Saddlebags have existed since the dawn of time. Carrying gear has always been necessary, especially when horses was the primary mode of transportation. There are hundreds of options for on-saddle carrying gear today.
You will 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, in addition to many designs of traditional bags. There is a holder for everything. Your choice will be determined by the amount and type of equipment you need to transport, as well as your own preferences.
Traditional saddlebags and other on-saddle carriers were made of leather or durable canvas, but nylon is now the most used material. Nylon is far less expensive, easier to shape, and weighs a lot less than leather. We are still suckers for leather, though.
How To Attach Saddlebags To A Saddle
Two pouches are joined by a wide yoke is a saddlebag. The bags are fastened with saddle strings tied through eyelets in the yoke behind the cantle and across the back shoulder. Once the bags are secured, the strings can be used to secure additional items such as a slicker, jacket, or bedroll. Saddle strings are normally 3 feet long because of this.
What Are Saddlebags Made Of?
Leather bags are still the industry standard. Nothing beats a set of superbly crafted high-quality leather bags on your saddle. Depending on your needs and budget, saddlebags come in a number of leather thicknesses and grades. Leather saddle bags are available from a variety of tack companies, and most custom saddle makers design and produce their own saddlebags. Many of these are intricately tooled and braided works of art.
Unfortunately, nylon bags account for the great bulk of bags sold today. They are extremely sturdy and simple to stuff. We have to admit that we have nylon bags in our possession (in addition to our beautiful leather ones.)
Saddle Bag Sizes
Saddlebags come in a variety of sizes, ranging from small “pockets” to enormous storage bags. The most common sizes are 11 inches by 12 inches and 14 inches square, however there is no set size. Bags can be square on the bottom or rounded on the bottom. As shown on some of the new nylon bags, the flap can be secured with a buckle, a tie, a zipper, or velcro.
Bags can be flat or feature a gusset that expands to accommodate more items. Some of the nylon bags are lined with insulation to keep food and drinks cool.
Types of Saddle Bags
Cantle bags are zippered pouches with a front contour that fits around the cantle’s back. Saddle strings are threaded through dee rings sewed to each end of the bags, just like saddlebags, to secure them to the saddle. Leather and nylon cantle bags are offered.
Horn bags resemble little saddlebags with a hole cut out in the yoke for hanging from the saddle horn. One or two pockets are available. These compact bags are great for keeping cameras, gloves, and other small items close to hand. Some people (including ourselves) notice that they frequently get in the way and rub against your legs. Keep these as small as possible.
Holders for Bottles
Bottle holders are insulated carriers for holding a water bottle or other beverage. They can have a flap with a hole cut out for hanging on the horn, or a clip that snaps onto a handy dee ring, generally on the front of your skirt. Water bottle holders are included in certain saddlebags.
The combo bags are meant to carry a significant amount of goods and comprise a combination of different carriers. Long-distance riders and those who camp with their horses love them. The combination saddlebag/cantle bag seen in the photo on this page is the most common of these bags.