By now, the name F-Stop is synonymous with rugged, durable camera backpacks. For many years now, I’ve described their lineup as virtually indestructible quality. In this new F-Stop backpack review, we are going to analyze and critique one of their biggest updates, the Mountain Series DuraDiamond (TM) Backpacks: The Anja 37L and Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond, to be precise.

F Stop Anja 37L DuraDiamond VS F Stop Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond

F-Stop Backpacks are also at the top of the list when it comes to price tags, though, with the Anja 37L and Tilopa 50L starting at $349 and $399, respectively. Of course, let’s be honest; you’ll actually want to get the options that include at least one ICU, (padded compartment unit) …so, you’re actually starting at $439 and $499. With “kitchen sink” accessory bundles going all the way up to $759 for the Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond with eight accessory options. I can name quite a few lenses that cost less than that!

So, let’s not mince words here: These backpacks are meant for photographers who have camera gear they really, really want to protect, in truly bad, horrible weather. In fact, considering the total capacity of either backpack, a veteran photographer could easily find themselves lugging tens of thousands of dollars worth of camera gear up a mountainside.

In short, these backpacks are made of extremely durable materials, with absolutely excellent craftsmanship, and are capable of offering some of the best protection possible for your camera gear.

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The new versions of these already excellent F-Stop backpacks, the DuraDiamond series, are available in Anja 37L, Tilopa 50L, and now the truly gigantic Shinn80L sizes. All three versions boast substantial design changes and material improvements, such as the impressively tear-resistant DuraDiamond material and numerous metal buckles.

However, it all comes down to real-world practical use. Things like gear access and side pouch configurations are highly subjective, and while some photographers may find that these packs to be literally perfect, others may discover that there are aspects that may be impractical for their use.

So, let’s dive into this F-Stop backpack DuraDiamond review!

F-Stop Backpack Anja 37L Duradiamond Specifications

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  • BAG TYPE: Backpack / Backpacking
  • GEAR ACCESS TYPE: Main compartment opens from the back
  • CAPACITY: 37 Liters (Recommended up to 27 lbs / 12 kg)
  • OUTER MATERIALS: DuraDiamond body fabric, Welded IP65 TPU weatherproof zipper
  • BUCKLE MATERIALS: Mostly Metal
  • PADDING MATERIALS: Jersey laminated EVA-padded back panel, Hypalon reinforced
  • COLORS: Anthracite, (Gray) Cypress Green, Magma (Orange)
  • WEATHER PROOFING: Fully weather-proof exterior shell (Rain shell included)
  • DIMENSIONS: 60.6 x 32.7 x 25.8 cm
  • INTERIOR SPACE:
    Main Compartment: 29.5L (Pro Large ICU)
    Top: 2.5L
    Front: 3L
    Side: 2x 1.1L
  • CARRY-ON (AIRPLANE OVERHEAD BIN) COMPATIBLE? Yes
  • WEIGHT: 1.47 kg (2.2 lbs) (no ICU inserts; large ICU: 0.76kg/1.71lb)
  • WARRANTY: 20-Year warranty, 45-day satisfaction guarantee
  • ACCESSORIES: (See below)
  • PRICE:
    $349
    (Backpack only)
    $439
    (Backpack + Slope Medium ICU, Large Rain Cover)
    $559
    (Backpack + Pro Large ICU, Slope Medium ICU, Large Drone Accessory Pouch, Large Rain Cover)
    $699
    (Backpack + Large, Medium & Small ICUs, Large Drone Accessory Pouch, Medium & Small Accessory Pouches, Packaging Cell Kit)
    (B&H | Adorama | Amazon)

F-Stop Backpack Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond Specifications

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  • BAG TYPE: Backpack / Backpacking
  • GEAR ACCESS TYPE: Main compartment opens from the back
  • CAPACITY: 50 Liters (Recommended up to 27 lbs / 12 kg)
  • OUTER MATERIALS: DuraDiamond (TM) with metal buckles
  • BUCKLE MATERIALS: Mostly Metal
  • PADDING MATERIALS: Jersey laminated EVA-padded back panel, Hypalon reinforced
  • COLORS: Anthracite, (Gray) Cypress Green, Magma (Orange)
  • WEATHER PROOFING: Fully weather-proof exterior shell (No additional shell required)
  • DIMENSIONS: 62.3 x 34.8 x 28.4 cm
  • INTERIOR SPACE:
    Main Compartment: 39L (Pro Large ICU)
    Top: 3L
    Front: 5L
    Side: 2x 1.25L
    Side Bottom: 2x 0.25L
  • CARRY-ON (AIRPLANE OVERHEAD BIN) COMPATIBLE? Yes
  • WEIGHT: 1.93 kg (4.2 lbs) (no ICU inserts; large ICU: 0.76kg/1.71lb)
  • WARRANTY: 20-Year warranty, 45-day satisfaction guarantee
  • ACCESSORIES: (See below)
  • PRICE:
    $399 (Backpack only)
    $499
    (Backpack + Pro Large ICU, Large Rain Cover)
    $599
    (Backpack + Pro Large ICU, Slope Medium ICU, Large Drone Accessory Pouch, Large Rain Cover)
    $759
    (Backpack + Large, Medium & Small ICUs, Large Drone Accessory Pouch, Medium & Small Accessory Pouches, Packaging Cell Kit, Large Rain Cover)
    (B&H | Adorama | Amazon)

F-Stop Backpack Review | DuraDiamond VS Previous Versions

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What major upgrades come with the new DuraDiamond lineup? Well, first and foremost of course, is the DuraDiamond material itself. It replaces the already impressively durable 420D ripstop nylon and TPU film coating for built-in weather resistance. In short, the newer version is lighter and yet stronger/tear-resistant.

Also, just as important as the durability itself, the new weather-resistant coating, C0 DWR, is environmentally responsible.

With the Anja, the total capacity is down 3 liters from the original 40L, of course, while the Tilopa is the same 50L. However, both newer backpacks are lighter weight than their predecessors, which is a good thing because F-Stop backpacks tend to be, well, Cadillac-heavy.

Last but not least, on top of a plethora of numerous small design changes that we’ll get into when we talk Pros & Cons, there’s the fact that the new backpacks have a whole lot of aluminum hardware; no more plastic waistbelt buckle and most of the other buckles and attachment points are now aluminum as well. Once again, F-Stop aims to make indestructible products, however, I do have some reservations about the aluminum belt buckle, which we’ll get to…

F-Stop Backpack Review | Anja VS Tilopa | How Much Can It Fit?

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Both the Anja and Tilopa are relatively large backpacks, even though they’re dwarfed by the Shinn 80L. Honestly, though? Most photographers who carry “only” a single full-frame mirrorless camera body, for example, with 2-4 lenses of varying sizes, will be more than happy with the smaller Anja.

With the Anja 37L DuraDiamond, you can easily fit the Large Pro Internal Camera Unit, (a $120 accessory) which will easily pack one or two large camera bodies, plus at least one large-ish lens, (up to a 300mm f/2.8 or 400mm f/4) and then 3-4 additional, varying sized lenses. Outside that large ICU, of course, you’ll still have additional internal storage space, plus outside, side, and top pouches for your various accessories, both photography-related and adventure-related. There is no dedicated laptop compartment on the Anja, but you could fit a tablet into the pocket on the padded “back door”.

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With the Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond, you can fit the large ICU, of course, yet you don’t gain the ability to fit the XL ICU. (For that you’d need to get the Sukha 70L or the Shinn 80L.) Aside from the large ICU, the Tilopa’s 50-liter capacity will afford quite a bit more additional room for things like a drone case or additional adventure equipment. The Tilopa also offers a laptop compartment that will fit up to 15-16″ laptops.

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NOTE: These backpacks aren’t just different sizes of the exact same design. The side pocket configurations are slightly different; the Anja has a traditional mesh pocket for water bottles, while the Tilopa has what I consider to be a slightly annoying, tight-fitting main side pocket that I don’t know how I would fit a Nalgene into. (The lower side pockets seem only meant to contain tripod legs.)

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F-Stop Backpack Review | Anja VS Tilopa| Who Should Buy It?

In case you didn’t yet realize, these backpacks are highly purpose-built. They’re not meant to be just your casual commuter backpack; they’re ready to literally climb mountains, explore slot canyons, and brave the absolute worst weather. More on that in a minute!

Winter Weather Photography

[Related: F-Stop Sukha Review | The Gold Standard of Adventure Travel Camera Backpacks]

These backpacks have always been tailor-made for cold, wet weather. Unlike “normal” wet conditions, where you may be splashed by a wave or experience a bit of rain, working in winter snow conditions can mean that your backpack is exposed to potential wetness virtually the entire time. Even indoors when you’re trying to warm up after a long day in the snow, your backpack may wind up sitting in a little puddle!

The bottom line is, F-Stop was already the leader in winter weather photography, and this new version of backpacks is also excellent. The metal buckles may steal a bit of your warmth, but they’re literally indestructible compared to plastic clips and buckles!

Wildlife & Action Sports Photography

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If you’re a wildlife photographer, you may often find yourself doing a lot of, well, …sitting around waiting for your subject! Whether you’re in a freezing arctic climate, a torrential downpour in a tropical jungle, or getting sand-blasted by the wind in a desert dune field, these F-Stop backpacks literally “have you covered”…

Honestly, with pretty much all other brands of backpacks, I wouldn’t venture out into such conditions without adding a cumbersome rain shell to my backpack almost all of the time.

Landscape Photography

Landscape photographers are also going to find themselves facing potentially nasty weather. In fact, being in the right place just as a storm clears can result in some of the best landscape photography! If you’re one of those types of landscape photographers, then once again these are great choices for reaching those epic sunrise/sunset vantage points just as the light gets dramatic.

Hiking & Backpacking

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Of course, you’ll probably be photographing landscapes and/or wildlife if you’re hiking and backpacking, but I wanted to specifically mention long-distance hiking treks.

There’s no nice way to put this: Because of how incredibly durable the F-Stop backpacks are, they aren’t as cushy and comfy as dedicated backpacking backpacks. In fact, if you have bony hips or a tailbone, I might not recommend these backpacks for multi-day, 10+ mile hikes with your backpack over-weighed with all the additional necessities such as a  tent, cookware, etc.

So, if you know you’re at all prone to hip or tailbone chafing, just get a large or XL F-Stop ICU, and put it in your Osprey, Deuter, Gregory, etc backpack!

Vacation & Travel Photography

If you’re just a wanderlust traveler, on an airplane or in a luxury hotel one day, and climbing a mountain the next day, then F-Stop backpacks do still fit the bill, thanks to their incredible longevity.

However, with all the incredible protection and innumerable compartments, your everyday experience may feel a little more complicated than a simple backpack with more loose- easy-access pouches and flaps.

Air Travel VS Ground Travel

We do still need to talk about HOW you’ll be traveling with your camera gear. Because traveling by air, land, or sea could make a big difference in which camera bag you choose, regardless of what photography genres you’re into!

Simply put, if you’re at all exposed to the elements while you travel, (a Niagra Falls boat tour?)  then you’re definitely going to want something like the DuraDiamond series for maximum protection.

Also, if you’re getting on an airplane a lot, then yes, the big 50L Tilopa will fit in an overhead bin, but only if your outside, side, and top pockets aren’t totally crammed full of big puffy thins like down jackets or water bottles. I often easily solve this type of problem by simply wearing a jacket and holding a water bottle in my hand, of course.

F-Stop Backpack Review | Anja VS Tilopa | Pros & Cons

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The short version, in case you want to skip to the end: The good news is, the F-Stop Anja and Tilopa DuraDiamond backpacks are downright overbuilt, intended to protect a lot of gear from some pretty harsh conditions.

The bad news is that the backpacks are, overbuilt, indeed, with so many “extra” straps and zippers that you might not find a use for all of them. Then again, if you use an ice ax or trekking poles, or you carry more than one tripod, you’re in for a real treat!

Build Quality

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The materials, from the special DuraDiamond fabric to the zippers, stitching, and overall quality control, are all truly impressive. You’re getting what you’re paying for! There’s a reason why these backpacks come with a 45-day money-back guarantee and a 20-year warranty for manufacturer defects.

Design & Features

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As I hinted at earlier, the Anja and Tilopa are not as identical as you might assume. They do have slightly different arrangements of pockets and compartments, which affects how you might load each backpack.

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The good news is, there are innumerable configuration options with each backpack. The bad news is, this is what adds quite a bit of weight to the backpack overall.

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To be honest, I almost wish there were slightly fewer pockets. I’m a fiend for organization, but I was at a loss for what to do with a few of the “extra” pockets-inside-pockets.

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One item that frustrates me with many camera bag/backpack designs, not just F-Stop, is individual memory card compartments. Is this really still a thing? I thought everyone used a memory card wallet now. Either way, I’m almost annoyed to have to carry around the extra weight of the magnets and other material.

Another element of design that some photographers love while others might dislike is the use of the “ICU” or the Internal Camera Unit. That’s the padded case that you add (buy separately or in a bundle with the backpack itself) to actually give protection and organization to your camera bodies and lenses.

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Instead of the walls and structure of the camera bag itself being padded, an F-Stop ICU contains all your precious gear inside your backpack, inside a removable padded case. This can be convenient if you’d like to keep your camera bodies and lenses safe inside a padded case and be able to swap that case into other types of bags/luggage, however, it does create a bit of excess space sometimes. (See above) You can secure the ICU to the inside of the backpack, but getting the hooks attached takes some effort.

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Unfortunately, having two completely separate zipper systems standing between you and your gear can also be cumbersome in real-world use sometimes, as you might notice in the image above.

Personally, I do prefer fully integrated padding systems, most of the time, but it’s not that big of a deal, and I suspect that most people who try an F-Stop backpack will actually grow to prefer the benefits of having an ICU.

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Last but not least, the metal waist belt buckle is a slight hazard to the paint job on your car, especially if you prefer to toss your backpack on the front or middle seat of your car instead of in the trunk. I’m pretty sure the faint marks left on my Subaru will buff out, though!

Weather Protection & Durability

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F-Stop really takes the cake on this one. Protecting your gear against poor conditions is what these backpacks do best. The previous generations were already the best, and although I wasn’t able to experience a torrential downpour while reviewing these backpacks here in Southern California, I was able to do a whole lot of abrasive sandstone rock scrambling, and I’m truly impressed by how flawless the DuraDiamond material still looks after so many days out and about.

This material will definitely stand the test of time better than anything else on the market, probably!

Comfort & Ergonomics

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When fully loaded, how comfortable are the new F-Stop backpacks, and how adjustable are they for certain body types?

Unlike many popular medium and large camera backpacks, the F-Stop backpacks have padded-full-size shoulder straps and hip belts, which allow you to really load the packs down with gear if you want to. (The trick is to wear the backpack such that the hip belt actually puts most of the weight on your hips, and the shoulder straps are unburdened as much as possible. with multi-point adjustments on the shoulder straps, most people except the absolute tallest and shortest should find both backpacks to be a pretty perfect fit.

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Having said that, the padding itself is a bit hard. This is for the purpose of long-term durability, but if your backpack is very heavily weighed down, and you have many miles to travel. you might feel some hip or shoulder or tailbone pain, depending on your body type.

Value

These are some of the most pricey camera bags on the market and with good reason. The craftsmanship and sheer lifespan are just unbeatable. If you plan to “abuse” your gear for literally decades, the F-Stop Anja and Tilopa are both wise investments.

Having said that, are the alternatives also a good value, for less money, or an even better value? In some cases, yes. I’ll get into that next, however, suffice it to say that these are specialty backpacks, and you’ll get the best value out of them if you’re doing what they’re designed for.

F-Stop Backpack Review | Anja VS Tilopa | Compared To Alternatives

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If you want the highest level of durability, then F-Stop backpacks are the industry leader. If you have specific usage needs, or preferences for gear access, then yes, some other backpacks might be a better choice.

Mindshift, Shimoda, and Lowepro do offer respectable alternatives, however, and depending on exactly what you’re looking for, one of them might be a better choice. Mindshift, in my opinion, makes by far the most comfortable backpacks around, with big cushy hip pads and shoulder straps. The Rotation 180 series offers a highly unique way to access (some of) your gear without taking the backpack off. The Mindshift Firstlight and Backlight series allows you to choose which side of the backpack you prefer to lay in the dirt when accessing your gear.

Shimoda makes similarly comfy feeling backpacks, and they also use an ICU-type system. Designs are generally a bit more simple.

Lowepro offers some mainstream affordability if you are willing to take a slight step down in terms of overall quality. Make no mistake, these alternatives are relatively indestructible, but for truly nasty weather I would recommend their (included) rain shells.

Other popular brands such as Peak Design, Nomatic, Wandrd, Think Tank, Manfrotto, and others, well, honestly they just don’t come close. The designs might be creative and offer easier access to gear, in some cases, but the materials and craftsmanship are usually just not as rugged.

What’s worse, though, is the fact that most of the “everyday/traveler” backpacks simply don’t have the proper shoulder strap adjustments and hip supports, to carry 20-30 lbs or more of gear over miles of rugged terrain. Heck, without a good waist belt, my back begins to feel injured after just a few minutes of walking from an Uber to the end of an airplane terminal.

Honestly? If you’re looking at these DuraDiamond backpacks and love everything about them except the price, then the best alternative is not a different brand, but simply the older model Anja/Tilopa, of course. They’re already excellent choices, at a slight discount.

F-Stop Backpack Review | Anja VS Tilopa | Conclusion

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The consensus is clear to me as soon as I pick up these backpacks and start scraping them against rocks, working with them in general, and hiking with them on my back for a few miles: They’re the new flagship backpack of adventure, wilderness, wildlife, and landscape photography, without a doubt.

You pay a slight toll on hip/shoulder comfort due to the stiffer padding compared to some more cushy alternatives and the added weight from an excess of random pockets, but as the years roll by, you’ll be glad to have one of these trusty backpacks with you.

Check Pricing & Availability

The F-Stop Anja DuraDiamond and F-Stop Tilopa Duradiamond are new releases on B&H.

9.1
Score

Pros

  • Best-in-class durable build quality
  • Best-in-class weather protection
  • Extensive organization options
  • Value is excellent for heavy-duty, long-term usage

Cons

  • Overbuilt design might not be right for some photographers
  • ICU system might slow down gear access
  • Price tags on the higher side
Build Quality
10
Design & Features
8
Weather Protection
10
Comfort & Ergonomics
9
Capacity & Packing Efficiency
9
Value
9

Final Verdict

F-Stop's new DuraDiamond backpacks are an impressive upgrade for the already excellent F-Stop reputation. For the high-adventure photographer, the Tilopa and Anja are a nearly perfect fit.