Horse Saddle Bags: Packing For Success

TrailMax Junior Saddlebag System on a trail saddle.

When loading your western or endurance saddle bags on your saddle, having equal size, equal weight and equal weight distribution of your saddlebags is vital. Remember, your saddlebags are dead weight and, therefore, cannot adjust themselves in the saddle like a rider.

EQUAL SIZE: This is simple with all models of our TrailMax western and endurance saddlebags, as each side of the bags, regardless of design or material, are the same size.

EQUAL WEIGHT: Once loaded, weigh each side of your packs to ensure they are within a few ounces of each other. A scale, such as the TrailMAX Packers Scale, is easy to read, lightweight and designed to allow one person to be able to weigh items, such as saddlebags, without assistance.

EQUAL WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION: The more weight you carry in your horse saddlebags, the more important it becomes to balance them. If you must load one side of your saddle bags heavier than the other, be sure to hang something heavier on the opposite side of the saddle. Riding saddles want to slip to the heavier side and nothing is more uncomfortable, and potentially hazardous, than riding down the trail with the saddle off to one side.

MAXIMUM LOAD WEIGHT: Some horses can comfortably carry more than others and each horse should be looked at individually. A very general rule of thumb is 20% of the animal's body weight with a "dead" load, and never more than 30% with an experienced rider in the saddle. Factors to consider when deciding how much weight to carry are:

  1. Horse's size
  2. Horse's conditioning
  3. Horse's build (conformation)
  4. Horse's attitude
  5. Horse's age
  6. Saddle size, fit and weight, plus it's ability to distribute weight
  7. Rider's weight and experience
  8. Saddlebag design and fit
  9. Distance of ride and type of terrain
  10. Weather (esp. heat and humidity)

Using horn bags for heavier gear (such as water, camera, binoculars, etc.) puts more of the load over the front quarters, where the horse can carry it better, rather than in your horse saddle bags behind the saddle.

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TrailMax Original Saddlebag System
TrailMax Junior Saddlebag System
TrailMax 500 Series Deluxe Saddle Pocket System
TrailMax Cavalry Saddlebags
TrailMax Canvas Saddlebags

Would you like more information?
Western Saddle Bags
Russ On: Loading your Saddlebags
Russ On: How Much Weight Can my Horse Carry?