There are so many things to consider when getting serious about landscape and wildlife adventure photography.
What camera is body is going to be good enough for me? Which lenses do I buy first, second, third and so on? Certainly, I’ll need a decent tripod? Can’t forget a series of filters. The list could last a lifetime.
One piece of gear you will not want to overlook is a camera pack, especially if you are setting out on an adventurous trip with Backcountry Journeys.
Having a good camera pack is always a favorable idea, made even more essential if you are taking an adventure trip that will take you hiking and/or camping in the wilderness. Of course there are several choices for camera packs, and you are likely able to find a nice fit for you amongst any number of brands. We at BCJ often refer to F-Stop Gear as having the “ferrari of camera packs,” because they simply are doing camera packs better than anyone else. This post is an effort to bring light not only on the fact that a good camera pack is an essential tool, but also to give some props to a company we feel worthy of said props. F-Stop Gear is a nice example of a company focusing on being great at what they do, and in our humble opinion, they do camera packs better than anyone else.
Sure, most of us can probably get by with any sort of camera bag or carrying device for our gear. However, if we are truly serious about what we are doing, we’ll want to have a good pack designed to do the things we need them to do.
A good pack will offer several advantages like protection of our camera investments through padded compartments, organization for finding things quickly, as well as a good carry while the pack is on your back. Carry all your gear on say a six mile hike in the Smoky Mountains and you’ll know very well how important it is to have a solid hip belt.
While F-Stop Gear offers a line of Urban and Mountain Series, we are going to focus on the Mountain Series as we feel it most applies to what we do at BCJ.
Here is why we think F-Stop does camera packs better than anyone else:
As we’ve mentioned, F-Stop is diverse in that it has selection of packs that apply to different environments and needs, whether it be urban or mountain. Even within the Mountain Series, F-Stop offers eight different packs (three in their Ultra Light Series), giving photographers the ability to make a very specific selection to fit their needs.
Say you’re headed off on a multi-day camping adventure with all your gear. Perhaps you’re off to camp while on our Brown Bears of Katmai Tour. You’ll not only require organization and protection for your camera gear, but you’ll also need space for camping gear such as your tent, sleeping bag and clothing and other personal items. F-Stop has the answer with their 70 liter Suhka pack. This thing not only takes care of your camera equipment needs, but also has the details for backpacking that can easily go unnoticed by other packs. This pack is compatable for your hydration system, it has support provided by an internal aluminum frame, compression straps, and all-day comfort from an EVA belt and shoulder straps. You can have a camera pack that does a great job of organizing and keeping your camera equipment safe but if it carries poorly and fails with the details that go into a good adventure pack, your hiking and camping trip will not be as pleasant as you’d like it to be.
While all that is dandy, certainly day hikers don’t need quite all those things, right? They’ll enjoy the hip belt and the hydration set up, but certainly day hikers need not carry around that much storage space. It would look and feel silly to have a massive pack for a short outing. The answer is the 32 liter Lotus. Narrow and nimble best describes the smallest pack in the Mountain Series. While offering the same key features as the Suhka, such as hydration compatibility, the Lotus has a slim profile with a lightweight harness system providing comfort without adding unnecessary weight.
What is fantastic about all these pack options are that F-Stop makes them compatible with a series of Internal Camera Units (ICUs) that can be purchased separately and also tailored specifically towards your preferences and needs. The ICU is the heavy duty foam padding and velcro straps that keep your camera gear safe and organized within the body of whichever pack you choose. These internal units are varied and easily tailored and or switched out depending on your adventure’s needs.
Start your hunt for the correct ICU by considering the size and number of camera bodies you are using. Then add the number of lenses, and you will have a good idea of what ICU you’ll need. Do you always want to carry your entire set up in one ICU? Or sometimes go lighter in a smaller ICU? Multiple ICUs can be combined, stacked or ‘hatch-backed’ on top.
For example, the Pro Large is one of F-Stop’s most popular ICU sizes and perfect for users packing a larger kit. This ICU offers an ability to store multiple bodies and lenses ranging from primes to telephotos.
The Medium Shallow is designed for non-gripped systems and provides the perfect amount of space for several lenses and up to a mounted 70-200.
Meanwhile, the Pro Small is equipped with enough depth for gripped bodies and medium sized lenses. Keep in mind this ICU, as too the others, can be combined with others for greater versatility.
Don’t exactly know what might work best for your needs? The F-Stop website is amazing and offers information and diagrams that will help you make the best decision for you. Its another way F-Stop stands out above the others and another reason why this blog post is being written in the first place (no, we do not get kickbacks from F-Stop, although that would be sweet!).
We also love the accessories F-Stop Gear offers. Pack rain covers, sleeves to protect your laptop, tripod bags and gatekeeper straps offer interesting and useful accessories to add to your setup. We probably all know the usefulness of a rain cover, especially if you’ve ever been caught in an Alaskan rain event, or been snowed on at Grand Teton while capturing a morning sunrise. Gatekeepers may need a quick explanation. F-Stop’s Gatekeepers are basically webbing designed to allow for easy external mounting. Things such as tripods or maybe extra adventure goodies like snowboards or trekking poles.
A camera pack is a necessary addition to your camera system if you are a serious adventure photographer. We feel that a really good pack is a worthwhile investment, as well, and that F-Stop Gear offers the best packs for the money.
Magnum P.I. wouldn’t drive a KIA, would he? If you all recall the amazing television series from the ‘80s starring Tom Selleck you’d know that he drove the best.
The Ferrari. And he looked good doing it.
So, get yourself the ferrari of camera packs, and look and function as good as Magnum.
Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks as well as in the Grand Staircase Escalante in southern Utah. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, newspaper photographer and writer. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.
Don’t miss the next session of BCJ Live!
Managing Your Photo Library (rescheduled)
with Russell Graves
Tuesday, Jan 25th, 2022
11 am – 12 pm Mountain Time