F-Stop Guru UL with Small Pro ICU
I bought this F-Stop Guru UL backpack along with a Small Pro ICU (Internal Camera Unit) close to a year ago. The reason why I got this was because it was the summer holidays (yes, it is summer from Dec to Feb here in Australia) and I like to bring along my camera gear while out and about with my son.
He was 4 years old then so I had to have his toys, change of clothes, wet wipes and snacks inside the camera bag. Prior to getting this backpack, my camera bags are all dedicated camera bags – which means there are no spaces for non-camera items so I’ve had to carry both my camera bag and a bag for his stuff.
Enter the F-Stop Guru UL… I did buy the F-Stop Lotus 32L at first but it was a bit too big and definitely looked like a hiking backpack – which is was what F-Stop bags are made for.
The Guru UL is compact at 25L and didn’t look too “out there” when walking along the city with it.
I initially bought the Small Shallow ICU in the hope that I can fit my 15″ MacBook Pro whenever I needed to carry my laptop too. Unfortunately, the padding is too thin to just insert the laptop behind the ICU and when I use a padded sleeve with my laptop, it was way too tight. In the end, I got rid of the Small Shallow ICU and got the Small Pro ICU instead. This gives me more usable space for my camera gear without sacrificing the space for non-camera items.
I do find that the F-Stop Guru UL is very well built and I like how compact it can get if the pack is empty besides the ICU.
One thing why I preferred the Guru to the Lotus is the organiser pockets in front of the pack. This area can fit quite a number of things like jackets, beanies and other bits and pieces. There are also pockets for pens, business cards/spare batt, a clip-on holder for your keys and a small zippered section can store other things like passport or maybe microfibre cloth.
There is a sleeve inside the main section where the ICU lives for a hydration bladder – something I did not care much about as I wouldn’t want to put any liquid near my camera gear – but that’s just my personal choice. If you use one, it is good to know that there is a hole where you can pass the tube out to the backpack strap and clip it on there.
Using the Small Pro ICU, I was able to fit the following in it:
- Canon 5D3 with EF 35mm f1.4L attached
- Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM lens
- Canon EF 40mm pancake lens
- Canon G7X II point n shoot camera.
- Other acc like memory card wallet and spare batteries.
Other features that I like about this bag are the pockets around the waist straps, the D-rings on the shoulder harness, various loops you can hook things on and the compression strap on the side of the bag. I also prefer the water bottle holder in the Guru compared to the side pockets of the Lotus bag.
I do like the size of the Guru UL backpack and find it practical. However, at the moment, I am “culling” some of my less frequently used bags (maybe to make room for other bags? *wink*). In terms of F-Stop bags, I own/owned the Guru UL 25L, the Lotus 32L and the Ajna 40L with 5 ICUs (small shallow, small pro, medium shallow, medium slope and large pro).
I have since sold the Lotus 32L with both the small shallow and medium shallow ICUs and have put the Ajna with the large pro ICU on the market. This leaves me with the Guru and the small pro and medium slope ICUs. So if I’m not really taking advantage of the whole swapping of ICUs between multiple bags, I am seriously thinking of replacing the Guru with both the ICUs with the Mindshift Gear Backlight 26L backpack.
UPDATE (17 Dec 2018): I sold this bag today. I really like the size of this bag but I’m not too keen on the ICUs. The Small Pro is too small to fit all that I wanted to bring and I feel the Medium Slope is too big for the bag (where the top section is above the opening of the back panel). In its place, I’ve ordered the MindShift Gear Backlight 26L – should hopefully arrive in the next week or so.