Pack Saddles

 

What is the difference between Sawbucks and Deckers?

 
 
 
 
 
   
 

  

There are two types of sawbucks:   Humane and Teheam. The forks on a humane tree have a little slant forward and back. The forks on a  teheam are straight up and down. They both have a double cinch, and made to fit a mule or a horse.
 
DECKER:
There are three types of Deckers. 
 
The original decker has a D shape iron bar. This is the only decker that requires decker hooks to hold on a pannier. If you were to put a panniers strap over the D ring it would slip off, there would be nothing to hold it down - it is smooth and round.  We sell these.
 
With a modified decker the D ring is shaped to not allow the panniers strap to slide off. On these you do not need a decker hook. Another way to put a pannier on a decker is to unbuckle a strap on the panniers and run it through the decker D ring. This is a little harder to remove in a hurry.  We sell these.

There also is an adjustable bar decker, this allows the bars to adjust to the animals back. You normally fit a sawbuck or a Decker to the backs of the animal you want to fit by taking off the high spots on the underside of the bars. With the adjustable decker it'll move in and out to fit the rib cage of the horse or mule. This way you can use it on different animals, it's not adjusted to just one animal.  We sell these!

A Decker uses a half breed which covers up the rigging. It also has a board that fits along the rib cage, and the load weight is distributed all along the rib cage of the animal. There are four different adjustments on a Decker tree itself. Also the cinch rings are to fit halfway onto the board, this way it does not dig into the animal side in one spot. You also have six adjustments on your spider, and your breast collar.  All this equipment we sell.
 

 

 
SAWBUCK:
A sawbuck only has adjustments on the breast collar and the spider. You can also use the halfbreed on a sawbuck. If you have a hard pannier set and you want to carry the weight on the rib cage a little better this is a nice way to do it.

There is also a quarter breed that fits over the Decker, this is used to cover all your rigging on top of your halfbreed. You can use a quarter breed on a sawbuck to accomplish the same purpose. It is basically just a piece of canvas protection.

The cinch on a Decker is normally a single. The Decker was designed for mules who have a shorter back. The blacksmith that designed it also had a problem with breakage of the bars on the sawbuck. This is why he came up with the metal the rings; they were a lot tougher to break.

You can use a basket hitch on a Decker or a sawbuck and tie on a Manty load to either. You can also use a barrel hitch on either. By using a barrel hitch and a Manty load you can then use a top pack.  We sell these.
On hard panniers there are bars on the side these are called sling bars, when you tie them on with a basket hitch.  We sell hard and soft sided pannier sets, as well as slings.

By using a basket hitch, when the load hits a tree it can swing back, and as the animal walks, it will work its way back into position.   Hard panniers will not move much because they are hooked on at two places on the pack saddle. There's not a lot of give using hard panniers. Soft panniers also have issues -  sometimes if you hit a broken tree branch it can rip the panniers, and tear holes in it. This is why the higher-end panniers have leather on both ends, and they seems to hold up better when hitting tree branches.  By adding legs to the hard sided panniers, you have a convenient table and storage set - also items we sell.

The choice is yours, it's what meets your need and what kind of packing you do. Also a lot depends on what kind of country you'rr riding in whether it be in the brush or through lodgepole pines in the mountains.  Sometimes you ride on narrow trails through large rocks, which makes it tough to get a load through.
 
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
   
 
Courtesy of Terry Haider, Head of Education - Back Country Horsemen, Santa Ana River Unit
 
 

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