HMG vs. Zimmerbuilt
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scree ride
(scree)
HMG vs. Zimmerbuilt on 05/22/2013 15:11:25 MDT Print View

Both easy to work with. Both have excellent reputations. Both cottage industries.
Zimmerbuilt can be tailored, while the HMG has slightly stronger cuben and claims to handle a little more weight.
Anybody lucky enough to have both?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
HMG vs. Zimmerbuilt on 05/22/2013 15:21:06 MDT Print View

I bought a used HMG Porter but it was too small so I resold it. I then bought a Zimmerbuilt that was similar to the Porter but had a back pocket. Great quality, I really like it.

I think an HMG pack would carry heavy loads a bit better. The frame is thicker, the hipbelt is different and there is a nice lumbar pad. But the Zimmerbuilt pack is just as good a quality and Chris is good to work with.

scree ride
(scree)
Another good answer on 05/23/2013 08:14:54 MDT Print View

Thanks again Luke. Seems that you're the one who put me in this dilemma though. LOL You presented some good options.
What size was your Porter?
The 3400 seems a bit big, while the 2400 seems a bit small, at least for most of my needs. It does look like the 3400 will shrink down pretty good.
The difference between the 3400 and the 4400, other than size, is that the 44 has a plastic frame sheet. The straps, stays, and belt are the same. Mike said they could customize the 34 with the frame sheet for a few bucks. For that, I could replace my old heavy Gregory and have a lot of versatility.
For the heavy hikers out there, they are getting ready to release more versions of the 4400.
Zimmerbuilt has been really helpful. I could get a very nice pack around 3,000" at a price competitive with the 2400 Porter. Actually a little cheaper. Options raise the price a little.
I may have to go with the 3400, get rid of my Gregory, then buy a smaller Zimmerbuilt. Like I got all that money. I'm lucky to get one right now.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Another good answer on 05/23/2013 08:18:01 MDT Print View

You need to understand that the different sizes are almost identical in width and depth. The extra room comes from the height. If the the Porter 3400 is a tad long, you simply roll down the collar. Given your dilemma, the 3400 is the better choice over the 2400.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Another Good Anwwer on 05/23/2013 08:35:14 MDT Print View

My HMG was the 3400 if I recall. It compressed down very nicely, I would not bother with the 2400 version, the 3400 is way more versatile.

Edit - Technically my Zimmberbuilt pack is 2400 cubic inches but they must be calculating volume differently (its not always exact). My Zimmerbuilt pack seems to be almost identical in size to the HMG 3400 Porter. With compression straps the Zimmerbuilt pack compresses down perfectly for a weekend trip. But it was big enough for a three day backpacking trip in New Mexico with a heavier kit for cold weather with a bit extra left over.

Edited by Cameron on 05/23/2013 08:38:55 MDT.

scree ride
(scree)
delightful dilemma on 05/23/2013 08:46:00 MDT Print View

Davey
Thanks for the confirmation. That's what I was thinking. Between rolling it down, using the compression straps, and the fact it has removable stays and no pockets, it should compress pretty well for smaller loads.

Tommy Franzen
(Tomlike) - F

Locale: Pacific Wonderland
HMG porter on 05/23/2013 09:02:16 MDT Print View

I bought the 3400 Porter and found it much too large so I exchanged it for a 2400 with a back accessory pocket. I will still only use the 2400 Porter on trips that are over 3 days long, it's still too big for quick overnight/weekend trips. I guess it depends on how much stuff you carry and how it all compresses down. Awesome packs though!

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: delightful dilemma on 05/23/2013 09:22:43 MDT Print View

Scree - yes, it compresses completely flat as well (the Porter) so you should be able to find a happy medium. Of note, the packs come with a top 'Y" strap so if you did decide on the smaller pack, you could always lash a larger volume piece of gear outside. Personally, I like to keep it all in the pack for weather proofing so would go for the 3400.

The front pocket that is optional with the Porter series is nice but will put additional weight farther back from your centre of gravity so it makes more sense to me to simply go for the larger pack (just my 2C worth).

scree ride
(scree)
repeat on 05/23/2013 11:59:13 MDT Print View

I appreciate all the responses. Looking back, I seem to be repeating myself a bit with my threads. Getting anxious, it's in next month's budget. The Exped was tempting and I could have gotten it sooner, but here I am...waiting.
Figured it didn't hurt to give a plug to both HMG and Zimmerbuilt. After the help I received, I'm going to feel rather guilty not buying both, though that would leave me a little hungry.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: repeat on 05/23/2013 12:45:16 MDT Print View

Always remember that it is important to have more than one pack....or at least this is what I keep telling myself.

scree ride
(scree)
too much is not enough on 05/25/2013 09:28:14 MDT Print View

I can see myself buying another pack before too long.
For now around 3,000 c.i seems like my sweet spot for a 7 day trip. With extra water, I'd be close to maxing out the Zimmerbuilt.
Zimmer claimed a max of 35 pounds. For 3,000 c.i. it ran $230 + $30 for the stays. With a mesh back panel, I had it up to $275. A pretty good deal for a custom pack.

After staring enough at the different size Porters, I realized that by looking at the position of the logo, I could tell the difference.
From what I see...
The width on the 2400 and the 3400 are the same. The 3400 has taller stays and collar, with one more compression strap(3). The 4400 has the same stays as the 3400 with a taller collar. The sides are wider on the 4400. Plastic stiffener used in back panel of 4400.

the 2400 is 26 ounces. With a 4.2 pocket it would be 30.2 ounces.
The 3400 is 30.6 ounces.
The 4400 is 31.1 ounces.
Less than a one ounce difference.

Prices are $265 for a 2400 ($295 with pocket), $295 for the 3500 ($315 with custom plastic stiffening in backpanel), and $325 for the 4400.
Thirty dollar difference.

The 4400 should compress the same as the 3400. The only difference would be with the 2400 which would roll down more.

Not minding the slack in the top compression strap, with the 3400, I wouldn't have to depend on a front pocket.
With the compression straps, the 4400 is virtually the same pack with a 0.5 ounce penalty. It can also be loaded several ways and could also swallow the grandkids sleeping bags on occasion. Adding extra support to the 3400 would leave only a $10 price difference and even less of a weight difference.
I'm thinking why not the 4400 with the thought of getting a Zimmerbuilt when I get my base load down? I also wouldn't have to compress my seeping bag, if I didn't feel like it.
I know the temptation to over pack, but I'm past that. I mean other than a Thermorest cot and a coffee press and something else I can't do without...

Edited by scree on 05/27/2013 06:32:02 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: too much is not enough on 05/25/2013 11:01:13 MDT Print View

I see nothing wrong with your rational, especially at the minimal weight penalty that comes with a lot mor flexibility. If you could only have one pack then maybe the 2400 with the font pocket is the way to go from the modularity perspective but since you have a smaller pack, I would go for the largest one that makes sense.

I think you have answered your question in your last post....; )

scree ride
(scree)
Would you make up my mind for me on 05/25/2013 12:19:51 MDT Print View

I just had to talk it out. I may still change my mind. I actually need, or want two packs. My main goal was to get rid of my 6 pound Gregory.
I can see a smaller modular Zimmer in the future. Maybe around 2200 with an attachable pocket.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Would you make up my mind for me on 05/25/2013 12:48:57 MDT Print View

Well then you would have to add a Mchale Bump for a smaller, high performance pack.

Tee, hee.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: too much is not enough on 05/25/2013 18:57:38 MDT Print View

The 3400 and 4400 are identical other than size. None of the HMG packs have a plastic framesheet last I talked to Mike (and it's not mentioned in the specs on the HMG site). I've seen that somewhere else on here too though, so I'm curious where people are getting the (mis)information?

Don Selesky
(backslacker) - M
Re: Another good answer on 05/25/2013 21:18:06 MDT Print View

The Porter 4400 (formerly the Expedition) is useful for more than carrying the stereo and the hibachi. When I head out in the winter the pack is filled with a lot of down clothing and a sleeping bag (quilt) to get me through the sub-0F nights. Not a lot of weight, but a lot of volume.

Oh, and mine doesn't seem to have any kind of framesheet, plastic or otherwise.

Edited by backslacker on 05/26/2013 19:16:17 MDT.

scree ride
(scree)
not a framesheet on 05/26/2013 09:06:56 MDT Print View

"I'm curious where people are getting the (mis)information?"
Probably from folks like me misreporting...It's not a "framesheet" like I posted, it's a "plastic stiffener".

this e-mail came from Mike St.Pierre at HMG:
"The only difference is in the 4400 series we add a plastic stiffener to the back panel for more support when carrying loads over 50lbs."

What's the height on the 4400's empty? How small of a load would you carry in it?
I can see an advantage with the 4400 in not compressing winter wear.
Other than money,a few grams, and maybe looks is there any reason to chose a 3400 over a 4400?

John Reichle
(mammoman) - M

Locale: NE AL
Zimmerbuilt Pack on 05/26/2013 14:40:40 MDT Print View

Chris built me an approximately 3500cc pack that carried everything I needed for a 7 day trip on the Foothills Trail. The pack performed flawlessly....carried my Hexamid Solo-Plus, NeoAir, clothes, 7 days food etc. with a smidge of room to spare (I am UL but not hardcore). A front mesh pocket and 2nd waterproof pocket for raingear etc. plus two oversized water bottle pockets (each could carry 2 qt-sized Gatorade bottles for when I needed to camel up). Ask him about "The Big Orange."

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: not a framesheet on 05/26/2013 17:51:05 MDT Print View

Interesting. I just talked to Mike two days ago about a custom pack and he made no mention of it.

I'll never use the capacity of the 4400, so it never made sense for me. I'll also never carry greater than probably 35 lbs (much less 50), even when guiding. I've been using/testing a 3400 since the initial versions which had the belt/straps/stays from the original WindRider. I believe Ryan had the first one, since it was based on something he asked Mike to build, and I received the second shortly after. That was in early 2011.

Edited by simplespirit on 05/26/2013 17:51:40 MDT.

scree ride
(scree)
Re: Re: not a framesheet on 05/26/2013 20:18:30 MDT Print View

I asked him specifically what the difference was.
Not really planning on carrying 50 pounds. Perhaps push 38 on a bad day. I'm really just looking for the best suspension in a sub 2 pound pack.
I really need to make a call this week rather than email, clarify a little better, just kind of waited to have the cash in hand.

scree ride
(scree)
open open open on 06/04/2013 13:29:36 MDT Print View

Finally made an order.
Went with the 4400 Porter with an extra heavy bottom and a removable hip belt. Forty dollars extra for the changes which I felt was plenty reasonable.
Went without a hydration setup. Thinking of a outside gravity system with a valve along with a water bottle. No internal leaks that way.
No belt pockets which will leave me with the attachment points on the belt clear.
While I opted for the white, black fabric was available. A little heavier than the white, it would have added around an ounce to the total weight.It would have also added, don't quote me, around 10% to the original cost. $32 maybe?? Not bad, but white generally is a better color for the desert that surrounds me.

Mike guesstimated that the 4400 was close to 2,000 c.i. when rolled all the way down, so much of the volume is in the height. While the 3400 may have made more sense total volume wise, I feel that the 4400 will give me more versatility in the way I pack. Tall and skinny or short and fat. If it makes a difference or not, I'll see. At least I'll have the option to find out. If I decide it's too big, I can sell it for enough to buy the 3400. Somehow with the compression, I don't think I will.
About 7 days until it's shipped. Should be caught up with work by then.
open open open

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: open open open on 06/04/2013 14:26:59 MDT Print View

They are great packs. Enjoy.

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Locale: LawsonEquipment.com
HMG vs. Zimmerbuilt on 06/04/2013 14:35:29 MDT Print View

Everytime I see a HMG pack, I want to get in the pack business. Everytime I see a Zimmerbuilt, I get humbled.

scree ride
(scree)
Re: HMG vs. Zimmerbuilt on 06/04/2013 19:29:28 MDT Print View

The HMG is a pretty humble design. Seems it would be a no brainer to produce, yet nobody is. In spite of a not so humble price, those in possession speak highly of them. If you can do that, I'll look to you for my next piece of equipment.

Ever think about building accessory pockets? Seems like HMG kind of dropped the ball. I can envision a number of designs, but that's as far as my talents go.

The Zimmers are a work of art. The material he has available, for my taste, is either a bit bright in color or it's on the other end, being a bit dull. The cuben comparatively is a bit light. I'd like to say that I don't really find color important and with Zimmerbuilt's reputation for quality, it really was my last concern.

Mainly with the HMG, I went for a larger pack with more weight capacity for loads over 35 pounds. I liked the sleekness, and I wanted a heavier cuben fabric.

Edited by scree on 06/04/2013 19:30:45 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: HMG vs. Zimmerbuilt on 06/04/2013 19:39:52 MDT Print View

Lawson - time to put your money where it counts. What say you?

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Locale: LawsonEquipment.com
: ) on 06/04/2013 21:03:54 MDT Print View

I have been thinking about it. Only problem is, everytime I see one of Chris Zimmer's packs I re-think it. If you could talk him into not making such nice looking packs, I would give it a go haha : )

Edited by Mountainfitter on 06/04/2013 22:17:41 MDT.

scree ride
(scree)
blank on 06/05/2013 06:04:42 MDT Print View

While I can appreciate the quality, I really didn't like the looks of Zimmerbuilt packs. I didn't really see much innovation, only customer's whims. That leaves you a market.
While the hope for cuben, is to create heavier and heavier fabrics, Xpac becomes more and more desirable. If only it wasn't died in snow cone colors. The bright orange clashes with my lime green sneakers, you'd think the big top circus was in town.
The Porters are simple.
What I would like to see is a bra for them. Like a car bra, except with pockets. One that protects the bottom and can be replaced. Combined with a top bag, it could also double as a speed vest to use out of base camp. Water bottle pockets that straddle between the pack and the belt. Ones that I can actually reach. A mesh bag for the back, cheap enough not to worry about snags.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: blank on 06/05/2013 07:17:38 MDT Print View

"While I can appreciate the quality, I really didn't like the looks of Zimmerbuilt packs. I didn't really see much innovation, only customer's whims."

That is the point, I wouldn't call it whims, but designed to be what the customer has decided they want after using other packs. It is the MYOG for those who don't have the skills or time to make their own.

I am in the same place, mostly like the looks of the HMG suspension and windrider SW pockets but not the white color, hip belt to some degree and the way the compression straps go over the side pockets.

Like the fabric, color and suspension of the SMD Starlite but not the volume or pockets. Like the volume and no sweat back panel of the Swift but not the hipbelt.

So I am looking to Zimmerbuilt to help me combine multiple things into a simple pack I can use in rough dry country (carry 35+ lbs with water) and use here in the wet east. I am confindent I can find X-pac colors I can live with.

scree ride
(scree)
Re: Re: blank on 06/05/2013 07:50:58 MDT Print View

HMG does have black as well.
Not trying to push them over Zimmer, mind you. Just presenting options.
I could have lived with the grey Xpac as well. I could have even surpassed my infatuation with cuben.
I simply understood the HMG's to carry 35+ better.

I admit calling customer input "whims" is a bit critical, but really it all mostly amounts to pocket arrangement and choice of material. Having a mesh back panel or not. HMG's argument was that they absorb sweat. All I really have to do fix a dry rag up with some bungees and I can change it out.