Camera backpack manufacturers finally realize one size doesn’t fit all. This is especially true for women. Some will nail the comfort of the shoulder pads, but the waist straps cut into the hips. Sometimes the design puts too much stress on the shoulders. More often than not, it’s the sternum strap that is very ill-fitting and unflattering. The FStop Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond backpack is one of the first I can recommend for women. Plus, it’s versatile. Keep reading to find out more.
Too Long Didn’t Read
The FStop Tilopa is a very large hiking backpack that doubles as a camera backpack. The removable internal camera units are available in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. The aluminum frame redistributes the weight of the pack to the legs. It’s rugged, waterproof, and comfortable enough to wear for long hikes. Plus, you can haul a lot of gear.
Pros and Cons
- The aluminum frame takes stress off of the shoulders
- Very comfortable padded straps and back panel
- Interchangeable ICU’s (internal camera units) depending on what you need
- Ability to haul a lot of gear
- I’d prefer a sternum strap that has a bit of stretch to it
- Few color options are available
We tested the F-Stop Tilopa backpack with the Canon 5D Mark III paired with a Canon 50mm f1.2 lens, a Canon 85mm f1.2 lens, Hasselblad 501cm, Sekonic light meter, film, batteries, a 16″ MacBook Pro, and a 3 Legged Thing Billy 2.0 Tripod. We could have easily packed a lot more than what’s pictured; several pockets and pouches were empty.
The FStop Tilopa backpack isn’t redesigning the blueprint. Instead, it is taking its proper hybrid design and refining it. The newest installment of this backpack offers woven-in weatherproof zippers. The fabric is lighter and stronger while a Hypalon patch has been added for extra protection. Aluminum hardware makes it easy to attach large tripods and light stands. The back panel organizer has also been redesigned. Photographers have the option to purchase ICU’s in a variety of sizes to best suit their needs. The bag can haul an entire studio to an off-site location. It can pack both camera and hiking gear for a trek to the woods. FStop continues to research, test, and refine its equipment accordingly. Again, this isn’t innovative, but it’s all done very well.
All tech specs are from the manufacturer.
- 50-liter capacity
- Ideal for multi-day trips or gear-heavy adventures
- DuraDiamond™ material is proprietary to f-stop and is stronger, lighter weight, and more weather resistant
- BLOOM™ algea-based foam in shoulder straps and hip belt provides a comfortable carry even with heavy loads
- Combination of T6 aluminum and plastic hardware adds strength to critical carry and suspension components
- Upgraded weather resistant woven-in zippers
- Improved organization and storage features added to pockets, lid, and back panel
- Mesh side pockets carry a 32oz/1 liter Nalgene bottle
- Aluminum frame shifts pack’s weight to hips for all day carry comfort
- Pairs best with the Pro – Large Camera Insert
On the top of the Tilopa, you will find internal mesh pockets for personal items like sunglasses and keys. There are also zippered soft pockets for memory cards and other loose items. And there is a padded grab handle located on the rear towards the top.
The zipper located underneath this pocket grants top access to the bag. Insert your internal camera unit size of choice here.
Additional storage for smaller items is located on the front of the bag. Here you will find a zippered mesh pocket and a pouch to fit smaller outerwear items. Notebooks would also fit quite well.
The front also has two bungee-type cords and two straps for attaching tripods and umbrellas. At the bottom is an additional small zippered pocket for miscellaneous items. I like to put my waterproof cover in here to ensure it never gets lost.
Each side of the FStop Tilopa has a vertical zipper for a water bottle or water reservoir. Underneath is a smaller slanted pocket.
This is how the Tilopa looks from the back. A grab handle is located at the top on the rear side of the bag. Each shoulder strap has an elastic mesh panel for small items. The aluminum hardware makes it possible to attach even more gear.
The FStop Tilopa grants access to your internal camera unit through the back panel. Place the bag down on its front side to allow complete access. You could also put your main camera body towards the top if you prefer not to unzip the bag completely.
The inside of the back panel has magnetic storage for memory cards. Next, you will find a zippered pocket for larger items like film or a light meter. An additional large magnetic pocket is at the bottom and fits things like a wallet or billfold. There is also a slot for an ID card. Lastly, there is a sleeve that is large enough to hold a 16″ MacBook Pro. Although, I would opt to put it behind the cube in a padded sleeve.
This is how the bag fits. As you can see, it’s every bit as big as you would imagine a hiking backpack to be. Each shoulder strap has a mesh piece that could hold smaller items. There are also two hooks for attaching additional gear.
The padded shoulder straps, back panel, and waist belt are all very comfortable. I placed the sternum strap in the middle loop to see if it would fit women well, and it actually does. Although, I suggest attaching it to the top loop for ultimate comfort. It is built like a hiking backpack. There’s a metal frame that distributes the weight towards the waist belt. I loaded this bag with all my gear plus a few water bottles and went hiking for several hours. I was impressed at how well it redistributed the load from my shoulders.
The FStop Tilopa backpack is made of lightweight, weather-resistant DuraDiamond fabric. Its woven-in zippers are also weather-resistant, with the exception of the top access zipper (there is a flap that covers it).
I took this backpack hiking during light rain and then came back and hosed it down with water. It performed very well. The DuraDiamond material is durable and feels like it will withstand the elements. The padded shoulder straps, back panel, and waist belt are very comfortable. It feels and performs as though it will last for years to come.
The padding used in the shoulder straps, waist straps, and back panel are very well cushioned. It won’t break down anytime soon. The metal frame is also fantastic for keeping the backpack’s shape as well as making for a comfortable hike.
Ease of Use
F-Stop has created an excellent hybrid backpack for both camera gear and hiking gear. The most challenging aspect is deciding which of the many pockets to use for various items. The Large ICU is easy to remove and the elastic velcro security strips are a nice feature. Additional sized internal camera units can be purchased for further personalization. The extra-large unit will fit larger studio lights, whereas the smaller options will free up space for personal items. I appreciate that you can remove the ICU and use it solely as a backpack.
Conclusions of the FStop Tilopa 50L Backpack Review
- The aluminum frame distributes the weight perfectly
- Variety of configurations to fit your needs
- Internal camera unit comes in different sizes and is available as an add-on purchase
- It hauls a lot of gear
- It’s one of the most comfortable backpacks I’ve used
- I would prefer the sternum strap be a stretchy material
- I wish there were one external mesh water bottle holder (but that’s being nitpicky)
There are a lot of backpacks on the market, with each promising the world and coming up short. F-Stop has created a great camera pack that delivers. The hiking backpack can be configured with various internal camera units to best suit your needs. Its 50L capacity provides ample room for an entire studio shoot. It’s also built to go hiking with loads of gear. The aluminum frame distributes the bulk of the weight to the lower half of the body. This makes long treks very doable with no lumbar discomfort. Plus, the padded back panel, waist belt, and shoulder straps are very comfortable. It’s weather-proof and also includes a water-resistant cover for the heaviest of downpours. Your precious gear will be very safe.
I do wish the sternum strap were stretchy for even better support. Additionally, I’d prefer at least one large mesh pocket to access my water. Other than that, this is a very solid backpack. The FStop Tilopa is one of very few backpacks I would recommend for women.
We give the F-Stop Tilopa five out of five stars. Want one? Pricing for the base backpack starts at $399.99 and can be configured to meet your needs.