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.