Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

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In my 10 years of photography I have owned three backpacks, one sling bag and several different strap options. None of these have provided the perfect bag for every situation but as a landscape photographer, the best option so far has been the F-stop Kashmir UL Backpack. One of the main reasons, for me, is that it is one of the few bags that has been specifically designed for a woman’s physique.

Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

The F-stop Kashmir backpack showing external pocket on waist support

Most backpacks are designed for men who are around 6 feet tall. This means the bags are usually too long, the straps are set too wide on the shoulders, and the chest straps are not long enough. The waist straps are also not in the right place and generally they just don’t fit properly. If you are loading up several kilos of camera gear with the intention of hiking for 2-3 hours, then a properly fitting and comfortable bag is a must.

One of the main issues I have with other bags marketed to women, is the assumption that looks are important, and that less gear will be carried – in other words, it’s a glorified handbag. If you are a woman who carries a fair amount of gear (for example, one camera body and 2-3 lenses, a tripod and other accessories), who walks for several hours, and wants a proper bag to carry it in, then read on.

F-stop launched a Kickstarter campaign a couple of years ago which is how I got my bag but you can get yours via Amazon.

Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

Design of the Kashmir Backpack

My main requirements in a backpack are fit and functionality. Does it fit comfortably, and does it carry everything I need it to easily. Let’s assess the design of the Kashmir backpack:

  • Exterior materials are ripstop nylon that’s been polyurethane coated with weatherproof YKK zippers.
  • Reinforced base for ground protection.
  • Top and side handles.
  • Lots of external pockets.
  • Lightweight – the bag itself is 1.1kg or 2.5lbs.
  • Takes an internal ICU which is mounted internally.
  • Supports external attachments for tripods, etc.
  • Rain cover is an optional extra.
  • Internal aluminum frame.
  • Padded back panel with breathability gaps.

The F-stop Kashmir backpack is black with cobalt blue straps. There is subtle branding on the back, front strap, and back support which cannot be obviously removed. Shoulder straps are slightly narrower than usual, cut in a curve for a better fit, and are well padded. An adjustable chest strap that has a lot of play sits comfortably quite high on the chest.  The waist support features two large hip mounted panels that bend around the waist with a wide adjustable strap in front.

Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

Back view showing the adjustable chest straps on slide mount on shoulder straps.

Features

An abundance of pockets is a key feature with the Kashmir. Pockets in the hip supports, large mesh side pockets, top flap pocket, back pocket, laptop, and a hydration bladder pocket internally all mean there are plenty of options for packing stuff away. There are also several loop attachments provided to allow tripod or other hardware to be attached with optional gatekeeper straps.

Zippers are good quality, slide easily and don’t catch.  They have good long tags attached for easy grip.

Camera gear is stored in a separate ICU (Internal Camera Unit) which are available in several sizes. I got the Medium Shallow ICU which holds my 7D Mark II, 17-55mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/4 IS L, 10-22mm UWA and a Mind Shift Filter Hive full of Lee Filters.

Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

Internal view of the F-stop Kashmir backpack showing the ICU loaded up.

Comfort and Fit

As someone who is five foot six inches tall (average height for a woman) and around a US size 12-14, I have struggled to find a backpack that would do two things, fit both me and all my gear. A bag that was small enough to fit me comfortably, was often too small to hold all my gear.

The Kashmir backpack manages both nicely. The shoulder straps are a good width and the narrower curved cut means they fit around my shoulders and body better and don’t chafe. When the bag is fully loaded it rides on the back of my hips, and the hip straps take up a lot of the load when they’re tightened. I can walk with this backpack for several hours and still feel pretty comfortable when all the straps are properly adjusted and tight.

Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

My personal reason for using a backpack is due to a car accident that injured my neck several years ago. My neck and shoulders will not support the load of one strap. So a backpack is the best option to balance the heavy weight properly, and the Kashmir is quite comfortable for me to wear this way.

Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

Closeup of chest strap, also showing D-ring mount.

Ease of Use

The Kashmir backpack is designed to be used while on the ground. The back flap zips open to give you access to the camera gear. While you can swing it around and access it while hanging onto the bag, its not particularly easy to do so.

Someone wanting a subtle, quickly accessible bag for street photography is not going to want the Kashmir. Landscape or wildlife photographers who need to carry a lot of gear, a variety of clothing options and a tripod should be interested in the Kashmir.

Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

View of the front and the rather grubby waterproof base on mine. This bag gets taken everywhere!

The Shallow Medium ICU holds a lot of stuff, any more and it would be too heavy for me to carry around for too long.  Plus the bag itself has loads of room for things like extra clothing layers, a hydration bladder, a laptop or tablet, hat, gloves, and accessories. With a 30L capacity, it is a good day pack option.

Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

Top view of the main interior showing the top of the ICU and lots of space for extra stuff like clothes.

Additional Features

Not all backpacks come fully loaded with a range of features, so here are the highlights of the extra features on the Kashmir backpack:

  • Hydration bladder pocket with port for hydration tube.
  • Laptop pocket (also doubles as the hydration pocket).
  • Supports external attachments for tripods, lenses and other items.
  • Optional rain cover.
  • Top and side handle.
Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

Side view of mesh net and supporting straps.

Is it the perfect bag?

No, but for my purposes it’s pretty close.

  • The chest strap doesn’t come up quite as high as I would like. I had some chafing from the shoulder straps, and if I could have pulled them in a bit with the chest strap, that would have solved that problem.
  • The top flap pocket is very loose and contents tend to come out of it easily. A couple of smaller pockets that zip closed would be a better option.
  • Internally within the greater backpack space it could do with some options to add pockets. There is a lot of dead space down the sides of the ICU that could be better utilized.
  • The ICU is very difficult to get in and out of the bag – haven’t taken mine out since it was put in there. It’s supposed to be easily removable for storage, but really isn’t.
  • The foam pads in the ICU are a bit limiting in the configuration options you can have, which was a bit frustrating. I made it work, but it isn’t quite how I want it.
  • Wearing a heavy jacket, it can be a tight fit to get the bag over the extra bulk on my shoulders to get the bag on and off. Loosening the straps helps but I prefer not to mess with those once I have them set correctly.
Review of the F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women

Top pocket with mesh net pocket inside.

Conclusion

If you are a woman looking for a backpack to load up and enjoy a day out shooting then I highly recommend the F-stop Kashmir Backpack. It isn’t perfect, but with the exception of the issue with the top pocket losing its contents all over the place, most of my issues are design tweaks. Nothing to seriously interfere with the comfort and wearability of the bag.

Yes it can be heavy when well loaded, but the better fit of the straps and the shorter design, coupled with the good hip/back support means its not too tiring to carry around a decent load. I regularly lug 5-8 kg depending on what I am shooting, and can easily carry it for a day out (probably 2-3 hours walking).

It is well made, of quality materials, and caters to the serious outdoor shooter with comfort, safety and style.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
F-Stop Kashmir Backpack for Women
Author Rating
4

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Stacey Hill

invested in her first DSLR back in 2007. While having many adventures out and about in the South Island of New Zealand, Stacey took to blogging about her experiences learning photography. Recently she discovered the fun and creative possibilities to be had with Photoshop. She can be found having an opinion all over the place here.

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