F-stop Kenti

Camera bags.

I don’t review them often and it’s an area of gear I took a long time figuring out what I wanted to use on the go. Bigger bags aren’t so much of a minefield (well in my opinion), however, getting something that you can run and ride in, which isn’t a glorified back pack is another thing. I want it to remain stable when running down a mountain, not weigh a metric tonne, not impede movement, protect the contents and be up to getting thrown around in hostile environments….. for camera kit.

A few years ago I bought an F-stop Kenti.

 

The main purpose of this purchase was to carry camera equipment when covering races, riding bikes, running with friends – anything that required my larger camera. I’d used a larger pack and though it performed well, what ever size bag or car you have, you will inevitably fill it when travelling.FSTOP Kenti 16

The Kenti is relatively small and compact, but more notably 99.36% blue. There were black or olive/kahki options, but I felt like I should commit to those signature F-stop black and blue colours. At 25 litres it can’t carry much. Trust me, that’s a good thing. I’m 5ft 7″ / 170cm and bigger bags look huge on me, so it’s nice to find a bag which feels designed for the smaller being.FSTOP Kenti 17On the torso, it utilises a standard waist and sternum strap combination. The sternum strap is elasticated, allowing your rib cage to expand and contract. Yes, you can breath – essential to life, but more importantly to me, when I use the Kenti I’m generally exerting myself. On the clip, there’s a small whistle for when you can’t find your subject through the mist. Ok, it’s there to signal for help in the mountains or wilderness if you take a tumble. Thankfully, I’ve never felt the need to use it, though I have taken a tumble. More on that later. As you can see, the waist strap has plenty of excess for different body shapes. My waist is around 30 inches and I can get it tight enough to offer proper support. An elastic loop on either strap helps keep the excess webbing from flapping around in the wind. If I wasnt going between wearing a down jacket and a running vest, I’d strap it down with electrical or gorilla tape to guarantee it stays hidden. The waist belt is padded and broad, providing excellent support and comfort to to the hips. The right hand containing a pocket which can accommodate an iPhone 7, food, gloves – anything you want close to hand. The left, a molle style strap that can accommodate F-stop’s range of accessories. I don’t own any, so can’t comment on the integration.FSTOP Kenti 8The longest I have run with the Kenti is 20 miles in the Lake District, with 7000ft / 2200 meters of climbing. It was comfortable throughout and despite having the traditional style straps, when I run mostly with running vests,  it stayed in place and didnt cause any chafing/hot spots/frustration. FSTOP Kenti 18On the rear, there is a large front pocket, that contains several compartments for organisation and storage. Under the roll top a small soft pouch for glasses or items you wish to protect from scratchs. Main gear storage is accessible via either side of the bag.

 

A handy key clip, with removable section for if you’re using your bag regularly (I lost mine), zippered pockets and stretch mesh pockets, along with a tube of material for a bike pump, selfie stick, long torch, tubes of smarties – anything long and cylindrical. At the Spring Trail Clean Tour I had a mini pump in the sleeve and Dynaplug/tyre lever in the top pocket in case my tyre got impaled on something critical.

Most of the time I’ve kept a beanie, lens cleaning kit, spare cards, GoPro and other odds an ends related to running/mountain biking in the front compartments.

 

Out back, behind the back panel, you find a zippered compartment suitable for a 13″ Macbook Pro or bladder. With a velcro loop, you can secure your chosen bladder for stability.

I can here you, but what about the camera compartments???!!!! FSTOP Kenti 4FSTOP Kenti 5FSTOP Kenti 6Either side of the bag has a large half dome zippered pocket, which allows for easy side access. There is a central divider held in place with velcro, with each side having an additional two dividers, that allow you to customise your load out.

I routinely keep my 70-200 in one side, with 7D body attached, with the opposite carrying a 16-35mm and 50mm or fish eye. I’ll often also add in my strap or any larger accessories to make sure the compartment is full. When walking this isn’t an issue, but when running in the mountains, the contents are going to get shaken around repeatedly, so I like to do my best to keep them in place and protected.

At either side there are two straps to add additional support and security. If you want to, you can also use these to add a tripod/strobe…. I can’t see the need given its a small pack and more me, it’s about going light and fast.

On the bottom you have a rain cover, which stows away into it’s own pocket. I’ve used it a fair bit, it keeps things dry and is also great for storing wet gloves/layers when the weather improves and you want to take layers off, but don’t want them inside the bag given their dripping wet.

That roll top.

 

Unlike many of F-Stop’s bags, at the time of purchase, it has a roll top and given roll tops are now all the rage of hipsters and those wanting the outdoor look, I’m bang on trend haha. The top area has enough storage for a lightweight waterproof jacket, trousers and soft flask. In the main image you can see the soft pocket and top of the velcro dividers of the integrated ICU. At times, for more epic adventures, additional space would be great, but, if more kit is required, I’ll drop a lens – more often than not, the 70-200 – to provide me with greater storage for mountain kit.

Wear and Tear

I’ve used the Kenti in the Lake District Fells, mountains of North Wales, Highlands of Scotland, Kendal Mountain Festival – in fact, all over the UK, mostly in mountains.. I’ve ran with it, rode bikes, hiked, sat in the back of rooms shooting events and flung it on the ground more times than I can remember. Despite some discolouration – I’ve never washed it – it is showing little to no signs of wear, there are no rips, no gashes, lost kit or fraying.

That fall……

When I was a the Pyllon XP 2 as the official photog, we we’re 15 or so miles into a 20 mile run in the Lakeland fells (Cumbrian for mountain) and I quite literally fell. Somewhere on Harrison Stickle I was too close to the edge, and before I could work out what was going on, the ground gave way under my right foot and I tumbled down a steep slope to my right, landing on my Kenti. I rolled a couple more times, my vision distorted like being in a washing machine on a high spin, before I sunk my limbs into the ground and stopped myself. Looking up, embarrassed, I immediately stuck my thumb up to say I was ok, to the one person who may have seen it, Gavin. Turns out he saw the whole thing.

On reaching the team, the first thing they asked was how was my camera…… Simply put, I never thought about it. The Kenti broke my fall, I didnt hear any noise from lens or camera breaking and I felt no pain. Until they mentioned my camera, its condition never crossed my mind. Gingerly opening up my bag, everything was in perfect condition, testament to the design and I’m sure, with a little lady luck involved.

Long and short, the Kenti saved my camera and my back. Cheers F-Stop.

So, the Kenti. Would I recommend it. YES! It’s a great small bag and one which has become my adventure companion. Now, it’s something of a rare beast, as it has been discontinued, but some searching shows they are still available for now. Rumour has it, there’s new one coming out later this year….. so what would I change….

Well, it’s a pretty pointless question, as with factory lead times, sampling etc, the odds are it’s currently in production or signed off at the very least. But given you asked, ok, I posed the question.

I’d love for a UL or ultra light version to be made. I almost bought a Loka UL or Guru UL instead, as they are made to be lighter, however, the Loka is much larger and the Guru doesn’t share the same low profile. I’d like a stretch mesh pocket on the strap, much like a running vest, to allow for hydration/food/accessories for the active shooter and perhaps look at a new strap system, to make it better suited for running…. What I’m asking for is a custom pack for a photographer who is semi pro at best and has very specific needs. But you have to ask 😉

I love my Kenti, I know it has my back and can take the worst mountains can throw at it.

For more info about F-Stop, click HERE

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