January 02, 2021
Priced as saddle alone, although most are offered in kit form with lineman and tree tether ropes plus carabiners, some with MOLLE-attached storage pouches for ropes, aider, drink and accessories.
Aero Hunter continues to offer their exceptionally comfortable Kestrel Flex, which introduced the expanding center-saddle pleat concept; now exclusively in Broadside camo, with an adjustable, heavy-duty webbing bridge that slides smoothly through tree tether carabiners. The lineman and bridge loops are lined with red webbing marked with reflective tracer threads that you can easily locate in low-light conditions. The waist belt is made from 1¾-inch nylon parachute webbing with a 6,000-lb. break strength, secured with an ADF Raptor buckle. Even the 1-inch leg straps are from mil-spec webbing rated to 5,600 pounds. This is a very safe, tough but comfortable saddle. Aerohunter.us for $269.
The Slingshot by H2 Saddles is a value-oriented option at $175 that has some serious features — like a length adjustable, climbing-rated tubular webbing bridge, a tough Cordura fabric seat, and a heavy-duty belt and quick-attach buckle. Included leg straps are attached with convenient T-hooks. And an optional Amsteel Triad Bridge for fine-tuning bridge length and saddle support while leaning or sitting, is available for $25 (and well worth the investment). H2saddles.com.
Tethrd’s new Phantom is a full-featured, premium saddle that introduces many new saddle technologies. Incredibly light at 22 oz., the Phantom fits users 28-40-inches in waist, has patent-pending Comfort Channels that offer high, low and medium settings for dialing-in the exact seat pressure and feel you prefer, which works wonderfully to adjust settings during long sits. Newly designed lineman loops are wider and easier to locate and use in the dark. Perhaps the most significant advance is the new Amsteel Utilibridge, which provides 30 inches of smooth-sliding, on-the-fly adjustability, so you can get the exact bridge length you prefer. $249 at Tethrdnation.com.
Tethrd’s newest saddle, the 24-ounce Menace, is a value-oriented option that has a 30-inch, fixed Amsteel bridge, a deep, comfortable Cordura seat and built-in Side Adjusters for dialing-in seat fit. A quiet, load-bearing waist buckle has a wider belt than found on the original Mantis, making it easier to locate and adjust with gloved hands. A row of MOLLE attachment webbing runs across the back of the saddle, and leg straps with elegant T-hooks make it convenient to get on and keep in place. $179 at Tethrdnation.com. The original Mantis is also available at $199.
Intriguing newcomer Latitude Outdoors has two compelling saddle offerings. The 25-ounce Method is a connected two-panel saddle that can be “hitched” together for the hike-in and climb, then “expanded” so one section fully supports your lower back and another rides under and supports your rear/upper legs. “Fade Loops” permanently connect the upper and lower sections, providing a rigid lineman rope connection when the saddle is folded, and when the sections are expanded the loops “fade” back and act to keep the two sections connected. The VSS Vertical Support System helps eliminate fabric bunching and provides lower panel rigidity. The Oplux rope bridge is adjustable at both ends via Prussic knots, offering a 35-inch span for your preferred bridge length. Removable leg straps allow for snag-free hikes to the stand and are easily snapped in with a custom G-hook design. Available with a D-ring COBRA buckle by AustriAplin that allows for secondary tie-in and redundant safety — or a lighter and unique Oplux rope belt that eliminates buckle-on-buckle contact with your pants. A rung of MOLLE loops cover top and bottom saddle sections, for $269.
Latitude’s 20-ounce Classic Saddle offers a single row of MOLLE loops, low-profile lineman loops, and the adjustable Oplux bridge and removable leg straps of the Method Saddle, along with the VSS feature which also keeps the saddle from sliding up your lower back, for $184.99. On both saddles, the bridge Prussic knots provide enough grab on the loops to allow fine-tuning of pressure, fit and feel. Each saddle accommodates up to a 40-inch waist and is also available in a kit with premium Oplux tree tether and lineman belts with Black Diamond carabiners and 6mm TRC distel hitch cord with tender for easy operation, at Latitudeoutdoors.com.
Making a strong comeback to the market this year is the Trophyline brand, better than ever with the newly designed Ambush Lite and Ambush Pro. The Lite version weighs in at 32 ounces and features a tough, breathable mesh fabric for long hike-ins and warm weather hunts. The 35-ounce Ambush Pro uses a very soft, brushed tricot fabric seat in Mossy Oak Bottomland that is exceptionally quiet and durable. Each saddle features a dual row of high/low MOLLE loops allowing you to fine-tune accessory positions for balance and accessibility. Both saddles use a super-strong, 2-inch, adjustable webbing bridge, have separate lineman loops, roomy leg loops and a deep-seat comfort fit, in two sizes for waists 28-42 inches.
Included in these value-packed offerings are a matching square accessory pouch for your tree tether, a round accessory pouch for a lineman’s rope, plus a convenient Cinch Bag for storage. Available direct from Trophyline.com at $159 for the Ambush Lite and $169 for the Ambush Pro — or in kit form with 8-foot lineman and tree tether ropes, plus a Black Diamond Mini Pearabiner and two Black Diamond Positron Screwgate carabiners.
The Tree Hopper Recon is a unique spin on the old Anderson Sling, crafted from two-inch aircraft-grade webbing and comprised of two separate panels, one for your back and one for your legs and rear. These sections move independently of each other for a huge range of adjustment and comfort, whether you prefer to stand or sit. This makes the Recon unique to most of the other saddles on the market, and while looking different, it’s easy to wear to the stand overlapped on your waist, then fully deployed at height. Included are lineman’s loops, MOLLE loops, special rubber-coated plates to accept either adjustable 1-inch tubular webbing (included) or an Amsteel bridge.
The Recon weighs a scant 21-ounces and is shipped in its own storage bag that can be clipped into the saddle to serve as a rope and accessories pouch. Available in three sizes at $149.95 Treehopperllc.com, with money-back satisfaction guarantee.
TX5 Custom Gear
If you’re looking for a complete custom option, Matthew Tompkins of TX5 Custom Gear has your answer — and then some... Pick your fabric material and favorite camo from an array of options. Choose a comfortable “Stretch” or “X-pand” seat. Decide on an adjustable bridge of Amsteel, webbing or Oplux rope. Choose saddle frame webbing type and color. How about specifying your preferred MOLLE loop configurations with sewn-in VersaLoops or removable ones for hanging your sticks off the side? How about a matching Dump Pouch with front and side pockets? These are just some of the options offered by TX5 that Tompkins can custom build for you — and the price for all this customization is a lot more affordable than you think. Tompkins will even build a saddle for you from your supplied fabric if you wish. Visit their Facebook page: TX5 Custom Gear.