I’m obviously kidding when I say this is the best backpack in the universe, because everyones needs are different. However after travelling all over with various backpacks I must say the Tilopa BC has been designed by photographers who actually get out further than one hundred feet away from their car.
I have had numerous Lowepro and Kata backpacks in the past and found they were able to fit a lot of camera gear. Overall though, I found their design to be very impractical, and they felt uncomfortable on longer hikes.
A lot of places worth visiting are off the beaten path and I typically want some room for extra layers of clothing. Other things I like to take are a flash light, water and assorted snacks as well as a small monarch chair in addition to my cameras and 13″ Mac Book Air. There is enough room to attach a small tent to the side and a fairly sturdy tripod on the rear (or other side) of the pack.
This might sound like a lot of stuff but the harness system and the frame of the backpack keeps everything sturdy. The weight distribution is so good that it’s easy to forget about the backpack altogether, a huge plus when carrying the pack around all day.
The biggest feature for me is the back panel access which prevents getting your back wet or dirty after the backpack has been put down on the ground to access equipment. This situation occurs so often that I’m actually surprised all backpacks don’t offer this type of design. Even better than this is the ability to swing the backpack to the front (with hip belt fastened) to access all the equipment while standing in water or in mud. Since the pack acts as a waist level “table” in this position, it’s very easy and safe to change filters, lenses and batteries without having to worry about dropping anything.
The camera compartment is interchangeable and f-stop calls this the ICU (internal camera unit). You can slide it in from the top and swap it out for a smaller one if you want to take less camera and more camping gear. I was able to fit a Pentax 645D with a 55mm and 120mm lens and a GH2 body with the 100-300mm, 14-45mm and 20mm lenses, 4 batteries, and a few filters without much hassle into the large ICU. I suspect if I was going to carry a 400mm 645 lens or a Nikon D4 system the extra large ICU would be more appropriate.
To get more information on the f-stop backpacks visit their website and pick one up for your next photography adventure trip.