This is a guest post from Dirtbag Darling Ambassador Whitney James.
When I heard my family and I were headed to South Africa, I had a very long and exciting to-do list. Get malaria pills. Buy travel insurance. Find a carry-on bag. My requirements for the last item were long. I needed a bag that would fit my DSLR camera, additional lenses, a day’s worth of clothes and anything else you need for 24 hours in a plane, and the kicker—my 15” MacBook. I knew the carry-on needed to ride on my back so it could double as a camera bag for day-trips, but every backpack I found online from my favorite outdoor brands was too small. It was time to graduate to the big leagues.
When I traveled to British Columbia last year with several professional photographers, I noticed the majority of them were using F-Stop Mountain Series camera bags. After just one look at the new colorway—called Nasturtium—of the Lotus, I was sold. The smallest of the line, the Lotus is a hardy and nimble 32-liter pack. While technically too big for my 5’5” frame, it rode comfortably on my shoulders while lugging my 27-pound load hiking around Table Mountain, strolling along the beach in Mozambique, and photographing Victoria Falls.
ORGANIZATION GEEKS REJOICE
The Lotus ($199) has just the right amount of pockets, and the well-planned access points were crucial for ease-of-use while traveling in puddle jumpers in Africa. The top opening provided easy access to my travel pillow and book, while a zip-pocket on the very top held my passport and boarding pass with ease. I put my Small Pro ICU (the compartment for your camera, sold separately) at the bottom, which I accessed by the rear panel. The exterior front panel pocket could hold practically anything, but I stashed my stinky travel layers there after my 14 hour long-haul from Seattle to Dubai.
While my 15” laptop didn’t fit in the internal sleeve (that can also hold a hydration bladder–bonus!), it slid perfectly in the rear panel so that it was closest to my back and easy to whip out when going through security.
FUNCTIONS LIKE A PRO
Like any good product meant for use in the great outdoors, the techy parts on the Lotus are on point. Heavy gauge zippers, weather-resistant ripstop nylon, and a hyper-reinforced base made me feel like my gear was protected from any jostling it might incur while on the plane or while in the back of a safari jeep. There are also a ton of clever add-ons like shock cords for hiking poles and internal and external MOLLE system where you can attach just about anything you want.
So was there anything bad about the Lotus? Sure. The addition of Velcro generally makes the pack feel less cool, and it doesn’t function very well. And like any camera bag, it makes you an instant target for thieves in any country you tote it around in. Of course, the color didn’t help with that.
The best part was that the Lotus fit under the seat in front of me on all of my planes…and there were eleven of them. The number of compliments I received while lugging this orange beauty around Africa didn’t hurt, either.
This bag isn’t just an exceptional camera carrier, it’s a carry-on for anyone looking for the maximum in durability, thoughtful design, and optimal protection for any gear you might need to have within arm’s reach.