Road Tests :: Burton F-Stop Pack
Our newest contributor and professional photographer Shelby Craig took the Burton F-Stop Pack on his travels to test how this camera backpack fared being put through its paces in a range of environments…
The Bag: Burton F-Stop Pack
Specs: [25.5 in x 12 in x 7.5 in][65 cm x 30.5 cm x 19 cm]
Empty Weight: 5.1 lbs [2.3 kg]
Action sports brands such as Burton began making bags for their staff photographers because mainstream photo companies have no idea what surf, snow or skate shooters need in a bag for their gear. Burton has a solid history in the bag department over the past few years and as an avid surf/travel shooter I was excited to see what they were up to. Burton appropriately named their camera pack range “The Photographer Series” which consists of four bags hovering around the 26-30 liter mark. I was lucky to get my hands on the F-Stop Pack which was designed by Burton pros to have “backcountry-grade capabilities that are just as at home on the street”.
In airport codes: SYD-LAX-SNA-DEN-EGE-JFK-EWR-MDW-LAX-SNA-SFO-SYD
A quick two-week trip to the US took me from the suburbs to the mountains and to a few big cities too. Even though it was summer and I didn’t have any slopes to slide down I put the F-Stop to work. Eight flights, five cars, three trains, two alpine hikes and a big day walking around the Big Apple, it was a solid and diverse test.
When the pack arrived I was pleasantly surprised by how solid it was. Built out of CORDURA® fabric the bag felt bulletproof. The side effect of being bulletproof though is the F-Stop has a bit of weight to it – 2.3 kgs to be exact.
The F-Stop is a big bag. I struggled to fit it in the overhead compartment of a plane without taking up the whole thing. Most people in their right mind wouldn’t want to carry such a large bag through the city so I’m not sure about it being “right at home on the street”. I learnt this the hard way through eight hours out in NYC summer heat. As a hiking camera pack it is still pretty big. You don’t really need that much gear when in the backcountry for the day. But if you were on some sort of motorbike or snowmobile this would be your dream pack.
The exterior pockets and straps on the F-Stop are actually quite intuitive and useful, which is a nice change from previous camera packs I’ve used. The 2x side pockets are great to hold anything from a charger to some snacks and are easy to access because they are not built into the bag but rather out of it. One pocket is even coated/insulated for a reason I couldn’t figure out. I think it could fit a tinny if you squeeze.
Behind the side pockets on both sides are shovel/ice pick pockets for backcountry adventures. These are relatively useless in the summer time for anything besides a small monopod or pole. Below these are some tiny water bottle holders that I couldn’t get any of my bottles to fit into (I used them for power bars instead). Similarly the front of the bag has a long but shallow open/cinch pocket that doesn’t fit more than a few magazines or a thin jacket. The board straps do feel solid and I trust Burton to know how to carry a board on my back. Lastly, the top of the bag has a generous pocket with a removable pouch inside, good for quick-access items such as memory cards, iPods and batteries.
The interior of the F-Stop is equally built to last. A thick padded adjustable and removable camera insert keeps your precious glass safe on your back. The adjustable padded divider system is easy to set up in a way that works for you. My one complaint about it is that it is too shallow to hold a pro DSLR or DSLR with vertical grip unless it is detached from the lens.
A nice extra piece for the snow bound photographer is the detachable powder guard that Velcros over the top of the padded divider system, keeping out pesky moisture and snow. There are two transparent interior pockets that are good for filters (padded cases) and the other odds and ends that photographers carry. The main disappointment with the interior is that it really doesn’t hold much camera gear in comparison to the large size of the bag.
The carry and support system on the F-Stop is where this bag really shines. With multi-adjustable and padded shoulder straps and an adjustable harness height it can suit any torso size. Thick and supportive waist straps take the brunt of the weight off your back and transfer it into your legs like good hiking packs do.
The finishings are top notch too. From thick coated zippers to twice looped and tied zipper strings this bag doesn’t feel like it will tear anytime soon no matter how much gear gets thrown in.
Major Pet Peeve
Nowhere on the F-Stop is there a laptop or iPad compartment. I get that this is a backcountry bag but in this day and age of digital capture why would there not be a spot for a laptop or iPad? This bag is designed for snowboarders and I get that, but snowboarders travel a lot. The last thing you want to do as a traveling snowboarder/photographer is have yet another bag for your laptop when you already have an extra one for your boards etc. The laptop is an essential piece of equipment for a photographer and to exclude this is plain shortsightedness. To give Burton credit though, some of their other packs in their “Photography Series” do have laptop pockets.
The Burton F-Stop is a solid backcountry camera pack for photographers not flying around too much. If you’re sticking at one mountain for the season or driving around a bit then this is your bag. The build is more than solid and leagues above some of the big camera bag brands. It looks and feels like a serious pack that will keep your gear safe no matter the season or mountain.
- Solid overall build
- CORDURA® fabric
- Strong zippers
- Clever external pockets
- Tough internal padding
- External shovel pockets
- Secure vertical board holder
- Load-balance waist harness with adjustable straps
- Simple all-black look
- Heavy build means heavy empty weight
- No laptop or iPad compartment
- For its size it doesn’t hold enough gear
- Slightly too tall for most overhead bins
- Camera padded compartment not deep enough
- No rain cover
- Only really suited for the mountain