While there are lots of hunting saddles on the market these days, all but a few of them fall into one of two categories — single panel and two panel. Choosing the one that best suits your needs will make all the difference in your saddle hunting success.
Let me go ahead and say one thing up front: there is no “best” between these two options. Each has their share of users and fans, so it ultimately boils down to which one works best for you!
This comprehensive comparison of single panel and two panel hunting saddles will guide you through the key differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each type, to help you make the right decision for you.
Two-Panel Hunting Saddles
As the name implies, two panel saddles consist of two panels of fabric that can be adjusted independently. The two panels allow you to distribute your weight evenly across the saddle for better weight distribution and maximum comfort.
The panels are usually made of durable, weather-resistant materials like Cordura or heavy-duty nylon, sometimes with padding for comfort.
- Improved comfort for long periods of sitting: The additional support provided by two-panel saddles can make a significant difference in comfort, especially during long sits.
- Greater adjustability for a customized fit and support: Two-panel saddles typically offer more adjustment options, allowing hunters to customize the fit and support to their preferences and body type.
- More complex setup and maneuverability while in the tree: The additional components in two-panel saddles can make setup more complicated and may hinder maneuverability while in the tree.
- Increased fiddle factor: the presence of two panels increases the need to “fiddle” with the saddle to maintain comfort.
Single Panel Hunting Saddles
Single panel hunting saddles only have one relatively large piece of fabric or material that forms a sling-like seat. It’s a much more simplistic design over the two-panel version. However, the tradeoff for that simplicity is less adjustability and comfort on long sits.
- Simple design and less bulky: Single panel saddles have a simple design and are less bulky than their two-panel counterparts. This makes them a popular choice for hunters who prioritize ease of use.
- Less fiddle factor: the single panel reduces the need to “fiddle” with individual panels to adjust comfort.
- Potentially less comfortable for long periods of sitting: The lack of a separate support panel in single panel saddles may result in reduced comfort during extended periods of sitting.
- Limited adjustability and customization for individual comfort: Single panel saddles typically offer fewer adjustment options compared to their two-panel counterparts, which could limit customization options for individual comfort.
The Single Panel Pleated Saddle: Best of Both Worlds?
If you’re after the simplicity of the single panel without giving up the comfort of the two panel, then the single panel pleated hunting saddle may be the perfect compromise.
As the name suggests, this saddle has just one panel of fabric, but that panel has a large horizontal pleat across the middle that allows you to expand the saddle for a larger, more comfortable seat.
- The simple design of the single panel, with the adjustability and comfort of a two panel
- If the pleat isn’t designed properly, it can open on it’s own, resulting in having to continually adjust the saddle to stay comfortable.
Factors to Consider in a Hunting Saddle
When selecting a hunting saddle, comfort should be a top priority. If you can’t stay comfortable in the tree, you’re going to move more, increasing your odds of getting busted by a wary buck. You’re also less likely to spend as much time in the tree as you would otherwise.
With that in mind, consider factors such as weight distribution, adjustability, and customization options to ensure that the saddle meets your individual preferences and body type.
Hunting Activities and Duration
The type of hunting activities and the duration of your hunts will also impact your saddle choice. For short-duration hunts or when mobility is essential, a single panel saddle may be more suitable. On the other hand, for extended periods of sitting or when comfort and support are more important, a two-panel or pleated single panel saddle might be the better option.
While I’m always looking for a great bargain on gear, a hunting saddle is one piece of equipment you don’t want to go cheap on. It’s the centerpiece of your saddle hunting system, and will undoubtedly determine your overall comfort level in the tree.
If you can’t afford a new saddle from one of the reputable companies discussed in this article, then my recommendation would be to look for a lightly used one. Most of us saddle hunters are gear junkies by nature, so we’re always swapping out equipment. That opens the door for opportunities to find great used gear at a reasonable price if you’re patient and shop around.
Try Before You Buy
If you are purchasing a tree hunting saddle for the first time, I would highly recommend trying as many different models as possible before buying. That may seem difficult since very few outdoor retailers carry saddle hunting equipment, but it’s actually easier than you may think. Here are a few options to try before you buy:
- Attend an outdoor expo where saddle hunting manufacturers are present, like the Mobile Hunters Expos being held in Michigan and Tennessee this year. There will be lots of opportunities to get to see and try out various saddle hunting gear.
- Attend one of Tethrd’s Teach N Train events. Every year, Tethrd puts on these free events around the country where interested individuals can show up and try out all the different equipment Tethrd has to offer. And even though you’ll only get to try equipment from one manufacturer, it’s a great way to network with other saddle hunters who may let you try out their gear.
- Get with other local saddle hunters. Facebook groups or online forums are great places to network with other saddle hunters and find like-minded individuals in your area. There have been plenty of instances where I have seed guys plan to meetup to try each other’s gear. In some cases, the groups will host gatherings where everyone brings their own gear for others to try out. Again, this is a great way to not only test a bunch of gear, but also a great opportunity to make some new friends and future hunting buddies.
In conclusion, the choice between a single panel and a two-panel hunting saddle depends on various factors such as your body type, how often you hunt, how long you typically hunt, and personal preference. Both types have their unique advantages and disadvantages.
Be sure to consult with experienced hunters or outdoor retailers for personalized guidance and take the time to test different saddles to find the perfect fit. With the right saddle gear, you can maximize your hunting experience and ensure a safe and enjoyable deer season.