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Black Thunder Gear | For the backcountry llama packer

Montana Llama Guides is proud to introduce a company with new innovation in llama packing equipment :: Black Thunder Backcountry Llama Gear.

Built to bring quality, durability, ease of use, comfort, and functional gear to a growing interest in backcountry llama packing, founder and designer, Brett Jones of Bozeman, Montana, was inspired by the designs of legendary llama packer Wes Holmquist and Decker style mule pack saddles. Thus in 2019, Black Thunder Gear was created to bring quality products and a packing system that is intuitive for the beginning user and bullet proof for the hard core outfitter. Our products are well thought out and designed by llama packers with nearly 100 years of total field experience.

Introducing our Llama Pack Saddles

After years and years of research and development, Black Thunder Gear has developed a light weight, easily adjustable, built-for-the-mountains tough llama pack saddle. Made with the lightest weight and most durable fabrics, webbing, and buckles, these pack saddles are built with laser cut powder coated steel horns, laser cut aluminum paddles, and assembled with structural rivets for the most extreme conditions.

Comfort and fit for the llama

Comfort and fit for the llama is one aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked and taken seriously. All llamas are shaped a little differently and not all saddles fit the same. Hinged at the top of the horns to easy adjustment for different body shapes, our saddles feature 1.125 inches of form fitting foam neatly placed against our laser cut aluminum paddles. We’ve then created a unique integrated padding system wrapped in a tight weave 400 Denier diamond ripstop nylon/polyester blend fabric for superior strength while still being very light weight. With our thick padding and the llamas natural coat, there’s no need for an additional saddle pad. This will create efficient breath-ability and comfort for your trail harden pack llama.

Each llama saddle comes with a breast collar with over-the-neck-strap and crupper for under the tail. The breast collar is super nice for keeping the load centered on the up hill. The over-the-neck-strap keeps the breast collar from falling down into the feet. We like the over–the-neck strap versus riggings that have a strap that goes between the legs and to the front cinch. Many dog harness are similar. Though these may be great concepts, we’ve found many llamas do not like their feet touched. Therefore, it can be very difficult to correctly fit a saddle if you can’t get all the straps to buckle. Safety first. Use our over-the-neck system.

The crupper. Some outfits don’t even bother with rear support. We believe rear support is needed to keep the load positioned center not only on the up hill but especially on the down hill. The crupper doesn’t need to be overly tight. In fact, we prefer to have it loosely snug. This will aid the llama is weight distribution on the down hill which can be some of the toughest terrain for llama and wrangler.

For front and rear cinch, we’ve chosen two simple 15-strand cinch with large rings tethered together. The front cinch is most important making sure its tight enough for just your finger to fit behind while the rear cinch is only tight enough for your hand to fit behind. A well fit and properly cinched saddle make all the difference in a fun, hassle-free llama pack trip.

Built-in Top Load Pack System

One of the coolest features of our Black Thunder Llama Saddles is our unique Top Load Pack System. We’ve incorporated 1 inch webbing straps and buckles on each side of the saddle attached to each horn allowing you to securely cinch tables, chairs, fly rod cases, electric fences, axes, or shovels perpendicular to the llamas back laying across the panniers. This is a great and efficient way to back long equipment and not make it awkward for our trusty trail companions.


  • Easily adjustable
  • Extremely durable
  • Light weight
  • Built-in top load straps
  • Laser Powder coated steel horns
  • Laser cut aluminum paddles
  • Durable Buckles
  • Structural Rivets
  • 400 /Denier ripstop blend
  • 1.125″ integrated padding system


8.22 lbs


Built with pride in
Bozeman, MT USA

Llama Saddles Now Available.
Pre-Order Before March 15 | $595 each

Now is the time to get your gear. Purchasing pre-order saddles ensures that you don’t miss this packing season! Our 2020 production will be a limited run so don’t delay.


• Estimated delivery May 1, 2020. Sold exclusively through Montana Llama Guides.

For more information contact:
Dennis L Dueñas, Sales/Marketing, R&D & other stuff, or (406) 600-3835

Brett Jones, Founder & Designer, (406) 581-6654

Nature Really Is Good For You

Enveloping our lives in the forms of nature can be transformative. The Forest Agency of Japan coined the term “shinrin-yoku” or “forest bathing”. It is the practice of getting into the woods for body and mind renewal, to counter lifestyle related health issues.

Since then, a growing body of research shows that spending time in the mountains – hiking through the forest, observing plant and animal life, or even playing in water features – can improve your physical health while reducing stress and anxiety.

Nature has a way of enhancing our senses. The sounds of that distant bird chirping out its song set, the stride of the wind rushing through the trees. The sound of our soles crushing the trail! We see the sea of green in shades. The vastness of nature; the emptiness and fullness in duality. The details in the mountain scape, the trail terrain, the unusual formations of nature.

Let’s not for get the smell of fresh, crisp mountain air. The combined smells of leaves and grasses decaying into the earth or the oils emanating from trees releasing pure natural scents. Take a sprig of sage and crush it in your fingers and breath it in. Tell me that’s not one of the best smells ever! There is a stillness, calmness and a sense of serenity out in nature. There is a feeling of being alive that we don’t get from our urban life. What is it about nature that makes us feel good? What is that feeling? Why does nature heal, sooth and restore the mind and body?

Vis medicatrix naturae means “the healing power of nature” which was established by Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Practitioners of Hippocratic Medicine followed certain principles, one of which, is that organisms left alone can heal themselves. Organisms are not passive to injuries or disease and, instead, rebalances themselves to counteract ailments. The body has the ability to heal itself. Nature is the best physician.
Recent studies have linked nature to symptom relief for stress and anxiety, keeping the heart rate variability normal, lowering blood pressure, improving mood and sleep disorders, easing symptoms of ADHD, helping recovering addicts or current addictions, boosting self esteem and relieving depression.

Consider this, there are invisible chemicals, called phytoncides, (basically pungent essential oils) in some trees that can reduce stress hormones, lower anxiety, and improve blood pressure and immunity. Being outdoors provides you with the benefits of getting natural sunlight, which produces vital vitamin D. Being outside naturally stabilizes melatonin in the body, which is offset when you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen or mobile device

Blood tests revealed a host of protective physiological factors released at a higher level after forest walks according to a review paper in Frontiers of Psychology. Among these hormones and molecules, a research team at Japan’s Nippon Medical school ticks off dehydroepiandrosterone which helps to protect against heart disease, obesity and diabetes, as well as, adiponectin, which helps to guard against atherosclerosis.

In other research, the team found elevated levels of the immune systems natural killer cells, known to have anti-cancer and anti-viral effects. Meanwhile, research from China found that those walking in nature had reduced blood levels of inflammatory cytokines, a risk factor for immune illness, and research from Japan’s Hokkaido University School of Medicine found lowered blood glucose levels associated with obesity and diabetes.

Basically, we all need to Get Outside.

Studies show that just three days and two nights in a wooded place increase the immune system functions that boost feelings of well being for up to seven days.* ( Human response includes increased awe, greater relaxation, restored attention, and boosted vitality. Health outcomes are astounding: enhanced immunity, including reduced cardiovascular disease, fewer migraines, and lowered anxiety, to name a few.

Even short nature breaks an be beneficial. According to a recent small study, people who spent just 20 minutes in nature experienced a drop in stress hormones. Looking at a stunning waterfall or undulating countryside can do more than enrich your Instagram feed: it can also elicit feelings of awe that bring a number of health benefits. Feelings of awe will even make people more kind.

“Experiences of awe attune people to things larger than themselves,” says Paul Piff researcher at University of California, Irvine. “They cause individuals to feel less entitled, less selfish, and to behave in more generous and helping ways.” The benefits of awe are physical too: regularly experiencing moments of awe has been linked to lower levels of inflammatory compounds in the body.

Being with the llamas is spiritual for me. They are so alert and gentle; focused and cautious. The group interaction is amazingly impactful as the entire experience brings people together with a sense of purpose and harmony. Dennis, your approach and that of your guides, is without judgment for skill level and very in tune to each participant’s needs. Experience of a lifetime! Can’t wait to go again!

Peg M. Cody, WY

“If everyone were to make time for nature, the savings on health care costs could be incredible,” says study author Danielle Shanahan, a research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia.

“Nature is undemanding,” says Shanahan. “It requires effortless attention to look at the leaves of a tree, unlike the constant emails at work or the chores at home.”

For many people suffering from physical or emotional ailments, the best medicine isn’t found In a pill bottle, but rather in the forest, in the wilds of a trail, on the top of the mountain.

What we know is that we feel good out there, a notion firmly supported by science and supported by our senses.

Get Outside. Go for a hike.

The best remedy for life health challenges, both mental and physical, is to Go For A Hike. Even if it’s a short one. It will do you and everyone around you good.

Now we’ve found that nature is great therapy for mind, body and soul. Couple nature with the soothing and comforting effects that animals provide for our spirit and you have the perfect Wellness Recipe.

Join us as we explore the Power of Nature with our Wilderness Wellness Llama Treks in Yellowstone National Park or our Montana Alpine Lakes Basecamp.

See you on the trail.

Spring Training | Fly fishing with pack llamas

The intermittent snow squalls are a reminder winter is still holding on. With the warming temperatures, there’s something about the sunny and 45 deg that makes me forget about backcountry skiing and instantly think about llama packing and fly fishing. To initiate the first day of spring, I was fortunate to get out with the backcountry llama string for a day of fly fishing.

Think of it as Pack Llamas and Fly Fishing | Spring Training. Watch here.