ZimmerBuilt DeadDrift & Micro Pack Review


On the SVT heading to the S. Fork

For years my small stream setup consisted of a chest pack then few years ago I swapped out the chest pack for a lanyard system which worked pretty well.  I could carry a small fly box, a scissor/plier, tippet and floatant easily and it seemed most of what I needed.  This year I found myself going out for longer days and doing some hiking to access points so I wanted to be able to carry water, a snack or lunch and maybe a rain jacket along with me.  Carrying multiple rods was also desirable since I sometimes will fish a small tributary and a larger river or a creek and a lake in the same day.  I also knew my mileage to stream would only increase as my leg heals so I decided to start looking for a fishing pack to carry my tenkara gear for a full day in the mountains.

I looked at most of the options out there and came down to two to choose from – either the DeadDrift Pack or the Tenkara Sling Lite from ZimmerBuilt.   They had similar carrying capacity, cost and features so it came down to one strap or two.  I opted for the two strap DeadDrift Pack just to keep weight evenly distributed on my shoulders.   I also purchased a Tenkara Micro Pack to attach to the shoulder strap so I could carry a fly box and tippet there.

Hours after ordering I received an email from Chris Zimmer thanking me for my order and then imagine my surprise when both packs showed up in an envelope in the mail a few days later.  Yes, they are that compact and light.   Both combined weigh in at only 9 oz. and fold up to be smaller than a paperback book.

deaddrift-pack-2The DeadDrift Pack has an 800ci capacity and weighs in at only 8.25 oz.  It is made of Xpac VX07 & VX21 which not only sounds like cool space age material but the stuff is light and tough.  The pack is 18″ long and is sort of cone shaped with a width of 6″ at the bottom and 11″ at the top.   The pack fills up to about a 5-6″ thickness in the middle.   All hardware and zippers are light, easy to use and, for the most part you can get replacements from ZimmerBuilt if needed.


The back of the pack has a set of daisy chains, a shock cord and a loop which is perfect for holding a landing net.  The sides of the pack have two sleeves which hold the handles of a tenkara rod perfectly along with shock cord loops that hold the top of the rod close to the pack.  These are very secure and I have found it is easy to get the rod in and out of the pack while it is on, no need to remove it to pull a rod out or put one back in.

deaddrift-pack-1The front of the pack has 3D mesh padded shoulder straps both with daisy chains so that it is easy to attach an accessory pack and a retractor.  Here I have the Tenkara Micro Pack attached to the shoulder strap along with a scissor/plier on a retractor.  There is also a sternum strap and an optional webbing belt which I didn’t feel was necessary for such a light pack, plus I like to wear a wading belt to carry a staff on.

deaddrift-pack-3The Tenkara Micro Pack is a very small 5×3.5×1.25″ pack that has clips to attach to the daisy chains, a belt or a supplied lanyard.  It has a Dyneema X front pocket that holds tippet spools securely.   I have  a small 3.5×2.75″ Fly-Mate foam fly box (also available on the ZimmerBuilt site) that fits perfectly in the pack and holds plenty of kebari for a day on the water.    The Micro Pack is perfect for me since I have my scissor/pliers attached to the pack and really don’t need easy access to anything else.   If this seems a bit small then the larger Tenkara Strap Pack at 6×4.5×2″ is another option that can be added to the shoulder strap.

deaddrift-pack-4Water is easy to carry in the pack since it includes a hook for a hydration bladder (also good for attaching your car keys!)   I had a Platapus 1L bladder that clipped right in.    The hose then comes out at the edge of the zipper and I run it through one of the daisy chains on the shoulder strap.  No need to take off the pack to get a drink.  You could probably put a 1.8-2L bladder in the pack if you needed to carry more water.  With the bladder there is still room to spare carrying my lunch and a jacket too.


I’ve used the pack on every outing since it arrived and couldn’t be happier with it.  Honestly it is so light and comfortable even fully loaded that I really don’t know I have it on.  I’ve beaten down a few ‘trails’ that are more like game paths to the river and have had to push my way through bushes and trees and have found that the rods are very secure in their sleeve and loop connections.  The packs are well designed with the tenkara angler in mind and well built, I can see why they have Tenkara Guide Tested & Approved stamps on their products.  I very quickly became a loyal ZimmerBuilt customer and have already ordered a Tenkara Strap Pack to use on days I don’t need the full DeadDrift Pack and I know that when time comes to get an ultralight pack with some carrying capacity that I’ll be ordering it from ZimmerBuilt.


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