Okay so first things first: I'll lay it on the table, I'm sponsored by f-stop, so this post is going to be a tiny bit biased. That said, I wouldn't use a product that I didn't back. Over the years I've used multiple bags from different companies and I can honestly say that nothing compares to f-stop. It's a big call but if you look at the Pro roster of shooters on the f-stop programme and then take a look at any mountain bike World Cup and check out the number of photographers using the gear who have paid hard-earned cash, you'll see that the majority of the outdoor action photography world choose f-Stop for their camera toting needs. A quick look at Spoke photographers is a good cross section; Sven Martin, Camilla Rutherford and Tim Pierce are all sponsored by f Stop and solely use their bags, and then Simeon Patience, #stashgramrossco and Stefan Haworth all choose to use their bags and part with their own hard-earned cash. The line of bags is substantial but the mountain series is where it's at and while some photogs love toting massive bags (and keep reminding you about it) personally I like to keep things light and tight. The f-stop Guru has been my go-to bag since 2010. I've owned others in the range but this guy sees ninety percent of the use.
The original Guru was a dialled-in pack and to be honest was pretty hard to fault, so when f-stop called on their Pro team to give feedback and input as to what could make it better, there wasn't a massive list of things. Pretty much everyone was stoked on the pack, so the updates on this new edition are pretty subtle but after using it on a few shoots now they are all warranted. First up there are a couple of subtle changes to the outside of the pack. There are new compression straps on both sides of the pack; the old model had the ability to add these, but on this new model they are sewn in and are very welcome, securely storing a lightweight tripod on the side leaving you access to the bag's front pocket. The only other major external change is the removal of the key pocket on the waist belt; integrated gear loops still remain but the dedicated zippered pocket is gone (and it won't be missed).
Probably the most notable change though in the whole bag is the change in material for the back and strap padding from the Airmesh EVA used in the past to a new padded EVA. The padded EVA is also found on their recently released Loka UL, and the comfort benefits have made themselves clearly known on a couple of long rides in Colorado recently. Sticking with the straps, the material used on the actual fastening section has been upgraded and widened since my original Guru's release, and the buckles holding the sternum strap have also been beefed up and won't bend and slip off.
Both the straps and back panel feature a new Padded EVA laminate for a more comfortable load carrying experience. New wider straps add to the package providing a more robust fastening system ensuring that clips and buckles stay put. Also the industrial zips on the old Guru, which always seemed a little over the top have been changed for an easier running zipper, it's a minor detail but opening the camera compartment now is easier and even a little quicker than before.
Here's another look at the new wider straps and beefed up sternum strap/buckle combo (the Whistle is still there!).
The bottom of the bag has also had a major upgrade, shifting from a double layer of DWR Rip Stop Nylon to this abrasive resistant 100% waterproof PVC Fabric. It still features a stash pocket for an optional rain cover. The old DWR base on my four year old bag is showing little signs of wear but the improvement will make repelling water on wet rides much better as well as making cleaning the bag after muddy rides much easier.
And finally, the change that is going to most affect photographers out there who rely on the Guru, is the slight increase in size of the zippered camera access opening. It's pretty subtle, but 10mm more in overall height and tighter corners mean access to the Guru's ICU is that much easier. The only thing I could ever fault with the original Guru was this and the remedy is perfect. I've already found it easier to remove the fish-eye and radio slaves that I keep in those two top pockets.
There's a couple of other minor changes with the Guru, like internal pocket layout and so on, but the above are the major changes and the ones that will most change day to day life for photographers out there. The f-stop website isn't showing this new bag yet but I'll double check that this is what's currently shipping. You can buy f-stop direct from the source here, and locally though their New Zealand agent progear.co.nz.