After using f-stop Ajna for a few good years it was time to look around and try something different. I was really happy with Ajna, so my expectations about its possible replacement were high. Thanks to my good friends @f-stop I got a chance to test out a new version of Tilopa 50L. Tilopa’s latest edition came out a year ago and I wanted to test it out properly before I could wrap this experience into a review which could be possibly beneficial for the folks who are thinking about getting one for themselves.
Tilopa is a 50L travel and adventure camera backpack. It’s made out of DuraDiamondTM material, which is f-stop’s material. It’s stronger, lighter weight and more weather resistant than the previous version. The new fabric is exclusive to f-stop and is available on a new set of bags which came out at the end of 2021. So, after using it for almost a year now I can confirm that aspect. The fabric is indeed very sturdy and made in a way which makes it durable and weather resistant. I tested it out in cold weather of -20 celsius in Sweden and Estonia. Placed it into the snowbanks, opened the bag to get some gear during my photo shoots. It held up very nicely. After the whole day of heavy usage the bag was completely dry in and outside and showed no marks of having any difficulties coping with this kind of weather.
The weather was quite tricky this past year. I also saw a lot of rain throughout my assignments which naturally gave me a chance and a need to use my Tilopa out there. Tilopa had no problem laying on a wet surface and it held up nicely whenever I needed to take something out of the bag. I also had a need to wear it during a heavy rain and it didn’t let any rain through. Tilopa was completely dry inside and there weren't any signs of possible humidity either. Upgraded weather resistant zippers including woven-in zippers worked very nicely. It gives you a well needed peace of mind as well as comfort that all your gear is well protected no matter the weather outside. Even when you have to work in the most insane conditions you should still be fine and that’s exactly the knowledge and care that the people at f-stop did while making the latest version of 50L Tilopa. It distinguishes the bag from others.
One of the other new features of the new version bag is the BLOOM™ foam (algae-based) in shoulder straps and hip belt for all-day comfort. Carrying a heavy bag is always a challenge. So it’s extremely important that one should be comfortable while doing so. As a person who travels a lot I do a lot of mileage in and outside of the airports across the globe. My bag is equipped with lots of kilograms of photo equipment plus laptop, some much needed clothing and accessories. All together it quickly weighs up to a magical number of 20 kg. If I put aside the fact that one needs to be in a good physical state you also need to use a comfortable system to carry that kind of weight around. The new shoulder straps are very light weight. They don’t put your shoulder in a state where you feel a lot of discomfort after wearing the bag for some time. It’s all linked very closely to the aluminum frame, which shifts pack's weight to hips for all day carry comfort. If anything you will only feel the physical weight of the equipment which is in the bag. The straps are comfy and offer the user a good user experience. I would describe it as follows: it’s an even distribution of the weight of the bag from top to bottom and you will be able to wear it for long hours without really feeling a lot of discomfort. Shoulder straps are also small. That means they don’t take a lot of space. It’s very handy while traveling. Especially on those small airplanes! Even though I’m not a big fan of the hip belt it doesn’t bother me. Put it together and wrap it in front of the bag. I can easily use it on the field whenever there’s a need.
The new 50L Tilopa got some big upgrades compared to older version in the organization and storage features. Tilopa has some new pockets, lid, and back panel. All of this is something that I have been hoping for some time and let me tell you: I was thrilled when I got the bag. The new storage features were well thought through. They were easy to get into and had enough capacity for different kinds of items, for example cash and coins, hand wipes, phone accessories, memory card holder, cleaning cloth for my eyeglasses, a small screwdriver, etc. The game changer for me was the redesign of the back compartment. From now on I can slid my 15’’ MacBook Pro into the PC sleeve without hesitation. I don’t have to worry anymore if my laptop would break down from the camera equipment which use to be on top of the laptop sleeve on the previous version. The new system is also very convenient for the user. You just open up the back compartment and within 3-5 seconds you have a access to your laptop and other photo gear. The front compartment is big enough for some accessories and rain jacket. You can also slide there a midsize book or kindle dependent on your preference.
The Tilopa comes in 3 colors: black, green and red/orange. They all look very cool so the final choice is obviously yours. I went with a black one and the reasons are very practical. The main one being the fact that I need to travel a lot. I also need to spend a lot of time in airports. Black doesn’t stand out so much and it just makes it that much easier for me.
My go-to gear which goes into the bag:
● Canon R5
● Canon R6
● RF series lens 70-200mm F2,8
● L series lens 85mm F1,4
● RF series lens 16-35mm F2,8
● Double battery charger
● Two external flash gun batteries
● Accessories (cables, rain cover and etc)
● Godox V1 flashgun
● External hard drive
● 15’’ Macbook Pro
● PocketWizard transfer/receiver units
That’s a lot of equipment and I can take it all with me without worrying whether I would need to be making any compromises because of the size of my camera bag. f-stop showed once again why they are so good at what they do and I’m really happy that they look out for my gear so well. The 50L Tilopa is one of a kind and it suits perfectly for a traveling photographer who needs to take a good amount of gear with him for the assignments.
Photos by /Kristi Palm-Anis/
Link to f-stop webpage - https://shop.fstopgear.com/
Link to f-stop Tilopa 50L - https://shop.fstopgear.com/camera-bags/tilopa-50l-duradiamond-travel-and-adventure-camera-backpack/