cordura saddle in camo

Lightweight Cordura Saddle Review

Even if you uses horses to access the backcountry, you still need to keep gear weight to a minimum.  While there are lightweight tents, stoves, and other camp essentials, don’t ignore your most important piece of gear in the backcountry:  your horse.

                The typical ranch-style or roping saddle will weigh in at 30-45 pounds before accessories.  While that might not sound like much compared to the 1,000 pound animal it rides upon, just like in backpacking, everything adds up.  The less weight your cayuse has to carry, the more energy he’ll have to do what you need him to do.  Also, you’ll likely be the wrangler in camp, and lugging a heavy saddle on and off the horse everyday becomes tiresome.

                Enter the lightweight Cordura saddle.  Made by various manufacturers, these came on the scene in the 90’s.  Just like the wood stock vs. synthetic stock rifle debate, the purists balked at the new lightweight saddles’ aesthetics but in the backcountry the rule is always “function over form”.    These saddles weigh roughly half of the traditional leather saddles.  This is a big difference that both you and Ol’ Mr. Nibbles will appreciate.

cordura saddle in camo

Cordura Saddle in Camo

Cordura is the registered name of a high-performance Nylon fabric used in a range of products from boots and backpacks to military items.  Cordura is highly durable with exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and highly resistance to abrasion, perfect for lightweight saddles.  Cordura saddles come in 600, 850, and 1000 denier ratings with 1000 being the best.

Actually, the horn, pommel, seat, seat jockey, and cantle are still made of leather for rider comfort, but the back jockey, fenders, and skirt are made of Cordura, hence the weight savings.  The saddle tree can be ordered in Ralide, a polyethylene product that is lighter than traditional wood tree saddles for more weight savings.   Cordura saddles are much easier to break in than leather saddles and put less strain on your knees and ankles due to more flexibility in the fenders.

Also, with less leather in the design, the saddle is also easier to clean and maintain.  Harsh weather, almost the rule in big deer hunting, doesn’t affect the saddle as much as all-leather saddles.  My dad gave me my saddle in 1997.  I put a lot of miles on a saddle horse scouting and hunting each year and estimate my saddle now has over 4,000 rough miles on it, but it’s still in decent shape

the lightweight saddles are perfect for the backcountry

The Lightweight saddles are perfect for the backcountry

Finally, these saddles cost about half of what the heavier leather saddles cost!  How’s that for a win-win!

The only drawback I can find is that my friends with heavy leather saddles tease me that their saddles are better looking than mine.  These are the same guys lugging around 10-pound wood-stocked guns, so I just roll with it.

For more information, visit Wyoming Saddlery at

or email at [email protected]

Located in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, they can also customize the saddle with rigging, britchen, and crupper rings for the ultimate backcountry set up.

Robby Denning

Research & Scouting Editor

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Robby Denning
Robby Denning started hunting mule deer in the late 1970’s, only missing one season in 35 years. At 25, he gave up the pursuit of all other big-game to focus on taking the best bucks possible. He began hunting the West on a DIY budget hunting an average of 30 days a year for mule deer. Robby loves the hunt as much as the kill and the entire process from research to scouting to hunting. He’s killed four bucks over 200 inches in the last 15 seasons, mostly on easily-obtained tags. He owns a public-land scouting service and runs a private-land outfitting business helping other hunters in their pursuit of deer and elk. Robby has scouted and hunted literally thousands of square miles of mule deer country and brings a wealth of knowledge about these experiences with him. To him, the weapon of choice is just a means-to-an-end and will hunt with bow, rifle, or muzzleloader – whatever it takes to create an opportunity to take a great mule deer. He is also the author of "Hunting Big Mule Deer" available on Amazon. Robby believes all of creation is from God for man to manage, respect, and through which to know its Creator