Review: F-Stop Loka Bag
I’ve used many camera backpacks over the years, to the point where it looks like I’m a hoarder and need to stop buying them, but it’s a healthy addiction. I’ve always been on the lookout for a bag that ticks all the boxes for my style of work, something that can take a beating, store lots of gear and most importantly is comfortable. I truly believe that the bags the good folks at F-Stop make tick all these boxes and so much more!
F-Stop Gear creates three separate lines of camera bags: Mountain, Black Box & Millar. The Mountain series is what appealed to me the most as I spend most of my time outdoors and I need a bag that works well in all conditions. I was drawn to the Loka bag as it’s a good size: not too big, not too small, and could take all the gear that I’d need on an average day. I became interested in F-Stop after looking online for a new backpack over 2 years ago (as my current bags were getting really uncomfortable on my back & shoulders) and I just wasn’t happy with the ergonomics. One of the main features of the F-Stop Mountain series bags that really grabbed my attention was that you open the bag from the back where the shoulder straps are; this is a genius idea. Many a time have I had to put my bag down on a wet beach to open it, only to have the shoulder straps and back covered in water and sand. It was very frustrating, so it was great to see F-Stop dealing with this issue.
The other big feature of F-Stop’s bags is their ICU (Internal Camera Unit) system. You have several choices, depending on how much equipment you need to carry. The thing about this is that you can simply pull the ICU out of the bag and store your gear safe and sound when you don’t need to use the bag, this is great when I want to use the bag for hiking.
I bought the F-Stop Loka bag nearly a year ago; when purchasing it I also got the Large Pro ICU as this is the biggest size you can get for the Loka and it also gives me a bit of storage in the top compartment for clothes or extra gear. Over the last year I’ve taken this bag all over Scotland in all weather conditions and it has never failed me once.
Last year I hiked up to the Cairn Gorm summit wearing this bag filled with all my camera gear. It isn’t the hardest walk in the world but isn’t as easy when carrying so much equipment. Comfort wise, there’s plenty of padding on the back of the pack and also the strap around my waist and chest kept it nice and secure against my body. I didn’t strap my tripod to the backpack as I prefer to carry it in my hand as putting it on the backpack will just add more weight to my back and I tend to use my tripod as a walking stick.
Here are the features that the F-Stop Loka offers:
- Jersey laminate EVA-padded back panel with raised padding for ventilation and comfort control
- Reinforced webbing grab / carry handle
Zippers & Fly:
- YKK® Aquaguard® zippers for extra water and weather resistance
- YKK® glove-friendly zipper pulls
- YKK® heavy gauge zippers
- Easy-to-reach durable side mesh pockets with ripstop Nylon base and elastic cuff for water bottles and hydration supplies
- Drainage weep holes on side and front pockets
- Organizer pockets in top lid for batteries and smart phones
- Front panel pocket is ideal for jackets, extra layers and ski skins
- Clear urethane coated mesh accessory pocket with anti-scratch zipper garage located on inside back panel
- Two Compact Flash Card pockets with sealed closure on inside back panel
- Multifunctional internal nylon sleeve fits up to a 13” laptop; also doubles as hydration bladder pocket
Suspension & Compression:
- Quick-release side compression straps allow depth adjustment for airline carry-on travel and also function to secure tripods, ski-poles, skis, or any other items with similar shape
- Fine-tune suspension shoulder straps provide superior performance
- Ergonomically-friendly stabilizer straps with dual hip belt pulls provide maximum load control and comfort
- Nylon loops and bungee cords for attachment of accessories, ideal for ice axes and trekking poles
Overall, I’ve found a backpack that fits all of my requirements – it’s extremely comfortable, the ergonomics are great, it fits all my gear plus more and is made out of materials that can take a beating. I really like the ICU’s that F-Stop offer; I now have two – the Large Pro and a Small. I use the small one when working light, like when climbing mountains and I need more space for extra clothes and food. They also fit nicely in my Pelican case, which is very handy. F-Stop have really hit the nail on the head when it comes to creating a backpack that fits the needs of the outdoor photographer.