Built to bring quality, durability, ease of use, comfort, and functional gear to a growing interest in backcountry llama packing, founder and designer, Brett Jones of Bozeman, Montana, was inspired by the designs of legendary llama packer Wes Holmquist and Decker style mule pack saddles. Thus in 2019, Black Thunder Gear was created to bring quality products and a packing system that is intuitive for the beginning user and bulletproof for the hard-core outfitter. Our products are well thought out and designed by llama packers with more than 100 years of total field experience.
Black Thunder Gear has developed a lightweight, easily adjustable, built-for-the-mountains tough llama pack saddle. Made with the lightest weight and most durable fabrics, webbing, and buckles, these pack saddles are built with laser cut powder-coated steel horns, laser cut, and powder-coated aluminum paddles, and assembled with structural rivets for the most extreme conditions.
Comfort and fit for the llama
Our Paddle System. Our padded paddle system is very thought out. It may seem too simple and just a pad attached to a piece of aluminum. Far from it! These pads were one of the most challenging design obstacles we have ever encountered. As we have all seen in the llama world, everyone, including me, used to use a saddle that had all kinds of different paddles for all different shapes of llamas. That's WWI thinking. We don't use wood-pack frames. Why would our pack llamas? I want you to think about why you get a good night's sleep at night. Is it because the bed came pre-formed to your body or is it because your body formed to the bed? The latter is our answer to designing our saddle. The foam we use performs very much like a memory foam mattress. Just put yourself in the animal's shoes and think about what you would want against your back. I bet there is nobody who reads this that uses a wood-framed backpack.
Each llama saddle comes with a breast collar with an over-the-neck strap and crupper for under the tail. The breast collar is super nice for keeping the load centered while going uphill. The over-the-neck strap keeps the breast collar from falling down into the feet. We like the over--the-neck strap versus riggings that have a strap that goes between the legs and to the front cinch. Many dog harnesses are similar. Though these may be great concepts, we've found many llamas do not like their feet touched. Therefore, it can be very difficult to correctly fit a saddle if you can't get all the straps to buckle. Safety first. Use our over-the-neck system.
The crupper. Some outfits don't even bother with rear support. We believe rear support is needed to keep the load positioned center not only on the uphill but especially on the downhill. The crupper doesn't need to be overly tight. In fact, we prefer to have it loosely snug. This will aid the llama in weight distribution on the downhill which can be some of the toughest terrains for llama and wrangler.
For the front and rear cinch, we've chosen two simple 4" felt cinches with large rings tethered together. The front cinch is most important making sure it's tight enough for just your finger to fit behind while the rear cinch is only tight enough for your hand to fit behind. A well-fit and properly cinched saddle makes all the difference in a fun, hassle-free llama pack trip.
Built-in Top Load Pack System
One of the coolest features of our Black Thunder Llama Saddles is our unique Top Load Pack System. We've incorporated 1-inch webbing straps and buckles on each side of the saddle attached to each horn allowing you to securely cinch tables, chairs, fly rod cases, electric fences, axes, or shovels perpendicular to the llama's back laying across the panniers. This is a great and efficient way to pack long equipment and not make it awkward for our trusty trail companions.
- Easily adjustable
- Extremely durable
- Built-in top load straps
- Laser Powder coated steel horns
- Laser-cut aluminum paddles
- Durable Buckles
- Structural Rivets
- 1000 Denier fabric over 1" closed cell foam
- 1.125" integrated padding system
SpecsWeight 8.25 lbs Dimensions 17"x12.5"x11"
Built with pride in Bozeman, MT USA