Have you ever wondered what to pack in your saddlebags when you are going on a trail ride? I did a lot of research and asked over forty people and I found the most common items and turned them into a list that I could share with you.
There can be emergency situations on a trail ride and it doesn’t hurt to be that person who is prepared for the worst. Even if you are only planning on being on a two-hour trail ride, many of these items are good to have with you. If you are planning on riding in a remote area, then these items are a must.
The Top Ten Items to Pack in Your Saddle Bags
1. Food and Water
This was the top items by far that people said they pack with them. A good rule is to pack twice as much water as you think you might need. Then, pack plenty of snacks that are high calorie dense. Jerky and protein bars are a popular choice. Some people even carry treats for their horses.
2. Knife or Multi-Tool
You could easily carry a pocket knife on your person, but be sure to always have a knife or multi-tool such as a Leatherman in your saddlebags. Several people said they always carry a knife.
3. Vet Wrap
This one surprised me as being in the top 3, but it’s lightweight and you can easily pack a roll even if its small saddlebag.
This can be a trail map where you are or a map of the area. It’s a good idea to carry a compass as well. Don’t rely on your phone because service may be sparse. Trail maps are usually available at trail heads, park offices, online, or in gift shops. It really just depends on where you are riding. There are also apps for public lands, but again you’ll have to use your phone which can drain battery life. Another option is using a GPS device.
5. First Aid Supplies
A small first aid kit packs easily and it was a commonly mentioned item to carry among trail riders. There are small kits designed for hikers that I think would work great for saddle bags. I highly recommend this first aid kit. Many people mentioned a first aid kit for horses at well. Might be something to look into getting.
6. Hoof Pick
This is a great item to carry and is lightweight and inexpensive. It can come in handy if a rock gets wedged in your horse’s hoof.
7. Toilet Paper
This one is pretty obvious, but invaluable, especially for us ladies. I wouldn’t want to be without this item on a long trail ride. Be sure to carry a plastic bag as well for the used toilet paper or trash. That’s a great idea because you want to “leave no trace” anytime you are in nature.
This item may not come in your first aid kit, so I think it wouldn’t hurt to pack this. People mentioned it over and over on their essential list. Even if you don’t need it, a friend or fellow rider might.
9. Rain Coat / Poncho
This is a really valuable item if you get caught in the rain. You can either carry a full-size rain coat tied on your saddle or a pocket poncho in your pack for just in case. They make reusable lightweight ponchos that are very inexpensive. All around a great item to carry with you. If you know it’s going to be raining, a duster is nice to have.
10. Fire Starter
I grouped these together because some people said a lighter, while others said matches. Either way, I think the important part is that it’s going to work when you need it to, such as in rain or if your pack gets wet for any reason. They make waterproof matches which might be good to carry and are very lightweight.
Honorable Mentions and More
While those ten items are great to have, I want to mention many other items you may want to carry, just in case.
These come in handy to clean your hands if needed and a small pack of wipes should pack easily. You’ll want to check them regularly to make sure they haven’t dried out. Or you could pack some in a ziplock bag for the day.
I think most people probably carry their phone, but it’s debatable whether you should carry it on your person or in your saddlebags. It’s a personal choice, but if you are thrown or separated from your horse, you won’t have it. Also, some people mentioned carrying an extra battery or solar charger.
Extra Leather Strings
Many people mentioned this one and even said they tie extras on the loops of your saddle.I’ve broken a pair of reins on a trail ride before and you can make a repair with leather strings.
This can be an invaluable item. I have seen people wrap horse’s hooves with it when they’ve thrown a shoe. You can also use it to help remove seed ticks from your clothes. Along with many more uses.
Bailing twine or any other kind of twine was mentioned a lot. A few items that were also mentioned were parachute cord and zip ties. Both of these could help hold things together if needed.
These may not be as lightweight as some of the other items, but if your horse gets hung up on a hidden wire, then they can be of great value.
Bug Spray and Fly Spray
I usually keep these at our trailer and be sure to douse ourselves and our horses down before a ride, particularly our horse’s legs and around my boot area. Ticks can be quite a nuisance for horse and rider. It wouldn’t hurt to carry repellent with you on your ride as well.
This item folds out to be large, but it is compact and lightweight, usually weighing around 2 ounces. I read that you’ll want to replace them every two years, even if unopened.
I would suggest shopping for some items at a local hiking store. The items they carry are usually lightweight and perfect for packing in your saddlebags.
Be sure to always tell someone where you are going and check in at park offices or sign in at trail heads when possible.
Be sure to read and become familiar with the rules of any park, trail, and campsite beforehand.
As well as acquiring a map prior to your ride.
When encountering hikers or bikers, be sure to say hello and encourage them to talk to you. It will help keep your horse calmer if they can hear the person talk.
It’s a good idea to have some form on identification on your horse in case you were to get separated from them. You can get a tag for their halter or bridle.
Back Country Horseman is a great way to get involved in trail rides and learn more. There are several chapters nationwide. You can find one in your area by following this link.
A word on SaddleBags
If you are shopping for saddlebags, I want to encourage you to buy a decent pair because in my experience, cheap ones will rip and tear and let you down on a trail ride. Trail Max is a brand I trust. They make quality products that last.
The brand I currently have is Cashel and they’ve held up really well and also come with a removable insulator which is nice if you want some drinks to stay cold. Cashel has many great products for trail riding.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful. If so, then please be sure to share it and subscribe so you don’t miss any future posts. Wishing you happy trails!
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