Gear Reviews Hiking and Camping Mountain Biking

f-stop AJNA – Pack Review

f-stop AJNA – Pack Review

The New f-stop AJNA Has Your Back, No Matter What!

If you consider yourself a serious photographer, then you should seriously check out the AJNA 4ol.

Let’s be clear, f-stop don’t make good packs, they make great packs! We could end it here but we know that would make for a very short review, so let’s continue. f-stop celebrated their 10 year anniversary in 2016 and their packs have gone through many rounds of innovation since bringing the modular ICU model to the camera market.

The Mountain series ranges from the 80L Shinn through to the 32L Lotus, alongside their Ultralight ‘UL’ Series which includes the 30L Kashmir – designed especially for women or men with shorter torso lengths.

fstop ajna
The Ajna (orange) fits in around the middle of the range at 40L. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

 

Features

The f-stop packs are very water resistant. I’ve had mine in heavy downpours without a rain cover and there was next to no water getting into the pack, and better still, none even got close to my camera gear. However, rain covers are an optional extra and the packs do have a storage pocket and attachment loops for them.

ICU

The internal camera units (ICUs) are a great piece of interchangeable gear. It’s basically the removable guts of the bag that allows you to customise and fit your camera gear safely. I have a couple of ICU’s that hold different kits and I’ll just throw one into the pack depending on my needs. All setup and ready to go.

Everything in its right place with the ICU. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonEverything in its right place with the ICU. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
The ICU slides in to the top of the pack. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonThe ICU slides in to the top of the pack. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
The ICU can also be carried on its own. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonThe ICU can also be carried on its own. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Comfort

What really sealed it for me was how comfortable the Ajna felt on my back. My full kit weighs in around 12-14kgs. When I need to spend all day lugging this around, comfort is of the maximum importance to me. F-Stop has not only made a pack that can store photography gear, they’ve looked long and hard at what makes a pack comfortable.

The comfort comes from an internal aluminium frame which provides the overall structure and rigidity, maintaining good shape whilst still being lightweight. Combine this with the ergonomically designed hip belt and shoulder straps, which have been injected with a gel-like material, and you get an exceptionally comfortable pack.

f-stop ajna
A rare shot of myself in a photo, I’m usually behind the lens. The F-Stop Ajna is incredibly comfortable when fully loaded with camera gear. Photo: @Richard McGibbon
f-stop ajna
A shot of Jason (Chief Editor Tyres and Soles) testing the F-Stop Ajna high up in mountains. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Storage

There’s enough storage in the Ajna to easily store all my camera gear plus food and water for a day on the hill. This is ideal as I’m out on location for long sessions at a time and need to ensure that I have everything with me.

Access to the ICU is via a padded rear panel constructed with heavy gauge catch-free YKK® zippers which opens up to give you full access to the entire ICU unit. Having this rear access means that you can place the pack down on its front, access all your gear and avoid getting mud on the harness straps and your clothing.

The main internal access is from the top zippered panel and is roomy enough for all sorts of gear, clothing etc. There are also easily accessible side pockets with full-length zippers and an expandable design, so you can cinch the pack in or keep filling it out. All zippers are heavy duty wet weather resistant and are remarkably catch free…ah heaven!

There’s also a multipurpose internal sleeve that can fit either a 13” laptop or can be used as a hydration bladder pocket.

Hydration system compatible with Velcro® sealed tube port. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonHydration system compatible with Velcro® sealed tube port. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
More attachment options. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonMore attachment options. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
Attachment loops can hold snow shovels, sleeping mat or your tripods. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonAttachment loops can hold snow shovels, sleeping mat or your tripods. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
Tear resistant and breathable fabrics. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonTear resistant and breathable fabrics. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

The Little Things

The Ajna has more pockets, attachment loops, bungee cords, straps and hooks than you could possibly need on a single trip. The pack has ice axe, avalanche shovel, sleeping bag attachments but I tend to use these to keep my tripods strapped and secure.

And for storing smaller items like passport, wallet, keys and phone, there’s a zippered mesh underside lid pocket. It’s the small details like this that can make a big difference when your travelling interstate or overseas.

f-stop ajna
It’s the little things that make a big difference. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
f-stop ajna
More hooks and loops than you can throw a stick at. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Durability

Unlike many products these days the F-Stop packs are robust. Being none too gentle with my equipment, my bags tend to take a bit of a beating. They get thrown down, dropped on rough surfaces, rained on, tossed on the wet muddy ground and dragged around. To date, I have never had anything get damaged inside my pack aside from managing to squash a banana.

The packs have been designed for use in the mountains and you can see this in all the materials and parts used. The material, zippers and attachment points are all of the highest quality and can withstand years of abuse. I know from personal experience with my other F-Stop packs.

The main fabric is made from a breathable oxford-weave ripstop nylon and AdvantaTM, a thermoplastic polyurethane film giving it high tear resistance. The Ajna also features a Hypalon® reinforced base for extra protection if you drop your bag onto rocky or hard surfaces.

The Hypalon® reinforced base for extra protection. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonThe Hypalon® reinforced base for extra protection. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
Comfortable hip belt. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonComfortable hip belt. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
Large pockets abound. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonLarge pockets abound. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Key Feature List

  • Highly tear resistant, wet weather and breathable fabrics
  • Hydration system with Velcro® sealed tube port
  • 4 Internal ICU attachment points
  • Heavy-duty 3-fold carry handle
  • All-day support provided by an internal aluminium frame
  • Quick-release side compression straps
  • Adjustable sternum strap with an integrated whistle for emergencies
  • Soft Flex injection molded EVA belt and shoulder straps for all-day comfort
  • Water and weather resistance YKK® Aquaguard® zippers
  • Fast and catch-free closures
  • Reinforced base
  • Multipurpose internal and external pocket configurations inc laptop storage.
  • Accessory attachments via 16 GateKeeper mounting points (GateKeepers sold separately)

Specifications

  • Height: 59.7cm | 23.5in
  • Width: 33cm | 13in
  • Depth: 26.7cm | 10.5in
  • Volume: 40 Litres
  • Weight: 1.7kgs | 3.75lbs
  • ICU sold separately
Catch free, heavy duty YKK zips. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonCatch free, heavy duty YKK zips. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
Rear access to the ICU. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonRear access to the ICU. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
The Ajna was built for the mountains. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonThe Ajna was built for the mountains. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Where To Buy/ Availability

The F-Stop Ajna is available to buy at most good photography stores. Click here to discover the full F-Stop range.

Price: $399 approx


 Conclusions

Richard McGibbon

Author: Richard McGibbon

I am an adventure and alternative sports photographer based in Sydney. I shoot people in motion doing sports such as mountain biking, trail running, surfing, free-running and I love it. I am happiest when I am behind the camera.
I’m the co-founder of Outer Image Collective, a photography company that specialises in covering events such as mountain biking, adventure racing and trail running races.
You can find more of my work at Richardmcgibbon.com

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