Outfitters Team