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Thread: There's a new bag in town -- F-Stop!

  1. #1
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Thumbs up There's a new bag in town -- F-Stop!

    Actually bags...

    The good folks at F-Stop Camera Bags (http://fstopgear.com/) sent Guy and I a sampling of their bags to test and demo just before our Salton Sea workshop. We had them with us in Salton, but given the workshop was geared toward chasing the light and shooting, we never really had time to thoroughly trial and demo the bags at that time. After the workshop, Guy and I split up the set and being taller, I grabbed the biggest offering from F-Stop, the Satori. Guy will have a review of the Bard and Tilopa following up soon.

    Anyway, over the past few weeks I have taken some time to get to know the Satori and find it a very innovative bag. In summary, the main points are:

    1) Real mountaineering style pack suspension system, capable of carrying substantial weights in relative comfort;

    2) Other typical mountaineering pack features are multiple external lashing points for items like extra pockets, tripod, ice-axe, ski poles, tents or sleeping bags and load compression/adjustment straps to stabilize irregular loads;

    3) External hydration bladder pocket, external top access pocket, and external rear sleeve style pocket, side holster pockets, small belt pocket for GPS unit;

    3) Special internal padded compartment to hold a large laptop;

    4) Removable, padded, adjustable divider internal camera unit (ICU) gear module with zip security cover;

    5) Pack features normal "top" loading access hatch as well as full back flap access.

    The real innovation point for photographers is finally this back access hatch is on the padded backrest side of the pack instead of the rear of the pack. The obvious benefit is when you set your pack down in the wet, sandy, muck or dirt to access your camera gear, you no longer transfer that gook to your own back. Nor do you have to dig through a bunch of items to access something buried deep inside a top-loader pack. A very, very thoughtful and convenient touch.

    The pack is large-ish, and by itself would probably serve as a 4-5 day excursion pack. With a large component of camera gear in the ICU, I could probably squeeze in two days worth of food, water, stove, water filter, jacket, tarp and lash the sleeping bag and pad on the outside. My small tent probably wouldn't make it however. The more likely scenarios for this pack with a lot of gear are probably either an extended day trek or cross-country ski photo excursion, or a cross continental travel adventure where you never know how long you may have to schlep your travel bag.

    The suspension is top notch, and surprisingly adjustable. I am 6'-6" tall (about 198CM) and have a longer than normal torso, so getting an internal frame pack to fit me properly is difficult. The Satori does a commendable job here, even for me, but for technical or multi-day uses it is probably better suited to those under 6'-3". Even with that caveat, I can say the Satori is far more comfortable to carry on my back than any conventional "camera" backpack I have tried to date -- and I have tried most all of them.

    Access being on the inside padded area of the pack is great for outdoor photographers for sure, but being on that side of the pack requires some strategic design choices and thus total access is slightly restricted compared to typical rear-access camera bags as a result. This is a very minor nit IMO ad the benefit far outweighs it, but I mention it so potential buyers aren't surprised by it.

    Overall construction quality is first rate too, with no shortcuts taken. Seams and stitching are excellent throughout, with top quality zippers with easy-grab pull tabs for when wearing gloves, zippers have protective storm flaps as well. Finally, all harness adjustment straps and quick-release buckles are easy to operate with one hand, and the ends of the straps are double-folded and stitched to prevent them sliding all the way through the adjuster slides. Lots of nice little touches and very well built indeed! Finally, the pack is light for it's size --- just under 6 pounds with the insert(!) and around 4 pounds without insert.

    One final nit, and all camera bag manufacturers should take hard note: Most camera gear is black. Finding black gear in a black bag in low light is a royal PITA for me. I much prefer light gray or even white for the inside of my camera bags. However, black and gray on the outside is perfect!

    All in all this bag gets a solid "Two Thumbs Up" rating for photographers, and especially photographers that do more than casual hiking with their gear!
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  2. #2
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: There's a new bag in town -- F-Stop!

    I have the Talopa bag here and it is basically the same bag only it is a little smaller on the top
    Volume: 50 Liter / 3,100 Cubic Inches
    Weight: 2032 Grams - 4.47lbs (With Full ICU) / 1392 Grams - 3.07lbs (No ICU)
    Dimensions: 12” x 24" x 10"
    Internal Compartment Dimensions: 12” x 22” x 10”
    Internal Compartment Space Available with Large ICU: 7” tall ” on each side, extra depth taken by laptop sleeve.
    Torso Length: 18.5”
    Metal internal Frame for support carrying heavy loads.
    Fabric Info: Ballistic Rip-stop Nylon, Abrasion Resistant Nylon Webbing, High Density foam, Heavy Gauge Zippers, YKK Waterproof Zippers, Waterproof Urethane coasted mesh

    Now with this bag you can use the bigger insert as well as the Satori but you get about 3 or 4 inches of storage space above it. Or you can go with a smaller insert and get about 8 inches of storage. So again you have a modular set up. I did not photographs, this bag but here are some shots from F-Stop.

    Here is the smaller insert here


    Opening from the back which is really nice it keeps the bag clean on the side that is close to your body



    This is the larger insert here and you can see you will have a extra few inches of space above it for a light jacket and such



    laptop insert



    large front pocket for a variety of gear



    Inside flap with pockets for batteries and accessories depending on needs



    Exterior bag shots








    Here is a link to more info on this bag http://fstopgear.com/en/mountain/tilopa.

    I will next do a full review on the Bard Bag since Jack covered these two bags so well. My apologizes in advance on the Bard been really busy since the workshop and will get to this one very soon . But i really like the Bard for light work and holds a laptop as well. Here is a quick link to the Bard http://fstopgear.com/en/mountain/bard

    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Member MarkSaperstein's Avatar
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    Re: There's a new bag in town -- F-Stop!

    I have had the pleasure of using the Tilopa for the past month. Due to a medical condition, I have been searching for a photo backpack that will allow me to carry a medium format kit on medium to long hikes without putting excess stress on my shoulders. I'm happy to report that the Tilopa is just what the doctor ordered. It is incredibly comfortable, and it holds a lot of gear. Thank you, Ian!

  4. #4
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: There's a new bag in town -- F-Stop!

    Well finally got to use the Bard for the week on a Cruise. Just got home from a working cruise where I had to shoot on the ship for another model and talent event that my wife produces. So this time was a good chance to lower my bag count for travel with 15 inch MBP and a Canon T2 with 17-55, 85 1.8 and a 135 F2 not to mention a 430 ex flash. Plus I had the chargers for everything , mouse and extra batteries all in one bag. Worked out really nice as i only needed to have one carry on and everyone knows when traveling with there spouse they usually want you to carry one of there bags. LOL

    The Bard had ample support for all systems with a nice divider system to keep the T2 loaded with any one of the three lenses on it pointing down into the bag which made it very easy to not have to have a certain lens on the camera to fit the bag. I found this very handy and than crossed the strap over the opposite shoulder and was able to get around very nicely in the tight halls of planes and ships. Great setup for 4/3rds and 35mm systems with laptop when traveling plus plenty of hidden pockets for passports and cash.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: There's a new bag in town -- F-Stop!

    I know I am a little late to the party here, but I would kill before giving up my F-stop bags.

    Having carried backpacks of all shape, sizes and for all uses for over 40 years, my only real complains are the cost and I wish the larger packs had full waist belts like a proper mountaineering or backpacking pack.

    I have a Loka and a Tilopa. They are superb.
    Likes 2 Member(s) liked this post

  6. #6
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    Re: There's a new bag in town -- F-Stop!

    The camera bags that I love the most are from Clik Elite. I have 4 or 5 for different occasions and they are uniquely useful for each situation.

  7. #7
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    Re: There's a new bag in town -- F-Stop!

    I've lost count of the different camera bags I've owned/tried/used over the years. Thinktank is my go to for a rolling bag and now F-Stop is my only backpack camera bag I want to use. The Tilopa is the first ever bag that actually fits (before that I had tried Clik Elite and while I liked them they just are not as comfortable for me at 6'-9")

    I've now used the F-Stop along with a couple of small ICU bags to carry my WRS tech camera, my DF as well as my Sony. Just swap the ICU for whatever camera I need to carry at the moment.

    Don
    Don Libby
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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: There's a new bag in town -- F-Stop!

    I'm a strong proponent of F-Stop backpacks as they've simply been the most comfortable and universally usable backpacks I've ever owned. Not only that, they actually fit in aircraft overhead bins unless you try really, really hard to overpack them.

    I have a foliage green Loka that has been pretty much indestructable and traveled the world, sat in snow, mud, moss, s&&t and just about anywhere you can imagine and it's been perfect since day one. Simply the most comfortable pack I've ever used and it actually fits my back with usable hip belt, chest loop etc etc so that it fits you like a glove even when loaded up. Also the rear entry to the pack is a godsend as you don't put the bit that goes against your body down in the muck.

    I can also recommend the Tilopa BC if you want something a little bigger and I use that for my DSLR kits with the extra large ICU inside. The only downside to the Tilopa vs Loka in my experience is the rear pocket which I find easier to use with the single zipper on the Loka. Also my buddies like to make fun of the fact that it's almost fluorescent blue

    I recently got the Loka Ultralight too which is a little lighter than the Loka but to be honest I haven't felt very motivated to load it up since my Loka is like an old friend ...

    I also have the Satori but I've never really felt the need to fully use it since the Tilopa BC is about as big a pack as I want to travel with unless you want to combine it with clothes/camping gear.

    Be aware that F-Stop do make small changes to their bags over time. My Loka has a small zipped pocket on the waist band that is a super place to put my ResQLink PLB but it's not on current bags.

    I can't speak to the smaller bags. The Tripod bag is a little short for my Gitzo SGT with Cube but ok if you have a 'normal' tripod .

    For smaller stuff, ThinkTank Retrospective, Gura Gear Chobe and too many others that I'd be too embarrassed to list ...
    Last edited by GrahamWelland; 12th May 2015 at 02:56.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

  9. #9
    Super Duper
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    Re: There's a new bag in town -- F-Stop!

    Just picked up the tiny ICU which is a perfect bag to house everything I use to tether.
    Don Libby
    Iron Creek Photography
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