The Search for the Perfect Female Camera Backpack

Earlier this month, everyone in my hometown was dressed in green and preparing for the annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade and festivities.  Instead, I was sitting in my kitchen tinkering with another female camera backpack.  Because the quest for the perfect female camera bag for a landscape photographer is like searching for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  As a photographer, I see plenty of rainbows, but I have yet to find the pot of gold.

Side Comparison of Shimoda 40L and F-Stop Kashmir Camera Bags
F-Stop Kashmir UL Camera Bag and Shimoda 40L Camera Bag – Side View

First, I’m a female photographer who may be on the short side of the height chart. As a result, I have only owned one camera pack which I didn’t have to manually alter to fit my frame.  That bag is F-stop’s Kashmir, 30L a pack solely focused to be a female camera backpack. Similarly, the Kashmir also came to fruition from a successful Kickstarter campaign.  For that reason, I didn’t have to break out my sewing needle for the Kashmir in terms of fit, the pack did leave me wanting more in terms of a larger capacity, better shoulder straps, and more pockets.

Following a phenomenal 2017 Kickstarter backing, Shimoda has been one of the new buzzes in the photography world.  Initially, I think one of the biggest reasons for this explosion is the bag’s functionality and design to fit all body types. Then I saw that Shimoda had not only adjustable shoulder straps to accommodate different torso settings but also a lot of built-in functionality. Therefore, I decided to give the Shimoda Explore 40L a try. So I backed them on Kickstarter immediately (as in I’m proud backer #11).

Finally, with both bags in my possession, I’m going to spend the next few months seeing which will stand the hiking test of time. Eventually, one will become my “go-to” bag and the other will claim the title of “secondary” pack holding my backup gear and extra accessories.  In short, with only two weeks with the Shimoda, here are my initial thoughts on the differences between the two camera backpacks.

Camera Bag Technical Specifications

F-Stop Kashmir ULShimoda 40L
Capacity30 Liters40 Liters
Weight1.1 kg (2.5 lb)1.3 kg (2.9 lbs)
Height20.5 in (52 cm)22.4 in (57 cm)
Width12.5 in (31.8 cm)11.4 in (29 cm)
Depth11 in (29.9 cm)10.2 in (26 cm)
Torso Height14 in (35.6 cm)

*I measured myself from the start of the shoulder strap to the middle of the waist belt.
14.5 in (36.8 cm) at S setting

*I measured myself from the start of the shoulder strap to the middle of the waist belt.
WaterproofWater Resistant treatment of Polyurethan (PU) and water resistant (WR) coatingWater resistant treatment of carbonate ether
Laptop(1) multipurpose internal sleeve fitting up to a 13'' laptop or hydration bladder(1) Rear access panel has a padded sleeve fitting up to a 13'' laptop
(2) front panel has a non-padded sleeve fitting up to a 15'' laptop
Airline Carry-On ApprovedYesYes

Camera Backpack Comparison Images

Female Camera Backpack: Shimoda 40L and F-Stop Kashmir
Back of F-Stop Kashmir UL and Shimoda 40L
Female Camera Backpack: Shimoda 40L and F-Stop Kashmir
Front view of F-Stop Kashmir UL and Shimoda 40L
Female Camera Pack: Shimoda 40L and F-Stop Kashmir
Strap Comparison for Female Camera Bags
Adjustable Torso Height

Camera Bag Fit Comparison

F-Stop Kashmir ULShimoda 40L
Shoulder Straps- Non-adjustable torso height but still small enough for shorter frames
- Has places to hook or carabine items
- Adjustable torso heigh with S, M, L, and XL options
- Specifically designed female straps and multiple types to choose from
- Zipper pocket, loops, and pouch (yay!)
- Wider straps and more cushioning
Sternum Straps- Offers the most adjustment flexibility which is critical for the female frame☑️- The strap isn't nearly as far off as other mainstream packs, but I would still prefer more flexibility to adjust where the strap sits on my chest
Hip Straps- Well cushioned and 8.5 inches in length
- The smallest zippered pouches on each side. Will not fit my cell phone so I use it to hold things like chapstick or travel sized pack of tissues.
- Well cushioned and 9.5 inches in length
- Loops and designed to attached items to the belt.
Weight Distribution- Good
- Because it is an ultralight design, I feel like the shoulder straps need more padding when I have a full pack. The down side is I know I'm probably over the weight limit for the pack when carrying all my gear.
- Better
- I feel much less strain on my back and shoulders when carrying all my gear in the pack. This is extremely comfortable on longer hikes.
Comfort- Good- Better☑️

Camera Bag Details Comparison

F-Stop Kashmir ULShimoda 40L
Zippers, Buckles, & Poles- Good zipper
- Can use the buckles with gloves on
- Prefer the looped nylon poles for easy clipping and grip
- Great set of side buckles on both sides of pack to attached tripods or other gear.
☑️- Easier zipper
- Can use the buckles with gloves on
- Do not like the leather poles; I prefer the nylon loops to easily clip with carabiners.
- Great set of side buckles on both sides of pack to attached tripods or other gear but does overlap on zipper side access points
External Pockets- Multi-gear attachment possibilities
- Mesh side pockets on both sides of pack; however, I wish they were taller in height to ensure items to not fall out
- Multiple gatekeeper mounting points if you purchase the gatekeepers separately (or make your own)
- Multi-gear attachment possibilities
- Two zippered side panel access points. One to access gear, the other has a side panel pouch which I’m debating if I love or dislike yet.
- I would like to see one mesh pocket on top of that zippered pocket with the detachable bag.
- In addition, comes with two accessory straps
Internal Pockets- Negative Batman, it’s my largest gripe with this bag. (See hip strap comment above) I’m female. I love pockets!
- Although, my favorite part of the bag is the large front panel pocket for hats, buff, lens clothes, gloves, and jacket which zippers top to bottom.
- Mesh pouches on the top of the bag are useful and allow for organization and breathability.
- Large front panel pocket which zippers side to side. It still holds my gloves, hats, lens clothes, etc. but can also fit a laptop.
Back Panel- Opens Top to Bottom (Bottom)
- Compression Molded and Cushioned
- Only a few useless loops on the rear panel whereas other F-stop bags have great pockets/pouches here.
- Opens Right to Left (Side) so it stays open more easily and functionality works better for me in the field
- Compression Molded and Cushioned
- Padded sleeve on rear panel
Tripod Flexibility- Can be mounted on the back or side of pack.☑️- Can be mounted on the back or side of pack.☑️
ICU/Core Unit System- 3 realistically sized ICUs available
- Dividers have thicker padding and are more flexible (shapeable)
- Easy to move ICU in and out of the bag
- 2 sized core units
- Dividers are super thin and sturdier (not easily bent)
- More difficult to put the core unit in the bag and remove it
Color Coices- 1 Choice
- Black with Glacier Blue Highlights
☑️- 2 Choices
- Midnight Blue or Seapine
Differentiators- More ICU flexibility in terms of sizes- Zippered side access
- Larger capacity
- More comfortable straps
- Better weight distribution for smaller framed females

Conclusion on Favorite Female Camera Backpack

So which bag wins the coveted “my favorite female camera backpack” title?

I do like both packs, and the F-stop Kashmir has been a huge improvement over previous packs. However, the Kashmir has a 30L capacity. This is fine for some photographers. However, I would often have to decide on gear to leave behind.  My Shimoda can hold 2 full-frame DSLR bodies with lenses attached (limit 200 mm in length). In addition, I can hold 2 extra lenses and accessories (e.g. first aid kit, filters, snacks).  Unfortunately, I cannot do that with the Kashmir female camera backpack. So I often have to change lenses in the field more often than I would prefer.

While I prefer F-stops aesthetic, pole design, and sternum strap flexibility, the Shimoda is leading based on having:

  • a larger capacity,
  • better weight distribution for smaller framed females,
  • more comfortable shoulder and hip straps,
  • zippered side access points in addition to the back panel access
  • more pockets and improved functionality

However, before finalizing my decision, I need to test the bag out on a few longer hikes over the next month to ensure that the weight distribution and comfort are indeed improved.  Now, I’m off to Patagonia so this will truly be a test for the Shimoda so stay tuned!

Last, let me know if you have any questions or what you consider to be critical in purchasing a female camera backpack.

Happy Photographing!