F-stop Loka UL
MSRP: TBD, coming out this spring
Ski photographers have a pretty good thing going. They follow athletes to stunning spots across the globe and produce images that inspire the rest of us. Of course, there's a lot to it. Not only do you have to be talented with a camera, but you also need the endurance and skills to follow skiers up and down technical terrain while carrying pounds of camera gear.
There are a couple camera bag companies out there that target these kinds of professional photographers, but out of the bunch, f-stop has emerged as a favorite. Many pro shooters—including a solid representation from POWDER senior photographers—use bags from their Mountain Series and their newest edition, the Loka UL, will likely be a go-to as well.
The Loka UL is essentially a lighter version of their regular Loka, a large daypack that's been a mainstay in the line for years. To minimize weight, f-stop did things like punch holes in the hip belt and take away straps and accessories. Without any cameras, the bag weighs just a kilo, or 2.2 pounds—more than a pound lighter than the original.
Fortunately, the Loka UL still has an internal frame, which makes it rigid and more comfortable when packed down. The side has quick-release straps for a tripod, ice axes, or skis. It also uses DWR-treated double ripstop nylon, so it will take plenty of abuse without tearing, and your gear won't get wet when the bag is lying in the snow.
The Loka UL is 37 liters, which is plenty of room for several camera bodies and lenses plus lunch and extra layers. It works with a bunch of the company's ICUs, or customizable and removable padded camera cases, and there's a pocket and port for a hydration system.
Like many of f-stop's bigger, outdoor bags, the Loka UL has a rear-access back panel, which zips down to reveal all your cameras. This is a nice feature because it's much easier to get at your gear from the back instead of having to pile through the top of the bag.
The only thing the bag is missing, at least for us skiers, is a dedicated avy pocket. It's built to be used for multiple sports, though, so I understand why f-stop didn't build one in. Overall there's plenty of room to squeeze a shovel and probe in the bag, but you'll have to pile through everything to get at them; no easy access.
F-stop hasn't landed on a final price, but they say the bag will cost about $200. They hope to start pre-orders later this month, and the bag will officially launch in May.