By Melinda Van Bossuyt
Packing and Loading Panniers
- Line panniers with a plastic garbage bag. It keeps the bag clean and your stuff dry.
- Pack soft, smooth and flat items on llama side of the pannier.
- Keep hard angular items protected in the core or toward the top.
- Pack like or similar items, one on each side for easy balancing.
- Don't put the heaviest items on the bottom. Keep heavy items in the mid-area for the best center of gravity.
- Balance panniers to ½ pound using a scale. Tip: use your filled water bottles to balance. Each pint weighs a pound. Each quart weighs two pounds.
- Know in advance how much top-packed items weigh. Tip: keep a list of these items and their weights in your shirt pocket.
Loading Panniers on the Llama
- First, double check to make sure cinches are tight enough. Some llamas puff up when you saddle them and then relax later.
- Attach panniers to saddle. Tip: two people working on either side can load both left and right panniers simultaneously.
- Secure the load to keep it from rocking or flopping. Do this by running a strap under the belly between the panniers. Tighten it down to bring the panniers securely against the llama. Be sure to load any items needing to be top-packed before securing the load.
- It is safest to attach items with easily released straps.
- Avoid using elastic straps and bungees.
- Balance items on either side.
- Pack boxes or kayaks can be top packed before loading on the llama. Attach D rings on the outside of your boxes for quick and easy places to attach straps.
- Keep items off the rump and away from the neck.
- Cover the sharp points of top loaded items for safety. (Example: a shovel point)
- Don't put exceptionally heavy items directly on the spine.
Using a Rain Fly
- Lay rain fly centered over the load.
- Tie or clip down corners of the rain fly to the panniers.
- Be sure to utilize additional mean besides the rain fly to keep important items dry (ie: line the pannier with a plastic garbage bag). While panniers may be constructed of water proof or water resistant materials, they seldom keep their contents dry in a steady rain or downpour.