f-stop have added a new pack to the Mountain Series lineup, called the Guru. In this review I’m going to run through all the features of the bag and show you a ton of photos of it, and how I pack it.

Disclosure: At the time of writing this review, I was a member of f-stop’s Faction Pro Team. While this is no longer the case, I have not edited opinions in the review since its initial publication in 2011.

Guru Backpack Sizing

As you would expect, the Guru is designed and manufactured to the high standards we have come to expect from the other packs in the Mountain Series lineup. The main difference here is that the Guru is currently the smallest pack of the series with a 28L capacity. This compares to the 37L of the Loka and the 48L of the Tilopa BC. 

Left to right: Satori, Tilopa BC, Loka, Guru
Left to right: Satori, Tilopa BC, Loka, Guru
Left to right: Satori, Tilopa BC, Loka, Guru
Satori EXP Vs. Guru

F-Stop ICU Usage

The f-stop ICUs (Internal Camera Units) have always been a key component of the Mountain Series packs. The Guru is designed to work well with either the small or medium Pro ICUs for people with a minimal amount of camera gear, who want to carry a few extra items with them such as food or clothing.

The medium slope ICU is also a good fit. Of course any ICU smaller than the Small Pro will also fit, but the bag depth would mean it moves around a lot internally. The depth of this bag has been designed with the depth of the Pro ICUs in mind.

Small Pro ICU Packing Examples

F-Stop Loka backpack and ICUs
F-Stop Loka backpack and ICUs
Small Pro ICU with 300mm f/2.8 lens

Medium Pro ICU Packing Examples

F-Stop Loka backpack and ICUs
F-Stop Loka backpack and ICUs
F-Stop Loka backpack and ICUs

As you will see in the additional images within this review, using either of these ICUs leaves a considerable amount of additional room in the top of the pack

F-Stop Guru Backpack Features

In addition to a 15″ laptop pocket, the Guru also features a comprehensive organizing pocket in the front with multiple internal zippered pockets and slots for accessories. Due to this organization, its small size and inconspicuous looks, the Guru can be used in many different ways. It makes a great pack for a day in the city, a roomy bag for use at school, or an all day mountain bike adventure. 

The Guru is built from the same ripstop nylon as the Loka and Tilopa backpacks. Let me tell you, it’s tough stuff! This is going to last you a long time. 

Guru Pricing

Guru Backpack Photo Gallery

Now please take a scroll through the 50 photos below which detail every part of the new Guru.

Optional rain cover can be stored in the secret pocket on the base of the pack.
The rain cover is an optional addition.
Another optional addition is the waterproof bladder holder which attaches to the inside of the bag to keep potential water spills away from your camera gear.

Added versatility – the Gatekeeper

The versatility of the F-Stop packs has always been a key feature.  You can choose how much camera gear you want to carry in your pack by picking the size of the ICU when you place your order.  Perhaps you want just a camera and a lens to take on a weekend trek, or maybe you want to carry a 10-lens arsenal for a huge one day shoot.  Both are possible with the right selection of ICUs. F-Stop were the pioneers of this form of outdoor photography back. 

With the Guru, f-stop have introduced a new feature called the Gatekeepers. Durable nylon straps with quick-release buckles. The Guru comes with a pair, and more can be ordered as needed. The spring loaded clips allow easy release of the straps to re-position them to one of several different mounting points on the pack. If you would rather carry extra load on the side, no problem, simply move the Gatekeepers.  Or if you want to keep the pack looking sleek, remove them altogether. The choice is now yours. This new feature will also be included on all future Mountain Series packs.

The new Gatekeeper attachments are now an integral part of the Guru’s versatility.
Position them across the front of the pack………
Or move them onto the sides of the pack.  Extra Gatekeepers can be purchased from F-Stop if you want to add more.
And Gatekeeper mounting points are located all around the pack to customize your attachment points to the gear you want to carry.
The hose from your water bladder can be secured behind this mesh.
Sternum strap and water hose holder details
A zippered font pocket is useful for small clothing layers, gloves or snacks.
The left hand hip belt has Molle loops to attach modular accessories from F-Stop or other popular brands such as Think Tank.
The right hand hip support features a small pocket suitable for your sunscreen, or a small point and shoot camera.
A small ICU is in the Guru in this shot.
Medium ICU in the Guru
Back panel pocket.
This image shows how much room is left in the Guru when a Small ICU is installed.
And here we have a Medium ICU installed in the Guru.
Memory card wallet not included.
Whilst not specifically designed for it like the Tilopa BC, there is room to take this pack backcountry skiing.

Guru as a strobe kit bag

I was asked this question a few times so here is the pictorial answer. Is the Guru a good pack for carrying a strobe pack and head, in particular an Elinchrom Ranger or large Profoto pack. The answer is yes.

Elinchrom Ranger pack inside the Guru
Plenty of room in the front for all your pocketwizards and the necessary cables and other gizmos
Room for a strobe head and the Ranger pack
The head cable can be neatly folded into the interior front pouch.

Conclusion

The F-Stop Guru is a rugged and highly versatile bag that is a welcome addition to the Mountain Series. In particular, I like the way it straddles the line between mountain pack and capable urban daily carry pack. My other Mountain Series packs would be too large, and rather conspicuous on a day in the city. But the Guru handles these sorts of duties with aplomb.

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