Backpacks take a beating and are out in all weather conditions. They must protect our equipment, be versatile, usable and comfortable for long hikes. So how does Tilopa’s new incarnation, Tilopa Duradiamond, fare?
F-stop has been making backpacks and camera accessories for 15 years now, so you can tell they’ve had a lot of time to adapt, respond, reinvest, and create a product that is well worth it. ‘invest. Well, with this backpack they ‘did it again.
I have been an F-Stop user for many years now. I have a few internal camera units (ICUs), the Navin camera holster, and the Ajna-40L backpack. So when I got the chance to review one of the new backpacks, I jumped at the chance.
So if you think of “another biased review,” you mean no. I’ve been using F-stop for years simply because, probably like the rest of us, I have browsed a lot of camera bags and backpacks in my day, and the only one that lasted, no rips, rips , threads that come off, or zippers that snap, for me has been the Ajna. He has made many trips to different countries and climates, and he is still going strong. It’s a matter of trust for me and my equipment.
The photographs in this review were all taken within the first few days of using the backpack, so it looks brand new and shiny. And I guess it’s going to stay that way for a while yet. not because of non-use but because of wiping after each ride. It’s shiny new car syndrome, but we’ll see how long it lasts. However, the backpack looks great and feels great to wear. It’s comfortable, and with a capacity of 50 liters, it’s surprisingly not big, but it holds up well.
It comes in 3 color options, black, magma, and cypress, and comes with plenty of storage options and configurations. The exterior of the Tilopa has a multitude of adaptable suspension straps, consisting of both aluminum and plastic hardware points. Some of them are easily removable, such as the doorman straps, depending on your needs. It has many secure attachment points, but at the same time they are discreet, so that they do not distract from the aesthetics of the backpack. For your tripod, there is a strong and durable band at the bottom of each side of the bag with a secure clip at the top.
Many exterior pockets are available with good storage. The zippers on these are weather resistant and woven which, again, gave me peace of mind. The zipper itself has a black tube sealed around it which is a nice touch, being easily grabbed. There are five of these types of zippers sealed on the outside of the bag. The top one, to access the food storage point, as I like to call it, is fabric protected, the same as the Ajna.
I put my ICU pro large (internal camera unit) in there, and there was still plenty of internal space to store everything I needed for a longer hike. The interior rear panel has been completely redesigned. There is room for a small laptop or tablet and two large pockets, one of which is padded and the other sealed in a clear plastic mesh with a zipper. Above this are four smaller pockets, possibly for memory cards, and again these are mesh sealed. The lower padded pocket and four smaller pockets have magnetic latches for easy access and closure, which produce a nice audible click when closing. There is also a clear identification pocket for your information.
If you walk for hours or travel long distances with all your gear and supplies on your back, comfort is a top priority when it comes to choosing a backpack. And the Tilopa did not disappoint. It was so comfortable, and once installed I never had to adjust it. I haven’t been on long hikes since I got it, but have worn it for a few hours at a time with no issues. I would say it is more comfortable than my current Ajna.
At 23.5 inches long, the backpack fits snugly and the padded hip belt rests on my hips rather than above, making it more comfortable. The hip belt mechanism has been replaced with an aluminum clip, which is ultimately stronger than the usual push clips and feels more suited to the overall use of the backpack. It is also a one-hand unlocking mechanism.
The shoulder straps are padded with the same padding as the hip belt, a dual density seaweed foam, and are again comfortable and easily adjusted. Once you’ve adjusted the backpack to the shape and weight you’re carrying, you’re good to go. It’s the same as any other backpack in this regard. However, it felt more comfortable overall.
So far there has only been one workshop with me, which has had rain showers all day, sometimes quite heavy. It was placed on the wet ground to take out the equipment, and I found no example of water infiltration. I have never been afraid of my gear getting wet. This new Duradiamond fabric, as the ad says, is stronger, lighter and more weather resistant and is exclusive to F-stop. I’m not saying it’s impervious to heavy or continuous torrential rains, but it performed well in the conditions I had at the time. Under these conditions, I would have covered my current Ajna bag.
The new Hypalon patch on the front provides more protection from abrasions which is a great addition and reassures me about the number of times the backpack will lie on the ground. Another thing I like about these types of backpacks, the opening in the back. I’ve never been able to get a feel for front-opening camera bags, where you have to lay the bag over the area that will then be against your clothes when you put them back on, letting mud, grass, and dirt cover your back. The base of the backpack also has a wide and thick reinforced area.
It has a sturdy aluminum frame and overall the weight with nothing in the backpack is light at 2kg. I think it could take quite a bit of weight without putting too much pressure on the bag itself.
What I liked
New and improved material additions, the Hypalon patch, aluminum hardware, reinforced and weather resistant zippers and redesigned back panel all make a very versatile bag that screams like a very durable product.
What could be improved
It does not come with a rain cover included in the basic package. This can be purchased separately for a small fee. To be honest, I’m used to this with Ajna, so I wasn’t expecting anything else, but it would be nice if it was included in the base package.
I mentioned at the start that I am a fan of the F-stop gear, so I expected good, if not excellent quality from the backpack, and I was not disappointed in any way. So if you are looking for a new backpack to keep your gear safe and durable and comfortable, I would say it is worth checking out the new range of backpacks from F-stop.
And remember, for your peace of mind, they come with a 20 year warranty.