For equestrian trail guides, it is important to have the necessary items to take care of your campers or clients. Current saddlebags do not provide quick, convenient access to your radio, phone, or medical bag, while allowing flexibility between different horses.
Goal: A saddle bag that fits both English and Western saddles, carries a medical bag, radio, and basic organization.
There are a lot of different saddle bags out there but they are specific to a certain event, whether it being a short trail ride or a week long pack trip. These bags are often a catch all system with little to no organizational features. Because of this, during an emergency, it may slow down and/or panic, a person's ability to help. These bags also do not have a spot for a radio, a phone, or a dedicated medical bag.
In a camp setting, you may switch horses which may not always have the same type of saddle. Along with this, you may need to carry more items with you to take care of any immediate emergencies.
Depending on the environment you are in, you need to pack different items. If you pack for the desert, you may need a snake bite kit. On the contrary, if you pack for the woods, you may need bear spray.
My goal is to design a saddle bag that fits these needs. That is, the ability to hold a radio, phone, and medical kit, while fitting properly on both a Western and English saddle.
English saddles are the hardest to fit a saddle bag to. My first idea was to fit it in front of the saddle, but this soon changed to trying to nest it on top.
For the Western saddle, this would still loop over the horn but you would have adjustments to keep the saddle bag from hitting your leg.
After many different sketches, I switched over to paper prototypes where I would mock up the the size of the templates. They trickiest part was finding the perfect curve for the horn. These models were laser cut out for the most precision and ease of small adjustments. The part I was most focused on was how the pieces pulled on each other after being taped.
During this stage, I also started working with cheap canvas to try and understand different types of stitching. This ended up effecting the overall design a lot more due to my ability to sew.
The first leather and canvas prototype took way longer than anticipated. This led to rethinking how the bag would go together for future models.
The elastic straps provide organization while the leather strap around the outside provides a clipping point for a radio.
I did a double layer at the top of the bag to add rigidity and durability.
Due to the first model not working out how I would've liked, I created a second one to the fully functional form. This model was then tested on different saddles and horses.
The saddle bag fits perfectly on the western saddle. However, on the English saddle, it would work if it was slightly stiffer. The leather in the front doesn't nest how I originally anticipated it to. This led to a third piece of leather underneath that will hopefully add the desired stiffness and finish the bag.
Because the main strap that goes over the horn was so flexible, a second layer of leather was added. Along with this, the strap that goes across the front was removed and the top buckle was added. However, this buckle was soon replaced with a button due to it being right where the rider was. The second piece of leather pulls the bags backwards into the saddle and keeps them from twisting in on each other while carrying it. The final fitment showed that the attachment straps would have to move up and in doing so, a button was added to the side to further attach the second piece of leather, adding more stiffness, and more adjustability on the strap.
This is where I am at now. The bag is officially complete and the project is moving towards solving the medical bag. This bag solves the fitment issues between English and Western saddles, allowing a user to quickly switch between them. The next step is to get it on a horse and go for a ride.
This kit is designed to sit inside the the saddle bag with basic organization. For the camp setting, I made sure there was an Api pen slots available although these wouldn't need to be used for that.
This bag is rather flexible and to fix this, I changed it do a double layered backing. Along with this, finding an efficient organization system was rather challenging. In the end, I opted to let the user decide where they wanted to place items but I would provide enough organization and slots for them to store the items they needed.
The flap sits over the outside of the bag to give the user a large handle to pull on. This bag features a med kit symbol on the outside. The first access you get is the Epi pen slot since, according to my research, is the most time sensitive issue for camps.
The stitching at the end of the flap was folding inwards to give the user slightly more grip when pulling it out.
The final product, a saddle bag designed for the environment you need it be in. Adjustability to fit both the English and Western saddles all you to be prepared for the undesirable situations. A quick draw med kit allows the user to have easy access to medical supplies while leather loops and other interior straps provide storage for your radio and phone.