Trailhead Supply Blog / Coffee with Andy

Back in the Saddle

The snow is melting, the trail crews are back at it, and you have got new shoes nailed on the ponies, you’re ready!!! As you are loading your tack back into the trailer after a way too long winter, you look at your old saddle, wishing you had the cash to go buy a new one. Since you didn’t win the lottery it looks like its going to be another year in the old trusted saddle. It’s only your first trip out and you’re already hobbling back to work on Monday morning… Something needs to be done about your saddle situation. Again, you know you can’t afford the new one you want and those cheaper ones out there are junk, and you know you’re better off sticking with what you have. Now that you have decided to stick with the old tried and true saddle, there is a couple thinks you can do to improve your comfort. Let’s start with stirrups… We’ve all been told and or read over the years, that at the end of the ride if your butts sore your stirrup leathers are adjusted to long and if your knees are sore then you have things adjusted to short.  Well that’s true to a point, but the angle those stirrup sit at makes a HUGE difference!!! I started riding slanted aluminum stirrups several years ago, they have made my life so much better. This style of stirrup takes the pressure off my knees. I can ride all day long and I no longer have to take my right foot out of the stirrup and swing it around to get blood flowing again, It’s sooooo nice. The right stirrups not only helps your knees they will improve your posture as you ride which in turn helps the rest of your body.

There are a ton of different stirrups on the market, made out of everything from copper to plastic and in every shape and size, find a set that is comfortable and works for you. While you are switching stirrups look at those saddle strings. If they are short, broken, chewed off by a deer looking for salt or you never had them to start with, get some new long ones.  Tying stuff up and out of the way or not having to hold that jacket after it warms up. Finally look into getting some horn bags to put your extra belongings in. To start with the access is way easier to get into since they are in front of you than behind you like saddle bags and its better for your animal by splitting the weight between the shoulders and having all that weight located directly above their kidneys.  When looking at saddle bags, they are now sewing them with a curve to them, which throws the bags forward of the saddle giving the rider more room in the seat. That old saddle really isn’t that bad, just give it a helping hand.

See you on the trail


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Food or Freeze Dried?

There was a recent post on Facebook on one of the packing pages talking about your back country menus. I love food and therefore I loved reading everyone’s comments, hacks and ideas.  The thing that surprised me was how many packers said their back country menu was made up of Mountain House? You know freeze dried food… Now I have nothing against freeze dried food, I have probably consumed more than the average guy, and if you add my daughter Sydney into the equation, it would be safe to say we have tried about every flavor, by every company on the market.  In fact to this day every Christmas we give each other a new flavor we have found through out the year just to try. Some good some not so good… This all stems from our younger more in shape years of backpacking mile after mile, where weight was a critical and a main issue… But now decades later, I own stock and plenty of them. These are the same animals that I feed morning and night when its -30 and snowing or 105 in the blistering sun.  The least these massive hay eating animals can do in return for my labor of love of caring for them, is to pack a real, thick, fresh, succulent T-bone in for me!!! Let us not forget some potatoes that I can bake, a few canned adult beverages, and maybe even some ice for that night cap by the fire.  I eat well in the back country lets make no mistake about that!!! I do pack a freeze dried meal in with me that is for an emergency only meal. And for the record I pack eggs, lots of eggs, in the shell, not pre-cracked in an old peanut butter jar. Why you ask? Well Chuck likes his eggs over easy and I like mine sunnyside up…why else!!!

No matter what you like to eat or what kind of cook you are just get out and enjoy your time on the trail with friends and family.

See you on the trail!


PS- Ready to upgrade from freeze dried, but not sure where to start with back country cooking? Register for our dutch oven class coming up in June! Click here for details.

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As summer come on and everyone is thinking of gearing up and heading to a trail head remember life is short and you need to enjoy life to the fullest!!! Get out there and make it happen, cover some miles, make some memories. The lawn doesn’t always need mowed and the car doesn’t need washed, spend that time with friends and family. Here at Trailhead Supply sometimes it’s more of a confessional than a pack store. A customer and I will be having coffee and the store empties out except for the two of us, then issues are discussed that are normally saved for around the campfire after a few passes of the bottle. Family issues, health, finance and age. Age is the one none of us can escape from. Yesterday I was told by four different people I was a good friend and thanks for being there…Humbling to say the least, but I think more than anything, I just took the time to stop and listen, but if that’s all they needed to get back on track I can do that…

I had an older friend stop by the other day and said I just don’t know if I’ll be able to get back in the saddle this summer due to a couple of health issues…I said I’m putting you in that saddle, that’s not a choice …You do have the choice of sitting in it or laying over it!!! But you are packing in with me this summer, like every summer before. Recently my daughter was in a hallway at the hospital outside a hospice room. She called me, I said how are you holding up? She said this really sucks waiting around for someone to die… I told her she won’t have to do that for me, she will see it on the 6 o’clock news on every station!!! She said no I won’t I’ll be right there with you and I’ll film it as it happens …We will do a Facebook Live, because no one will ever believe this!!! I’ve made a lot of good memories, and I mean a lot…and by no means am I close to being done, that’s why I bought young green mules… memories now and the mules and I can retire together in 30 plus years … I don’t say it enough but a huge Thank You to my packing partners for letting me cover all those trail miles with you… Now get packing, your burning daylight, string those mules together…

See You on the Trail!


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How to Manty…

To manty or not to manty that is the question… Not everything fits in a pannier and you can’t top pack every odd thing you want or need to bring along, so, what is one to do? Well I manty almost everything I pack, and once you get it down the skies the limit to what you can pack and take along. It’s as fast as stuffing things into a box or bag. It’s so simple it’s confusing…Slinging mantied loads also allows you to adjust and balance your weight from side to side just by raising and lowering your loads.

The manty… the most common size these days is 7’x 8’. I like 18 ounce, untreated, and unhemmed canvas. There are 15-ounce canvas manties out there for sale, but why? Your canvas will become lighter and thinner with age and use, also the 18- ounce canvas manties are tougher and less likely to tear than a lighter tarp.

To manty:

First I mark all my manties, why? First off, this shows they’re yours and less likely to walk off, secondly, I now have a dirty side and a clean side. My branded side always goes down toward the ground (less likely to get horse manure in my sleeping bag this way) Lay out your manty in a diamond shape, you’ll be standing at the bottom point.

Place your item and/or items in the center of the tarp between the bottom point and top point of your diamond.

Then pull the bottom point up and over the load, next pull either the left or right side over followed by the other.

Lastly pull the top over.

Now to tie it, this will require a manty rope. A Manty rope is about 38 feet in length of 3/8” and has an eye back braided on one end and traditionally finished with a back splice on the other. The rope is fed through the eye to create a loop.

The loop is then placed around your tarped load, top to bottom, and pulled tight. Then throw three half hitches horizontally around your load.

When finished with your third horizontal half hitch, bring the tail of the rope around and up the rear of your load, then over the top.

Create a loop in your rope and pass that loop diagonally under your vertical rope (top to bottom loop) and top horizontal half hitch. Then push another loop through your first loop and pull tight, then add a half hitch around your loop to lock it in and you have a mantied load.

Your goal is to end up with a load about the size of a bale of hay.

If you are still a little confused, watch for our YouTube video coming soon on how to manty, until then….

See you on the trail


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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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