Gear Review: F-Stop Kashmir and Shimoda 40L

Gear Review: F-Stop Kashmir and Shimoda 40L

By | 2018-04-02T11:06:52+00:00 April 2nd, 2018|Travel|0 Comments

A few weeks ago, everyone in my hometown was dressed in green and preparing for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and festivities.  Instead, I was sitting in my kitchen tinkering with another new camera bag.  For landscape and travel photographers, the quest for the perfect camera backpack is like searching for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  As a photographer, I see plenty of rainbows, but I have yet to find the pot of gold.

Shimoda-side-3

F-Stop Kashmir UL and Shimoda 40L – Side View

With a phenomenal Kickstarter backing, Shimoda has been one of the new buzzes in the photography world.  As female photographer, who may be on the short side of the height chart, I only owned one camera pack which I didn’t have to manually alter to fit my frame.  That pack is F-stop’s Kashmir, a female focused camera pack which also came to fruition from a successful Kickstarter campaign.  While I didn’t have to break out my sewing needle for the Kashmir in terms of fit, the pack did leave me wanting more in terms of a larger capacity, better shoulder straps, and more pockets.  When I saw that Shimoda had not only adjustable shoulder straps to accommodate different torso settings but also a lot of built-in functionality, I decided to give-it-a-go so I backed them on Kickstarter immediately (as in I’m proud backer #11).

With both bags in my possession, I’m going to spend the next few months seeing which will stand the hiking test of time. Eventually, one will become my “go-to” bag and the other will claim the title of “secondary” pack holding my back-up gear and extra accessories.  With only two weeks with the Shimoda, here are my initial thoughts on the differences between the two bags.

F-STOP KASHMIR UL

SHIMODA 40L

Capacity

30 Liters 40 Liters

Weight

1.1 kg (2.5 lbs) 1.3 kg (2.9 lbs)

Height

20.5 in (52 cm) 22.4 in (57 cm)

Width

12.5 in (31.8 cm) 11.4 in (29 cm)

Depth

11 in (27.9 cm) 10.2 in (26 cm)

Torso Height

14 in (35.6 cm)

*I measured myself from the start of the should strap to the middle of the waist belt

14.5 in ( 36.8 cm) at S setting

*I measured myself from the start of the should strap to the middle of the waist belt

Waterproof

Water Resistant treatment of Polyurethane (PU) and water resistant (WR) coating Water Resistant treatment of Carbonate Ether

Laptop

(1) Multipurpose internal sleeve fitting up to a 13’’ laptop or hydration bladder. (1)   Rear access panel has a padded sleeve fitting up to a 13’’ laptop.

(2)   Front Panel has a non-padded sleep fitting up to a 15’’ laptop.

Airline Carry-On Approved

Yes Yes
Shimoda-Back-2.jpeg

F-Stop Kashmir UL and Shimoda 40L – Back

Shimoda-front.jpeg

F-Stop Kashmir UL and Shimoda 40L – Front

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Straps

Shimoda-Torso-Height

Adjustable Torso Height

F-STOP KASHMIR UL

SHIMODA 40L

SHOULDER STRAPS ·  Non-adjustable torso height but still small enough for shorter frames

·  Has places to hook or carabine items you wish to carry

·  Adjustable torso height  with S, M, L, and XL options

·  Zipper pocket, loops, and pouch (yay!)

·  Wider straps and more cushioning

·  Note: Shimoda currently has a female team testing straps designed for the female build.

STERNUM STRAPS ·  Offers the most adjustment flexibility which is critical for females. J ·  The strap isn’t nearly as far off as other packs, but I would still prefer more flexibility to adjust where the strap sits on my chest.
HIP STRAPS ·  Well cushioned and 8.5 in in length

·  The smallest zippered pouches on each side. Will not fit my cell phone. I use it to hold things like chapstick or a travel pack of tissues.

·  Well cushioned and 9.5 in in length

·  Loops and designed to attached items to the belt.

WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION ·  Good

·  Because it is an ultralight design, I feel like the shoulder straps need more padding when I have a full pack.  The down side is I know I’m probably over the weight limit for the pack when carrying all my gear.

·  Better

·  I feel much less strain on my back and shoulders when carrying all my gear in the pack. However, I have yet to go on a long hike with the pack.

COMFORT ·  Good ·  Better
ZIPPERS, BUCKLES & POLES ·  Good zipper

·  Can use the buckles with gloves on

·  Prefer the looped nylon poles for easy clipping and grip

·  Great set of side buckles on both sides of pack to attached tripods or other gear.

·  Easier zipper

·  Can use the buckles with gloves on

·  Do not like the leather poles; I prefer the nylon loops to easily clip with carabiners.

·  Great set of side buckles on both sides of pack to attached tripods or other gear but does overlap on zipper side access points

EXTERNAL POCKETS ·  Multi-gear attachment possibilities

·  Mesh side pockets on both sides of pack; however, I wish they were taller in height to ensure items to not fall out

·  Multiple gatekeeper mounting points if you purchase the gatekeeprs separately (or make your own)

·  Multi-gear attachment possibilities

·  Two zippered side panel access points. One to access gear, the other has a side panel pouch which I’m debating if I love or dislike yet.

·  I would like to see one mesh pocket on top of that zippered pocket with the detachable bag.

·  Comes with two accessory straps

INTERNAL POCKETS ·  Negative Batman, it’s my largest gripe with this bag. (See hip strap comment above) I’m female. I love pockets!

·  My favorite part of the bag is the large front panel pocket for hats, buff, lens clothes, gloves, and jacket which zippers top to bottom.

·  Mesh pouches on the top of the bag are useful and allow for organization and breathability.

·  Large front panel pocket which zippers side to side. It still holds my gloves, hats, lens clothes, etc. but can also fit a laptop.

BACK PANEL ·  Opens Top to Bottom (Bottom)

·  Compression Molded and Cushioned

·  Only a few useless loops on the rear panel whereas other F-stop bags have great pockets/pouches here.

·  Opens Right to Left (Side) so it stays open more easily and functionality works better for me in the field

·  Compression Molded and Cushioned

·  Padded sleeve on rear panel

TRIPOD FLEXIBILITY ·  Can be mounted on the back or side of pack. ·  Can be mounted on the back or side of pack.
ICU/CORE UNIT SYSTEM ·  3 realistically sized ICUs available

·  Dividers have thicker padding and are more flexible (shapeable)

·  Easy to move ICU in and out of the bag

·  2 sized core units

·  Dividers are super thin and sturdier (not easily bent)

·  More difficult to put the core unit in the bag and remove it

COLOR CHOICES ·  1 Choice

·  Black with Glacier Blue Highlights

·  2 Choices

·  Midnight Blue or Seapine

DIFFERENTIATORS More ICU flexibility in terms of sizes Zippered side access

Larger capacity

More comfortable straps

Better weight distribution for smaller framed females

 

So which bag wins the coveted “my favorite camera pack” title?

I do like both packs, and the F-stop Kashmir has been a huge improvement over previous packs. However, with only 30 liters for the capacity, I would often have to decide on gear to leave behind since it all wouldn’t fit (note: I do not shoot mirrorless yet, which would probably alter this opinion).  While it is still a tight pack, I can fit two, full-frame, DSLR bodies with lenses attached (limit 200 mm in length), 2 extra lenses, plus accessories (e.g. first aid kit, filters, snacks) in the Shimoda.  Unfortunately, I cannot do that with the Kashmir so I often have to change lenses in the field more often than I would prefer.

While I prefer F-stops aesthetic, pole design, and sternum strap flexibility, the Shimoda is leading based on having:

  • a larger capacity,
  • better weight distribution for smaller framed females,
  • more comfortable shoulder and hip straps,
  • zippered side access points in addition to the back panel access
  • more pockets and improved functionality

However, before finalizing my decision, I need to test the bag out on a few longer hikes over the next month to ensure that the weight distribution and comfort are indeed improved.  I’m off to Patagonia now so this will truly be a test for the Shimoda so stay tuned!

Last, let me know if you have any questions or what you consider to be critical in purchasing a pack.

Happy Shooting!

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