I thought I’ll give you my impressions of the F-stop Mountain Series Lotus backpack that I have been using for a few months now.

I bought it when it was on sale at B&H for $190.-, which was an attractive price, to haul around my Linhof Technika V. When I was looking for a backpack I narrowed my search to a back-loading backpack for simple reasons: when you have a front-loading backpack and you set it down, you’ll get dirt, mud, and water on the back side of your backpack, and when you put the backpack on your back, you get all that dirt and water on the back of your t-shirt/jacket. Not so with a back-loading backpack. Also, your gear can’t call fall out when you forget to fully close the zipper (because its sits against your back) and thieves have no access when you walk through the streets. That’s why in my opinion, a back-loading backpack is an absolute must.

The size is perfect for my 4x5 and all the gear and accessories. Now, the one thing you need to know is that the backpack does’t come with an insert and the f-stop inserts are very expensive. The trick is to simply buy a cheaper insert. F-Stop’s ICU Large insert costs $100.- (ouch!), but the Jill-E Design insert is virtually identical in size and only costs $39.-.

The insert has space for my 4x5 with plenty of room for 3 lenses, a light meter and other things. The full size of the insert is 11x18 inches, which should allow larger cameras. In the top compartment I have two filter pouches for large filters (up to 82mm), cable release, a Rocket blower, lens cleaning cloth, pens, and other things. In the large pocket in the front I store a notebook and dark cloth, with plenty of room to spare. The straps on the side allows you to carry a tripod, as long as it's not too heavy. Materials and zippers are all top notch. I used it a few times in the rain and no water came inside of any of the compartments. A bonus feature is that the aluminum frame inside the backpack is padded, which protects your gear, and there are plenty of attachment points where you can secures straps for your jacket, a blanket, etc.

Overall, I find the backpack very comfortable to carry. I could go on hours-long hikes with my heavy gear and because the weight sits on your hips when you tighten the straps, it doesn’t feel heavy and there are no pressure points.

Overall, it’s a great backpack for LF gear and highly recommended.