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Gear & Apps

F-Stop Gear Announces New Mountain Series Camera Backpack Lineup

By Matthew Saville on May 29th 2015

I’ve lost track of how many camera bags I’ve owned over the years. Probably well over a dozen, maybe two? Unfortunately, I’ve also lost count of how many of these bags were extremely uncomfortable, or just not well-suited to what I needed.

Squarely aimed at the outdoor community, F-Stop Gear is a company that has been at the forefront of what we now generally refer to as adventure photography. Photographers who rock climb, canyoneer, mountain bike, ski, and basically go on any kind of extended backpacking trips in the wilderness, will find F-Stop Gear bags can go anywhere.

f-stop gear weather resistant durable

The new 2015 lineup of Mountain Series backpacks from F-Stop Gear has just been announced, and the four bags (including three all-new models) expand on the capacity, versatility, and durability that has been their reputation since the company’s birth.

The 2015 F-Stop Gear Mountain Series Lineup

Saint Louis, MO: Today, f-stop, a leading provider of adventure packs and accessories specializing in camera packs and transport systems, announced a completely new lineup for their world renowned Mountain Series. The new lineup introduces three brand new packs, the Ajna, Sukha, and Shinn, alongside an upgrade to a current customer favorite, the Tilopa.

The 2015 Mountain Series has received a major upgrade in the main body textile, significantly improving the weather and abrasion resistance of each pack. f-stop’s market-leading innovation in design offers improved usability, ergonomics and capacity for those shooting in the harshest conditions.

Highlights of the 2015 Mountain Series:

• The Shinn is the largest pack in the range and was developed in conjunction with a new Master-Cine ICU designed to carry rigged video setups into the field.

• Increased durability and outstanding weather-proofing is provided by a ripstop Nylon shell and a secondary polyurethane film.

• Hypalon base to withstand wear-and-tear from the harshest environments.

• Newly integrated, expandable side panel pockets with full-length zippers.

• Updated range of colors to include Malibu (Blue), Nasturtium (Orange), Aloe (Green/Tan) and Anthracite (Matte Black).

The Ajna – 40 Liters

MSRP / Pre-Order: $229

The smallest of F-Stop Gear’s Mountain Series bags, at 40L, can probably still hold more lenses and bodies than the average outdoor/nature photographer even owns. Don’t tell your day-hiking companions, though! Otherwise, they might offer to trade your lightweight jacket for their 70-200. I’d advise organizing the internal compartments to accommodate the gear you want to bring, and  leave the remaining space available for your lunch and other stuff. No more strapping your nice fleece jacket to the outside of your backpack while you scramble over rocks and through the sage brush!

The Tilopa – 50 Liters

MSRP / Pre-Order: $259

The new Tilopa’s internal capacity has been increased to 50L from the previous generation which was 48 liters, and yet apparently it is the same external size as before. (Which fits in most or all airline carry-on requirements.) Sounds like Nikon dynamic range witchcraft, and I like that kind of witchcraft! With a bag this size, you could easily squeeze out an overnight trip if you convince your friends to carry your bear canister/tent. Or, a professional photographer/videographer should be able to get any on-location job done with this one pack. I counted sixteen main internal compartments?

Tilopa-Orange-WithXLICU

The Sukha – 70 Liters

MSRP / Pre-Order: $299

At 70L, the Sukha is well into traditional internal frame backpack territory.  In fact, there are plenty of regular 60L / 70L backpacks that cost well over $300 and yet the Sukha offers its capacity with camera gear compartments too for a starting price of $299. Very impressive! According to comments from F-Stop Gear, this bag can also fit into airline overhead compartments as long as you don’t overstuff the external pockets. Or, worst-case scenario, you can remove the ICU that contains all your expensive stuff, let that be your under-seat carry-on personal item, and fit the backpack into an overhead bin with ease.

The Shinn – 80 Liters

MSRP / Pre-Order: $399

At 80L, the Shinn is matching or surpassing what many traditional internal frame backpacks offer and venturing into the territory of truly enormous, cavernous capacity. This backpack is designed for extended adventures and/or various types of large camera setups, including full cinema video gear. You could probably fit a drone or two in there.

Designed to accommodate rigged and rodded RED setups

Additional Inserts (ICUs)

If you’re the type of photographer who likes to lug gigantic telephoto lenses or cinder-block strobe packs into the wilderness, F-Stop Gear offers separate, completely adaptable ICUs (internal camera units) for carrying such specialized gear. These ICUs are removable and interchangeable, so if you own more than one, you can in theory just leave your different gear setups packed into each ICU, and swap them out depending on the job/trip. An awesome convenience for anyone who travels a lot for multiple types of image-making!

F-Stop-Gear-2015-Shinn-inside-450

More Adventures Coming Soon From SLR Lounge!

What am I excited about, personally? Until now, whenever I go on a trip I’ve always had to decide between a dedicated camera bag and a serious backpacking backpack. It’s a decision of sheer capacity versus equipment protection.

I have a stereotypical REI internal frame backpack that can carry the kitchen sink, but like most internal frame backpacks, it is about as organized and protective as a worn out gunny sack. When going on multi-day backpacking trips, my companions and I always wind up doing silly things like putting lenses inside socks or wrapping spare camera bodies in T-shirts, etc. This works well at the beginning of a trip when our spare clothes are nice and clean, but towards the end of the trip when our socks are, well, never mind…

matthew-saville-the-lost-coast-01-650The Lost Coast, CA, May 2015 (more images coming soon!)
Nikon D750, Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR, hand-held @ 24mm
1/80 sec @ f/16 & ISO 200

I’ll be getting my hands on one of their larger backpacks as well as some of their internal/ external accessories, so I’m excited to get out and into the wilderness for some adventures. I will finally be able to carry my gear safely in padded compartments that are easy-access while still having room for traditional backpacking necessities (Such as a bear canister?)

I think my co-adventurers are also excited for me to carry some of their spare astro-landscape photography lenses and bodies, too, but we’ll see about that.  I might have to charge a lens sherpa fee.

To view the full lineup and read more about the new F-Stop Gear Mountain Series, visit their website or their Facebook page.

Take care, and may the light and weather be ever in your favor,
=Matt=

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Tosh Cuellar

    Some great looking bags

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  2. Herm Tjioe

    When I look at the sample pictures, I noted the access door facing the wearer’s back. How well is the padding , how firm ? I am just used to backpacking with sturdy back support. This one seems like I’d be getting pressure points from the equipment.

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  3. Sean Goebel

    I for one have no problem wrapping gear in lightweight (i.e. not Sigma) cases and/or clothes while backpacking. The packing efficiency is so much higher because you can tetris everything into the backpack instead of having one massive ICU taking up 30% of the internal capacity.

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    • Matthew Saville

      That is a very good point, ICU’s will waste a lot of space if not packed to the gills. And unless I plan on falling off a rock and using my pack as an airbag, the gear is probably just as safe.

      I’ll have to do an actual comparison between the two packing methods and see what the results are. If tetris-ing lenses and bodies into a pack individually does in fact save a noticeable amount of space, I’ll stick with a traditional backpacking backpack for multi-night trips. :-)

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  4. Liam Doran

    Are these packs designed for multi day backpack adventures with space for camping gear? Or just big photo packs with room for camera gear and a days worth of backcountry essentials?

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    • Matthew Saville

      Liam Doran,

      That is exactly what I intend to discover during my review. I strongly suspect that the answer to your question is, BOTH. The internal adaptability is key. If I can’t fit a mummy bag and a bear can inside, and a tent + sleeping pad outside, plus tripod(s), …then things will indeed get complicated. However based on my conversations directly with F-Stop folks, my hopes are high!

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    • Liam Doran

      Cool…seems hard to believe that it would work out all that well for multi day but hey 80L is huge. I use all Clik Elite packs and they are amazing for adventure photogs pulling long days in the backcountry…for multi day I use a genuine backpacking pack(Granite Gear, Osprey)and then put my gear in Clik Elite capsules and that works really well…for me at least.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yep, Liam, I too would be happy to just use a traditional backpack and add a “camera compartment unit” type thing, however most traditional backpacks can only be accessed from the very top, by cramming everything in from the top, or maybe from the outside on newer packs. I personally hate having to lay my backpack down, sweaty-side-in-the-dirt, after a long day of hiking. Modern camera backpacks that offer back-side access are a huger benefit in this way. The side of the pack that you lay down in the dirt is not the side that goes up against your back.

      Anyways, look out for our review in the near future!

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  5. adam sanford

    Matt, who is the king of the heap these days with large trekking paks? I see F-Stop’s products often and they look built for the apocalypse, but I wonder how clever/disruptive innovators like MindShift are faring with their Rotation 180 packs:

    http://www.mindshiftgear.com/products/rotation180-professional

    The idea of running and gunning without dismounting seems a solid one (especially in streams or bogs), but that kind of bag design would preclude fitting longer glass. Have you seen tried one of these before?

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    • Raoni Franco

      wow really liked the mindshift products, at least at first glance. Thanks!

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    • adam sanford

      GuraGear’s Uinta is a heck of a bag design with the modular chambers like the F-Stop stuff above, but I don’t think they go armageddon-sized like F-Stop, so you may be limited to long hikes — backpacking/overnights might be problematic at that size.

      http://www.guragear.com/uinta/
      (top notch build, but Apple-sort of pricing — it ain’t cheap)

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    • Matthew Saville

      Adam, I haven’t publicly said this yet, but the Mindshift Rotation 180 is currently my absolute favorite pack. It’s just NOT capable of doing more than 1 night in the wilderness, not unless you off-load 90% of your regular backpacking gear onto other co-adventurers. You wind up being a lens mule this way, and the packs can sort of balance themselves out weight-wise, but it’s annoying to have to give access to your pack when everyone else wants a lens.

      Simply put, if you’re going out for an actual backpacking trek, the F-Stop bags seem to be the most well-suited by a long shot. We’ll see, though, when I get a full review done!

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    • Matthew Saville

      And yeah, when it comes to day hiking, pretty much any pack under ~40 Liters will work.

      But what I do is a lot of 2-3 night treks, AND I’m packing 2-3 camera bodies with 3-5 lenses into the wilderness too, for astro-landscape shooting. That adds up real quick, which is why I’m looking for a pack in the range of 70-80L…

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    • Dustin Baugh

      I love the Mindshift Rotation packs but Matt says it best about them being perfect for day hikes and that’s about it. I can fit camera gear + water bladder, poncho, first-aid/survival kit, and lunch. But if any sleeping gear, or warmth more than a poncho is needed there is no room left (might be able to swap the MRE for a fleece pull-over I suppose).

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    • Matthew Saville

      Dustin,

      I think with a Mindshift Rotation 180, you could certainly find ways to strap a sleeping bag and bivy sack to the outside, but obviously once you need a bear canister, the game is over.

      I do go on plenty of road trips and day hikes though, or overnight hikes where sleeping / tents simply aren’t in the equation lol, so I still love what the Mindshift backpack offers. We’ll see if an Ajna can de-throne it as my favorite day pack!!!

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  6. Thomas Horton

    I like how they have to translate the colors into human understandable terms. :)

    Especially since the orange flowing plant referenced is really not related to the Nasturtium but is actually Tropaeolum. I suppose Nasturtium is a better marketing term than Tropaeolum. LoL

    No one is going to spend $200+ on a green bag, but an Aloe coloured bag??? Shut up and take my money! :)

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