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Chris Zimmer Pack for Heavy Loads
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Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Clayon and David on 03/05/2014 20:34:31 MST Print View

I tried a Porter but it wasn't as comfortable as my Exped Lighting. I think it was partly the hipbelt and partly the center mounted frame. This pack was sort of and attempt to combine my favorite features of both into a smaller pack.

The hipbelt is removable but I won't be taking it off much. Mostly its removable because I liked David's design and it was something Chris was willing to make. The hipbelt has a pocket that fits onto the bottom of the frame. So you have a direct hipbelt to frame connection.

I'm hoping the hipbelt will be stiff enough. I asked Chris to use stiffer fabrics and put those extra seams through it to try and make it stiff. Also I didn't want the foam to move around in there over time. I've heard McHale packs work well with softer belts because they are so wide. We'll have too see.

Thanks very much for sharing your design ideas. If I make it to the packraft round up hopefully we can compare pack designs.

Edited by Cameron on 03/05/2014 20:43:28 MST.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re Clayon and David on 03/05/2014 20:52:35 MST Print View

Using Dave's system, you'll definitely get excellent weight transfer. I think my only concern would be the one you mentioned, the stiffness of the belt. While I haven't done any MYOG with hipbelts (yet--ideas are in the works, and my schedule is about to free up in a big way in a month or so), I did try on and play with more than a dozen LW and UL packs about a year-and-a-half ago. Foam stiffness was a major factor (for me) in load transfer and keeping the hipbelt locked in without sliding down. So I think you're right on in your analysis there.

Like I said, though, if you find the hipbelt not substantial enough, you have lots of excellent options. I have no doubt that Chris at ULA could put together a hipbelt with the necessary pocket for the stay. Or, Zimmer might be able to try a new design.

Anyway, all I'm really trying to say is that you've got an excellent pack on your hands with a lot of long-term possibilities.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 03/05/2014 20:53:13 MST.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
hipbelt stiffness on 03/05/2014 21:15:15 MST Print View

In my experience stiffness is less important than surface contact with your hips. The more wrap the better. With most wing hipbelts there's often several inches on both sides (usually at the top) that aren't even touching your body. A softer belt with maximum contact as you walk is the way to go. Take a look at the paradox hipbelt as well as Mchale critical mass, which are both made to carry massive loads. They aren't even attached at the top of the belt to allow max connection to the body/weight transfer rather than relying on extra stiffening/padding.

Sweet looking pack, Luke. Excited to hear how it performs.

Edited by brendans on 03/05/2014 21:16:45 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Hipbelts on 03/05/2014 21:21:24 MST Print View

You two are right about the hipbelt. In my opinion that is the limiting factor in many UL packs. I think the HMG packs are nice but I think the Exped Lighting hipbelt is better, it is both stiffer and more ergonomically designed. I don't know which one makes it better but I know I feel better carrying the Lighting then the Porter.

My last pack by Chris had a rather thin and very soft hipbelt. No gripe against Chris, he made what I asked. I should have known better.

Edit - As Brendan mentions there was also a lot of hipbelt that didn't hug my hips, I shouldn't have told Chris to make a straight hipbelt. Again, my bad, not his.

I noticed two things when I overloaded my first Zimmerbuilt pack. The belt would sag some but that wasn't the worst. The problem was the pack would sway back and forth. Basically the hipbelt wasn't able to lock it in place and keep it upright. Not enough width of the belt and not enough contact with my hips. The first pack maxed out at about 30 pounds, 35 was pretty uncomfortable and 40 was miserable. If nothing else the newer hipbelt design should eliminate the back and for torque the pack puts on my shoulders.

I'll be interested to see what you come up with Clayton. I don't have time for MYOG projects these days. Perhaps this fall I'll break out the sewing machine again.

Edit - Brendan I haven't had experience with the kind of hipbelts you mention but I've heard of them. I can put two buckles on the belt if I want which should give me more surface area on my hips.

Edited by Cameron on 03/05/2014 21:27:38 MST.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Hipbelts on 03/05/2014 21:24:31 MST Print View

FWIW, the HMG belts are now longer of up to 2".

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Bottom-Attaching Hipbelts on 03/05/2014 22:35:29 MST Print View

Good points Brendan about the Paradox pack. To be fair, I haven't had much experience with bottom-attaching belts, so there may be something I'm missing there. Though, from the little I gathered when I got to try on the Paradox, the shape of the hipbelt was pretty essential in the way that it wrapped. (Keep in mind, I also have and odd hip-bone structure, so the traditional pack fitting doesn't work well for me.)

I like Dave's single stay system, and I have some plans for incorporating a hybrid between his bottom attachment system, the Granite Gear method, and some kind of Al stay (originally I was thinking dual, but Dave has me reconsidering that). We'll see what happens when I finish this Master's program in the next 3 weeks or so. There is a lot of pent-up stuff, so we'll see what comes out when.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
hipbelts on 03/06/2014 05:48:47 MST Print View

Luke I am interested to see how the pack works with big water loads. I am not sure it would be enough volume for me.

I think that hipbelts with dual pulls do a better job of wrapping the belt around the hips and preventing slippage and so there is a middle road of stiffness of foam that really allows that to happen well. But the dual pulls like ULA, Elemental Horizons and the new SMD belts seem to be the way medium (below 50#) load belts appear to be going.

Edited by abhitt on 03/06/2014 06:28:37 MST.

Roman Vazhnov
(joarr) - MLife

Locale: Russia
Re: Chris Zimmer Pack for Heavy Loads on 03/06/2014 11:22:40 MST Print View

Luke, maybe i missed, but what you did not like in Exped Lightning?

William F

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Chris Zimmer Pack for Heavy Loads on 03/07/2014 12:49:23 MST Print View

+1 for Zimmerbuilt. I recently got a pack from Chris and the craftsmanship is amazing. As mentioned prices are extremely competitive, and everything is custom down to the smallest details. I'm a very happy customer. Nice pack Luke!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Chris Zimmer Pack for Heavy Loads on 03/07/2014 15:46:24 MST Print View

Roman the only thing wrong with the Exped was it was huge for most of my trips. My first Zimmer pack carried all my stuff comfortably and was only 36 liters. My Exped is 60 liters. I could have gotten a second 45 liter Exped pack but even that one might have been big for me. Assuming fit works out this will be my go to pack for most trips. Its compressible enough for weekends and big enough for week long trips. I will be keeping the Exped for winter trips and desert trips with a really, really extreme water load.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Just Got it FYI to you pack makers on 03/07/2014 16:54:07 MST Print View

I just got the pack and tried it in the house. I like it a lot.

The only concern is with the curved hipbelt it fits lower then my old pack. Apparently curved hipbelts let the pack sit a bit lower then straight ones. I knew something like this would happened but I didn't know by how much.

The torso is right on the line between too-short and long enough. I rigged up a two buckle system instead of the single buckle system in the picture. This allows you to adjust the torso length a tad. With the bottom buckle bearing a bit more of the weight it went from "too short" to "just long enough." You could probably shorten the torso length as well by putting more emphasis on the top buckle.

I'll get to try it out soon. Hopefully the torso is long enough, if not I've asked Chris to save his sketches in case I have to sell this one and make version II. If that happened all I'd change would be the torso length. Hopefully I don't have to go there.

Anyway I learned a couple things in the whole process that might be interesting to other people making packs.

1. Different hipbelts mean the same torso length will fit longer or shorter.

2. Getting everything just right is tricky. Chris is great but you need to do you homework.

3. A key part of load transfer is a good hipbelt. If it doesn't fit well you'll have a lousy pack no matter how good everything else is.

Edited by Cameron on 03/07/2014 18:29:56 MST.