Tag Archives: backpack

f-stop Tilopa: My quick review

I used Tilopa for a quick 220m hike to photograph sunrise from Panorama Hill (Bukit Panorama) which located at Sungai Lembing Town, about 45 km from Kuantan.

The bag is very light. That was my first impression. The straps are great. The compartments are all useful. Huge side pockets are very convenience as compared to other bags that I have. The zips are tough.

However when I first load my gears, I realized that the ICU is pretty small. I can’t fit in my 300mm lens. But that’s OK as I don’t think I’ll hike 3000m mountain with a 300mm. I can fit my D3 attached to 70-200mm VR f2.8 and D300s with 14-24mm f2.8. Also I have one more space for my speedlight. I’ll show some pictures when I have time to transfer them into the PC.

I also put into its top compartment some snacks and my headlamp; 2 bottles of mineral water & poncho into the side pockets & my Feisol CT-3442 carbon fibre tripod strapped to the back. I didn’t really measure the weight but I guess circa 10 kg or slightly more.

The bag was comfortable to wear but after a few minutes, maybe after 30 minutes I feel uncomfortable at the waist support. I think the waist support is not wide enough. Even my Lowepro Primus has thicker padding. And the corner of the bottom of the bag (the inner side) kept hurting my waist. I am 173cm tall with waist circumference of 36 inches. Waist support is everything about a good backpack.

The back of the bag is pretty hot after a while. They should start looking at how to improve circulation to the back of the bag.

So as the conclusion:

Good Points:

  1. Light
  2. Great straps
  3. Varieties of compartments
  4. Tough zips

Things can be improved

  1. Waist support
  2. Poor air circulation at the back of the bag

Overall, I am happy with Tilopa. I am yet to test it on serious long trekking trip.

Update: I have updated my view on Tilopa. You guys can check on them. The recent one is here.

Just ordered a Tilopa!


I am very very happy today when I discovered that f-stop gear is shipping the bag to Malaysia FOC! I placed my order immediately. It cost me USD295. The shipping is via USPS….of which I know it gonna arrive pretty late & I might not be able to use it during my trip to Indonesia in March.

Still…..I am so happy! My muse about bags here.

p/s Now…I just worry about the custom tax.

Update: Just few hours after I placed my order, Druid Orion, the Managing Director emailed me saying that it might arrived within 7 days. Thanks for the email Druid!

Update #2:

Bullet Out of Foreign Customs, March 02, 2010, 11:16 am, MALAYSIA
Bullet Into Foreign Customs, March 02, 2010, 10:59 am, MALAYSIA
Bullet Arrived Abroad, March 02, 2010, 8:15 am, MALAYSIA
Bullet International Dispatch, February 25, 2010, 5:17 am, ISC CHICAGO IL (USPS)
Bullet Arrival
Bullet Electronic Shipping Info Received, February 22, 2010

Update #3: Today, 4th March 2010 the bag finally arrived!! Yes! Will test it during Panorama hiking this Sunday!

Ideal bag for outdoor photography

I love photographing beautiful & scenic not-for-usual-tourist kind of places. Been to few jungles & mountains, locally or in Indonesia. Been searching for the perfect bag for ages. I already have a lot of camera bags. All of them are Lowepro. From Nova 4, Off-trail II (sold), Computrekker AW (sold), Inversion 200AW, Computrekker Plus AW, Top-loader 75AW and Primus AW. My favorite at the moment is the Primus but it is not ergonomic & killing my back for a long hiking. For someone with prolapsed disc, this is not good. During the last outdoor adventure up to more than 2000m high Mount Rinjani, I can’t simply carry my own bag, the Primus. I had to rely on the porter to carry all my bags. But I soon discovered than carrying heavier loads with my Deuter Quantum 55-10L, a proper backpack for hiking, seems ‘lighter’ than the Primus. Therefore I believe that a suitable bag matters.

Since then I have been searching for a suitable solutions for such activity. These are few possible solutions:

  1. Use my Deuter Quantum plus Lowepro Toploader (over my chest) – Cons: I find it difficult to descend with huge bag on my chest. It was difficult to see my own step. And the number of lenses able to be carried is limited & I need to use pouches for each lens & put them inside my Quantum. Pro: Easy access to my camera (and one lens) – therefore more picture or else, I will just use my P&S.
  2. Buy Domke inserts & put it into my Deuter Futura 35L. I’ll put the rest of the stuff like cloth, jacket etc on top of the camera. Cons: It will be a nightmare to remove the camera from the bag during the hiking. Meaning less picture from the DSLR. This combo is just meant to carry the camera & lenses from point A to point B.
  3. f-stop bags!! Just found out about this bag & its extraordinary Internal-Camera-Unit (ICU). The ICU serves as paddings for the camera & lenses, and the best thing is that it has special access to all the camera & accessories. However I still need to put down the bag to get the camera. So, I can take out the camera but it won’t be handy. And the major cons is the price! A Tilopa + ICU = USD290. And the courier charge from US to Malaysia using UPS is another USD280!! More pictures of f-stop gears’ products available here.

    (source: http://www.fstopgear.com/now/media/gallery/66-action-shots/139-gerd-riegers-tilopa-setup-20080612)

So for now, I may have to choose Option #1 as I don’t have to spend anymore $$. I just need to descend slowly.

2009-06-13 12-06-04

Me with the toploader when climbing Mount Nuang in Selangor.

Note (June 2010): I have bought more bags including f-stopgear Tilopa which had cost me RM1000 with the internal compartment unit but it is not suitable for deep tropical jungle trekking. Now testing the ThinTank Photo waist bags solution.