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.
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.
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…………
Photo Courtesy of National Geographic.