Like most photographers, I have been on the (seemingly) eternal quest in search of the perfect backpack to carry my photography gear. Before ending up with the model I’ve used the longest thus far, I have probably used around 10 others. Each had their own, sometimes little, annoyances which made them less than ideal for my use case. Eventually, I ended up with the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond photography backpack, which I have been using for the last year. I decided to write and publish this review now because I felt I could only truly speak to how well I liked this backpack after using it for a lengthy period of time.
Should you use the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond photography backpack to keep your gear safe? Let’s find out!
Full disclosure: While I am an f-stop ambassador, this article is not sponsored by f-stop in any way. I am an ambassador because I strongly believe their products to be the best for my style of outdoor photography. The backpack(s) shown in this article were purchased by me and no one asked me to review them. However, when you make a purchase using the link in this article, I may earn a small commission. All opinions in this article are my own. If you (dis)agree, I invite you to open a discussion in the comment section.
What I Look For In A Photography Backpack As A Nature Photographer
Every photographer, even within nature photography, has their own specific needs. There isn’t a bag or backpack out there that is perfect for every possible use case. So before we can delve into what I like and dislike (spoiler alert: not a lot) about the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond photography backpack, I need to explain what my use case exactly is.
As I’ve explained on my blog before, I like to keep my gear ‘footprint’ as small as possible. Because I don’t carry a ton of lenses or extra gear around, I don’t need the largest possible backpack. As long as all my gear other than my tripod fits inside of my bag, I am a happy photographer. Additionally, my backpack should be reasonably lightweight (but not ultra-light) and be as compact as possible so it’s easy to carry. Because I mostly use my backpacks as a day pack, I only need a small amount of extra space in my backpack for items which are not related to photography such as jackets, food and other items. Finally, because I am outdoors a lot, the bag needs to be sturdy and water-resistant but also comfortable to carry for a longer period of time.
I tested the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond backpack for almost a full year before writing this review. I find that too many reviewers these days don’t actually properly use their gear. For this review to be as useful as possible, I decided to actively use it in my workflow. You will notice on some of the images that this bag isn’t shiny and new anymore. I really put it through its paces!
What I Like About The f-stop DuraDiamond Ajna Backpack
Let’s start off on a positive note with what I like (and even love) about the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond photography backpack.
The build quality is second to none. The exterior of the bag is made out of a proprietary fabric which is called DuraDiamond. DuraDiamond is f-stop’s solution to the demands of serious outdoor photographer. The fabric is stronger, lighter weight, and more weather-resistant than other bag companies are currently using. At least without going for a thicker and heavier rubber, which you often see used in true waterproof bags. I have put my f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond photography backpack through a lot in the last months, ranging from hanging out at volcanic eruptions to hiking in torrential rain and even being used in temperatures down to – 30 degrees Celsius. Let me tell you: this bag can take a serious beating. Other than a few scratches from accidentally scraping my bag along sharp volcanic glass, which didn’t rip or destroy the fabric, there is not a mark on this bag.
Because the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond photography backpack is lightweight (coming in at 1,5kg), and has a built-in aluminium frame, it’s a very comfortable bag to carry. In the past, I have used many backpacks that didn’t have such a frame and found them to be much more uncomfortable. I am not exaggerating when I say that I often don’t feel what I am carrying. It just sits that well on my back.
The design of the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond is well thought out with all kinds of tiny useful details. There is, for example, a small hole at the bottom of the pocket that’s intended for a water pouch which allows water to drip out if the pouch is leaking (yes, this has happened many times to me). The back panel, which is the main access to the largest compartment, has a lot of small pockets, which open & close magnetically, as well as a variety of storage pouches. On the shoulder straps, there are attachment points for items you need to keep within reach (such as my Garmin inReach Mini 2 GPS communicator) and the straps easily fit a Peak Design Capture Clip too, which is an absolute must for me. On the front of the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond backpack you can find easy attachment points to hang a tripod or other larger items (if you don’t like to slide that into the side mesh pockets).
Inside of the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond backpack you can organise everything to your liking by using different camera inserts. There are several, differently sized, camera inserts which allow you to optimise the space inside to fit all your gear. I have two main camera inserts: the Medium Slope and the Pro Large. I primarily use the Medium Slope camera inserts, which fits my Canon EOS R5, Canon RF 14-35mm, Canon RF 100-500mm, a Canon EOS R6 backup body, a few wireless microphones, a DJI Pocket 3 and a set of filters nicely. The camera inserts fit the inside of the bag snugly and they clip into two small loops on the side of the bag which prevents the insert from falling out accidentally.
So what about my drone? As I’ve mentioned in a previous review about the f-stop drone cases, I keep all my drone stuff separate in a dedicated case. The case fits very nicely above the camera insert, which is accessible via the top opening of the backpack. One massive benefit of having your gear compartmentalised is that you can easily leave something behind when you need to. On top of that, it can come in handy when you’re struggling with the weight limits on airplanes. I have on occasion taken out the camera insert to use it as a ‘personal item’ so I would stay under the weight restrictions for hand luggage.
If you want to see what gear I am using, make sure to check out my detailed Gear-page.
What I Don’t Like About The f-stop DuraDiamond Ajna Backpack
Although the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond photography backpack is a great bag, there are a few small downsides which I feel I need to point out. From my perspective, and for my use case, these are very minor but still worth mentioning to help you make the right decision in whether this is the right backpack for you or not.
Probably the biggest annoyance for my use is that there is no padded laptop sleeve inside the bag. During my every day use, this isn’t an issue as I either leave my computer at home, or store it inside my luggage. However, when I am travelling abroad or on longer trips (for example during my photo workshops to Greenland), I need to put my laptop inside my backpack. I know there is a pocket in the front of the bag which can house a laptop but my issue with that is that there is no padding. Because I always put my bag down on the ground with the front side of the bag, this also provides almost no protection. Of course, the choice not to include such a padded sleeve is likely one based on design and size I suspect. If the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond backpack would have a padded laptop sleeve built-in, like its bigger sibling the Tilopa, this would transform a great backpack into an excellent backpack for my use case.
Because the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond backpack is smaller, the shoulder straps aren’t padded much. This doesn’t take away from the comfort level in combination with my gear, but I can see how that could be a downside for people carrying heavier equipment. Although, there is a solution to that problem. If you plan on carrying a lot of gear or additional equipment for multi-day hiking, I would highly recommend going for a bigger model such as the Tilopa, which I have used before on multi-day hiking trips. It not only has more space but it also has more padded shoulder and hip straps which add additional comfort for heavier gear.
On this newer f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond, the hip strap buckle changed from the usual black plastic to a thin, very lightweight aluminium design. While this definitely helps to keep the weight of the backpack down and aluminium is less likely to break in for example sub-zero environments, I find that in reality it’s not as good of a system. Or at the very least, it needs a little bit of refinement. The main issue I have encountered is that the aluminium buckle on occasion unclasps whenever the hip strap isn’t tight. This happens, for example, when clothing behind the hip strap moves from behind it. I believe the issue is that the aluminium is too smooth which allows it to slide out of place more easily.
My final gripe is not one related to the backpack itself but rather the pricing and shipping. The backpacks f-stop sells are on the expensive end of the spectrum. Don’t get me wrong, they are well worth the money. Especially considering how well they protect your gear. However, living in a place like Iceland (& I suspect other countries as well), it’s a big ask to spend a large amount of money on a backpack and then also pay expensive shipping & import fees on top. The actual problem is that it’s a big ask when you are not 100% sure this is the bag for you, which is where this review comes in of course.
Is The f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond Photography Backpack Worth It?
Is the f-stop Ajna DuraDiamond photography backpack worth its price tag? I believe so. I have been happily using this backpack for over a year now. As a nature photographer, I heavily rely on great gear to keep me and my equipment dry and protected. Does this backpack fulfil that requirement? It absolutely does. Is it 100% perfect? No, but no backpack is or ever will be. Even though there are a few minor issues I mentioned, this backpack is to me the most capable one that fits my needs.
If you’re interested in what other photography gear I use, make sure to have a look at my up-to-date gear page.
- Very high quality and perfect for the outdoor photographer.
- The DuraDiamond fabric is strong, lightweight and very weather resistant.
- Lightweight, while sturdy, thanks to the aluminium frame.
- Very comfortable to carry around for an extended period of time.
- Many useful small details.
- Various camera inserts, made to fit your personal needs.
- Lack of padded laptop sleeve (but can be found on the larger Tilopa).
- The shoulder straps aren’t padded (only a problem with very heavy kits).
- The hip strap buckle unclasps easily.
- Depending on your location: expensive shipping.
Support Jeroen’s Work
As an independent photographer, Jeroen partially relies on your support to keep producing worthwhile content such as blogs, photographs, books and much more. If you want to support his work, it is possible to do so by buying his e-books & books, prints or calendars.
You can also sign up to the newsletter to stay up to date on new blog posts, projects, workshops and other interesting information. Additionally, signing up grants you a 10% discount on your next purchase.
Thank you for considering!