Entries in loka (3)


F-Stop Loka: What's in there?

I previously wrote about receiving my F-Stop Loka unexpectedly, just in time for a trip to the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival. Here's a shot of what fits in the small pro ICU. Note that it's just deep enough that a small lens in a case (here a 10.5mm fisheye) can fit on top of the 70-300mm lens attached to the camera body.


F-Stop GateKeepers: Alternatives

An interesting feature of the F-Stop backpack system is that GateKeeper straps can be added at various positions on their bags to enhance the functionality. I ordered a few of these to go with my Kenti and Loka packs, however they are chronically backordered and I'm not sure when they will arrive (see update at the end of this post).

I ran across this strap from Tom Bihn (below) that looks to have very similar clips as the GateKeeper straps; it likely would work, although the webbing seems significantly longer than necessary and would probably require some modifications to get the length right (i.e., so that there's not too much excess strap).

Update (June 26, 2013): here's another alternative from MindShift:

Then recently I was at my local REI and found these Gear Aid Quick-Attach Tri-Glide Buckles (also available at EMS), which looked like they would fit nicely into the GateKeeper attachment points on F-Stop packs.

Paired with some 1" webbing straps, I figured they would work as an alternative to F-Stop's own GateKeepers straps. The webbing straps at REI were by Redpoint and come in different lengths (24", 40", and 60") and colors.

Here's a shot of the clips attached to the Kenti...Not sure that green was the best color choice, but it illustrates this alternative system pretty well. The total cost was about $15 for these two straps (two 2-packs of clips and one 2-pack of straps). 

Update #1 (July 29, 2013): The F-Stop website has shown Gatekeepers as "in stock" for a while now. I was on vacation and assumed that my backorder would ship and be waiting for me when I returned. However, they weren't, and an email on July 22 from F-Stop support confirmed that they handn't shipped. Somehow my backorder got lost in the shuffle and didn't ship; I wouldn't have known this if I wasn't periodically checking their page to know that they were in stock. The nice person at customer service said they would ship ASAP...But they didn't. A week later and still no Gatekeepers. With a follow-up email I learned that they bungled the shipping again. Hopefully they shipped today; I'll update if/when they arrive.

The interwebs are filled with similar comments, but I'll restate what others have observed: F-Stop makes an awesome product, but their availability, (back-)ordering, and shipping reliability leaves much to be desired...

Update #2 (August 2, 2013): Although the person I emailed with on Monday (in Update 1) said "they will ship today," just now (Friday) I got an email with shipping details. According to UPS a "shipping label has been created" and (maybe?) the are actually shipping today...five days after F-Stop said they had shipped. Well at least hopefully this is out of F-Stops hands and I only need to rely on UPS now...

Update #3 (August 7, 2013): The Gatekeepers have finally arrived, and they are slick. I seem to have ordered two more sets than I need (my guess is that when ordering, I didn't realize they came in pairs), so I have an extra set of both the long and short straps. Next time they go out of stock at F-Stop, they'll be like gold.


Surprise arrival: F-Stop Loka backpack

I recently received a few hundred dollars out of the blue for some work I did a a couple of years ago (the gift that keeps on giving!). Earlier this spring, when looking for a new camera backpack, I debated between the F-Stop Loka and Kenti, with the Kenti eventually winning out due to its smaller size (i.e., fitting under an airplane seat). Given that F-Stop bags and accessories are perpetually backordered for months on end, I decided to order a Loka and small professional ICU (more on the ICU system below) with my new found money, figuring that it wouldn't be here for many months. Much to my surprise, it shipped within a few days of my order, and was delivered from their warehouse in Hong Kong in under two weeks. While the Loka was in stock on their website, the ICU was out of stock, so I'm shocked that they were able to deliver so fast (i.e., their website and actual inventory seem out of sync). As awesome as their products are, there are chronic issues with availability and I seemed to have lucked out. (note: as a social psychologist, I know that scarcity impacts desirability!)

There are lots of reviews of the Loka online so I'm not intending to do that here. The key thing to note about the F-Stop system is the Internal Camera Unit (ICU). I got the small pro size, which holds my Nikon D90 and 3-4 lenses, or will easily accommodate my Fuji x100 and X-Pro1 system. If it ever is released and becomes available, the mythical large "LT" ICU is next on my list, for holding even more camera gear and a laptop. I like the idea of the large LT because should my Loka ever have to be gate-checked while flying, the ICU full of gear could be removed and I could keep my breakables under the seat in front of me.

The Loka arrived just in time for my 3-day campout at the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival. On the trip the small pro ICU held my Nikon D90 with attached 70-300mm lens, 10.5mm fisheye, 50mm f/1.4, 135mm DC, and Tokina 11-16mm lenses (with their respective hoods reversed), and there was still plenty of space in the bag (i.e., above the ICU) for my Fuji X-Pro1 with one lens attached and the other two lenses in small cases, iPad, sweatshirt, and a stack of exams in file folders, all with room to spare. Yes, I'm a geek and had to grade while I was away...

See a picture of the pack and full ICU here.