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Differences in saddle brands - Stringinit - 01-07-2020

I was hoping to get some insight from my fellow packers on their experiences with the different options in pack saddles. 

I currently have northwest saddles with standard rigging. My experience is that these saddles have served me well overall. I have had a few minor issues with in steep offtrail loads. Where my panniers would flop up, usually coming down steep uneven ground. Also I would get a little rubbing on the outside shoulders of my goats. Just to where it was breaking their hair, they never gotten sores. It just kinda looks bad with them having bald spots. My understanding is the slick material is what you want, where it kind of just glides across their hair and if you add any padding it just makes it worse. So I assume I'll have to live with it.

I put 150+ miles on my goats last year and will likely expect that from them every year. I am very conscientious about them carrying loads and really want to maximize their comfort while they are working. 

Does anyone have any extensive experience with other brands/styles of straps?

Butthead packgoats and Mark Warnke's signature saddle have a double breast cinch. Which seems like with that design it would support a load better in rougher terrain. 

Northwest packgoats has standard rigging and the mountain straps upgrade. What's your experience with the upgrade?

Bantam saddle has nice saddles too.

I'm on the market for new saddles and would like some fellow hardcore backcountry goat people's experiences with their own gear.


RE: Differences in saddle brands - Sanhestar - 01-08-2020

What type of NorthWest packsaddles do you have? The wooden sawbuck or the custom fit? The custom fit should not cause rubbing when fitted correctly.

I have so far to test the mountain straps long term. On one saddle they are a bit "crooked" = they slide to one side, no matter how I adjust it. The standard rigging, in my opinion, tends to slide too low around the hind legs.

What supports a load are additional straps on the load/panniers and the hind girth. The no longer made Owyhee saddles had that. The panniers would connect with straps and buckles to a hind girth system similar to the mountain straps from Northwest.

I have old pictures of the Owyhee saddle system up on my website, if you want to have a look at it. Should your browser claim that there is a safety issue, please ignore that, the website is safe.

To secure panniers from flipping over you could use additional ropes and/or a manty, like they use with packhorses to tie the load down more securely. I think, Wind River Packgoats did that way back (I remember seeing goats with manty over a load on the old goatpacking video).

RE: Differences in saddle brands - Stringinit - 01-08-2020

I have the wooden sawbucks. With the standard rigging. I was getting the rubbing from the breast collar. When the goats are hiking the breast collar would slide from left to right, causing it to rub on the outsides of their shoulders. I too had the issue with the rump straps hanging too low. My saddles never caused any sore spots and never roughed up my goats hair under their saddle pads.

My biggest concern is the saddles and panniers flopping upwards. Causing the saddle to kinda jump up off of the goats back on the rearend of the saddle. From what I could see, its because of the single girth strap on my standard rigging. I can see on the northwest packgoats mountain straps are connected by a large ring where you would have the straps then attached to the front and rear crossbucks to help keep the saddle riding the goat more stable in rough terrain. Do you still get the flop with the mountain straps? That design still has the single girth strap though.

That's why I was looking at the double girth cinch straps on Marc's and Buttheads saddles. Their design to me seems like it would keep the rearend of the saddle from lifting/jumping off the backs of the goats.

I'm relatively new to goat packing and want to start my string off in the right direction.

I checked out your website Sanhestar and the pics were a little hard to see how the additional rigging (ropes/manty) is attached. I could visualize it though and could definitely see the benefits of it.


RE: Differences in saddle brands - Sanhestar - 01-08-2020

yes, the quality of the fotos isn't good. Really old camera, poor lighting.

The hind girth system has additional straps that connect to the panniers with a click snap and can be adjusted in length. They are sewn onto the main hind girth.

If the breast strap rubs, you could try pulling a cover made of lambskin or deerskin (hairy side out) over it.

I have seen the wooden saddle riding up high with the rear end. In my opinion this can be caused by the single cinch but also has to do with the saddle being overall too wide (especially in the front) for the goat that carries it.

I have the mountain straps on custom fit saddles only. But they should work the same way on the wooden saddles.

If you want to check additional rigging with ropes and manties I suggest you visit horsepacking sites. Check out youtube for diamond and box hitches.

RE: Differences in saddle brands - Nanno - 01-08-2020

(01-07-2020, 08:42 PM)Stringinit Wrote: It just kinda looks bad with them having bald spots. My understanding is the slick material is what you want, where it kind of just glides across their hair and if you add any padding it just makes it worse. So I assume I'll have to live with it.

No, your goats should not have bald spots. Once the hair rubs off, the skin will begin to chafe. A little broken hair around the breast and butt straps is ok, but bald spots are a sign that the chafing is severe. Wide padding as Sanhestar suggested can help with this. You'll see a lot of hair rub off into the padding but it will distributed over a large area instead of leaving concentrated bald spots that can become sores. I really like the Marc Warnke yoke design to eliminate shoulder rubs but I haven't personally used it myself. He swears by it though. If you want to stick with your current saddles, you could call and ask if you can attach yokes to regular saddles. I'd be interested to find out if that works.  

A single front cinch is a bit problematic because it tends to pull the saddle forward into the shoulders and also has the issue you're having where the rear end pops up. I like a double rigging, however I don't particularly care for the Butt-Head saddle design. The edges of saddle bars are not beveled and tend to dig into the shoulders pretty hard. 

The Northwest mountain rigging is pretty good, although the single cinch coming down from a central ring has its own problems--namely that it places the cinch too far back where it is no longer resting on the sternum. However, I think if you can adjust the ring placement so that it's closer to the front instead of located dead center, the design could work. The Northwest saddle I have with the mountain straps was originally a kit that someone else put together, so I can't be certain that the guy built it quite right. It could be that the "factory made" saddle has better rigging placement.

Although I haven't personally used one, I love the quality of the Bantam saddles. They're very well made. I also hear very good things about Marc Warnke's saddle but I haven't had the opportunity to use one myself. They are longer and heavier than a standard wooden saddle so make sure your boys are large enough to handle the extra length.

RE: Differences in saddle brands - Stringinit - 01-08-2020

Here is a picture of Deecon. If you look on his right shoulder you'll see a lengthwise wear mark starting near his armpit and then angling up and away. Just where you would imagine his breast straps going. This was towards the end of the season, probably near trail mile 120. With the amount of extreme hiking I've done, I wasn't too surprised he developed these wear marks. Bald spots sounded a little excessive. Deecon is a very agile goat and I haven't seen an obstacle that has made him find a way around. If he sees me go through or over it, he usually takes the exact same route. He tends to jump onto or over things very physically where his breast strap would tighten against his body from him flexing and jumping. I'm assuming that's how he was developing the wear marks. 

He has since grown his winter coat and you couldn't see any wear marks from the summer and fall season. 

I appreciate the advice and will take it into practice.

RE: Differences in saddle brands - Stringinit - 01-08-2020

Here he is

RE: Differences in saddle brands - Nanno - 01-08-2020

He's beautiful! Wear marks can be expected after a lot of hiking, but bald spots are definitely excessive.

RE: Differences in saddle brands - Sanhestar - 01-08-2020

that also looks like the breast strap is sitting too low.

RE: Differences in saddle brands - Stringinit - 01-09-2020

I found when tightening the breast strap too much it impacted their range of movement. Especially go uphill and over deadfall.

I too noticed the breast strap was hanging too low but I haven't figured out a way from keeping the breast strap from pulling the whole saddle forward onto the goats shoulders as they go over obstacles. This happens when I tighten the breast strap.

I tried tightening the rump strap to prevent the saddle from being pulled forward, but that too also restricted their range of movement.

So I decided to keep the breast strap on the looser side. This way my boys were more agile.

I really appreciate the help and am trying to fine tune my goats packing experience.