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F-Stop Gear Loka vs. Loka UL

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by JYPfoto, Jun 12, 2014.

  1. JYPfoto

    JYPfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 27, 2013
    A few weeks ago I got alerted by f-stop gear of a new backpack coming out, the Loka UL. I was always intrigued by the original Loka but never bought it because I didn't think I needed it. Now that my daughter is starting to walk around and becoming more active I decided to prepare myself and get a pack that I could carry some camera gear in but also have adequate amount of room for other essentials. I placed an order for the Loka UL and got it in. The first thing that I noticed was how light it was. I did note that f-stop did make some adjustments and cuts to both lower the cost and more importantly to lower the weight of the bag. Out of curiosity I also ordered the regular Loka as well a few days later to test and I would see which of the two I would keep.

    I've decided to keep the regular Loka for myself. There are few reasons for this and I'll attach some pictures to show why. The Loka UL to save weight I believe used the bag material for the entire bag, from top to bottom while the regular Loka has a rubberized material for the bottom of the bag. This can affect if you were to place the bag down on a wet surface and whether or not water will seep into the bottom of the bag. The Loka UL has a very simple back padding while the Loka has a thicker, more comfortable padding. And the main reason that I picked the regular Loka is that the hip support snaps in the center. This is important because if you were to wear the bag but not buckle in the hip support, the straps would not hang down too low but on the Loka UL the hip support buckle is off to the far left side, which means if you don't secure it fully the strap will dangle and become a nuisance perhaps when you're walking. I asked my wife too and she said that the Loka in black is very sleek while the Loka UL with the powder blue accents is a little too loud, it'll work if you're using the back on the mountains or while skiing perhaps but if you're just wearing it around it might be too loud.

    Don't get me wrong the UL is a very nice bag, the biggest two oversights for me are the bottom of the pack which is not rubberized and the center buckle is the big one. Sometimes I want to carry the pack but not have to fully buckle in. Having the strap drag or dangle behind my right leg would become too much of a pain. It's very nicely made and you can definately tell the weight difference (the UL is more than 1 lb lighter). If the price difference was bigger and you were on a budget then the UL would make sense, but for only $30 more, if you can tolerate the extra 1lb which I can since I use an a7, I would pick the regular Loka.

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    DSC00068 Very simple side of the Loka UL

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    DSC00075 Somewhat more secure side of the Loka

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    DSC00071 Bottom of the UL which may allow water to seep in

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    DSC00076 Rubberized bottom of the Loka

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    DSC00072 very simple back pad of the UL

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    DSC00077 slightly better padded back of the Loka

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    DSC00073 And the dealbreaker for me, the long strap unbuckled of the UL

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    DSC00078 vs the shorter buckle of the Loka
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  2. Daipat

    Daipat New to Mu-43

    Oct 14, 2013
    Thanks for the review.

    I am debating between loka and loku ul. I wonder whether you have another addition thoughts / insights to these 2 backpacks since.

    I mainly use mirrorless these days - em1 & a7 setups.

    Best regards,
  3. willsterstyle

    willsterstyle Mu-43 Regular

    May 13, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario
    Thanks for that! I actually have the Loka and was thinking whether it'd be worth it to check out the UL but I think you're right, no need to go UL especially considering the marginal price difference.

    What ICU do you use? I have a medium shallow and it's been great for my M43 gear or even my full frame stuff. Quite versatile. The one big problem though is being able to quick draw gear but I also picked up the companion Navin which worked really well during my hike through The Narrows at Zion National Park.
  4. JYPfoto

    JYPfoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 27, 2013
    I've been using the Loka for the past few weeks and hve to say that I really enjoy having the bag. It's large enough to fit whatever camera is rotating through my collection at the time while being able to carry extra stuff when I need to carry baby stuff for my 18 month old. I've since added a Guru as well as the Kenti to my collection though I'm most likely going to be sending the Kenti back in exchange for a messenger style bag, I have an Urban Disguise 40 coming in on Monday. The Guru is nice because it's a little smaller than the Loka, if I don't put any ICU in it I can basically use it as a backpack, and it's more of a day pack/city pack than the Loka which is more of a multiple day pack because of the larger size.

    The way I have the ICU's setup is a
    2-3 day trip - medium shallow in the Loka for when I need to carry more lenses and gear.
    1 night/day trip when I leave and return that same day - small shallow in the Guru for lighter loads
    Few hours/short planned photo trip - Messenger bag

    F-stop still hasn't made a messenger style bag as nice as their Mountain series backpacks.
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