Types of Packs
There are many different types of llama packs... which one is best? Depends on who you ask. There are as many opinions on packs as there are people that use them for their animals. The trip you are taking will also determine the type of pack you will use.
If you are just going out for a few miles for a lunch hike, a day pack will probably carry everything you need to have a good time. But if you are leaving for a weeks trec, you will need sawbuck type saddles with large panniers.
(check back for more information as we take the time to write it More pictures to come.
This pack is used for day trips. Short trips that only last a few hours. It also makes a great training pack for a young or new to packing llama. Young llamas can carry a day pack with low weights as they come along to learn about trails, and working, and camps and such.
SAW BUCK PACK
This llama pack is made like the old mule pack. It is made to fit the llamas size. It is not a mule sized saddle and or panniers. Be sure to use a pad under sawbuck type saddles.
SOFT SADDLE PACK
This type of pack is a cross between the sawbuck and a daypack. It keeps the load up off the spine of the animal but does not have the ridgid saddle that the panniers hang from.
This saddle can not be over packed and must be maintained so that the fibers in the cushion do not break down letting the load come down on the llamas spine.
RIGID FRAME PACK
These are the packs, made separately for saddle packs. They fit unto the pack saddles and should be of the same weight for the comfort of the animal. If one is a bit heavier then the other your load could slide down on the animal.
Keep Your Packs and Equipment Maintained
You must take care of your equipment and check it often for wear, holes, frays, build up of dirt, burns or other stresses to seams or the like. If that pack or pannier breaks on the trail, guess who will be pickup up the equipment and carrying it back to your vehicle?
You should really take a few minutes and check your packing gear while on the trail at camp. It will only take a minute and may save you hours. Just do a quick check over and run your finger over the inside seams of your packs. Always carry a sewing kit with you but make sure it is in a good thick plastic container that closes tightly so that needles do not get loose in the pack and hurt someone. Empty vitamin jars are great for this. Duct tape can also be very helpful if your saddle, straps or even seams break or come loose.
When you get home from your trip, even a short little lunch trip, check your equipment over really well. Check all of your buckles, buckle holes, and or places where the webbing or straps are stressed as the animal walks the trail. Clean your equipment up, some packs might need a good machine washing, others just wiped over, check it out and store it correct. Packing equipment is not only expensive, it needs to be where you can find it and ready to go when you are.
You should also check your equipment when you pull it out to use again. You never know when a sneaky little mouse may get into things and build nests, chew and destroy items.
Repairing Your Packs and or Panniers
If you repair your own packing equipment be sure to really nail down your seams. Double stitching may not be enough. Packing trips can really be hard on some equipment with some animals. Some packs will be scrapped on trees, chewed at, gone through water crossings, and usual wear and tear. Keep in mind the wear that the type of pack/panniers will be receiving and repair accordingly.
If you patch a pannier, cut your patch out of heavy duty fabric as close to matching the fabric as you can. I fold the fabric over, double it, for the patch. Sew it in place from the outside of the pack over the hole tucking your pannier under (where the hole is) as you sew so that the pannier will not fray any further. You might need to clip your corners on the pannier for this. Sew it at least double then go right along the fabric edge with a zig zag stitch. Now sew the inside of the patch (sew from the other side of the pack). Double your patch over where necessary and tuck it under as you sew it on so that it too does not fray. Sew it down close to the ends of the patch. Zig Zag it too, on all edges, this helps keep items from rubbing it when the llama walks with a load in it.
Don't think of your pannier as patched, think of it as broke in and has character! Patches on your panniers are like scars on your body, like a tattoo only with a better story!