Last updated on February 11th, 2023
One of the biggest concerns I hear about saddle hunting is that it doesn’t look comfortable. I understand because I said the exact same thing when I first started seeing the posts pop up in my social media feed of guys hanging in trees from their saddle. Through my own experience saddle hunting, however, I learned how to adjust my equipment and my body position to keep me comfortable for hours.
In this article, I’ll cover those methods and the equipment I discovered to stay comfortable in the saddle, so you can keep hunting as long as needed to maximize your odds of success. But first, we’ll answer the million-dollar question.
Is saddle hunting comfortable?
Saddle hunting is a very comfortable way to hunt if you have the proper equipment and fully understand how to use it. I’ll be honest, though, early into my saddle hunting experience, I had a much different opinion. Just an hour into my first sit, I was questioning whether this new style of hunting was for me. I was quickly becoming uncomfortable, primarily in my hips, and a little in my lower back. The hip irritation is common and you’ll often hear it referred to as ‘hip pinch’.
By my second hunt, however, I was figuring out how to adjust my equipment and position myself to stay comfortable for hours. Once I figured that out, I was hooked. I now rarely hunt from anything else other than my Tethrd Phantom saddle.
1. Pick the Right Hunting Saddle
A comfortable saddle hunting experience starts with choosing the right saddle. I can’t emphasize that enough. I wish I could just tell you all to buy the Tethrd Phantom like I have, but it’s more complicated than that. We all have different body shapes and sizes, bone structure, and various levels of fitness. Just as different people prefer different brands and styles of jeans or shoes, saddle hunters each have their own preference for which saddle they find most comfortable.
My recommendation to you is to try as many as possible before dropping your hard-earned money on one. You can do this by attending hunting expos where different saddle hunting companies have a booth, by checking them out at your favorite hunting supply store, or by getting with another hunter who has a particular brand of saddle you want to try.
The latter is getting easier and easier to do as more people try this style of hunting, and more saddle-hunting groups pop up on social media channels like Facebook. Some companies, like Tethrd, have events across the country where hunters can come out and try all their equipment, free of charge.
2. Adjust Your Tether Height
Once you’ve purchased your saddle and climbed into a tree, there are adjustments you can make to your equipment to help keep you comfortable. The first of those is to adjust your tether height on the tree you’re hunting from. By raising or lowing where your tether attaches to the tree, you can change the angle of the tether to your body. That, in turn, changes where the saddle puts the most pressure on your body.
According to Tethrd co-owner Greg Godfrey, the sweet spot for tether height seems to be at forehead level. But I’ve seen them anywhere from well over the hunter’s head down to chest level. Greg went on to say that a lower tether will typically improve comfort, but the tradeoff is that a lower tether may impede potential shots.
3. Adjust Your Bridge Length
Adjusting the length of your saddle’s bridge can also impact your overall comfort. The shorter the bridge, the more pressure you’re going to feel on your hips. A longer bridge often provides more comfort, but like a lower tether rope, it can cause some issues when it comes time to make the shot.
Unfortunately, there is no standard tether height or bridge length that will work across the board for everyone. You’re just going to have to play around with both to find your sweet spot for comfort and maneuverability.
4. Adjust the Saddle on Your Body
Sometimes all it takes to improve your saddle hunting comfort is to shift the position of the saddle on your body to be more comfortable. Again, this boils down to personal preference. Some hunters like the saddle to sit above their waistline, while others prefer it to sit level with or below their waistline. I’m in the camp of it sitting just below my waistline. Like tether height and bridge length, the best way to find what works for you is through trial-and-error.
5. Don’t Forget Your Knee Pads
If you spend any time sitting while in your saddle, you’ll want to invest in a good set of knee pads or a pad you can strap on the tree to rest your knees on. I can promise you this will save you from some sore knees!
And while we’re on the topic of sitting while in your saddle, it’s a great way to mix things up and stay comfortable during a long sit. Some guys are leaners and some are sitters. I enjoy leaning most of my hunt. When I combine leaning with a back band (more on that in a second), I can stay pretty comfortable. But there are times I want a little break for my feet and legs, so I’ll lengthen my tether and get in a sitting position with my knees against the tree. I don’t stay that way for long, but it gives my legs a break and in 10-15 minutes, I’m ready to get back into leaning position.
I’ve seen some guys get in the sitting position and turn their bodies so their side is against the tree, but I just haven’t found that to be comfortable. Again, it’s all about personal preference.
6. Use a Back Band
The best $30 you’ll spend as a saddle hunter is on a Trophyline back band or a Tethrd recliner. These are nylon bands that go around your upper body and clip into your same carabiner with your bridge rope. You adjust the length of the band so that when you’re leaning back in your saddle, it provides support to your upper body. If a deer comes in, you simply lean forward, taking pressure off the band, which then falls down around your waist out of the way. It’s an extremely simple piece of equipment that can dramatically increase your comfort level while saddle hunting. I don’t use it the whole time I’m hunting, but it’s definitely nice to have when you need it.
7. Get in Saddle Shape
This step doesn’t require any additional saddle hunting equipment or even adjusting any of your existing equipment. It simply requires spending time in the saddle. As I mentioned early in this article, I got pretty uncomfortable during my first sit. Part of that was me still learning to adjust my equipment and positioning, but part of it was just my body not being used to hanging in a saddle for hours at a time. The only thing that can do that is time in your equipment. It’s what Greg Godfrey refers to as getting in “saddle shape”.
Over the course of your first few hunts, your equipment will get broke in, and your body will adjust to hanging in a hunting saddle. It’s actually something you’ll go to with the start of every hunting season after not being in the saddle for several months. You’ll probably adjust quicker at that point then when you first started, but it still take a hunt or two to get back in saddle shape. So be prepared for it!
Is saddle hunting as comfortable as hunting out of my old Summit Goliath. No. But it’s still pretty dang comfortable. A lot more comfortable than most people believe when they first discover what saddle hunting is all about. If this is your first season saddle hunting, or if you’ve tried saddle hunting in the past and just couldn’t get comfortable, give these 7 tips a try this fall. I bet you’ll discover saddle hunting is way more comfortable than you ever thought it could be!
We’d love to hear about your experiences with saddle hunting comfort in the comment section below.
For more great saddle hunting tips, check out these 16 Saddle Hunting Tips From Experienced Saddle Hunters.