Western Saddle Guide

Western Saddle Guide > Saddle Accessories > Saddle bags


Saddlebags have been around from the beginning. There’s always been a need to carry gear with you, especially when horseback was the main means of travel. Today, there are dozens of options available in on-saddle carrying gear. In addition to various styles of traditional bags, you’ll find cantle bags, horn bags, bottle holders, gun holsters and scabbards, hoof pick holders, hobble holders, pliers and wire cutter holders, and even cell phone holders. You name it, there’s a holder for it. Your choice will depend on how much and what gear you need to transport and your own personal preferences.

Saddlebags and other on-saddle carriers have traditionally been made from leather or strong canvas, but today nylon materials are most popular. Nylon is much cheaper, easier to form into different shapes, and weighs a lot less than leather. However, we’re still suckers for leather.

Check out the wide selection of saddlebags at HorseSaddleShop, State Line Tack and our Tack Shop.
Saddlesbags are two pouches connected by a wide yoke. The bags lie behind the cantle across the back jockeys and are attached with saddle strings threaded through eyelets in the yoke. Once the bags are tied on, the strings are still available to tie even more gear on such as a slicker, jacket, or bedroll. That’s why saddle strings are usually 3 feet long.

horse saddle bags Leather bags, remain the traditional standard. There’s nothing more appealing than a beautifully crafted set of high quality leather bags sitting on your saddle. Saddlebags are available in a variety of leather thickness and grades depending on your needs and budget. You’ll find leather saddle bags available from a number of tack manufacturers and most custom saddle makers design and build their own leather saddlebags. Many of these are works of art with elaborate tooling and braiding.

Sadly, bags made of nylon are the vast majority being sold today. They are very durable and easy to stuff things into. We have to admit that we own nylon bags (in addition to our beautiful leather ones.)

Saddlebags range in size from tiny “pockets” to large storage bags. Some typical sizes are 11 inches by 12 inches or 14 inches square, but there really is no standard. Bags can have a square shape or can be rounded on the bottom. The flap can be closed with a buckle, a tie, or a zipper or velcro, as on some of the new nylon bags. Bags can be flat or have a gusset that allows them to expand to take in more gear. Some of the nylon bags are insulated for keeping food and drinks cold.

cantle bag Cantle Bags
Cantle bags are zippered pouches that have a contour on the front to fit around the back of the cantle. Like saddlebags, they’re attached to the saddle with saddle strings that are threaded through dee rings sewn to each end of the bags. Cantle bags are available in leather and nylon.

horn saddlebag Horn Bags
Horn bags look like small saddlebags with a hole cut out in the center of the yoke for hanging on the saddle horn. They can come with one or two pockets. These small bags are handy carriers for cameras, gloves and other small gear that you want close at hand. Some folks (including us) find that they can often get in your way and rub on your legs. It’s best to keep these quite small.

Bottle Holders
Bottle holders are insulated carriers designed to hold a water bottle or your favorite beverage. They can have a flap with a hole cut out for hanging on the horn, or a clip that can be snapped onto a handy dee ring, usually one on the front of your skirt. Some saddlebags also include water bottle holders.

saddlebags Combo Bags
The combo bags include a combination of different carriers and are designed for carrying a large quantity of gear. They’re popular with long distance riders and those who camp with their horse. The most common of these bags is a combination saddlebag/cantle bag pictured in the photo on this page.


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