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F-stop Satori photo pack review

Discussion in 'Creative Pursuits' started by RUFUS, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. RUFUS e-douche of the year

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    This is long.

    I had the chance to demo the full line of F-stop gear last year for F-stop and so far I have been incredibly impressed. F-stop prides itself on being a photo/video bag company specializing in the action sports photography demographic. Packs and bags are catered for the specific needs and desires of todays top action sports photographers and changes are made based on real world suggestions.

    Snowboarding, biking, mountain climbing, skating, you name it, the F-stop bags and packs will make sure that you gear is safe and secure and easily accessible even if you are hanging 60 ft on a single rope taking shots of a rock climber.

    I have been using the Satori and the Tilopa packs for over a year now. The Tilopa is a smaller version of the Satori but it packs the same features albeit a little smaller so this review will be based primarily off of the satori.

    Here are the specs for the Tilopa:

    Volume: 45 Liter
    Weight: 2032 Grams - 4.47lbs (With Full ICU) / 1392 Grams - 3.07lbs (No ICU)
    Dimensions: 12” x 24" x 10"
    Internal Compartment Dimensions: 12” x 22” x 10”
    Internal Compartment Space Available with Large ICU: 7” tall ½” on each side, extra depth taken by laptop sleeve.
    Torso Length: 18.5”
    Metal internal Frame.
    Fabric Info: Ballistic Rip-stop Nylon, Abrasion Resistant Nylon Webbing, High Density foam, Heavy Gauge Zippers, YKK Waterproof Zippers, Waterproof Urethane coasted mesh

    And the tech specs for the satori:

    Volume: 62 Liter
    Weight: 2700 Grams–5.95lbs (With XLarge ICU) / 1850 Grams – 4.08lbs (No ICU)
    Dimensions: 12” x 26" x 10"
    Internal Compartment Dimensions: 12” x 24” x 10”
    Internal Compartment Space Available with XLarge ICU: 5” tall ½” on each side, extra depth taken by laptop sleeve.
    Torso Length: 18.5”
    Metal internal Frame.
    Fabric Info: Ballistic Rip-stop Nylon, Abrasion Resistant Nylon Webbing, High Density foam, Heavy Gauge Zippers, YKK Waterproof Zippers, Waterproof Urethane coasted mesh


    Since I have the first year run there are quite a few changes that you can check out on their website, www.fstopgear.com, such as a few more straps, molle straps on the bottom of the bag, moisture wicking foam on the back panel, etc. These changes were brought up by the tech crew as well as input from pro and amateur photographers.

    My pack weighs in at 25lbs with most of the photo gear and a monopod. There is usually more gear, clothes, food, etc so it would be right around 30. I have yet to notice the weight during hiking mainly up and down Bromont and Mont Sainte Anne these past few weekends. There was a day or so that I complained about the weight but I haven't used a pack of any kind in almost 6 months.




    The straps are very comfortable and have enough padding without being overpadded and bulky like a few other companies such as lowepro. The chest strap works pretty well and slides nicely for easy adjustment. The one thing that I have noticed one mine is that the chest strap "clicks" on to the shoulder strap, if you pull on it more than just a light touch then it will come off and it is nearly impossible to get back on. The one from my tilopa is somewhere on the mountain at MSA as I threw it after getting fed up trying to get it back on. As I said earlier, F-stop has listened and has fixed this for the new models on all bags. It is now sewn onto the shoulder straps like many backpacks that have the same chest strap, unfortunately you can no longer adjust the height, just the width. There are also two, (one on the new one) mesh pockets on the straps to hold small things for easy access but I still have no need for them.

    The full size hip belt works like a top notch backpacking pack. Very comfortable and it bears quite a bit of the weight like it should. There are small zippered pockets on the belt to hold smaller things like lens caps, batteries, snacks, etc, the zipper is not waterproof though.




    The front of the pack has two vertical zippers in the middle of the pack for more storage. The pockets are big and deep and can hold a small umbrella, jacket, batteries, etc. They are easy to open yet waterproof and easily accessible even with a monopod or tripod on the bag. There is also two bungee straps on the front of the bag that work well to hold a light tripod or a heavy duty monopod. The snowboard straps on the front of the pack help hold a tripod or monopod from moving around much. The snowboard straps are much like ones you would find on a Burton pack however they are not padded or have anything to keep the board from moving around. A few strips of silicon or a rubber padding on the inside of the straps would be a great idea. It has held my Burton Suopermodel 158 with bindings on multiple backcountry hikes and it holds it fairly well. It is on par with a few of my backcountry Burton bags.

    On both sides of the pack there are 4 straps, ( 2 on each side) that run horizontally . These are quite useful for a small tripod, ski poles, snow shovel or anything else of the kind. Again a small strip of silicon to make sure things don't slide around would be quite nice. There are also two large pockets, (one on each side) and on the front of each pocket there are two zipper pockets. These are great for holding the ends of tripods and they can hold a nalgen bottle and/or a 1 liter bottle quite easily.






    The top of the bag has a large pocket the width of the pack and holds quite a bit of gear. The top of the bag also has has the main compartment opening. Both this part and the above pocket has an inverted opening meaning that it opens opposite the normal way to keep water and snow from getting into the compartment. The zippers are waterproof and although a bit tough to zip is worth it for the waterproofing.




    The main compartment is quite spacious and easily accessable from the top and from the back. The compartment has a padded pocket that holds a laptop up to 17" and has a small velcro strap on top to keep the pocket closed and the laptop from sliding out. I have noticed that my 15" laptop moves a bit in the pocket and the velcro strap is not strong enough but again, F-stop has fixed this with a stronger, wider velcro strap.





    Moving to the back of the pack the is the main compartment flap that is well padded. My one gripe with the back padding is that it is quite hot which is nice in the winter but uncomfortable in the summer. It looks like you were jumping rope in the attic. A sweaty back sucks. The updated version of the padding is a different material and is also a moisture wicking lining which is a welcome change. The zipper is also a waterproof zipper but is much harder to move one handed either opening or closing if you have to get into your bag or close it quickly one handed. It is a bit of an annoyance for me and I have yet to notice it getting easier. Again I can deal with it as it is completely waterproof.




    On the back side of the padded flap there are two large weatherproof pockets which are the width of the flap. These two pockets are just wide enough to hold things such as memory cards, filters, pens, paper, etc something that isn't to think or bulky. You can feel thicker things through the padding but it isn't more than a small annoyance.




    The ICU, (Internal Camera Unit) is like the normal internals of most camera bags. It is lined with velcro and has all of the pieces to fully customize the internals to your needs. You can also use other parts from other bags that have the male end velcro if you need it. The ICU has a double zipper to close it out from the rest of the pack which is a nice feature. The zipper is not waterproof on the one that I have but it is water resistant.



    The one thing that sets this pack from many other photo bags is that you can completely remove the ICU and use is as a smaller bag on site. It has one carry handle on the top and both the bottom and the sides are fully padded. This is where a waterproof zipper would be nice as well just in case.

    There is a velcro strap that goes through an eyelet inside the bag as well as a large piece of velcro on the bottom to hold the ICU inside of the pack. It holds quite well and doesn't move too much.

    I would like to see another zipper on the outside of the ICU and on the inside of the pack to keep in completely in place. I have noticed that the metal internal frame sometimes overlaps the ICU and you have to move it below the ICU zipper to zip up the ICU.

    I have taken the ICU out and used these packs for 3 day hiking trips as well as a suitcase which holds quite a bit clothes.

    I would like to have a little larger ICU in my pack as I have the large. The newer Satori's are shipping with the XL ICU and would fit my gear perfectly.

    There aren't too many cons to these packs that I have noticed so far that I haven't already talked about earlier. The F-stop crew really sat down and figured out exactly what was needed in a expedition, backcountry style pack for the extremes that us photographers need. They are constantly improving their product and they stay in constant touch with their customers and photographers.

    F-stop has a cool little swag giveaway going all the time. All you have to do is send them a picture of your gear in your F-stop bag and they will send you a free F-stop camera strap. They also have monthly newsletters, contests, and swag giveaways.

    F-stop has a 45 day satisfaction guarantee return policy as well as an amazing 20 year warranty on all bags. Burns, tears, damage, etc are not covered in the warranty but can easily be fixed for a small price and a quick turnaround time.

    The Satori comes in foliage green, cranberry w/ grey and black/grey. The silver (pictured) will no longer be a color choice.

    If you are looking for a photo pack that will outlast all the trips and photoshoots that you are going to take, super durable and built for the sports that we do and not for consumers looking to shoot pics of their kids playing soccer then these F-stop packs are for you.

    Make sure to check out the Satori as well as their other packs, bags, cases, straps, etc at www.fstopgear.com
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2009
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  2. RUFUS e-douche of the year

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    Here is a list of contents that are in my ICU.




    1-Nikon D200 with battery grip
    2-Compact flash card storage and USB flash drive
    3-Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 AF-S ED lens
    4-backup D700 batteries (2)
    5-Sb-800 flash units (2)
    6- Nikon 80-200 f2.8 ED AF-S lens
    7-Nikon 16mm f2.8 AF-S fisheye lens
    8-Pocketwizard Plus II transcievers (3)
    9-Nikon D700 with battery grip
    #2
  3. IH8Rice I'm Mr. Negative! I Fail!

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    nice write up. i cant believe all that gear only weighs 20lbs and u dont notice it. i usually have half of that gear in my Dakine bag and it weighs a ton.

    now i have another brand to look into for another bag
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  4. Damo Short One Marshmallow

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    This bag is already on my wishlist. Reviews are good and they seem to be doing a better bag than either Burton or Dakine.

    Great write up mate. Cheers for that.
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  5. RUFUS e-douche of the year

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    Thanks. I have the Burton photo pack still and it is in the basement for a reason. I absolutely hated it. Small, uncomfortable for more than 15 minutes and just built weird.

    The Dakine was too small for me as well and felt a bit like a cheap backpack.
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  6. Transcend My Nuts Are Flat

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    Nice bag, but seriously, a white photo pack??
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  7. Damo Short One Marshmallow

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    Yeah, I've tried the Burton Zoom and it is too uncomfortable. Big, bulky and unwieldy. The hip straps sit way too high.

    It was a toss up between the Sequence and one of the f-stops. F-stop has won out, but I'm not sure how to get them. They don't seem to be available yet.

    I've just come back from an epic 2 day mtb trek across the alps. I had my Dakine Helipro customed out to fit a camera block. But I couldn't fit anything else in there. Sleeping bags, tripods and jackets were strapped to the outside.

    The other photographer (James from Howies) had a Burton Zoom. He had loads of room in there, but wasn't comfortable. When you are doing awesome long tech descents and adding hours (and hours) of climbing, it would have been good to have this Satori.

    I'm absolutely shattered. Great shots though, but I can't show them yet. I hate having to hold onto shots until they are published. I want to bulk out my folio... :(

    Ok, here's one I can show:
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2009
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  8. WhoRyder New Member

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    I like it... very nice.... right now i carry a lowpro camera bag and it sucks....

    it only holds my D300, 70-200VR, 17-35 & 50MM... no room for flashes.... or remotes...

    DEf. may end up picking one of these bad boys up!
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  9. RUFUS e-douche of the year

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    It's a silver/grey. It was the only color available when they started for the satori. They now have 3 other colors. My dh bag and mud bag is the brown tilopa. I might have them send me the green satori.

    Damo, you can buy them directly from the site or you can email me and I can get one ordered for you.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2009
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  10. Silver find me a tampon

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    I like my Zoom Pack but those do look very nice. When the Zoom falls apart...
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  11. IH8Rice I'm Mr. Negative! I Fail!

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    my Sequence has been holding up pretty good for almost two years now. the straps all still feel pretty solid as do the zippers
    if it had more accommodations outside the bag for attachments, it would be great. i can usually fit most of my gear in it:
    40D, 28-135, 10-17, 24-70, 1 flash w/ triggers, 1 HD cam, 1 SD cam but its pretty dam heavy
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  12. HeadofWar New Member

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    I have used a Zoom pack extensively and it has much to credit it - getting laptop on a plane with your gear in one bag is just one. I put a Camelbak Unbottle in the outer compartment which means I can carry more than 500mm or so of water. This is an essential that is overlooked by most manufacturers. Damo, the hip straps are high to allow torso rotation. It actually works better than many packs when riding a bike down tech descents. Although when walking it is not so comfy and the pack itself hasn't much structure. Interesting that one poster finds the Zoom big and bulky and another too small!

    The F Stop looks good. I know a couple of guys using them on the circuit but certainly not riding very far with them (Perhaps they are bigger than the model reviewed here - they look huge!)

    Rufus , do you zip the pack closed with the Pocket Wizard aerials exposed like that? Don't they bend? Not a great idea IMHO! If you fall on your back it could game over. On a personal note , I stopped putting a body with a lens attached into a pack long ago after I watched a crewman wedge my pack into the hold of a helicopter and when I got it back the lens mount had been ripped off the body. Expensive...... Thanks for the review. (Don't even mind the colour myself)
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  13. Damo Short One Marshmallow

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    I actually ended up with the Tilopa model and pretty happy with it. I can fita ll my gear plus laptop plus whatever I need into various pockets (snow shovel, water etc) as well.

    I've worn my bag on big multi-day bike trips and all day snowboard sessions and the weight/balance/fit is spot on.

    My only gripe really is that it is a little shallow for Canon's 1 series bodies. They dig into your back a bit.
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  14. Silver find me a tampon

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    Zoom pack does that too. Shallow/low profile on the back means you have to really cram in a body with a portrait grip.
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  15. Arkayne I come bearing GIFs

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  16. RUFUS e-douche of the year

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    In 11 days that just might be in there. Medical discharge and freedom!!!! Nice placement.
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  17. Colby_Fstop New Member

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    We have new ICU's coming out at the end of this month that might fit your needs better. They will be deeper and more customizable and come in Small, Medium and Large. You can see them here along with our new 37L all purpose adventure day photography pack, The Loka.


    http://fstopgear.com/en/loka
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  18. Damo Short One Marshmallow

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    Great to hear from an actual company!
    Having a look at this Loka model, it actually looks like you have addressed a few other points of mine:

    1. The depth of the ICU (as mentioned above)
    2. The new side stretch pocket as opposed to the old non-stretch. When you have a full ICU and attempt to carry two lightweight tripods (lightstands) on the sides, instead of stretching outwards, it would push in to the bag. With the new stretchy pocket, hopefully the tripods will not push in. Also with my model, if you have a full ICU, there is no way you could fit a water bottle in there.
    3. No radio pocket on the straps any more? They are handy in the winter...

    I would like to see a separate water bottle holder. My typical excursion has the ICU full, two tripods on the sides and sometimes my full tripod on the front straps, which leaves nowhere for water except the front pockets.

    I am constantly amazed how my Tilopa continues to work for me with the amount of abuse that it goes through. These bags are built tough. The zips have a constant high load put on them and they keep working.

    I'll be looking at a new Loka for next year I think...
    #18
  19. Colby_Fstop New Member

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    With each new product we release as well as with any product we update, we always take into account feedback from out in the field. In essence, everything we put out has been extensively field tested and designed based on real first hand experience from both our customers and our Staff Pro Photographers.

    The Loka actually does have a Radio pouch on one of the straps, it isn't a pocket, but an elastic covering for an area that allows for easy access. Starting this fall, we are also offering a separate water bottle holder that will attach to every one of our packs. See...we listen :)

    We pride ourselves utilizing the best materials we can find to make some of the most rugged, efficient and customizable backpacks on the market.

    Please don't hesitate to shoot us an email or give us a phone call if you want to share with us what works and doesn't with any of our products. We always like hearing from our customers.
    #19