Trailhead Supply Blog / Products

Traveling Light

 As I started packing for that first big pack adventure, I hit my first hurdle that I needed to overcome, lack of space on my trusty stead. It wasn’t so much a weight issue (other than that balance thing) it was the lack of room. There was only so much cool stuff I wanted to take with me, just in case I needed it. How do I cut back on gear but still enjoy somewhat of a comfy camp? Over the years I’ve learn over and over again what I must have, what I would like to have, and that stuff that just needs to stay home…and really I should never have bought!!! I saw a picture posted the other day online. A huge Boy Scout canvas sleeping bag was sitting on top of the pack saddle. That sleeping bag was so big it wouldn’t even fit in the pannier and I know it couldn’t have weighed more than five pounds it was just fluff, but it took half a pack animal.

I drew a moose take several years ago and a buddy wanted to tag along on the hunt. We met at the trail head. He was waiting for me holding the biggest sleeping pad I’ve ever seen to date!!! It was like he rolled up a twin mattress… again half a horse and only five pounds. It seems there is a pattern developing, your sleeping comfort is the main space consuming area to cut back on. I started my back-country adventures back packing. I had a lot of light weight gear which rolled over to my stock packing adventures. Light weight stuffable sleeping bags are a must!! The sleeping pad (which I have) rarely makes an appearance past the trail head. For sleeping comfort I sleep on saddle pads. For lighting it’s a small headlight so I can have both hands free, and minimal extra clothing. The reason I run light even with all my mules? Less work packing them up, and more room for what is important… food!!!

I do pack a lot of perishable food in with me, it’s a luxury I can do since I have ample stock, but rest assured I have some dehydrated food easily accessible in case of an emergency or a day trip out to some remote spot away from base camp. Sydney and I eat a lot of freeze dried. We can tell you the good, and the not so good.  This past Father’s day we tried a new line of freeze dried food out on the market, Peak Refuel. We were so impressed but the product we now carry the full line of Peak meals here at Trailhead Supply.  No matter if we are grilling t-bones or huddled under a tarp boiling water for instant something stop in, the coffee is always on.

See you on the trail.

Andy

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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

Andy

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The Mantie

What is a manty?  Well to start with depending who’s book you read or what seminar you went to maybe even the last pack clinic you attended the spelling is probably different. (manty, mantie, manty tarp, etc)  The spelling of the word isn’t the only thing that changes, the size changes as well, along with the country or origin.  Those of you who run sawbucks like 7’ x 7’ manties, the guys that run decker pack saddles run 7’ x 8’ manties and there are still a handful living in the dream world looking for the almost no existent 8’ x 8’.  Why the difference?  Sawbuck guys like that seven foot square canvas for a rain fly. They can throw that perfect canvas square right over their saddle and it covers both sides.  Decker folks like, and need, that extra foot of canvas to wrap everything up and hold everything in place while they sling it onto the side of the pack saddle and head down that long and winding trail.

Bud from Trailhead Supply

But what is a manty??  It’s just a big piece of canvas that a packer wraps and or protects his/her equipment, belongings and or cargo with. But it’s more than that. It becomes camp, your bed, your home away from home.  These large coveted pieces of canvas are cared for like no other fabric a packer owns. 

Chuck canvas bed roll.

That’s why the other night took me by such surprise. I got to the trail head late, it was dark, and my packing partner was already hard at work building our loads for the morning trip in.  So, as I stepped in to help finish up manting the bales of hay we were going to pack into a Forest Service admin cabin, the canvas didn’t feel right.  I laid a manty out, placed a bale of hay on it and that canvas just had a funny feel in the dark.  I kept manting bales of hay, but the manties I was using had a lumpy slick feel.  I asked what’s with these manties?  The  answer I received was “What” !!!  “They are just manties dude.”  I said, “They feel funny, they have a strange texture to them, it’s like something is on them.”  We finished our task and called it a day I rolled up in one and went to sleep.  

The next morning I saw the problem, they were all covered in paint, multi colored something out of the 60’s. I said what the hell happened to your manties??  Oh that….my wife found them and thought they were drop clothes and used them when she painted the house…………

Come back next week to learn even more about manties!!

To purchase manties click here.

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Hot Days Ahead

Summer is just around the corner; the days are getting longer and hotter.  We do whatever we can to stay cool out in that hot sun, but what about the stock? They are the real work horses here (no pun intended) Carrying my fat butt up and down those long grades along with all those hard-working mules, packing who knows what today, it’s just plain hard work. My horses and mules are in shape, they are used daily, not like most of the trail users who only get out when they can escape from the day to day responsibilities of life. How do we prepare them for the hot journey ahead? First get them in shape. We all do the same thing. Quick ride after work, you grab your favorite ride, and in the trailer, he or she goes off to the trail head leaving the rest at home waiting for a big adventure when they all need to go.  I always take one or two extras.  Pony them along for the exercise, it’s good for them. Plan your big trips for early morning riding before it gets to hot out. Slow the pace down a little.  Even with all the pre-trip preparation the heat may still get to your beloved steed.  That’s why I carry a tube of electrolytes in the first aid kit I carry in my saddlebags.  There are two forms of electrolytes.  First, the powder or pelleted type that you add to water; this is like what the football players are drinking on the sidelines between plays. Second, the paste form, in a tube, this is for the player who is collapsing and can’t make it to the side lines. I’ve had to use my electrolyte paste a couple of times, I cannot believe how well and how fast it works.  Now it’s going to make them thirsty which is a good thing, so, don’t skip a creek crossing without giving them a chance to drink.  So, remember start the day off letting the stock drink all the water they want and this would be a great time to have another cup of coffee…

See you on the trail.

Andy

Trailhead Supply Equine Electrolytes by TechMix Bluelite jel

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I've Seen the Light

I’m not sure if this winter is lasting longer than past ones. It could be there is just way more snow than years past. Maybe it’s just more days of subzero temps, frozen stock tanks, and auto waterers. I’m not sure the reason cabin fever is really setting in as fast as it is. But I do know that trudging around in thigh deep snow in the dark both in the morning and the evening pulling a sled loaded with hay is just plain getting old. Don’t get me wrong, I love sitting by a warm glowing, crackling campfire enjoying a big cup of hot coffee, and looking up at the stars and trying to find the big dipper. As an FYI the Big Dipper is the only star deal I can identify!!!  But other than a fun evening around the fire, I need light and a lot of it. My wife follows me around the house turning lights off that I leave on while reminding me between the power bill and the hay for my mules I’ll never be able to retire.  This year I have burned up, lost, broke, bought batteries for, disassembled, reassembled, and broke it again, more headlamps than I have in a lifetime combined. I have held flashlights in my teeth while out feeding.  If the snow ever melts I’m sure there will be a pile of broken lighting device carcasses laying across the pasture where I have gotten just flat pissed and tossed them as far as my rebuilt shoulder would allow me to throw them. Then one day a few weeks ago Trailhead Supply’s phone rang it was some gal who wanted to send me a free flashlight.  I said send it. I’m always willing to try free stuff out.  She told me to look for the red envelope.  In a few days, the mail lady handed me a red envelope. In it was a little red flash light; I turned it on and was blinded!!!   I could only see dots… I took it home and fed that night using it. That light was GREAT! In a few days, I received a call from my new friend wanting to know how I liked the little light.  I asked, did they make a head light…She said for your car? I said no, for my hat.   Oh, you mean hands free.  Whatever send me a case.  It has been a month, still running on the same batteries that came in it, still just as bright, and I haven’t broken it yet.  The mules don’t like it at all, it blinds them, oh well they are getting fed. I can see what I’m doing, and it has sped up the process enough I can pour another cup of coffee before leaving for the store in the morning.  Have a great week remember its only 41 days till spring. Now go pour another cup and think of warmer days ahead.

What do you use for light when feeding? In need of a new one? I love this new headlight so much, we are now selling them at the store. Check them out here.

See you on the trail.

Andy

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