F-Stop Anja 40 L Camera Backpack | The Long Term Review - Outdoors Magic

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F-Stop Anja 40 L Camera Backpack | The Long Term Review

Ryan Van Kesteren, Head of Creative at Outdoors Magic, has seriously been putting the F-Stop Anja camera to the test for the past six months

I’d heard a lot of hype about F-Stop camera bags over the past few years and on first impression I can see why. It’s stylish, well made and looks like a safe vessel for my beloved camera equipment. But does the Anja live up to the hype? Well, I took the pack to the Zermatt Backcountry, followed by Tignes, another trip to Switzerland and two trips to Scotland through this year’s ski season, giving me a great insight on how this pack survives the hardship of film / photography trips.

I was using the Anja bag in combination with a medium ICU (Internal Camera Unit). This gave me enough space to pack extra mid-layers, lunch, water and even a helmet inside the main compartment. Within this ICU, I was carrying a Sony A7R II, Sony 24-70 lens, Sony 90mm prime lens, Voigtlander 15mm prime lens and a wireless mic set, which just about maxed out the space.

I would occasionally swap the primes lens for a Sony 70-200 which just about fits. I found the medium ICU to be the perfect size for a mirrorless setup as it leaves enough space for the gear you need for days in the mountains. Plus if I really needed to take another lens I could fit it in the top compartment in its own case. 

My bag is always at its heaviest when I’m travelling by plane. That’s usually because I’ve stuffed in as many spare batteries as I can from other film crew members to help spread the load. When the bag was fully loaded I appreciated the sturdy build quality, which made the weight feel secure and well balanced. The shoulder straps, hip belt and back panel are very well padded, making heavy journeys as comfortable as possible. The dimensions of the bag fall within the criteria for cabin luggage and with all that padding you can carry the bag like it’s actually within the 10kg weight limit.

Having a camera bag you can rely on becomes quite important on ski and snowboard shoots”

The only downside I found was the lack of a designated laptop pocket that fits a 15” MacBook. There are ways to cram a laptop in around your camera gear, but I found it easier to carry mine by hand when heading for the flight.

Having a camera bag you can rely on becomes quite important on ski and snowboard shoots; it has to carry everything you need for the whole day. It also has to be secure and comfortable enough to ride challenging terrain. On top of this, your camera gear needs to be protected from any mistakes you might make on your way down the hill. The Anja has all those points covered.

In addition to what I packed in the main compartment, I also had room for my avalanche gear in the front and side pockets, splitboard poles attached to the side straps and skins in the top pocket. When loaded, the bag felt secure enough to cross terrain that I would find challenging without a camera bag on my back. Even after a few bum sides, my camera gear was in perfect working order at the end of each trip.

The usability is also well suited to snow shoots. The back opening main compartment works as you’d imagine, making it easy to access your camera within seconds. The zip pulls are relatively chunky and can be used with gloves on. I’m tempted to add some strings for extra ease, but after four trips it still hasn’t happened, so it’s not essential. 

The water repellent material offers just enough protection against the elements for shooting in snowy locations. My kit stayed perfectly dry on almost every shoot day. Although I was caught in a (inevitable) prolonged downpour in Scotland, which let some moisture through to my camera, but not enough to cause damage. 

A final nod has to go to the front and side straps that allow you to carry either skis or a snowboard, either as an A-Frame, or across the front of the pack. These can come in handy if you have a long hike or scramble to get to where you need to shoot. 

The bag looks great, it’s simplistic design definitely appeals to my taste. That being said, with that simplicity there are some sacrifices. I found myself missing an elasticated external pocket – the lack of one makes it difficult to quickly stash your gloves, goggles and the like. 

The inside of the back panel features what looks like webbing for Molle accessories, although I couldn’t find a description on the F-Stop website. For me, some extra pockets for memory cards and lens wipes would be more useful. 

This bag definitely lives up to F-Stop’s reputation for making quality products. If you’re looking for a stylish, robust and user-friendly camera bag the Anja is worth your attention. I’ve been able to rely on it for some quite challenging shoots and I imagine I’ll still be using it at the end of next winter.

Price: £225
Weight: 1,700g
Info: fstopgear.com

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