Entries in brooklyn sling (1)


F-Stop Kenti preview

(also see: F-Stop Kenti: First impressions | F-Stop Kenti: What's in there?)

In the lead-up to summer vacation, I figured it was time to look into a camera backpack. In the past I've used:

  • The F-Stop Brooklyn SlingF-Stop's Brooklyn Sling, a nice solution for walking around town with my Fuji X-Pro1, a couple of lenses, and iPad. On recent trips to California and New Orleans this worked really well. But for a bigger kit, laptop, and more substantial hiking (i.e., carrying a bit more non-photography gear; more flexibility and support), this isn't the right solution due its modest size. I should do a proper review of it at some point in the future, but for now see a video of it here.
  • An older 40 liter LoweAlpine daypack that I got in Alaska more than a decade ago. This worked okay, although it's a little bigger and bulkier than necessary, and my gear got a bit soggy when we were caught in a storm in Rome a few years back.
  • A light-weight backpack (the Mountain Hardware Scrambler 30) with a Crumpler Haven (large) camera insert when I was in Amsterdam, Bavaria, and Italy last year. This was mostly a function of wanting something light and packable that could be stuffed into my bigger backpacking pack for when I was traveling from city to city, and could be unpacked, filled with gear, and used as a daypack once I reached a destination city. This was an okay solution, although not the most comfortable pack when stuffed with lenses and access to gear was limited due to it being a top-loader.

Mountain Hardware Scrambler 30 and Crumpler Haven

Here's what I'm looking for in a pack (at least for this summer vacation, which doesn't include living out of a large backpack and could have some nice hiking opportunites; update: check out pictures from Silver Falls State Park in Oregon here): 

  • Room for and convenient access to a camera body and ~4 lenses (my bigger Nikon kit or smaller Fuji system), along with space for a bit of non-photography gear.
  • A slot for a laptop...Not because I plan on carrying a MacBook everywhere, but for the flight to/from the west coast I'd like to keep all my gear in one carry-on. This is assuming that I take my laptop. I've started to travel only with an iPad...not sure what I'll do on this trip yet. A place for my iPad is also a must.
  • Comfort and load-carrying functionality of a good hiking daypack, including a real hip belt and compression straps for keeping the load strapped down. A rain cover is a plus too, since we're headed to the Pacific northwest.
  • Flexibility to strap a lens case, water bottle, or jacket to the outside of the pack if necessary.
  • After having to gate-check my "carry on" due to overhead space running out on a couple of flights in the last few years (and thus having to scramble to keep my camera gear from going into the belly of the plane), I'd love a pack that's small enough to fit under an airplane seat if necessary.
  • It shouldn't look like an ugly camera bag; an understated hiking/backpacking vibe is preferable.

Given my positive experience with the Brooklyn Sling, I began looking at F-Stop's other offerings. I was very tempted by the Loka and Guru. The Loka meets every one of the above criteria other than fitting easily under an airplane seat (at least when it's fully packed). I love everything about it, but it's a bit more bag than I need (update: okay...maybe I do need it). The Guru seems like a great solution, very flexible and just about the right size. But, and I know it's shallow, I don't love the looks of the bag as much as the rest of F-Stop line and it's currently out of stock anyways. And although it's smaller (in volume) than the Loka, it is not as slim as the smallest bag in F-Stop's Mountain series: the Kenti.

The Kenti meets all of my stated criteria, with one minor exception: it does have a laptop compartment, but it's limited to 13" machines and I currently have a 15" MacBook Pro (but do have access to a 13" MB Air that I could use). But it is perfectly sized for my needs (I hope!), has side access, and is built like "pro" backpacking gear. So I've got one incoming in "foliage green" (the medium grey in the photos below). I'll try to do a review once the Kenti is here next week (or once I've taken it on a trip).

Update: F-Stop Kenti: First impressions | F-Stop Kenti: What's in there?