- Buyer's Guide
Carry Geeking :: Zipper Pulls
Zipper pulls, say you? Is that something to worry about in carry? Most definitely. In carry, whether you’re out for the snazzy look or for the best functionality, details matter. In fact, they matter a lot. And to be honest, you’re going to be touching the zipper pulls on a bag way more than that nice full-grain leather or that fancy logo patch. So let’s go over some requirements for zipper pulls.
A zipper pull has six basic requirements:
1. It has to (duh…) help you open and close the zipper, whether with normal, cold, hot, frozen, injured, sweaty, greasy or gloved hands;
2. It has to not break;
3. It has to support security measures (e.g. TSA locks, padlocks);
4. It has to look funky, stylish, classic, happy, gothic, tactical or whatever your couleur de saison is;
5. It has to not get stuck behind every door knob, window handle, arm rest, fellow traveler, branch or twig you happen to cross;
6. It has to not play jingle bells with other zipper pulls or hardware, unless you’re trying to avoid running into bears;
7. It’s allowed to have an extra perk. If that sounds mysterious, read on!
First we’re looking at the “normal” zipper pull, the one that usually comes with the zipper itself.
Astonishingly, it makes for a bad score on almost all the requirements:
1. Although it does help you open and close the zipper, it’s only with dry and not too big hands;
2. It does break, depending on the brand (YKK, Riri and some others being a probable exception);
3. It can support security measures (but can break, so that doesn’t help much);
4. It lacks style and brand identity;
5. Granted, it doesn’t get stuck easily;
6. It jingles against other zipper pulls and hardware, of which I’ve been the unhappy observer;
7. It doesn’t have any extra perks.
Having said that, different situations might require different zipper pulls. A perfect score on one of the requirements might mean a horrible score on one of the others. It’s carry geeking after all, isn’t it? Depending on the requirements, there are lots of options available. So many options, we’ve put up a Pinterest board for your inspiration: www.pinterest.com/carryology/zipper-pulls; go check it out!
Let’s look over the requirements and lay out some options.
1. It has to help you open and close the zipper
This is rather obvious, but there are different ways to go about it. The longer and bigger a zipper pull, the easier to grab it. There’s an end to this obviously, like when the zipper pull is bigger than the bag. But big zipper pulls can make it too easy to open the zipper and can get stuck. Some outdoor brands use zipper pulls you can hook your finger through, some use paracord. Some brands, like the famous Hermès Birkin bag, use leather tabs, some use branded plastic tabs. There’s not really a “best” zipper pull, but obviously some are more helpful than others.
2. It has to not break
Zipper pulls do break. In fact, they break so often that there are zipper pull mending kits on the market. By just using a bit of imagination, broken zipper pulls can be replaced by as little as a paperclip. But preferably, it has to not break at all.
Mostly, zipper pulls belong to a bag that contains something valuable to you. You might not want to make it too easy to open a zipper, especially by someone else. Yes, we know about the general zipper problem, but that occurs mostly when the bag is out of your sight. We’ve seen several security provisions. We’ve seen a lot. Actually, we could open up a whole new carry geeking file just on security provisions. But not today. Think padlocks, TSA-approved locks, zippers with locks built in, S-biners, gear ties and, yes, safety pins…
4. It has to look the part
For many people, this might be the only requirement that matters. Well, lucky for you, there are a lot of options to choose from. At Carryology, we like to see a bit of brand identity in every detail of a bag, so that includes the zipper pull.
5. It has to not get stuck
Long zipper pulls and zipper pulls you can hook your finger in can more easily get stuck behind something.
6. It has to not jingle
“Classic” metal pulls tend to jingle. It annoys the hell out of me, but you might find it relaxing.
Why let a zipper pull just be a zipper pull, when it can also be a…LED light, a compass, a whistle or even a multitool?
Finally, even zipper pulls are trying to keep up with modern society. We’ve seen the first 3D-printed zipper pulls on Shapeways. It won’t be long before you can get your own personalised 3D-printed zipper pull!