November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Display Avatars Sort By:
Chad Eagle

Locale: SoCal
Zimmerbuilt on 04/15/2013 20:20:14 MDT Print View

So, I have started talking to Chris about a new pack and I have not seen any negative comments in regards to his work or him as a business person. I just have a hard time buying something I can't get my hands on before purchase.

So, to those of you that have his packs.

What don't you like about your pack?

If you have a pack with the stays, how well do they function?

Would you buy another pack from him?

Any other comments?

I really like his packs and would like to support another cottage business, just need some honest feedback to make up my mind.


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Zimmerbuilt on 04/15/2013 20:39:24 MDT Print View


There was nothing I didn't like about the three packs I bought from Chris. All were made to my specifications, and were very well made, and Chris was excellent to work with. He even made me a cuben underseat bag for my bike, as well as cuben panniers. Loved them as well.

Hard to go wrong working with Chris.

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Zimmerbuilt on 04/15/2013 20:44:14 MDT Print View

Well...I would say, given that Chris' packs are 100% custom, any faults are oversights/missed opportunities/etc.

In my case , I can only point to 2-3 things...all design choices. All of these are apparent to me only after actively utilizing the pack.

If I were to do it again I would have Chris sew my hip belt closer to on-center AND have the belt wrap around my front just a bit more...basically creating a little more belt-hip wrap and getting the belt pockets around front a little more. Now that I have said that, assuming you care,, you can have him do exactly that.

My other change would be having my rolltop snap to buckles on the sides instead of to itself. I'm thinking this would pull the top tighter and shed water a little better...but...pure conjecture on my part.

Of course these changes add weight, and I was shooting for keeping it under 32oz.

Lastly, ask Chris for EXACTLY what you want...he will let you know if he can't/won't do it. Everything is custom...size of pockets...width of belts/straps/etc. Look at the packs on his website and on prior BPL threads and crunch ideas with Chris.

Good luck...

-Mark in St. Louis

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Zimmerbuilt on 04/15/2013 20:47:54 MDT Print View

Doug... Do you have a pic of that cf underseat bag???


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Zimmerbuilt on 04/15/2013 20:53:06 MDT Print View


Chad Eagle

Locale: SoCal
Re: Zimmerbuilt on 04/15/2013 20:56:39 MDT Print View

I suppose that is probably my biggest hang-up, the worry that I will miss something. Either in what I have seen in pics or in my requests to Chris. Making sure that I accurately convey the vision in my head and that my vision actually corresponds to the changes and tweaks I am looking to make to packs I have only seen on the website.

I am somewhat of a tightwad, and ( while I do believe the price is fair) I would hate to spend that kind of money and be unhappy with the end result. Although, if unhappy, it would probably be my own doing.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
My Zimmerbuilt Pack on 04/15/2013 21:06:31 MDT Print View

I'll try and answer your questions as well as I can. I have a Zimmer pack similar to the HMG Porter but made with XPAC and using a U shaped frame similar to the Gossamer Gear packs.

"What don't you like about your pack?"

The pack was good quality, but there are a few limitations inherent to the design (details below). Chris was great to communicate with and he made the pack surprisingly fast. Chris made what I asked (I sent him a detailed sketch up). In that sense he was fantastic. BUT he did not design the pack for me, it was my design for better or worse. So be ready to stand on your own two feet and take responsibility for the design.

"If you have a pack with the stays, how well do they function?"

The limiting factor on my pack is the hipbelt system not the actual frame. There is no true lumbar pad and the hipbelt is fairly soft. If the load is bulky and heavy the pack twists and from side to side more which is more fatiguing to your back. With more compact loads it it is much better.

"Would you buy another pack from him?"

It depends. Basically I wanted a 2 pound pack that could haul 40 pounds but compress down small for weekend trips. I think 40 pounds would be pushing it with this pack because of the hipbelt. The pack meets all the requirements except the weight hauling one, 40 pounds if a bit much for it. I'd say its more of a 30-35 pound pack. For my needs the HMG Porter might have been a better choice.

However your needs may be different. If you won't be hauling more then 35 pounds and want a well made pack with lots of custom options Chris is great.

Here is the link to my pack. I asked him to sew the hipbelt on closer to the center for me. I do think this helps it wrap around my waist better.

Edit - Pay attention to the hipbelt and torso length. The shape of the hipbelt determines whether it will ride low or high on your hips. My old Absaroka was a great pack but it was a bit short in the torso for me. The torso should have been long enough but because of the hipbelt shape it rode low.

Edited by Cameron on 04/15/2013 21:16:54 MDT.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Zimmerbuilt on 04/15/2013 21:58:56 MDT Print View

My Zimmer-built packs are frameless or use thin foam as a frame; they work great with those weight limits in mind. My torso length was correct, so that has helped. You must be sure of your design ideas too.

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Zimmerbuilt on 04/15/2013 22:11:52 MDT Print View

Thanx Doug... I may send Chris an Acorn tubular bag to sew something similar in Dyneema Grid or XPac!


Edited by buldogge on 04/15/2013 22:12:25 MDT.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Didn't Work Out For Me on 04/15/2013 22:13:02 MDT Print View

Let me be careful how I word this:

I think Chris Zimmer is a genius and a gentleman. When it came to my pack, I got exactly what I asked for. I had him make me a custom hip pack for cycling and everyday use that would hold bike tools, flat kit, first aid, and a light raincoat. I wanted it super-durable since I ripped through several hip packs in a row.

Sadly, I don't think I know what I want quite as well as mass-marketing seems to know what I want. When I ultimately received my hip pack, I was initially impressed and pleased. However, a couple of things happened that I wasn't pleased with, NOT ONE OF WHICH is the fault of Zimmerbuilt or Chris Zimmer. He is the messenger to my request, the problems are MY fault:

1. The hip pack wasn't comfortable because I skipped padding it. Because of the placement of the inside pockets, I didn't expect asymmetrical bulging but that's what I got.

2. The material (Dyneema) was very firm and didn't break in at all through use or washings, so the pack is stiff. Since the pack use is kind of like a rucksack with heavy items, the stiff material arranges itself to look bulky and weird. When I'm cycling around my college campus, I look like a dork. (See Below)

3. The material got dirty once. That dirt has survived three washings unscathed, and it's regular mud. I think this might be a Dyneema-specific problem. Makes it look terrible, really.

Final verdict: I stopped using it, but I won't sell it since it was an interesting foray into custom packs and I rather like that I tried to design something. The lesson here? Do your research into the SPECIFIC materials for every component of your pack, or ask Chris to explain how it feels to the touch, how it looks after a season of use, how the seams look, how it moves when packed. I didn't ask, and I got something I didn't expect.

(Below) I ended up getting a Chrome Shank hip pack. Waterproof Tarpaulin-lined cordura feels as strong as the Dyneema and isn't losing threads like my custom pack is. Second, it's very fashionable. Plain black with a bold logo patch and a nice zipper that works very well with my personal style. Minimalistic and definitely not 80's-looking.

Edited by mdilthey on 04/15/2013 22:15:48 MDT.

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Zimmerbuilt on 04/15/2013 22:15:18 MDT Print View

Luke...Your hipbelt was the exact one I was thinking of when I made my theoretical changes.

I think the frame style/design carries pretty darn well at 30#, even with the "standard" belt, FWIW.


Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Zimmerbuilt on 04/15/2013 22:33:41 MDT Print View

I love mine.

I wish the type of seam was seam sealable but i reckon its built for strength. I dont have a pad but the way the stays are I can put my neo between it and my back making it padded enough. ....careful packing too...

Dont have but 60 or so miles on it but Im loving it.

Maybe get some daisy chains or something so you can customize as needed?

Zimmer is easy to deal with and can sew like a champ.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Hipbelt on 04/15/2013 22:39:23 MDT Print View

Mark I do think the hipbelt Chris made improved carry over what it would have been. I hope I didn't make it sound like it was bad. It is a great pack. Its just that I didn't think everything through perfectly. I think Chris is great if you know exactly what you want. If you aren't completely sure what you want you might be better off buying a ready made pack until you figure out all your requirements.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Hipbelt on 04/16/2013 07:00:59 MDT Print View

"So be ready to stand on your own two feet and take responsibility for the design."

"I think Chris is great if you know exactly what you want. If you aren't completely sure what you want you might be better off buying a ready made pack until you figure out all your requirements."

Luke makes some very good points. When dealing with Chris, or any person who is going to make what you ask for, you have to be comfortable knowing what you want.