Harness Reviews

This review was made possible by the brilliant people at Sporty Paws Ltd. This is not a paid review, but without their help and support, such an involved and long-term test would not have been possible.

Musher is not a brand I’d heard of until recently, but one I expect to remain on the scene for years to come. There’s not a huge amount of information about the Musher brand available online, but what we do know; is that they are a European sleddog sport equipment manufacturer based out of Transylvania, Romania. [Insert Dracula-esque joke at your own discretion.]

We’ve been temporarily gifted two of their signature style harness to test; the Amundsen and the Seppala.

The Test Parameters

The test parameters were pretty simple, these two harnesses replaced my normal go-to Non Stop Freemotion harnesses for my two most competent running dogs.

The test ran from February to May, covering the end of the 2017-18 mushing season,  and a lot of pretty vile weather. Mud as far as the eye can see for much of the time, so we’ve properly tested; not only performance, but durability and in general what they are like to live with.

Having had to put them through washing cycles and regular maintenance, we’ve drummed up a real near to worse-cast-scenario test for these harnesses.

The Amundsen Harness

Musher Amundsen Harness

As evident from the image above, the Amundsen harness is striking in design. At first it’s a little difficult to determine what exactly it’s intended for. It is a full-bore sled dog harness. Not a weight-pull or Pulka-style kit as some of it’s design cues suggest.

The Amundsen is a what I’d call a seriously open-back harness. It’s quite hard to explain in a few words, but it is a power-hungry harness, benefiting sprinting over endurance for sure.

My review of the Amundsen will have to be a little skewed. The harness did not fit my dogs especially well. By all measurement accounts, we had the right size – any smaller would’ve restricted airways, and well…they don’t go any larger.

The Amundsen appears to be designed around a dog that has a larger body or a smaller neck, comparatively. Every element of it’s design suggests this is intended for a purpose-bred hound.

This is a harness for your Eurohounds and Greysters (or whatever fandangled crossbreed you’re claiming today), there’s no doubt about it. For those with more traditionally shaped sleddy breeds, I’d advise to steer clear. Whilst it is a brilliant harness, it has a clear use-case in mind, and is not an all-rounder.

How’s it feel in use?

The Amundsen provides a power transfer from dog-to-bike like I’ve never experienced. I still can’t quite believe how much difference a harness can allow a dog to put down so much more power.

For what a guestimate is worth, it’s feels like an increase in torque, in the realm of 15-20%. Which I appreciate, is huge. Note; I said feels like. I doubt it is. And that type of power increase isn’t sustainable, but it is there as an initial shock to the senses.

This all sounds very promising, but for dogs who aren’t always going hell-for-leather, the design causes a practical issue. It just doesn’t sit well under an enduring trot or gallop.

The squiffy nature of the harness when not under load, can appear to cause minor discomfort for the dog during recoup portions of a run. I don’t suspect that there’s any actual pain, but rather than manor in which the harness can move around the body causes an unnecessary distraction.

I think it’s fairly evident by this point whether this harness is a good choice for your dog; if they’re an unadulterated puller for the whole hog, then great, go for it, and reap those rewards. But if they aren’t, it’s likely not to be of any benefit, and potentially a hindrance.

The open-back nature also leads to another potential problem, this is by far one of the easiest harnesses to back-out of I’ve ever used. This isn’t a fault as such, it’s by the very nature that makes it brilliant for some dogs, also makes it less ideal for others. And it’s just something I feel uncertain purchases should be very aware of.

The Seppala Harness

In the sled-dog harness world, there’s hundreds of x-backs, hundreds of multi-sport harnesses, and what feels like another several hundred of things in between.  So, we probably didn’t need another, right? Wrong.

The Seppala is more x-back than anything, but it’s an x-back with the design and material tech from more modern multi-sport style offerings.

The front-end of this, and the end many would consider the most important, is very much multi-sport style in it’s approach. From a design perspective, I believe this superior to any other I’ve seen. There’s something about the angles of the shoulder and neck straps, along with the luscious padding running down the chest plate that really make this a stand-out piece.

Unlike the Amundsen, the Seppala is absolutely in tune with traditional sleddy breed body shapes. The sizing is also quite interesting, easily fitting two of my dogs well, that in their Non Stops are definitely different sizes.

How’s it feel in use?

The Seppala provides a super familiar feel, to both x-back and multisport harness users – yet simultaneously injecting a degree of quality rarely found in this sport.

There’s a lot less to say about this harness, and that’s not a bad thing. There are much fewer nuances and caveats, it is an out-and-out top of the category contender.

I’m not saying that my Non-Stop Freemotion harness are going up for sale on Mushers Exchange tomorrow, far from it. But this test model isn’t going back either, it is now a solid and now my go-to harness for my girly.

Will I transition all dogs to this new wonderharness? That is a decision I will make after another season; if the impressive lack of wear and tear continues, there’s a good chance it’ll be a yes. I have undoubtedly damaged my Non-Stop harnesses in some way within a few months, but those parts are simple and cheap to replace, not having to shell out another £50+ each time something goes wrong.

The Seppala harnes does not have any replaceable portions, but in all honesty, I don’t think it needs to. I anticipate this lasting exceptionally well.

A Conclusion

Every aspect of these spanking new harnesses have already been laid out bare for all to see, and I am genuinely very impressed. Other manufacturers take note; the benchmark has changed.


Happy trails,

Howling Yetis.


GoPro Hero 6 Black Review

A few weeks ago, I wrote a promotional review on the new GoPro Hero 6 Black. The review was first listed here;

So, what’s good?

Let’s start out honestly, this is the first GoPro I’ve purchased since the Hero 3+. So off the bat, this is a major upgrade. Why haven’t I upgraded previously? Well…because my GoPro Hero 3+ was ‘just fine’ and, more importantly, I never really felt like an upgrade was worthy of my hard earned cash.

Something rang different this time though, maybe I was just swiped along with the GoPro event hype – but after just seeing a few base stats about this new unit, I was excited. To the point where I dropped the full RRP on one, on release day.

Was it worth the hype? Absolutely it was. The colour profiles, custom-filming settings and quality of that 4K 60fps is insane, regardless of the format. But for something that fits into the palm of your hand…wow.

I’d be lying if I said I knew all the functions like the back of my hand, of course I don’t…yet. With anything with a large UX jump, regardless of how easy that UX is…you need time to adjust and become a proper pro-user.

So is it worth the price-tag? Well…here’s what I’ll say, I think it’s worth the difference over the Hero 5 Black. Why? Because in a few years time, I can see this unit still being a performance master, while the previous edition may start to wane slightly. In terms of image quality and options they are very similar…only high-end production users will regularly be able to benefit from 60fps 4K and the like. So on those grounds, it’s usefulness to the regular action-cam user is negligible. But their new proprietary processor really does feel like it’s here to stay. And when you’re already spending quite a lot, adding that bit more for longevity seems worth it for me.

Check out my Top GoPro Cameras:

So, what’s bad?

Well, at the time of writing we’re only just coming up to two-weeks since release. And I’m already on my second unit. That sounds shocking, I know. I haven’t had to purchase it again, GoPro customer services and the services of the store purchased from were very helpful and happy to swap out my original camera as it seemed faulty from the off.

What happened? Well, on it’s debut, attached to my mountain bike, I experienced a lot of freezing up and erratic behaviour. With a bit of confusion I contacted GoPro customer services and they advised that the SD card I was using was a little less than ideal, and they wouldn’t be able to really advise on any issues as this was likely the cause.

So, cue myself off to buy the greatest SD card I could find – grabbed a SanDisk Extreme ‘Works with GoPro’ branded model and started shooting again. The first few ventures seemed okay – but I was doing short recording sessions on (relatively) low quality settings.

A few days later I wanted to capture a hiking experience via time-lapse photography. The intention to take a photo every 10 seconds for the duration. This did not go to plan. And when I say the camera started acting very erratic…I mean it might have taken 10 photos (max) before having somewhat of a meltdown. And this happened repeatedly.

Back on to the very helpful at GoPro support, and they determine…it’s a problematic unit.

Now, this is my only criticism of GoPro’s aftersales, and there is a way around it, but their default action for any issue camera is to have it sent back and repaired or replaced. Now, for a very expensive, brand new action camera. Having to send it off for a repair isn’t really acceptable. When paying that much, I expect immediate action and replacement – not having to wait for a diagnostic. Now fortunately, because it appeared faulty out the box, returning it to the store of purchase was an option – so that’s what I did and within an hour of my final report to GoPro customer services, I had a new camera. And this one, is as epic as promised.

Check out my Top GoPro Accessories:

Anything else you should know?

Yes – those new high-end recording formats, anything new from the Hero 5 Black, are encoded differently. Only newer computers and smartphones are able to process these properly. If your editing equipment is more than a year or so old…you might have a tough time utilising these options…so that is worth considering.

Do I have any regrets?

Regrets? No. Could I have saved myself a load of money? Maybe. A Hero 5 Black, although it would’ve done a very stellar job of what I want, was not an option. The price gap wasn’t big enough to warrant buying something already outdated. A Hero 5 Session, however, at around 50% of the price of the Hero 6 Black, is very appealing. This smaller form and relatively powerful unit does keep sneaking into the back of my mind. And you know what, in a few months, I may buy one in addition to my Hero 6 Black. But the usefulness of the screen makes for such a marked update over my original Hero 3+ – I really do have no regrets at all.


In addition to my original review, I also wanted to add a bit about what the GoPro Hero 6 Black does in the context of bikejor. A common issue I’ve found with action cameras, and GoPro’s in particular, is that they aren’t exceptionally good at keeping good colour profiles in low-light conditions. As appropriate running times for bikejor are typically early morning, evening and during the winter months – light is already at a bit of a premium. Add on to that, that a lot of training occurs in forests, with thousands of trees mitigating further light quality…we’ve had a lot of poor quality videos.

This isn’t the fault of the products as such, it’s just not their primary focus. With the Hero 6 Black however, consider the game changed. Below are two stills taken from video shot in the same location, around the same time of day, and with roughly the same light quality.

GoPro Hero 3+ Silver
GoPro Hero 6 Black

Whilst it is difficult to appreciate if either of the above snap shots are indeed of any actual ‘quality’ what so ever – overall, the final output simply seems to be leagues ahead.

I have seen complaints that the colour profile appears over saturation, or a little unrealistic – and you know what – it probably is. But, you can turn it off – by default a special ‘GoPro’ colour profile is applied, you can revert to ‘normal’ if you so wish. And, more importantly, what are we, as dog enthusiasts want from our footage? Is it to show natures true beauty? I’d say it’s unlikely…just think about how much mud that means. We want to capture our fun in the way we remember it. Do I recall those runs being dark, dank and gloomy as the first snap suggests? Hell no! It doesn’t actually matter what the weather was doing, or wether we were having a relaxed jaunt, or setting PB’s left right and centre…we just remember that it was a colourful, exciting and happy experience.

If the camera manages to capture that essences with a few tweaks to reality, then hey, I’m all for it.