The Great Bear Canvas Panniers are the newest addition to our family of Big Sky Series panniers. The Great Bear canvas panniers have not only that traditional look of a time tested canvas pannier, but also the eye catching flair with our Trailhead Supply green logoed nylon web trim. This is one tough pannier! Built to take all the abuse that comes with heavy packing in the backcountry. As with all our Big Sky Series panniers they’re Big! These panniers are for those who need to bring just one more thing….the boy scout in all of us, are prepared, or for those who have never mastered rolling a sleeping bag good and tight. The Great Bear canvas panniers measure a full 29” long x 19” high and a solid 12” deep. We started with our heavy 24 ounce canvas and used one continuous piece so there are no seams to tear out. The ends are not only double stitched in place, but the seams are glued as well. We then ran a horizontal two inch wide belly band of nylon web around the entire pannier to add even more strength and support which in turn adds added protection to your gear. If that wasn’t enough, there are two 1 ½” wide straps that completely loop the pannier to add support to the bottom, front, and back. The securing straps that hold these canvas panniers to your pack saddle are double layered 1 ½” green nylon web that are glued together then stitched. We have also added a handle on each end of the pannier to help assist moving these panniers around camp, the trail head, or loading the stock. All hardware on the canvas pannier is brass or brass plated for both a great look and can handle years of constant use.
You are probably thinking those folks at Trailhead Supply named these panniers “Great Bear” because they are big and tough. That is true, they are, but the real reason is we originally built these panniers for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks as bear management team’s equipment. They pack all over the Bob Marshall Wilderness for most of the year; they worked so well we started selling them to our packing friends.
All big adventures start with some sort of planning. It could be as simple as let’s go while loading horses into the trailer to months of in depth planning of every detail of the upcoming adventure. We have all probably done both. Although the food is normally better on the well planned out trips. The spontaneous trips seem to have a menu normally consisting of beer, chips, and sandwich stuff and that burrito left over from something that was just lying in the truck seat and your water bottle is a half empty bottle of jack just in case.
The well planned out trips have been mapped, studied and analyzed you have made phone calls, and follow up calls, sent emails to everyone who has ever been on that trai,l and have over thought their views and opinions. As the departure date approaches you have NOAA weather on your desktop and your phone. You have flow charts of creek and river depths hanging on your office wall studying all the forging points during those long conference calls throughout the week. The big day comes and you hope all that planning pays off…….But normally life kicks in, the lights don’t work on the trailer, a mule won’t load, it’s pouring down rain! How can the weatherman always be wrong? But you made the trail head. You awake, the suns out, things are looking up. You’re saddled and riding the trail all is grand till you roll a saddle. How can this be the loads were planned the packs were balanced? You are not making the time you had planned, you’re not making camp by dark…………
Here is what it comes down to. I love to plan out a big trip, but be prepared to punt, change directions midstream, don’t let the mood of a mare ruin your getaway, go with it. Enjoy all that happens on the trail this trip will never happen again, make the best of it, learn from it, save all those memories, treasure the trip as much as the planning of the trip. Take pictures, lots of pictures!!! And remember what happens here stays here………..except if it’s your packing partner it may end up on Facebook or YouTube!! Happy trails.
Here are some very common questions that I hear every day…..Round or square? Which do you prefer? What do you use? Does one work better than the other? Can you mix them? Should I try the other? What do you think I would prefer?
The steel dee rings on your pack saddle tree is what makes a decker a decker. They connect the bars together making a solid supporting backbone to your pack saddle. The most important aspect of a tree is the quality. The tree must be made well, remember there is no repair shop 20 miles from the trail head.
There are now two basic shapes of dee rings available on a decker. The traditional style which is round and the modified which is the more squared looking one. Round dees were the first design used when the decker was created, hint the name traditional. Over the last couple of decades a more square looking version of the dee ring has come into the decker world. This square counter part to the traditional round dee is called by many names. Square, modified and improved are the most common. I prefer the term modified since that is truly what it is. It is just a modified version of the traditional shaped round dee. Improved doesn’t really work it’s just a marketing term some saddle makers tack on to make it sound like the new bigger better thing you must have. Modified dees originally marketed as a better design for hanging panniers off of to try and lure the sawbuck users over to the decker world. But the fact is you can hang panniers off both style of dees and those dees that have ears welded or formed on them, well that’s just something else to wear a hole in my manties. The long time decker packers tend to prefer the traditional dees, they say you can pull your load tighter at the top and it rest better against the saddle. Well if that’s true it’s only gaining them an inch at the top. If the load is angled in further at the top that would make your overall width wider at the bottom. A lower profile modified dee is easier to throw a top pack on, there would be nothing pushing up against your top pack allowing it to ride better.
So… back to the opening questions. The answer…….it’s all personal what do you like the best and what would help you get out and enjoy the back country more? That’s the best choice.
Feed bags, nose bags whatever you want to call them they come in all shapes and sizes and colors. What works? What doesn't? Do I have to have one? Just tell me what I need….what do you use or do you even use one??? I hear this often in our store, on the phone, or emailed to us.
Let us first look at how a nose bag works. A nose bag is just what it sounds like a bag that is placed over a horse or mule’s nose that has a strap, this goes around its head to secure it in place. This bag is used for feeding grain, pelletized feeds, etc. now we all get where the name feed bag comes in.
Feed bags are used for a number of reasons: control feeding, minimize wastage, and practice leave no trace. Nose bags were traditionally made out of heavy canvas and had a formed leather bottom; these bags have and will last forever. In recent years weight has become a factor and a concern, the heavy canvas is being replaced by lighter weight canvas formed leather bottoms have given way to canvas bottoms. Cordura has replaced the canvas thus giving way to a bright array of colors. And now mesh.
Mesh bags weigh almost nothing and can be folded, squished or crammed into almost anywhere for storage and transport. Mesh bags unlike their canvas counterpart has better breathability, the animal can easily breath while eating and any dust in the feed will sift out through the mesh sides.
My only real suggestion: if buying mesh bags then spend the extra couple of dollars and get ones with canvas bottoms. If there is one piece of grain left your animal will push the bag against the ground to get at it, thus pushing mud dirt manure etc. back through a mesh bottom, the canvas bottom bags stop this. If you opt for canvas bags make sure they have a ventilator patch sewn in. This is normally a leather patch that has a couple dozen holes punched through it allowing airflow in and out of the bag so your stock can breath and dust to exit. The area of contention with the ventilator patch has always been placement. How far up the bag should it be. Let’s look at the reason for having it ….”air” for your animal it need to be down by its nostrils not half way up the bag. Also there have been reported cases of people putting feed bags on their untied animals the animals wander down to the creek to drink the bag fills full of water and the animal drowns in his feed bag because the ventilator patch is too high above his nostrils and the water doesn't drain out. This would also be something to look at if you were going to soak your feed in you feed bag. If your ventilator patch is to high your water can’t drain leaving you with a pail of water with feed floating in it.
For additional information or questions contact us at email@example.com or (406) 752-4437 See the options in our store: Shop Now.
Well it’s that time of the year again when I travel around from trade show to trade show with the store. Along with having our booth we will be doing seminars on horse and mule packing throughout the weekend(s). I normally deal with issues and topics I think people want to learn or hear about. As I am getting ready for the Montana Sportsman Expo in a couple of weeks I got to thinking, what would people like to hear about? Just not what I think people want to hear about. So, let me know your thoughts on topics you would like to learn or hear about in seminars at trade/sportsman shows. Thanks for your insight.
With winter slowly winding down and spring still a ways off some folks wonder, what do all the folks at Trailhead Supply do during this time of year? We hit the road. We load up and get out, spend time with all of our old friends we’ve made over the years, and make a lot of new friends along the way. It’s good to sit down and visit over a cup of coffee, tell the adventures of last summer, talk about what worked and what didn’t, even swap a lie or two. We have been asked to attend four trade shows in a seven week period. So, if you are in the area we would love for you to stop by and visit us at our booth; or sit in on one of the packing clinics we will be presenting. Don’t worry, the snow will be melted off the trails soon and we can all get out and do what we love; work on more adventures and drink more coffee around the fire with good friends.
Montana Sportsman Expo
February 15th, 16th and 17th
Back Country Horsemen of Washington
March 15th, 16th and 17th
Montana Back Country Horsemen
40th Anniversary State Convention
April 5th, 6th and 7th
Salmon Select Horse and Mule Sale
April 12th and 13th
The Snickerdoodle Quest
On all great outdoor adventures there are cookies. Cookies in your pocket, saddle bags, and even behind the seat of your pickup. Even at the end of the season as you are cleaning up your gear you will find a cookie or two crushed, hard, but still contained in a plastic baggie deep down in the bottom of those saddle bags. Some may have a hole chewed through the plastic where unknowingly you shared with one of God’s small creatures.
Cookies always bring a smile. Cookies are tied to memories. Ginger snaps are at every elk camp I’ve ever been to, sugar cookies in the shape of Christmas trees are at the holidays. One year we had to refer to them as Hanukah bushes, due to my sister running around with a Jewish guy.
Snickerdoodles are one of those great year round cookies. No real holiday ties, no chocolate pieces that melt on your hands on a warm summer day then gets all over your reins or steering wheel and then cleaned up with your pant leg. Anyway, I’ve been married almost 30 years to the same wonderful woman (she has to be numb by now to have put up with me that long)…..But she has never baked me a single snickerdoodle. She said she didn’t like them. Apparently, she didn’t care if I liked them, but to hold this marriage together why bring this up?
A year ago, my long time friend and packing partner’s father past away, and at the reception following the service some church going friend brought a plate of snickerdoodles. I of course dove into the platter of warm cookies. My wife looked at me and said I never knew you liked snickerdoodles. What !!! Who doesn’t like snickerdoodles besides her? She said I don’t know why I don’t like them I love sugar and cinnamon. A year passes, and the other day I came home to the smell of baking cinnamon. Snickerdoodles were being baked in my own oven. They weren’t that good they were flat hard kind of ok I ate them anyway, but then again I’ll eat almost anything but fruit. It can’t be my wife’s fault she is a great cook. She posted on the internet her saga and that she needed a sinkerdoodle recipe. Holy cow we got snickerdoodle recipes…..from neighbors, friends, a missionary from the Philippines, and relatives that we forgot we had. Now all she does is cook snickerdoodles trying to find me the perfect cookie just to put in my saddle bags. I’m tired of eating snickerdoodles. I’ve ate so many I can’t tell good from bad. I told her no more! I’ll have to get a bigger horse to carry my snickerdoodle ass around.
Now, everyone who sent her a recipe wants to know if I liked them…..who knows because now we are mixing recipes together. Enough…you get the picture. So if you see me on the trail this year just ask me if I have an extra cookie and I’ll gladly share. See cookies really do bring a smile. J
OK, the holidays are over…..and it’s just under 3 months until spring and I am getting a really bad case of cabin fever. It all started hitting me as my wife was uploading, downloading, her SD camera deal, whatever it’s technically called, to take the images of Christmas off her camera card and put them on a disk. Just what ever happened to negatives?
Anyway, I was sitting here watching it snow and back braiding some sling ropes for my new pack saddle and I realized I can’t even use these for at least 4 months. I looked over at the computer monitor and there were packing pictures rolling across the screen it was sunny, it was warm, and everything was green.
There was a picture of my string all in a straight line on a trail, deep in the “BOB.” Then I found myself out leaning against a frozen fence talking to Abner, he’s the mule, and a great listener, by the way. While I was out standing in the snow cutting up the apples, that came in one of those over priced Christmas baskets, and feeding them to all the horses I asked them why does winter last so long? The only good answer I could come up with is I need that much time to plan all my summer pack trips.
I know that is not the reason the Lord came up with when he created the seasons but I’m going with it.
One of the best parts of my winter planning is trying new recipes that can be cooked in the back country. I’ve exchanged several great recipes this winter with a back country cook who works for an outfitter, and he is also looking for good, hearty and easy meals as well.
There is usually plenty of time for oiling and repairing tack, but who wouldn’t rather just eat a big helping of comfort food!! So, do what you do in the long snowy days of winter and remember we are on the down hill slide till spring. Winter well!!!
Here is a topic that’s talked about on pretty much a non stop basis at Trailhead Supply. Elk Camp this, and our Elk Camp that, and what do you think about this or that pertaining to elk camp. Elk season ended just a month ago; and I already have a half dozen folks looking at new wall tents to expand their camp, or leave their existing party, and start their own camp. Even more than that, people are asking how to repair their wall tents. From burned out stove jacks to 6 foot long rips in the top. And we always have that handful of folks now asking about bear resistant food storage containers after they got that $250 ticket last season for leaving beer in the creek.
I could go on and on over pack saddle issues. Not always a saddle problem, more like the mule rolling down the hill side breaking the saddle issue. Elk Camp is a big deal; it is an expensive seven to ten days of therapy in the back country. No cell phones, no office meetings, no rushing to pick to kids up from day care. Just you, and two or three of your closest friends. Do it right, plan ahead, scout the area, be prepared and make memories that will last a life time.