Packing Class

56th Annual Horse and Mule Packing Class

January 27th – March 3rd

Have you ever wanted to learn the art of packing all of your gear onto your horses and hitting the trail for parts unknown?  You will learn everything you need to know to safely pack up and head to the back country with your horses or mules.

All stock and equipment is provided.

There are no age or gender restrictions on the class.  This is a great class for parents and kids or couples to take together! This class is full of interesting and entertaining information, for everyone from the beginner to a more experienced rider.

schedule Options:

Classes begin January 27th and are 3-hours, once per week for eight weeks.

Tuesdays 7 p.m. – Register Here

Thursdays 7 p.m.-  Register Here

The course is $250, payable by cash, check or credit card.

Classes are held at Smoke Elser’s historic barn at the edge of the Rattlesnake Wilderness.  Hot coffee and hot cocoa are provided!

The Instructors

Smoke Elser

Smoke Elser

After graduating from the University of Montana , Smoke spent the next forty-five years as a wilderness outfitter in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and has spent more than 55 years as an instructor in packing, horsemanship and minimum impact camping. Smoke is past President of the Montana Outfitter & Guides Association and Professional Wilderness Guide’s Association, founding member (1974) and Past President of Back Country Horsemen of Missoula serves on the advisory Council of Elders for MWA and is currently active on the USFS Region I Pack Train Board. He is an instructor at the Nine Mile Wildlands Training Center, Region I, USFS. He has missed only one or two years of traveling in the Bob Marshall each and every year for the past 56 years.
It might be noted that he failed miserably at “retirement”.
Smoke is a recognized leader in practicing the art of Alight on the land horse use@,
designing and building new light-weight horse and packing/camping equipment and in educating the public in these areas. Well over 5,000 students have taken his classes during the last 55 years and well over that number of guests have experienced his hands on use of such techniques. He is the co-author of the book, “Packin’ in on Mules and Horses”, a well-known “how to” book on packing and horsemanship.  Learn more about Smoke in the National Geographic article.

Jordan Knudsen

After moving to Montana in 2001, Jordan Knudsen rapidly grew a passion for horses, mules and back country travel. After a few years of experience in self-taught techniques, he completed Smoke’s packing course in 2004.
Since then, not only did Jordan take the time to become proficient in the techniques of decker packing, but he also took it upon himself to improve the equipment he was working with. In 2006 he started a business, now called Sun River Saddlery, that is devoted to building equipment that carries on the traditions of decker packing and back country travel.
To date, Jordan also spends his fall season as a Licensed Backcountry Hunting Guide, contract packs through the summer season and enjoys as much personal and family time in the mountains as time allows.
Jordan has been instructing alongside Smoke Elser going on four years now in the classroom, the field and other public demonstrations.