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  1. James Blonde

    James Blonde

    Messages:
    167
    Name:
    Scott
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    Yes
    I'd like to replace my old, uncomfortable and heavy National Geographic rucksack with something a bit more appropriate for what I'm using it for - more serious walking or travelling, with a better back system, more space and more accessible. I also have a habit of using the bag as camera gear storage, so tend to end up carrying everything with me (and then not using it, but that's a different story - if I didn't take it, I'd need it...)

    I really like the look of the F-Stop bags, particularly the Tilopa or the Ajna. They're not cheap, but more importantly, they're not sold in the UK, so would have to be imported, with associated postage costs. I'm worried about buying a bag I can't easily swap / send back if it's not right, so want to know if anyone has used them and what they think?

    There are some specific questions....

    Did you wish you'd bought something else?
    Have you had to get support or send it back?
    Are both of those bags acceptable as aircraft carry on?
    Are they accessible without taking them off?
    Are they worth the money, including import?
    Did you buy directly from F-Stop?
    What ICU do you use Vs the equipment you carry?
    Do you use any kind of camera strap system (Black Rapid or something similar?) with it?

    Would really appreciate your thoughts!
     
  2. Wayne Els

    Wayne Els

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    871
    Name:
    Wayne
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    No
    Depending on airline neither of them are acceptable as hand luggage. A lot of airlines stipulate 55x40x20. You might be able to squeeze them into the box by the gate but you might not.
     
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  3. ChrisHeathcote

    ChrisHeathcote

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    3,431
    Name:
    Chris
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    Yes
    I bought a F-Stop Ajna along with Small and Large ICU's (pro) from Camernu.nl. Delivery was very good. As to the bags themselves. They are very robust and well made. For days out I tend to use the Small ICU which holds my camera (Sony A7) with Sigma 35mm Art attached. I also pack a Sony FE85mm prime, Canon 70-200 f4 L IS, Godox TT350 and X1s Wireless trigger. There is also room for a larger Speedlight too. The Large ICU I use for storage at home and also if I need to carry more gear, for example when going on holiday. My only complaint is that the loops on the waistbelt are designed for the Molle system, therefore pouch systems from Lowepro and ThinkTank wont fit through them, also the loops on the inside of the back panel aren't elasticated and again are designed to fir Molle pouches (their Navin fits them). It would be good if they were elasticated so that you could store batteries and the like under them.

    As to carrying the camera, I use a Peak Design Capture Clip attached to the left shoulder strap
     
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  4. twhite87

    twhite87

    Messages:
    1,836
    Name:
    Tim
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    Yes
    I have the Satori.

    An excellent bag compare to the MANY I have had before. Turned out to be much better than the Lowepro Rover Pro 45L. I like the fact you can access from the back of the back (the part your back is against) and not the front which means if you put it down in wet/muddy weather to access gear, then you don't muddy when you put the bag back on.

    My only peave is the fact that you can't take it on as hand luggage, but then I decided that if it was small enough to use as hand luggage, then it wouldn't fit my gear so would then be of no use to me.
     
    James Blonde likes this.
  5. James Blonde

    James Blonde

    Messages:
    167
    Name:
    Scott
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    Yes
    Heard that Paramo in London carried F-Stop bags, so gave them a ring. Apparently, whilst awesome bags, F-Stop were effectively making to order rather than making in bulk to supply stock commercially, so customers were left waiting for long periods of time (months, longer) for bags they'd ordered to arrive and getting rather upset. Seems a massively lost opportunity, especially as they missed out to Mindshift, which was the other bag I was possibly going to consider.

    Molle wouldn't be an issue - I don't have any pouches and any I did buy could then be compatible with any other Molle type systems I'd possibly look to buy for a different hobby - so a potential pro there!

    Hand luggage would potentially be a showstopper though - I wouldn't want my camera gear in the hold. I think I'd heard of people removing the ICU and using that as the hand luggage element, but then that's just a waste, unless you're just taking 1 bag (in which case yes, the Satori would be the bag to get). For me, the rucksack would mostly be used as a day sack or at most for 1-3 night trips away from a base rather than as the sole bag / luggage item for long trips.
     
  6. rob-nikon

    rob-nikon

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    4,095
    Name:
    Rob
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    Yes
    The stock issues are very well known (there are several threads on here about it) and there has been much debate about the reasons. I wasn't surprised Paramo stopped stocking F Stop, it was a shame as there aren't any uk stockist now. Whenever I phoned to check stock there was limited in store stock and I joined waiting lists for some items.

    The biggest benefits of the F Stop range is the rear access and the interchangeable ICUs. The ICUs are designed with strap attachments so you can attach a shoulder strap to aid carrying only the ICU. Whilst you feel carrying the ICU separately to the outer bag is a disadvantage I see it as an advantage for three reasons, 1/ you are never going to be in a situation where the camera has to go in the hold because you have no other option 2/ if the outer bag is outside airport bag restrictions you remove the ICU, put the empty bag in your hold luggage and carry on the ICU so camera gear goes with you 3/ carry on the ICU, fill the f stop bag with your clothes etc as your hold luggage and empty it at the other end, put the ICU back it to use as your camera bag. I seriously considered the second idea this year when I stayed on skomer as I wanted to take the least amount of gear with me.

    Size wise there isn't much between the Tilopa and Ajna. The tilopa has more padding on the straps and the larger ICUs fit better. The Lola UL and Lotus are worth considering if you don't need the big XL pro icu. Which one you go with really depends on the kit you want to carry. You need to work out the size of ICU you are going to need, then you can work out the best bag that fits those ICUs. F Stop have rating of recommended and compatible for ICU fit into the bags, I would stay with recommended as the fit is much better, compatible seems to be a tighter fit and doesn't feel as comfortable to me. If you are going to carrying a lot of weight the tilopa is worth the extra padding. I recently filled the Tilopa to around 14kg on my trip to Skomer, the thicker padding is a god send after carrying it around for a few days.

    I currently have the Tilopa BC and Guru UL with a XL pro, Large pro and medium slope ICUs. The XL carries my 200-400 telephoto lens with 1.4 TC and camera attached. There is still room for a few more lenses and an extra body if needed. The large pro is for when I'm not taking the 200-400 but taking several lenses, camera, flash, filters etc. The medium sloped is only used in the guru which is a 2 lens/camera/filters day bag (day out in the peaks or at a wildlife park where I don't want a big bag). I've been known to use both bags without any camera gear or ICU inside, it makes them quite versatile as it's not only a camera bag.

    The best reviews and information I found was:

    https://www.landscapegear.co.za/blog/choosing-the-right-fstop-gear/

    https://www.landscapegear.co.za/blog/choosing-the-right-f-stop-gear-2/

    The most important question is what camera gear and extra items will you want to carry?
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
    James Blonde likes this.
  7. sarahhj

    sarahhj

    Messages:
    474
    Name:
    Sarah
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    No
    I have two Loka and an Ajna, with Medium and Large ICUs.

    I don't wish I'd bought anything else, though I don't have much direct experience with many other similar rucksacks. My bag before my first Loka was a Lowepro Vertex 200, and they are like chalk and cheese.
    Never needed to send anything back, and not had any problems with the bags.
    I have taken the Loka as carry-on with Virgin Atlantic on a number of occasions and also Icelandair without issue.
    If you have the waist belt done up, you can slip the straps off your shoulders and twist the rucksack round so that it is in front of you and access the main section through the back panel. I don't think this is part of the design, but it is possible if you are careful.
    No import duty to pay, as even if you buy direct from f-stop, it will ship from the EU.
    First Loka came from Paramo, second from an outdoor retailer in Sweden, the Ajna from ebay. I have used F-Stop direct, as well as other retailers, for various accessories.
    My current set up is in a Large Pro ICU - 5D4 w/16-35 attached plus l-bracket, 6D w/100-400 attached plus l-bracket, Samyang 24mm, Zeiss 50mm and space for accessories. I probably fit less in than other people might, because I want lenses and l-brackets mounted on both bodies.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
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  8. James Blonde

    James Blonde

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    167
    Name:
    Scott
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    Yes
    Thanks everyone - really appreciate the input, making me question my real need! Will have a look at the other bags as well :). Actually, you nailed one of the reasons I like the F-Stop, and that is that it's a versatile bag on its own! I've got a ton of decent outdoor rucksacks that I just don't use because my camera gear would be clunking about in the bottom and I carry my camera bag with not enough room for anything else and couldn't be used for anything else either.

    In terms of kit, at the moment I'd be looking at a D810, D7100, 24-70 F2.8, 70-200 F2.8, 105 macro, 18-200, nifty fifty, 70-300, Lee filter set and a Manfrotto 190 carbon fibre. So nothing particularly out of the ordinary or hefty I guess, but you know how it works - I'll get an ultra wide angle at some point when I figure out what I want, and might replace the 70-300 with something longer. At the very most, I'd like the ability to carry a shelter of some kind + sleeping bag + change of clothes, but those probably aren't deal breakers. 90% of the time it'll be a waterproof or cold weather gear and lunch. I guess that's why I'm looking at it as carry on, rather than the only bag I'd take - the suitcase would have my clothes! :) So it is really a good general purpose outdoor daysack + I'm after. It would probably go skiing with me as well. So maybe I am looking at too big a bag, I just know my current bag isn't big enough for either function, and the Ajna / Tilopa "look" like the next size up, but that's where it would be good to try before I buy :/
     
  9. rob-nikon

    rob-nikon

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    4,095
    Name:
    Rob
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    Yes
    The benefit is having two or more ICUs allowing you to tailor the amount of camera gear to other gear you need for different trips.

    Looking at that list of gear you are mostly likely looking at the large ICU's rather than a medium if you are taking all of it. a medium would be good if carrying a camera and couple of lenses, and more other gear (clothes, camping gear, food). You can strap things like tents, sleeping bags, tripods to the outside of the bag. If it's the large icu then depending whether its a sloped of Pro then bag options are likely to be Loka, Lotus, Ajna or Tilopa. You could get a Sukha but they are big, very big. I first looked at Lotus when I wanted a smaller day pack, but there didn't seem much difference in the size of the Lotus and Tilopa BC I already had so I went with the smaller Guru to partner the Tilopa BC.

    If you do plan to do overnight camping trips where you need to carry more than the camera the Tilopa and Ajna or probably the best option, especially with a medium ICU. If not a smaller Lotus or Loka may be perfect. A friend of mine has the Loka UL and it's surprising how much gear you can get inside. You only need the XL pro ICUs if you plan to get something bigger than a 300 f2.8.
     
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  10. ChrisHeathcote

    ChrisHeathcote

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    3,431
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    Chris
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    Sorry for resurrecting an old thread but I thought it seemed appropriate given the title (saves starting another). However I was just playing on the web and discovered a UK supplier that I didn’t know about and thought I’d share it. Just for clarity I have no experience of the company so cant vouch for them (maybe others have and can). Anyway enough waffle. The company is Alpintrek.co.uk, I don’t know whether they stock or order as required
     
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  11. rob-nikon

    rob-nikon

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    4,095
    Name:
    Rob
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    Yes
    I've purchased a F Stop ICU from them previously. They were very good, quick delivery considering they are actually based in Germany (a little confusing considering they use a co.uk web address). The prices are in GB Pounds, I cant remember if it came up on my bank statement as pounds or euros. It seems they are part of Berg Freunde (https://www.bergfreunde.de/marken/) who I had heard of previously. As far as I know there are sadly no UK based suppliers of F Stop products any more.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
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  12. an1uk

    an1uk

    Messages:
    267
    Name:
    Alan
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    Yes
    Plenty of negative reviews here https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.alpinetrek.co.uk Particularly worth nothing that they actually ship from Germany.

    Just decided to take a risk and get a spare ICU. I imagine My Hermes will be the weak link though.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  13. myotis

    myotis

    Messages:
    204
    Name:
    Graham
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    Yes
    I mentioned this on another F-stop thread here, but are people on this thread aware that you can buy direct from f-stop, but have the bags and accessories delivered from the Netherlands, prices are roughly the same number of euros as dollars (including the VAT component) and of course, for now at least there is no duty to pay. Delivery was next day, and when I have looked, goods out of stock in the US are often in stock in the Netherlands.

    I have no idea how returns work, but it seemed a good way to buy. It was few years ago when I bought my bags, but if you put the UK into the f-stop web site, you still get linked to the Netherlands based shop.
     
  14. rob-nikon

    rob-nikon

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    4,095
    Name:
    Rob
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    I think the problem is everyone is trying to order via another avenue because last year F Stop's European website was taking ordering and taking several months to deliver due to stock issues. Some website like alpine trek have cheaper delivery rates too (though it seems there may have been delivery problems with them too) so it can work out a little cheaper.
     
  15. myotis

    myotis

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    204
    Name:
    Graham
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    Far enough, I wasn't aware of these problems, the two people I am aware of who bought direct from f-stop Netherlands within the last 12 months (including a few days ago), got their bags very quickly.


    I thought the delivery issues were a thing of the past, but obviously not.
     
  16. ChrisHeathcote

    ChrisHeathcote

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    3,431
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    Chris
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    I bought from a store in the Netherlands (CameraNu.nl) and found the delivery and service excellent (not sure if its the same one). I went down this route because of a reading a number of different reports of items taking 3+ months to be delivered and even then the purchasers were given any idea as to when they would receive them
     
  17. LBJNBA

    LBJNBA

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    597
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    Netherlands I believe is where they ship them from.

    I have the Fstop Guru and its an absolute fantastic bag, my only regret is buying a bright blue one as its filthy now and doesn't wash off very easily.

    Well worth the money in my honest opinion.
     
  18. ChrisHeathcote

    ChrisHeathcote

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    3,431
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    Chris
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    I bought mine when I had my 5d3 and larger lenses. I got both the small and the large pro ICU's. Up until recently I have been using the large for storage and the small for in the bag (I had been using the large for when I go away). Anyway I have just had a play to see what I could fit in the small, it fits the following. I also have the A7rii and 16-35 FE/1.4 in a Think Tank Holster 10


    IMG_0028.JPG
     
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  19. rob-nikon

    rob-nikon

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    4,095
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    Rob
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    Yes
    The stock and delivery issues were the main reason Paramo stopped selling them. It's likely F Stop have probably sorted out the delivery issues now, it sounds like they have by your experiences.

    It's worth comparing F Stops website to several European sellers, sometimes they can be cheaper than the F Stop website. An example is the Anja on F Stops website works out about £243 with delivery, it's currently £198 with free delivery at Alpine trek. The conversion rate can make a difference between F Stops US and European prices, I think that's how European sellers are able to sell below F Stops own website prices because they likely import and pay in dollars.
     
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  20. myotis

    myotis

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    204
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    Graham
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    I thought Paramo had stopped selling them a few years ago, when stock availability was awful, I had a bag ordered from CVP about that time and eventually cancelled it after a 9 month wait. I had never really looked for other stockists in Europe, but if I am looking again, I will now look for alternatives.
     
  21. an1uk

    an1uk

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    267
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    Alan
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    Received F-Stop ICU from Alpine Trek on Tuesday after ordering Wednesday the previous week. Took a while for the parcel to come up as received from the sender on the tracker though, but when it did it came the next day.
     
  22. ChrisHeathcote

    ChrisHeathcote

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    3,431
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    Chris
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    If you do look around Europe, I got mine from Cameranu.nl great service and came next day
     
  23. myotis

    myotis

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    204
    Name:
    Graham
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    Yes
    Thanks, as I said earlier, I had just ordered things direct from the F-stop Europe shop, not realising that their were also retailers in Europe selling in Europe. In future, I will also look at the link you have provided.
     
  24. Pound Coin

    Pound Coin

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    56
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    Yes
    I have two of their rucksack bags, very good quality and no regrets. Their subsequent problems would make me think twice about ordering again, if I needed to.
     
  25. jonoooo125

    jonoooo125

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    1,165
    Name:
    Jon
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    Yes
    They have some new stuff on their website, urban bags and more organisational stuff.

    I think I'm going to order the new navin, it looks clever as it's a holster you can use with a 70-200 and 24-70, I'm looking if anywhere else sells it before I pay and wait forever
     

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