f-stop AJNA – Pack Review
Let’s be clear, f-stop doesn’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 its 10 year anniversary in 2016 and its packs have gone through many rounds of innovation since bringing the modular ICU model to the camera market.
If you consider yourself a serious photographer, then you should seriously check out the AJNA 4ol.
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.
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.
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 set up and ready to go.
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, but they’ve also 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.
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 open 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.
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 an 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 passports, wallets, keys and phones, there’s a zippered mesh underside lid pocket. It’s the small details like this that can make a big difference when your travel interstate or overseas.
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.
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)
- Height: 59.7cm | 23.5in
- Width: 33cm | 13in
- Depth: 26.7cm | 10.5in
- Volume: 40 Litres
- Weight: 1.7kgs | 3.75lbs
- ICU sold separately
Where To Buy/ Availability
F-Stop Ajna: $399 approx
The F-Stop Ajna is available to buy at most good photography stores. Click here to discover the full F-Stop range.