Some differences between a
Sawbuck and Decker Pack
Saddle are obvious. A Sawbuck
Pack Saddle has wooden crossbucks instead of metal hoops.
A Sawbuck Pack Saddle lacks the half-breed – the padded canvas
cover with pack boards of the Decker Pack Saddle. And lastly,
most Sawbucks are “double rigged”, using either a Sawbuck
double pack cinch or two single pack cinches instead of
one like the Decker
Pack Saddle. Some packers cite this as an advantage for
the sawbuck, saying it stabilizes the load and better
distributes the friction around the animal’s belly.
However, some differences may not be quite
so clear, but are important to consider when choosing between
the two. The Decker Pack Saddle is stronger
than the Sawbuck, mostly because of the metal
hoops. The crossbucks of a Sawbuck, being made of wood, are
more likely to break if a mule falls or rolls on them. The
Decker Pack Saddle will often better survive a wreck.
Another advantage of the Decker Pack
Saddle is rigging position. The rigging on a Decker
Pack Saddle buckles to the tree beneath the half-breed and is
easily adjustable over a wide range, allowing you to adjust
the position of the Decker
Pack Cinch and prevent soring of your pack stock. The
rigging of Sawbuck Pack Saddle is screwed or riveted to the tree
and cannot be as easily adjusted.
Decker Pack Saddles are
better suited to heavier loads because of the half-breed with
pack boards. The pack boards help distribute the weight of
your load, whether mantied or packed in panniers, more broadly
along the animal's side. Additionally, the lower portion of
the half-breed behind the pack boards is typically padded,
thus providing greater comfort and protection from the load
for your pack animal.
hooks are another benefit to using the Decker Pack
Saddle. Decker hooks are typically made of brass and
are used in sets of four. These hooks thread onto the pannier
hanger straps and can then be hooked to the hoops on your
Decker pack saddle. With Decker hooks you can attach panniers
more quickly and you won’t have to lift the panniers as high
or for as long.
Mainly because of the half-breed and to some
extent, the Duplex-grade stainless steel hoops, a fully rigged
Decker Pack Saddle will be heavier than the
Sawbuck, weighing in around 30 pounds. A
Sawbuck will weigh only 18-20 pounds.
High Country Supply sells all the materials you need for
either system of packing.
In on Horses and Mules”, Elser and Brown,