Review: Rad Dog’s “Release N Run” Collar

Just about the only thing I enjoy more than playing with fancy new bits for my bikes is playing with fancy new bits for my dog. Stop laughing, you know what I meant. In April, the lovely folks over at Rad Dog were kind enough to ship me one of their Release ‘N Run collars [Link!] a few weeks ago. Essentially, it’s a basic fabric flat collar, only someone had the absolutely brilliant (not sarcastic) idea of sticking a four foot retractable leash inside of it. Now, at the time of writing I’ve only had it for about a month, but considering the use I’ve gotten out of it already I expect it will be one of my most-used pieces of hardware.

The Good: It works; Compact; Sturdy (so far); Versatile (can be used with a regular leash)

The Bad: Theoretical weakness to sand (though I haven’t had any problems yet); Grab-able portion of handle is small

Price: $38 plus shipping – Considering the features, it’s worth the price. There are similar products, but they are shorter and, perhaps most importantly, don’t automatically retract.

The Down and Dirty: It’s a great piece of hardware! Sure, you could live without it, but if you’re looking for a relatively easy and convenient way to keep you animal connected to you, this is your best bet.

The collar itself doesn’t look like anything too out of the ordinary. The actual collar itself is just a piece of your every-day fabric. Attached to one side of the collar is the blue sleeve you can see in the pictures, and inside that is where all the magic happens. Rad Dog’s site explains that “the internal retracting mechanism, originally designed for extended use in salt water by scuba divers and for the tethering of tools and weapons for the police and military, has been designed for maximum strength and durability.” I was warned by Rad Dog that occasionally sand gets stuck in the mechanism (fixable with some “percussive maintenance”), but I didn’t come across any issues. I’ve had it on the beach a couple times, and it actually worked very well – even though his sister was intent on drowning Ziggy, the leash kept working. Unless your dog gets run over or tackled into the sand, I don’t forsee any issues stemming from riding on the beach. We went on one, and it performed quite well – it’s incredibly nice to be able to just lean down and grab the dog, without trying to attach a leash or maintain a hold while mounting/dismounting. The collar also comes with a D-Ring sewn in – it appears to be sturdy enough should you decide to use a regular leash, and wouldn’t have any problems if you just wanted to stick some tags on it. The leash portion extends to four feet in length, which seemed just about the perfect length to keep him from getting tangled while I was on the bike, though it was somehow both just a little short *and* a little long for hiking.

The recall mechanism is impressive, I must admit. It’s about the same as what you get in a retractable “Flexi-Leash”, only it doesn’t weigh an absolute tonne (the RNR on its own weighs about as much as Ziggy’s normal collar, an Ollydog Marin with a riveted nameplate). The leash returns to the collar quickly and easily, and pulls out without much effort as well (check out the short video at the end to see it in action). I didn’t have any issues with it getting caught on trees, thanks to the handle stowing almost completely within the sleeve. That does result in the handle being a bit less grab-able than I would like, however. After a couple missed attempts, I decided to use an old string from a hood to make a larger loop, and so far I haven’t had any issues with it getting caught.

It should be noted that there is no way to lock the leash, or slow its extension/retraction. It snaps back pretty quickly (Ziggy jumped the first few times I let go of it), so the safer bet would be to continue holding the handle as the cord

After a busy month’s use, the Release N Run has lived up to all of my expectations. I’m quite happy with it as a functional piece of equipment, and I expect it will stick with us for quite some time. For the price of $38 plus shipping, it’s not going to break the bank. At this point, I feel confident in saying that anyone who rides or hikes with a dog would get a good bit of use from the collar.

Here’s a quick video I took about halfway through the maiden ride. The harness he’s wearing is the same I reviewed earlier, find that page here.

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