Just curious as to what people prefer when it comes to saddles. Leather vs Synthetic. What are your thoughts on either. Just trying to figure out what I would like better. Cons and Pros of both would be wonderful if you have the time. Thanks for helping. :)
In reality it's simply a matter of preference.
Leather is "traditional", because it was what they were all made form (but then there really wasn't anything else
Experience with both (I have leather and synthetic) have taught me the following.
Leather requires at least 10 X the effort to maintain..
Leather will fail quicker (easier if you prefer). (e.g. I've yet to have synthetic stirrup strap snap on me, but I've had new leather ones fail within 10 days before....not fun when you're way out).
Depending on your taste leather can look better and sometimes feel better than some of the synthetics (usually looks/feels better than nylon)
Leather is heavier.
You can reverse these items and get the good and bad for synthetic.
You also different synthetics. I like beta material. Gives me the look of leather, holds up better, easier to clean then my hands. Maintenance is pretty much nil. Will not absorb sweat so it just wipes off and is ready to go with out needing all the care to leather needs to make it last.
I like my leather saddles for specific reasons. Weight. Easy, convenient extra weight for conditioning. It's a bit like comparing leather cinches to mohair. Mohair is easier to clean and dry out after getting soaked. In general it will outlast a leather cinch. My leather saddles require more work to maintain since moisture is not a friend to leather (and sweat is moist
along with rain, lakes, ponds, etc.....). I also like the "look" of my leather saddles, but I just have to accept that I must spend the time maintaining them (treating and polishing to slow the process of deterioration....but they still deteriorate....it's like aging...it's going to happen...you can't stop it).
I like my synthetic gear for my traveling (not just saddles, but bridle, etc...). I don't need to carry things to care for leather. It's light so I can carry more of the important things.
Now, while I readily swap leather for synthetic for some things I don't swap all things for synthetic. I still find a good 100% blanket makes the best saddle blanket (and doubles to keep me warm at night). I still prefer mohair to synthetic cinches.
Of course most people ride less than I do and a with a different sort of activity so weight and maintenance aren't as important. So then it just comes down to the person's preference.