A superb backpack is without doubt one of the most essential equipment for any photographer and during the last 5 years I’ve relied on the f-stop Guru Ultralight to soundly carry all my gear, in addition to performing as my customary bag for normal use. On this long-term check I’ll present you why the Guru Ultralight, or Guru UL for brief, has change into my favorite images backpack! The whole lot you could know is within the video beneath, however for those who choose to learn a written model, preserve scrolling for the highlights!
Word I used my second Guru UL for filming on this video which I’ve had for round six months; it prices round $249 or kilos in a bundle which features a shallow small ICU – I’ll clarify what that’s in a second – and a raincover. So it’s not precisely low cost, but it surely is without doubt one of the finest packs I’ve owned, so let’s see what it could actually do.
Above: I first got here throughout f-stop luggage once I lived in New Zealand ten years in the past, the place virtually all of the native journey photographers I met gave the impression to be utilizing their Mountain collection backpacks. I used to be initially drawn-in by their rugged nature, however gained over by their flexibility and discreet styling. I’m speaking concerning the luggage right here, not the photographers, though certain, why not, them too.
Above: Appears to be like are essential for any accent, however on this occasion, I’m referring to a digicam bag that doesn’t essentially scream out that it’s carrying a load of pricy gear. I’ve owned quite a lot of high quality digicam luggage and packs through the years, however most had been identifiable for his or her main use. This can be okay for those who’re usually transporting flight-cases between shoots, however for those who’re shouldering a pack on foot or public transport, I need one thing that appears like a traditional bag and doesn’t draw consideration.
Above: When you’re principally sporting a backpack, you’ll additionally need to minimise the possibility of anybody sneakily accessing the property inside. I like how f-stop make use of rear-access to the principle gear part of the pack which prevents undesirable entry. Plenty of corporations now undertake an analogous strategy, however f-stop was one of many first I’d seen to do it.
Above: Most likely my favorite side of f-stop luggage although is separating the gear part from the pack itself. Your digicam and lenses are saved in padded packing containers referred to as Inner Digital camera Items or ICUs which, like different padded luggage may be customised with velcro separators. These are then slotted into the bottom of the backpack itself. This implies you may combine and match totally different sized ICUs and backpack shells for various events and jobs.
Above: Through the years I’ve built-up a group of 4 ICUs, from the smallest Micro Nano ICU which may squeeze-in a small mirrorless digicam or, say, three compacts…
Above: …to my Small Professional ICU which may accommodate a pair of bigger our bodies and a number of lenses.
Above: In-between I’ve the Tiny Micro which is nice for a single medium digicam or some equipment…
Above: …and the Shallow Small ICU which may carry a shorter mirrorless digicam with a number of compact lenses. I usually go away the ICUs filled with sure gear at dwelling so I can simply seize one, figuring out it’s going to have every part I would like for, say, a video shoot. The ICUs begin at round $30, with medium-sized ones round $60.
Above: I even have two f-stop backpacks – the Guru UL with 25l capability is their smallest and lightest conventional backpack, however one which fits me for nearly each event, whether or not it’s a day trip or perhaps a lengthy journey.
Above: After I want to hold extra although, I flip to the Loka, which may accommodate bigger and even a number of ICUs directly, or a traditional one with a great deal of room for garments and different gadgets.
Above: Word my private Loka comes from an older Mountain collection, because it’s now solely out there within the UL vary.
Above: Both means, I really like the modular strategy the place you merely select the ICU that matches your gear necessities for that day, occasion or journey, then slot it into the pack that’ll have sufficient room to your different gadgets. Very environment friendly.
Above: When it comes to carrying different stuff, the Guru UL is fairly well-equipped. There’s a skinny zipped part on the entrance which itself incorporates a smaller zipped pouch for easy equipment like microfibre cloths, tripod plates, filters, reminiscence playing cards or extra normal gadgets like glasses or notepads.
Above: The very entrance of the backpack has a single zipped pocket which I exploit to hold the elective rain cowl or perhaps a skinny raincoat for poor circumstances.
Above: On either side are open stretchy pockets which may maintain water bottles, though something too tall or heavy can fall out for those who’re not cautious.
Above: There’s additionally D-rings for hanging clipped gadgets in addition to a bunch of fabric hooks for mounting elective gatekeeper straps for holding onto bigger tripods or ski poles.
Above: Tripods may also be slotted into the aspect pockets and held in place by aspect straps, and there’s an extra choice to strap one to the entrance of the pack. I just like the Guru because it’s tall sufficient to simply about squeeze a smaller tripod inside, though my Gitzo Traveller proved to be a little bit of a decent match and repeated use through the years finally noticed one of many important zips fail, however this was after 5 years of abuse.
Above: A contemporary backpack ought to after all accommodate a laptop computer, and the Guru UL has an inner sleeve that’s large enough for a slim 15 or a chunky 13inch mannequin. Sadly there’s no padding within the flap although, so for cover I’d suggest storing your laptop computer in a padded sleeve earlier than slipping it into the pack. Additionally notice that for rear entry to digicam gear, the laptop computer flap is positioned on the entrance of the pack, furthest out of your again when carrying it. It’s no downside for those who’re additionally carrying a load of digicam gear, however on events once you don’t have an ICU inside, the laptop computer can change into the heaviest merchandise and trigger the pack to really feel a bit of unbalanced – however to be honest that is foremost a digicam backpack and you’ll all the time stabilise an empty pack with a coat or jumper.
Above: The laptop computer sleeve – or certainly the principle pack – may also be used for a water bladder and the Guru UL has a velcro’d flap on the prime to move the consuming pipe via.
Above: f-stop‘s hardest backpacks are the unique Mountain collection, however the newer Extremely Mild fashions handle to avoid wasting weight with out feeling compromised, at the very least for my very own actions.
Above: They use nylon shells with water resistant coatings and robust zips – they’re not waterproof, however they’ve all the time stored the insides dry even in sustained heavy showers, and I’ve hardly ever felt the necessity to match the elective raincover for additional safety. The padding and straps are thinner than the Mountain packs, however nonetheless really feel comfy, and I’ve hiked with a packed Guru UL all day lengthy.
Above: The outer materials additionally proved proof against tears. For comparability, right here’s my earlier UL pack which served a strong 5 years of just about each day use and quite a lot of journey, and once more the one downside I had was breaking a zipper after years of compacting in a tripod that was a bit of too massive for it. f-stop affords a 3 12 months guarantee on the UL vary, and a formidable 20 years for the more durable Mountain collection – and certainly my very own Loka comes from that vary and is now over a decade previous with out grievance.
f-stop Guru UL verdict
Finally the f-stop Guru UL stays the very best digicam backpack I’ve used and one I’d confidently purchase once more. I used to be already bought on the modular strategy of the unique Mountain collection and whereas the ultra-light vary could lack the identical diploma of robustness, I really feel f-stop has efficiently made weight-savings with out compromise for many actions.
The Guru UL is gentle however sturdy, shrugs-off all however the worst climate, comfy to hold even for lengthy intervals, and crucially shops my digicam gear securely and discreetly. The weak-point is the unprotected laptop computer compartment, however padding would have elevated the burden even for those who by no means used it, and you’ll merely make use of your individual padded sleeve as a substitute. Total the Guru UL is the very best small backpack for photographers that I’ve personally used and one I can extremely suggest.
Examine costs on the Guru UL on the f-stop retailer! Alternatively get your self a duplicate of my In Digital camera ebook or deal with me to a espresso! Thanks!