Landscape Photography

Female Camera Backpack Gear Review: Shimoda 40L & F-Stop Kashmir

April 2, 2018

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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

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F-Stop Kashmir UL

Shimoda 40L


30 Liters

40 Liters


1.1 kg (2.5 lb)

1.3 kg (2.9 lbs)


20.5 in (52 cm)

22.4 in (57 cm)


12.5 in (31.8 cm)

11.4 in (29 cm)


11 in (29.9 cm)

10.2 in (26 cm)

Torso Height

14 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.


Water Resistant treatment of Polyurethan (PU) and water-resistant (WR) coating

Water-resistant treatment of carbonate ether


(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 Approved




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

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F-Stop Kashmir UL


Shimoda 40L


Shoulder Straps

– Non-adjustable torso height but still small enough for shorter frames
– Has places to hook or carabine items 


– Adjustable torso height 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. It will not fit my cell phone so I use it to hold things like chapstick or a travel-sized pack of tissues.


– Well cushioned and 9.5 inches in length
– Loops designed to attach items to the belt.


Weight Distribution

– Good
– Because it is an ultralight design, I feel the shoulder straps need more padding when I have a full pack. The downside 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.



– Good


– Better



Camera Bag Details Comparison

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F-Stop Kashmir UL


Shimoda 40L

Column 5

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 the pack to attach 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

Column 5 Value

External Pockets

– Multi-gear attachment possibilities
– Mesh side pockets on both sides of the pack; however, I wish they were taller in height to ensure items not to 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

Column 5 Value 2

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 jackets 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 it can also fit a laptop.

Column 5 Value 3

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 the rear panel

Column 5 Value 4

Tripod Flexibility

– Can be mounted on the back or side of pack.


– Can be mounted on the back or side of the pack.

Column 5 Value 5

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

Column 5 Value 6

Color Choices

– 1 Choice
– Black with Glacier Blue Highlights


– 2 Choices
– Midnight Blue or Seapine

Column 5 Value 7

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!


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  1. Phillis says:

    After Patagonia, did you decide on which bag was better/more comfortable. I just came back from Patagonia and the Kashmir would get uncomfortable for me after a while as I am 5.1 and I could not adjust it quite enough. Thanks for any input.

    • Chrissy Donadi says:

      For Patagonia last year, I was lucky enough to be a member of the development team that tested female shoulder straps for the Shimoda bags. Those straps made a huge difference for me in terms of comfort as well as weight distribution marking it my preferred pack for long hikes and/or carrying a heavy pack full of gear. The Kashmir is still a great option but is meant to be an ultra light pack so I really need to watch how much gear I stuff into the bag – too much weight and it quickly becomes uncomfortable for me.

  2. Valerie says:

    Appreciate this review. I have the Kashmir bag and mostly like it-but the lack of pockets is huge. The cost of the ICUs bugs me, too-and the limited availability is worse. One more picture showing the insides would have been great. Not sure how the inner compartment is set up. I hear great things about the Shimoda bags, but guys are all doing the reviews. Just wondered how much more I might like one…
    Thanks for taking the time to do this!

    • Chrissy Donadi says:

      Hi Valerie, Thanks for the feedback! I’m actually in the process of writing an update because I wanted to include more about the female straps which were released in May 2019. Hopefully, that will be up next month. So I’ll take a shot of the inner compartments as you suggest. Overall, I’m happy with both bags. I use the Kashmir when I’m traveling light on short day trips/quick hikes when I only need one or two lenses. I feel the straps really dig into my shoulders and pull on my back if fill the bag to the max. It’s an ultra light so I guess that is to be expected. The Shimoda is my go-to travel bag for trips and hiking. Functionally, it fits my needs better by easily holding all my camera gear as well as extra clothes, food, first aid, etc. I’m on the shorter side and the one great thing about both bags is that they fit my torso length! That and companies are branching out to make female specific packs! Happy Shooting!

  3. Kristin says:

    Hi Chrissy, thanks for doing this review. I’m looking forward to your update. I’m partial to F-Stop and have their older 25L Kenti pack. I need something larger and would like a pack I can hike (~7 miles/day) and travel with. 35L would be ideal but is hard to find. I ordered the F-Stop Lotus pack and just received it. It’s a durable, 32L pack with great pockets and features. Unfortunately, it is way too large for my frame. Torso length is too long and sternum strap is over the center of my chest at the highest setting. So I’m interested in hearing about the Shimoda pack and the adjustable torso height and women’s straps. 40L sounds a bit large. Have you tried on the 30L, and do you think it could be suitable for a travel bag?

    I am about to order the Kashmir pack from F-Stop and give that a try, but the ICU is comes with (shallow medium) may be too small for my needs. And from you review it sounds like the lightweight Kashmir pack isn’t as comfortable as the Shimoda. So it is helpful to hear other’s comments on both packs as well!

    • Chrissy Donadi says:

      Hi Kristin! I’m just about finished with the update so that should be up hopefully next week. I had the same issue with the frame on a few packs. To date, the only packs that fit in terms of torso height have been the F-Stop Kashmir and the Shimoda (I’m 5’2”). I’m sure there are others on the market, but I haven’t come across them. The Kashmir is comfortable, but I find the shoulder straps themselves to be on the thin side. Since the Kashmir is an ultralight, it isn’t meant to be holding a lot of weight, so find that the straps dig into my shoulders when I have it packed to max capacity. The ICU size is an important aspect that I previously overlooked. I have a few of the F-Stop ICUs, so I ended up putting the large ICU in the Kashmir and using that to house both camera and hiking gear. It’s a fun tetris game, right? I know a lot of female photographers that love their Kashmir as well as others that love their Shimoda so it is really which bag will fit your specific needs.

  4. Sailing Pups says:

    Hi Chrissy, thanks for this review. I’m heading to Bhutan next year and need a day hiking bag that will fit my camera gear. How did you like your Shimoda after the Patagonia trip? I’m tempted in buying the Kashmir as it is ultralight but I’m worried about comfort and want to make sure that I should not get the Shimoda instead.

    • First, Bhutan sounds amazing! Happy Adventures! The Shimoda bag has been great. I’ve equipped with a pair of female straps since Patagonia, and in terms of comfort, it has been my favorite bag. Also, regarding functionality, I love being able to use the pockets to hold things like my mobile phone, walkie-talkie, gloves, snacks, etc. I can’t hold much on the straps with the Kashmir. However, I know many female photographers who love their Kashmir so it is really a preference of the individual. How much camera equipment and hiking gear you need to fit into your pack might help shift you one way or another.

  5. Terri Schmitt says:


    Thank you for this review of the two packs. I currently have the Kashmir and I would like a slightly larger pack as well. Have you had the opportunity to review the new straps designed for women? I’m not very tall (5 foot) and I have found it difficult to find equipment that fits.

    I know there are three designs for the new straps. Were you able to test all of them?

    Do the F-Stop ICUs fit into the Shimoda pack? That would be a great cost saver if you own both packs.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Terri, I have tested the new straps for the women, both the simple strap and the tech strap. I decided to keep the tech straps on my bag because they fit well on me and had pockets. I had no issue adjusting the top sternum strap to sit comfortably and use the bottom strap if I’m in for a long hike and want the added stability from movement. I’m 5’2” so I imagine that your torso fit would be in the same ballpark. Additionally, I really enjoy the functionality of having the pockets on my straps to keep items such as my cell phone, snack, chapstick easily accessible. As far as your last question, I can fit my F-Stop Medium Slope and the Medium Shallow ICUs in my Shimoda 40L. I cannot confirm any other sized ICUs, but I’m sure you can compare measurements for the one that you own. Cheers and happy shooting!

      • Terri Schmitt says:

        Chrissy, Thank you for your insights into these issues. I really appreciate the information.

        Thanks again!

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Fine art nature and landscape photographer, speaker, and Lightroom educator.

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