Trailhead Supply Blog / backcountry

Bed in the Backcountry

As the day comes to an end, you’re sitting by the fire looking up at all those stars, and taking in all the back country has to offer. Finishing off that last cold one, recapping all the miles you covered in the saddle today. One last trip over to check the stock before hitting the hay for an early start in the morning.  But its not the bed you have become accustom to, its not the bed your still making payments on to the bank. You won’t be curled up in some soft 1800 thread count Egyptian sheets, this is the wilderness many, many miles from that soft bed.  This is a very common topic around the coffee pot at Trailhead Supply. What do you sleep on, when your over nighting in the hills?  I think I’ve heard just about every option there is…More times than not it’s a weight issue. One pack animal, you’re not packing in a king size mattress.  If you drank the kool-aid like I have, and have more animals than since, well the sky is the limit, how creative do you want to get?  So let’s skip the LQ’s, we all know they come as a pre-equipped palace on wheels.

Now, what I normally sleep on changes if the wife tags along, and why not, if camp is nicer, more comfortable, she just may hang out with this dusty old packer even more!!! For the record I rarely pack in a tent its pretty much 4 pack pads in between a folded over mantie, then my overpriced sleeping bag on top of that then covered up with another mantie, that’s camp.  Chuck thinks that my rolled-up coat for a pillow is too primitive so he packs in a big fluffy pillow with a satin pillow case. (Don’t tell him I told you) I’m happy with that set up no fuss… but that’s out the window at elk camp (due to weather concerns) or if my wife is with us!!! Then its wall tents and wood stoves, cots, tables and chairs we look like a cover picture of an outdoor magazine.  Chuck has been known to set up 2 cots then lay 2 pieces of plywood perpendicular to the cots, top that with an inflating queen size mattress with sheets and blankets if his wife comes along…I think that’s over kill, but what the heck they have a good time and that’s what it is all about.  At this point someone is reading this and thinking to their self, I thought a hammock was styling, remember I sleep under a mantie 85 nights of the year.  If you’ve got room enjoy your trip. Don’t use “well my husband needs this because of his back.” Tell the truth life is short and I want to be comfortable!!! The snow is still melting, get those cots ready….

See you on the trail.


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Brighten Things Up... Add Some Orange

With hunting season just around the corner, everyone is making plans, and beginning to start packing up for that adventure to the high country.  A trip to the store is in order to buy some of that latest and greatest gear for this years trip.  But what color gear are you buying ???  This has been the discussion around the coffee pot at Trailhead Supply.  The bow hunters always arrive first picking up certified feed and a new bow scabbards to protect that new big dollar investment.  They all seem to want camo, or green, maybe brown.  So, I ask why not orange??  Their answer…  “I bow hunt.”  Ok I get that, but you’re not chasing down that 6 point bull and shooting off the back of a galloping horse.  Your trusty riding mule isn’t belly crawling behind you through the brush and resupplying you with arrows till you make that perfect shot like some over paid caddy on the PGA tour.  No, you left him somewhere way down the hill side, tied to a big old tree, where he will stand until your return.  Then they ask, Well what color should I buy?” 

String with orange pack pads, riding horse with orange horn bag.

I say orange, I use orange…..give them a little help while tied to that tree, or going down the trail.  I’ve taught hunter education for 20 years, have hunted since I was 4 years old, your stock needs color. I know there are some folks in the woods that if it’s got 4 legs it needs to be in the freezer.   Brighten up those animals, orange pack pads, saddle bags, bow scabbards, we even have orange tree savers to help add some color while they are highlined.  You never know you might not run into the highline this year and hang yourself while walking around camp. Bonus! 

All of you non hunters, if you think that just because you don’t hunt means you shouldn’t sport some flashy orange, you’re wrong… BE SEEN  while enjoying the great outdoors.  No matter why you are out enjoying some great autumn riding and fall colors, be safe and be seen.

Happy & Safe Trails,


Need to add orange to your string? Stop by the store, or shop online. 

Orange Pack Pads

Orange Tree Savers- New Product!

Orange Bow Scabbards

Orange Horn Bags

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Just Turn Around……..

Confidence to get out and pack on your own is probably the biggest hurdle every new packer faces.  I tell everyone just get out and go, but what holds everyone back???  It’s the fear of having a wreck, a yard sale, planting potatoes, just the plain scattering of your belongings all over the hillside. Wrecks come in every shape and size. You call them what you want and most good ones end up being named. It seems that hurting your animal and or yourself in the process is secondary in our thought process……It’s the “wreck” that scares us. So, how do you avoid disaster in the middle of nowhere?

Turn Around!! 

When the turmoil starts it’s hard to stop the chain of events to follow; let it be a lead rope around the leg or the dreaded rolling saddle. It could be as little as a rattle deep down in a pack or tying an animal in the string in the wrong order. Most wrecks are avoidable; well with the exception of running over a ground nest of yellow jackets, but even then all you have to do is turn around. What made me think about this subject was as I ride down the trail and follow the other folks I pack with I notice they never turn around. They are all just looking ahead.  Take last week, I’m following a buddy down the trail and I see his second saddle back leaning to the right.  I yell up at him and say “Your saddles leaning left.”  He never turns around and yells back ok.  Then a few minutes later “HEY !!!!  she going to roll” “OK I’ll find a flat spot,” 5 minutes later she rolled……….All he would have had to do was turn around, see the issue, stop and fixed it.  I spend about a third of my time looking backwards at the string.

Why do saddles roll?  A number of reasons. Why do horses step over lead ropes? Who knows, some are just challenged.  But as those normal problems on the trail start to occur, you can spot them. Stop and fix them before all hell breaks loose.  Just turn around…

Happy Trails,


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Hey That’s my Horse!!!!!

All of you should know how bad the fires are in Northwest Montana and the rest of the Northwest US for that matter.  All one needs to do is turn on the internet, TV, or pick up any newspaper; there are more stories and pictures of the wildfires and displaced people and animals than there are pictures of Trump running for president.  My last trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness a few days back I received a message that the Forest Service was sending a chopper in to helivac me out and to turn my pack string loose. I thought for less than a half of second and decided it was time to go.  I saddled and rode toward the trail head I wasn’t turning my horses and mules loose to join all the others that were running loose, displaced by all the wildfires.  Along my journey out I ran across a big roan mare standing in the trail.  No tack, not even a halter, just a confused look on her face.  Not seeing any sign of a human I threw a rope around her neck and tied her to the back of the string and kept moving down the hill toward safety.  Forest Service met me at the trail head asking if we had made it out ok and informing me the trails were now closed, like I couldn’t have guessed that.  I showed him the mare I had found, asked if he recognized her, the brand etc.  He took a few pictures of her and her brand then I loaded her in the trailer and headed to the ranch.  Upon arriving home we took a couple more pictures and posted them on social media and the following morning notified our county Brand Inspector.  The Facebook post went viral being shared over 140 times and then the emails and phone calls started pouring in.  The problem was no one knows what their horse looks like.  That looks just like my paint that got away over a year ago….It’s not a paint I said.  Then why did you post a picture of a paint? I didn’t.  At what point do you quit being nice to folks and stop trying to explain the difference between what they think is a grey and the bay roan in the pictures.  I asked dozens of the callers is your horse branded?  Nope. Well then it’s not your horse because this one is….What??? Who branded my horse??? Was almost always the answer that came back.  Where do these people come from?  Haven’t seen their horse in over a year, can’t remember what color or the size of it is, not to mention what sex it was. About the time I was going to throw in the towel and just give up and reside that I had a new horse, the phone rang.  It was one really pissed of guy basically accusing me of being a horse thief.  You have my horse he said. Really I replied, what’s your horse look like? He described her from the brand down to the last wire cut.  Then he was back barking at me for dragging her out of the wilderness, and why would I do that, and how could I do this, and on and on and on.  I finally said whoa partner…..I did what I was told to do by the forest service; and that is pick up and displaced animals I came across and get them to safety, which I did. She is now in the custody of the department of livestock and until I hear otherwise I can’t release her. Well its now been 6 days and no word from anyone…..If it was my horse, I would be thrilled if anyone found her and got them out of the worst wildfires Montana has experienced in a long, long time.  Sometimes I just don’t get folks…………………..


***Update the owner met up with the brand inspector and was reunited with his mare late last week.***

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Tree vs Space Ratio

People say and do all kinds of things, some make since, and some don’t.  Some of what you hear or see you have to sit back and ponder; and whatever the situation may be still has no rational thought to it, at all.  Take my packing partner, this year alone we slept over 85 nights […]
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