Hiking day packs and photography: F-stop, LowePro, Other?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by mattia, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Hi guys,

    It's time to semi-retire my 'cheap and anonymous' black backpack, which I've happily been using with a crumpler insert from a shoulder bag for a few years - it's not ideal, but is poorly suited to the use I keep putting it to as a hiking day pack. I'd prefer something with actual side pockets, good back support, a waist strap, etc. when going out on the trail, cycling or even just travelling in general, and I think the F-stop Loka looks like it might fit the bill. I don't want a camera-only bag, and the modular system really appeals to me. I'm going to have a look at Dakine and 'generic' hiking day packs, but the disadvantage to the latter is lack of easy access to the gear, and if it's a major pain to take out, it won't get used. LowePro's Rover Pro and Pro Photo 30L packs (large enough to stash non-camera gear, small enough to use as carry-ons) are also on the shortlist, but look a lot less versatile, and have far more annoying dangly bits. The Loka looks like it can be strapped down to a streamlined, solid shell, and 28L is a good size for reducing the temptation to overpack.

    The major question I'm left with is which size F-stop insert would be best. I want to be able to fit at least the following on an 'average' long trip, sometimes leaving bits and pieces behind:

    - E-M1
    - 7-14
    - 12-40
    - 43 50-200+MMF3
    - A7r
    - FE35, FE55, OM21
    - chargers, 3 batteries for each, HiTech (think Lee) square filter system and holder

    with the option of squeezing the RX100 in there as well.

    I think the shallow or wedged medium sized inserts are probably the safest bet; a small may also work, and I may get one of those anyway. The full-depth (intended for gripped DSLRs) seem like overkill, as I think I should be able to fit all the glass except the telephoto in even the shallow ICUs vertically (so lens cap facing up). Anyone have an F-Stop ICU and care to comment? Almost all the shots I see of 'filled' larger ICUs are with DSLRs, so the web isn't much help right now...
     
  2. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    I have a Lowepro Flipside Sport 20AW to carry my gear, E-PL1 and my Nikon full frame stuff plus a Coolpix A and my FL-36R slaves. No problems and you can convert it into a regular day hike back pack. It has both a tripod holder on one side and a water bladder on the other with room to hold a sandwich. It also has attachment for hiking poles, but I use one of it as a holder for my Ultrastick monopod which doubles as my hiking pole anyhow. It is a 20L, so it's good for a day hike. You don't want to carry anymore than 20L and I find 20L is plenty enough. 30L is too much or even 25L. With food and water and emergency first aid kit plus a bluetooth GPS module, any pack will become heavy anyhow.
     
  3. Mr Hahn

    Mr Hahn Mu-43 Veteran

    239
    Jul 9, 2010
    SLC, Utah
    Nate
    When I'm going on a hike or a camping trip I grab my F-Stop bag. It's by far the best bag I've found for this purpose. I'll load my E-M1 and some lenses into a couple different sized inserts and take some pics when I get home tonight.

    -Nate
     
  4. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Thanks, that would be great! I figure I may end up with more than one insert eventually, like a small full depth at a shallow or sloped medium at most. Even maybe a Satori in the long run as a single solution for longer trips/backpacking, if the Loka appeals.

    Bikerhiker: thanks for the thoughts. I'm well aware of the risks of over-packing, but I want a slightly larger pack that I can pack minimally (camera wise) and still transport some clothing, ereader and whatnot. Something that I can use for a 3-4 day trip sans tent, not just as my airline travel/day hike pack. My current cheap pack is about 20L, but not designed to spread the weight. I also have a 13 liter waterproof Ortlieb pack (crumpler insert fits just fine) for those rare trips where I want absolute water proofing (Antarctica was the reason to buy that one).
     
  5. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    After having a look at the packs you mentioned, my advice would be to ignore 'camera' bags completely and buy a proper day pack, preferably one that allows easy access (not top-loading), and fit it with a third party insert. Unfortunately, active day packs still seem to be a market segment that the camera industry just doesn't get...

    I'd be looking at something like an Osprey Talon 22, or whatever the current version of that model is. I have the 13lt version from a couple of years ago and the design and quality is excellent.

    By the way, the Loka you mention is 37lt, not 28lt.
     
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  6. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    680
    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    Scott
    I have the Guru with small and medium ICUs. The medium should handle all of your stuff at once, and the small would be suitable if your taking less. I can fit my D7000, 16-85.11-16, 70-300 and 35DX plus filters and extra at stuff in the medium. The small handles my Nikon V1 10,10-30,30-110 and the 35/1.8+FT1 adaptor plus other stuff. And it's my second best hiking pack, after my Osprey. No real compromises.

    It has a pocket for a water bladder, although I'm too paranoid to put the bladder in there with all my camera gear.
     
  7. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Actually, the guts of the Flipside 20AW with the foam padded inserts and water resistant bag can be taken out of the backpack and then, like a basket, placed into any hiking backpack. I bought that pack because of that, so makes any comfortable hiking back pack suitable for an overnight photo outing with clothes and so forth. Normal hiking backpacks are cheaper too; just need to look at your local REI closeouts etc... I don't specifically like those photo specific packs which most of them don't fit my torso too well anyhow. Not good if you're doing stairmasters in Grand Canyon for hours!!
     
  8. Mr Hahn

    Mr Hahn Mu-43 Veteran

    239
    Jul 9, 2010
    SLC, Utah
    Nate
    Ok, what I have is the Satori EXP which is found here:

    http://shop.fstopgear.com/us/products/mountain/backpacks/satori-exp.html#.Uuc1zPbn-ek

    I made this post about it in the Bags bags bags thread a while back:

     
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  9. Pili

    Pili Mu-43 Veteran

    224
    Jul 16, 2012
    Boulder, CO
    Alex
    Totally agreed, the perfect mid size (20-30L), adventuring pack just doesn't exist (especially for the mirrorless crowd). Would love to get one of the better pack brands involved in a camera bag as I'm sure they could do a better job than what's out there. Probably going to try the lowepro photosport 200 and makeshift some custom inserts but I don't have high hopes for it to be honest.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Mr Hahn

    Mr Hahn Mu-43 Veteran

    239
    Jul 9, 2010
    SLC, Utah
    Nate
    Adding to my reply above, here's a couple of pictures taken today with my E-M1 and current lenses loaded into the inserts.

    • Seen in the Small Pro ICU: E-M1 with 12-40mm attached, Oly 9-18mm, Oly 75mm, Samyang 7.5mm, Oly 60mm macro, Lee filter kit


    IMG_1594.jpg by NathanHahn, on Flickr


    IMG_1593.jpg by NathanHahn, on Flickr


    IMG_1591.jpg by NathanHahn, on Flickr

    • Seen in the Small Micro ICU E-M1 with 12-40mm attached, Oly 9-18mm, Oly 75mm, Samyang 7.5mm, Oly 60mm macro:


    IMG_1595.jpg by NathanHahn, on Flickr


    IMG_1595.jpg by NathanHahn, on Flickr

    Hope this helps,
    Nate
     
  11. Mr Hahn

    Mr Hahn Mu-43 Veteran

    239
    Jul 9, 2010
    SLC, Utah
    Nate
    I have to respectfully disagree with both of you. F-Stop bags are built like adventuring bags, not like what most would consider "camera" bags. If I pull the ICU's out of my Satori you wouldn't know it was also built to carry camera equipment. And you don't have to buy the 62L Satori, they do have a range of sizes that go down to a 25L daypack called the Kenti. I've actually sold my North Face and Osprey bags to friends and I simply use this bag for all of my outdoor needs.

    However, I will caution that they have a high demand and back-orders can take a long time to fill. Stay on top of them and call them often for updates if you place a back-order.
     
  12. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Nate, thanks I ton, food for thought!

    Nick, Pili, I've fitted F-stop packs before (very briefly, a while ago before I was really looking) and I think they're very good packs even without the added camera functionality. I've used a friend's Deuter day pack before, with the 'free'/lots of airflow suspension system, and while it's fairly comfortable I found it to be a pain to pack, and a bear to travel with (rigid, sticky out bits that aren't airline travel friendly). Used it with the (not ideal but workable) insert I have from the Crumpler. I'm in Europe, so no REI, and the F-stop stuff is only a little more expensive than a good quality 'regular' hiking pack. I'm going to snoop around the local outdoor place to see if they have anything that looks like it might work. Last time I checked I wasn't terribly impressed, mostly because I'm tired of the only topload options, and I don't want something that's front access for security while travelling, as this bag should be something I can backpack with (i.e. travel in third world urban areas) as well as head into the wilderness with. Some of LowePro's recent packs look OK, but not ideal, and F-Stop just seems to come closest.

    You're right on the size of the Loka, somehow got the numbers confused with the Gura - I think I may have to also visit the place that has the F-stop bags to try them out in person, and test fit some equipment. They're a little far away though. On the other hand, considering I've packed for a full 5 week trip including sleeping bag, cold weather gear, and a canon FF system in a 45L bag, going ultralight on my 2-week African vacation with a Loka and a Small ICU might actually be possible. Worst case I can check the bag and take the ICU carry-on :)
     
  13. Pili

    Pili Mu-43 Veteran

    224
    Jul 16, 2012
    Boulder, CO
    Alex
    I suppose I should try to check out the Kenti somewhere, looks pretty close to what I'm looking for but it's a good chunk of change to drop for bag in that size range. Thanks for the tips. Would be great if it incorporated a small icu somehow but I like the design of the kenti better than the other smaller one they make.
     
  14. RickinAust

    RickinAust Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Feb 9, 2013
    Australia
    Another option is the Lowepro Versapack 200 AW Backpack. It's weather proof and has a compartment on top for other stuff (clothes, food etc.) and a camera compartment on the bottom. I added some more dividers as it is really designed for a DSLR. Took this to south east Asia and to Europe and it performed really well. Not sure if it would fit all your gear in the bottom compartment although it fitted all mine.
    I like the ability to swing the pack around and get to the camera through the side of the pack. you don't have to actually take the pack completely off.
     
  15. uberzone

    uberzone Mu-43 Rookie

    21
    Jan 27, 2014
    I use a Kata 3N1 bag. They have several sizes to suit your needs. http://www.kata-bags.com/Bag+Families/3N1+Family/3N1+Family/15524933. I really like all of the different options to wear it. Slinging it around in front of you gives easy access to the main compartment. I have an older version which seems to be in between their current "Pro" and "D-Light" offerings. Maybe there is a deal to be had on an older one. The only criticism I have with the bag is their solution to carry a tripod. It is a rather clumsy attachment that does work, but it throws the pack off balance. Otherwise it is fantastic bag and built like a tank.
     
  16. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    426
    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    The Katas look good, but I wish they had room for a hydration bladder.
     
  17. Pili

    Pili Mu-43 Veteran

    224
    Jul 16, 2012
    Boulder, CO
    Alex
    Used the Lowepro 200 AW for 1 trip and it's already going to my dad. It's a decent bag conceptually, but the implementation is crap. The camera compartment offers almost no flexibility for anything but a dslr + other bulky item and tends to deform quite easily. Medium sized items (notebook, gloves, etc.) all migrate towards the front-bottom and wedge in between the wall of the camera compartment and exterior so finding anything is annoying. The smaller interior pocket is like a pencil case so you're on your own trying to find your lens pen. The pack carries heavy on top of all that. Looking at the Loka + small shoulder bag combo now for traveling.
     
  18. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    I've used a Lowepro Flipside 400 in a pinch, but their harness system is not all day comfortable. Those f-stop bags are on my wish list, as they've got many of the harness and accessory features that I value in my non-camera day packs. I've tried Deuter, Marmot, Black Diamond, and Osprey, et. al. Osprey has the best all day support but the arched/mesh back really eats up volume.
     
  19. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Just an update - I've gone with the F-stop Loka and a small ICU. Will post a quick review in soon (bit busy right now), which is ample for a MFT travel kit.

    The 'small' thing is relative. I can fit the 43 50-200 vertically (protrudes a tiny amount, but it works), an E-M1, 12-40, mmF3 and ec14 teleconverter, A7r, 35/2.8, 55/1.8 and Acquapazza scuba housing for the rx100 inside the ICU. It's pretty ridiculous.
     
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  20. sdsyver

    sdsyver Mu-43 Regular

    161
    Mar 14, 2012
    Northern Alberta
    Shawn
    I have the Photo Sport 200aw. It is about a 20l bag. I love it. Easily fits E-M1 with either 12-40 or 35-100 attached plus another lens (or two) in camera compartment. This is by far the best hiking/camera bag that I have owned Lowepro also make a larger version the Photo Sport 300. I have not seen it but would guess it might be what u are looking for.