F-Stop Gear Satori EXP 2015
I guess you could say I learned the expensive way, that there are no bags that do it all. Nope, no silver bullets or quiver killers as you might say. I have found this true of bags designed for every type of outdoor activity I enjoy, and especially true of camera bags. I have gone from large messenger style camera bags from Crumpler to Lowe Pros and Dakines designed for more outdoor use. Well over a thousand dollars spent on bags that didn't really fit the bill, or in some cases were just plain crap for my uses. I had been lusting over several of the F-Stop Gear mountain series of bags for a while, but every time I had money to spend, it usually went to other gear that I needed a little more. However this Feburary I decided it was time and ordered the F-Stop Tilopa BC in malibu blue.
To my excitement I received a box from F-Stop Gear a little over a week later, but what I found inside initially disappointed me. I had ordered a bright malibu blue Tilopa BC, but a black Satori EXP was in the box. Even though it was not the pack I ordered, I was glad for the opportunity to check out the largest pack that F-Stop makes. The high quality build of the pack was apparent immediately and considering this was the big pack, it looks smaller than other packs I have that are claimed to be a similar volume. I think this is because you can cinch the pack down when its not completely filled. I also received the XL ICU(internal camera unit), which will be the only one I have until I decide which other size I want to have in addition.
Since I had the pack available, I set to loading the ICU and getting it setup to hold my gear. It was relatively easy to load through the top of the pack, and took less than twenty mintues to setup for the camera gear I use most often. F-Stop customer service was great in regards to the mistake and said go ahead and use the black bag until they send the correct one. Didn't have to ask me twice, since I was shooting a duathlon in Arizona the next day.
Loading the ICU is easy and setup is too with plenty of supplied dividers. The ICU attaches to the bag at four points and seems to stay put nicely. The bag is very comfortable when loaded with two Nikon D700 bodies, Nikon 70-200f2.8 VR, N 24-70f2.8, 16-35F4 VR, N 50F1.4, and two Large speed lights, remote triggers, four D700 batteries, and various other small supporting gear. Even with that relatively heavy load it balances well and gives plenty of adjustments for cinching down.
While working an event in Arizona I found the fully loaded pack comfortable while riding my mountain bike on a moderate xc trail. I was able to attach one of my light weight Manfrotto BAC light stands to the side and tripod can also easily be attached. This is definitely an all day top of pack and I actually love the size, even though it's larger than the bag I ordered. In fact I ended up deciding I wanted Satori more than the Tilopa, but I still wanted the Malibu blue. When shooting triathlons, I end up on open roads fairly often and I thought the bright blue bag would help with visibility.
After owning the Satori EXP for several weeks, I couldn't be happier with my purchase. The bag is extremely comfortable, even when loaded with 35lbs + of gear. The bag easily fits a 15" Mac Book Pro and even with the XL ICU I have room for extra clothes, rain jacket, and various other gear.
I will update this review after I get some more time with the pack and I may actually order another F-Stop Gear pack for a lighter weight setup when I plan to put long miles on the mountain bike in the high country.