We’re really big fans of ‘Dr Google’ here at Australian Camels HQ. Out of curiosity and just to see ‘what comes up’ we decided to Google ‘Camel Saddles.’ 99% of the search results were eBay listings for their ‘Decorative Egyptian Camel Saddle Stool,’ the type you sit on, not the… well, you know… Hours later camel saddles turned into camel bed spreads then camel key rings then camel t-shirts then camel pillows then camel cups – which we ended up buying… We’re suckers for anything camel! After pausing for a moment to only realise that we not only brought some really cool camel cups, but now were watching some random, hilariously inaccurate, camel cartoon on YouTube, the time we wasted searching ‘camel saddles’ (and… um… all the other weird and wonderful camel things… did we mention the cool camel cups?) we could have written a blog post on camel saddles!
So this one is for Dr Google and all other camel enthusiasts that simply want to find out information on Camel Saddles rather than ending up watching camel cartoons and buying camel themed novelty items – we see that guilty look on your face!
Let’s start with the obvious: Why buy a camel saddle?
If you already own a camel and plan on riding or trekking with your camel you will need a camel saddle. Well technically you don’t ‘need’ a camel saddle because you can freestyle it while working on your excellent balancing skills riding on an animal that doesn’t have a flat back (spine, yes it’s flat, but fleshy part on the outside, not flat). It’s not the first time it’s been done, but something tells us that riding in a camel saddle would be much easier (at least until you perfect those balancing skills of yours).
Camel saddles are also ideal and needed if you’re planning a camel trek or camel expedition – short or long. The camel comfort is first and foremost the most important thing. Please don’t let your camel ‘make do’ with a makeshift camel saddle. All camel saddles need to be the right size and properly fitted (more on that below).
Which style of Camel Saddle is right for you?
We’re big fans of anything with more than one purpose, because we’re notorious for changing our minds or more to the point, we like to have the option ‘to’ change our minds. That’s why we are big fans of the All Purpose Camel Saddle, because when we first started our camel business / hobby we just wanted to trek and pack our camels, but then, you guessed it, we changed our minds and wanted to expand into a camel riding operation as well. Luckily we had already decided on the All Purpose Camel Saddle years ago!
Traditional Camel pack saddles Vs. All Purpose Camel Saddle
Personally, we have only experienced the Traditional Camel Pack Saddle a handful of times compared to the All Purpose Camel Saddle, which we now use on a Daily Basis. Before Russell began his 6,500km walk from Darwin to Melbourne (Australia) with his eight camels, he wanted to try the All Purpose Camel Saddle AND the Traditional Camel Pack Saddle – just to give each the benefit of the doubt and a fair trial before judging a book by it’s cover.
Russell realised that the Australian, All Purpose Camel Saddle was going to be his best option for his planned camel expedition. It’s simple structure and ‘user friendly’ manner was attractive, not to mention it’s multipurpose ability to function as a pack saddle OR riding saddle. If future plans changed from our camels being pack camels to riding camels (which they did) then we still had the right saddle for that purpose ( hence the ‘All Purpose’).
Russell built all his eight, original camel saddles from scratch under blood, sweat and tears (not exaggerating) and strict instruction from a hired artist / leather craftsman he paid $10,000 to learn from. In the end he had some smick looking All Purpose Camel Saddles to use on his life changing camel expedition.
Synthetic or Leather Camel Saddle?
Camel owners aren’t necessarily spoilt for choice when it comes to camel saddles unlike the world of horse saddles, although there is a choice on what materials are used by the saddle maker, synthetic being one of those options and a cheaper option too. The advantages of synthetic materials are that they are lightweight and can be easy to clean, but may not be strong enough to cope with your demands for a good, long lasting camel saddle that is low maintenance (i.e. less fixing). Synthetic is known to be cheaper, but for obvious reasons, they simply don’t last as long as leather.
The question you need to ask yourself: What life expectancy do you want from your camel saddle?
Leather is your next option. We’re a bit traditional here at Australian Camels as we’re still using the good old thick cow hide leather and collar check (100% wool) materials for our All Purpose Camel Saddles, for obvious reasons – it lasts longer. Of course you can get cheaper camel saddles made form leather, however, be warned, not all leather is created equal. A cheaper camel saddle that might seem like a good bargain at the time may just turn out to be made of poor quality, imported materials. Always look for good quality thick leather and pay attention to the finish, especially the stitching as this will be the first thing to go.
Those original camel saddles that we mentioned earlier – the ones Russell paid over $10,000 just to learn how to build them.. Well, they are now 15 years old and being used 12 months of the year on either our outback camel treks or beach camel rides. Investment is an understatement, they are virtually indestructible -besides the odd repair of the collar check material because some camel, not naming names, likes to chew on it.
Keep it simple. The more bells and whistles the camel saddle has, the more there is to break, and if something does break can you easily fix it? Keep in mind buckles. How many buckles does a camel saddle really need? The more buckets, the more there is to break. ESPECIALLY keep this in mind if you are planning your own Camel Trek or Camel Expedition – EVERYTHING on that camel saddle of yours needs to be 100% fixable while you’re ‘out there‘ same can be said for a riding or trekking operations.
All Purpose Camel Saddle, Parts Explained
When looking to purchase a camel saddle it not only needs to fit the camel correctly with the right size frame but it needs to be secure, especially on young camels. Camels can buck and the last thing you want is that saddle upside down on your camel.
Important Parts of the All Purpose Camel Saddle Explained:
BACK PAD sits securely on the back slope of camels back, NOT ON THE CAMELS HIPS. You need to be well aware on where your camels hips are located. We’ve seen some bad examples of a saddle like this sitting back on the camels hips, having a saddle sitting so far back not only restricts their movement, but will also rub in the wrong places and cause for an unpleasant experience for your camel (and handler).
SEATS probably don’t need much explaining here, but we will say that with the All Purpose Camel Saddle you can ride or pack this saddle – OR both at the same time if you like! If the seats aren’t being used for camel riders and you suddenly have an urge to use your camels to trek with the seats can be used for securing bags and or swags (bed rolls) onto it. Clever huh!?
D-RINGS save you the hassle of having to tie and double tie any saddle bags onto the saddle. The All Purpose Camel Saddle design allows the camel trekker to simply snap hook all the trekking bags onto the d-ring – easy peasy and in record time!
STEEL SADDLE FRAME (not aluminium) is a very important part of this All Purpose Camel Saddle. All the leather work, pads, girths and straps surround the frame. Sizing of the camel saddle frame must be 100% accurate, one size DOES NOT FIT ALL (more on that below).
MAIN GIRTH This is the thicker one of the two girths and goes behind the camels petal stool or brisket.
REAR GIRTH is needed to secure the rear of the camel saddle in place to avoid any slipping n sliding.
GIRTH SPACER Is placed central to the camels belly. This spacer is joined onto rear and main girth and stops the two girth straps from moving too far forward or back.
NECK STAP although never tightly done up on the camel it is there to prevent the saddle form slipping too far backwards. It also acts as a good indicator if it become tight – you know the saddle has slipped backwards and it needs readjusting.
FRONT PADS fit snugly and securely on the camels front. If the pads are slipping around on the camel this is an indicator that the saddle frame is most likely too big and will cause sores, making it an unpleasant experience for your camel (and again – you!)
Size Matters: Buy the saddle for the camel
This point is THE most important point of this entire article. What’s the point in having a camel saddle if it’s uncomfortable for your camel to wear? Too big or too small, either way it will create saddle sores and a very unpleasant experience for the camel and handler (that’s you).
If you’re looking at buying a camel saddle make sure it’s sized correctly to your camel. Do not buy a camel saddle on the basis that your camel will ‘grow into it’ – it’s not good camel parenting, although works well with human kids (just sayin). Make sure that the Camel Saddle is 100% suitable for your camel’s current…will say again..CURRENT size. We know that a camel saddle is a big investment for a camel owner, so we’ve made our All Purpose Camel Saddles interchangeable, meaning that you only have to buy your saddle once and if your camel grows or your switching it between other camels all you need to do is simply detach the leather parts of the saddle and replace onto a larger saddle sized frame (yes, it’s simple)! This is the only thing that changes in a camel saddle size – the main frame which is inexpensive to re-purchase or have made up.
Camel Saddle: New or used?
While buying a second hand camel saddle can seem like a ‘Golden Opportunity’ because camel saddles are few and far between, sometimes it can be more trouble than it’s worth if you’re not experienced in knowing what to look for (tips above). Keep in mind when buying a second hand camel saddle that it is a risky affair and often not the right size for your camel. The last thing you want is your camel saddle sitting in the corner of your shed / barn not being used, knowing that you shouldn’t have brought it in the first place (we’ve all been there)! If It’s not the right size or just not as good as you were expecting it to be you cannot return it or have it fitted to your camel properly. Like when buying any new, important equipment you’re drawn to the one with a warranty, buy a camel saddle from a reputable craftsman that offers a guarantee on the leather work and stitching, this will give you added security on your mighty fine investment.
Camel Saddles: DIY it or Buy it?
Should you be making your own camel saddle or should you buy one already made? This all depends on the type of skill sets you have or are prepared to learn. Making a camel saddle really is blood, sweat and tears (those damn needles). We run regular workshops for people who want to learn how to to make their own camel saddles in our 3 Day Camel Saddle Making Workshops. Some people just have that crafty-ness (like the good sort) in them. If you have a long attention span, patience , good upper body muscles, can hold your tongue the right way, have a good sense of humour with the determination of an ox then our Camel Saddle Making Workshop will be for you! But… if you’re the type of person that wants everything done yesterday (not saying that’s a bad thing – at all!), are a bit time-poor and you’d much rather admire the craftsmanship of someone else’s blood, sweat and tears then you ought to buy a camel saddle from our Camel Shop!
So what will it be for you…?
You can sign up to our 3 Day Camel Saddle Making Workshop HERE and we will send you the dates (held in Australia) where you will build your very own camel saddle and have the skills to build more if needed.
or Buy it…
You can go ahead and read more about all the features of the All Purpose Camel Saddle we custom make to order in our Camel Shop Note: saddle orders are limited as we only take on certain number of camel saddles at a time, because we put 110% effort, love, attention and whispers of sweet words into each saddle – you will no be disappointed! Click the picture below…