F-Stop AJNA 37L Camera Backpack Review
The F-Stop AJNA 37L’s intuitive design, sound hardware, lightweight materials, and modularity make it a capable companion for travel photographers.
- DuraDiamond™ pack material is durable, lightweight, and water resistant
- Made with reliable and durable hardware
- Camera access makes using the pack easier
- Feels large for 37 liters
- There isn’t a lot of padding, and it can feel rigid
- Metal fasteners can make some noise when walking
3.2 lb (1.5 kg)
23.8 in x 12.8 in x 10.1 in (60.5 x 32.5 x 25.7 cm)
Nylon, YKK Zippers, Aluminum
Before you type it into Google to try and figure out the pronunciation—it’s aj-NAH. We’re pretty cultured here at Pack Hacker; plus, they spell it out like that on the tag, which helps. Jokes aside, we’re amped to try another camera backpack from F-Stop. It’s a brand known for intuitive designs and durable materials, and we’re here for both. Let’s dive in!
This is the second version of the AJNA. The original was 40 liters, and this one sheds three. However, it’s worth noting that it feels quite large for a 37-liter pack. That’s not saying you can’t fit a ton of gear here—you can; it just feels a bit big, especially if you have a more petite frame.
The primary pack material is DuraDiamond™, a nylon fabric designed explicitly for F-Stop’s packs. It’s extraordinarily lightweight, durable, and very water resistant. What’s not to love about that?
The padding on the harness system is from BLOOM, which is crafted from algae. It’s better for the environment and still comfortable, which we dig. Who doesn’t want to support Mother Nature and be comfortable? Talk about a win-win.
The pack uses a mixture of hard plastic adjusters and T6 aluminum connectors. These are stronger than plastic and situated in areas you wouldn’t want to pop open accidentally. We’ll dive into that more later on, though. The hard plastic adjusters are from ITW Nexus.
All the zippers on this pack are from YKK. Some exterior models have an AquaGuard finish, and some have a fabric welt to protect from water sneaking inside. Either way, the extra care to keep moisture at bay is appreciated.
There are three colorways available at the time of writing. There’s Cypress, which is green; Magma, which is reddish-orange; and Anthracite, the model we have that’s more commonly known as black. They’re all sleek, and the Magma option offers a pop of color for those looking to be seen.
There are elastic loops on the front of the pack up top and bottom. These are easily adjustable and to be used for hanging your ice pick, trekking poles, or other outdoorsy items. When not in use, they stay out of your way.
There are two large water bottle pockets on either side of the pack. They’re so large that even bigger bottles will tumble out, but you can use the Gatekeeper straps to cinch them down if you’re worried about losing your bottle. These also help secure a tripod or other large item, which works well.
Although the Gatekeeper straps aren’t included with all combos of this pack, they come in handy for cinching it down and stowing items, as mentioned above. They easily attach to the sides of the pack on the front and back.
There’s a top handle above the harness system, which we’re about to dive into, that’s helpful. It has some padding, but it’s still uncomfortable to hang onto for long periods when fully packed. However, the padding does help some.
The back panel has ample padding, and remember, it’s developed from algae. How neat is that? It also has mesh and air channels for breathability, so things stay relatively cool. However, it’s a 37-liter travel backpack, so it’s bound to get a bit warm. Some users will enjoy the rigid padding, but it may be too much for some.
The shoulder straps are incredibly lightweight, which seems odd at first. However, after you put the pack on, you’ll find they’re more comfortable than you might think. They’re padded, have mesh for breathability, and have a few attachment loops to strap on gear. There’s a mesh strap to secure your water bladder hose, which comes out of the right side of the pack. Load lifters help spread out the weight on the top of the shoulder straps, which are a welcomed addition. Camera gear can get heavy!
The sternum strap has multiple attachment points but isn’t on a rail, so you can’t make micro-adjustments. However, you can remove it altogether if you’d like to. The buckle has a whistle in case of emergency, which is ideal for hiking and icy adventures with your camera. It doesn’t feel too large or too small, which we dig.
The hip belt has more padding than the shoulder straps, but it’s still skinny compared to other daypacks and travel backpacks we’ve tested. Heck, we’ve tried a few slings that have a similar amount of padding. However, the hip belt is very comfortable. It has a metal buckle, which takes some getting used to. It’s more durable than plastic and won’t accidentally pop open in a precarious situation. If you wear it loose, it might slide open, but not if you’re wearing it properly. It isn’t for everyone, but we dig trying something different, and it works pretty well. When not in use, it can rattle up against things, which can be annoying.
Inside The Pack
Regarding compartments and pockets, there’s a lot going on here. Let’s dive in!
The top pocket is suitable for the quick-access gear you want to be able to snag at a moment’s notice. It’s fairly large and only has one compartment inside, though it’s divided in half and zips closed with two heads, so you can get creative with where you leave them. The interior of the pocket has a soft fabric so that you can stow a phone, filters, or other sensitive items here. The rest of the compartment is a vast open space without segmentation. You can hold a packable rain jacket, a tech pouch, or even a small packing cube. The world is your oyster! There’s a key leash, too, but it’s more of a nub than a leash. It’s extraordinarily short but does the job well otherwise.
There are two side pockets, one on either side of the pack above the water bottle storage areas. These are reasonably large compartments; each has a mesh organizer with a hook-and-loop fastener on the top. You can store a small tripod here, a little water bottle, or other tall and skinny items. If you stow something larger, holding a water bottle or tripod in the exterior compartment that it sits next to can be hard. It’s a balancing act, but both areas are easy enough to utilize in tandem with one another.
There’s a pocket on the bottom of the pack. It’s underneath a different material on the backpack’s boot that’s used to add extra durability and water resistance. Here is where you can stow the rain cover or another flat item. Anything bulkier will make the pack sit crooked and may make it fall over forward, backward, or sideways when you set it down. This pocket is fairly hidden, so it’s great for can stowing sensitive items. You shouldn’t put anything breakable here, though, since all the pack’s weight will be resting on it.
A pocket on the front face has a lot of real estate. There’s a zippered pocket inside, which is handy for locking gear down. Flat items do well here, though there isn’t much room for larger things.
The rest of the pack is space for the main compartment. You can access this space from two points. This area is meant to be used with an ICU or internal camera unit, which F-Stop sells with and without this bag. There are multiple shapes and sizes, so you can choose one that works with the camera kit you want to bring. F-Stop has guides on what fits into where, so check their site for more information. The AJNA works with all the ICUs except for the Master Cine, and they recommend all of the rest except the Micro Tiny to stow your camera inside the AJNA. You probably could use the Micro Tiny; it would just be a bit small for such a large pack!
With the pack we have here at Pack Hacker HQ, we’ve got the Slope Medium ICU. We can fit an entire camera kit inside, and we think it’s a good size for established photographers using a larger body with a few lenses. If you have less gear, you can get by with something smaller. The dividers are well-padded and easy to get into a configuration you like. There’s a zip-around top you can close in transit or if you take the ICU out to fit more gear inside the pack for a hike or another activity.
Depending on the size of the ICU you go with, you’ll have more or less space for other gear. The medium is a good shout because you still have a fair amount of room above it for extras. We’ll get to that, though!
For the best access to the ICU, there’s a zipper that runs around the back panel. It opens horseshoe-style and offers a good look at everything packed inside. You can grab everything and get into the nitty-gritty of organizing your gear this way.
The lid created when you open the back panel has some organization on the back side. There’s a zippered compartment, magnetic pocket, and magnetic sliders for SD cards or other accessories. This is an excellent use of space. The ICU holds your camera, lenses, and larger gear, while the lid holds smaller accessories.
With the Slope Medium ICU, you can barely see above the camera cube when using the back panel access point. Let’s check out the other way to get in!
On the top of the pack, a large YKK zipper runs parallel to the quick-access pocket we went over earlier. This is the secondary access point to the main compartment, and depending on how you use the pack, this might be your primary action point.
The lid has a mesh pocket with a zippered closure, which is a good spot to lock things down that you want to avoid bouncing around the main compartment. The rest of the space is free real estate. Depending on the size of the ICU you choose, you’ll have more or less room here. Because of the design, we recommend putting everything into packing cubes and organizers. Small items will fall down the sides of the ICU and get lost easily. More oversized items can’t slip down as easily, so you’re less likely to lose anything if you do that.
You can access the top of the aluminum frame that runs down the backside of the pack from here, too. You can remove it, but we dig having it in place to displace weight and make the pack more comfortable.
Overall, we enjoy using this pack, but it’s pretty hardcore. You’ve got to know what you have, how you want to use it, and where you’ll take it to be effective with the AJNA. However, if you have all that information already, this will be an excellent companion for those rugged missions you take with your camera, whether in the city or on the trail. It comes at a price, but for all you get, it’s worth it!
- The materials and hardware are durable and feel up to your most rugged adventures
- We’re curious to see how the aluminum hip belt works comfort-wise
- The camera cube is large—enough for big camera kits.
- The materials have held up well in all weather conditions tested
- No issues with water permeating the DuraDiamond™ fabric
- Zippers feel capable of the job, even without AquaGuard finish