Shimoda Design Explore 40 review - Steve De Waele

Steve De Waele

Landscape & Nature photography

Shimoda Design Explore 40 review

Shimoda designs explore 40

Here a review / comparison about a new backpack that I now use for the larger work.

Everyone who knows me knows that I have been using F-Stop for my heavy photography bags for years. Now I have always been satisfied but sometimes you let your eye fall on something else.

Like many of you, we sometimes look for renewal, so also. This is also a reason that I went for Shimoda Designs. I have also seen and read many good things online.

This time I go for a Shimoda design explore 40 backpack / photo bag.

Another brand than what I have been using for years now, I am going to compare both backpacks. Read more below.

Blue Nights

Color code "Blue Nights" 40Liter (volume content) As you can see, both bags are almost similar to each other. These bags are also in the heavier segment of bags.

The Shimoda looks slightly tighter but is therefore a newer bag. Normally the F-Stop is 3 years old (50Liter) The Shimoda is available in 2 colors at present, the F-Stop has a larger range of colors here. The one I used for the Review is blue night.

The Shimoda is equipped with many zippers and that is nice to work with. We can easily use 3 sides on our materials, back, top and side.

This backpack is also equipped with straps / handles, so you can easily walk around with the bag in your hand. The top and side are provided with sturdy handles.

Beautiful leather strips on the zippers and the backpack can be opened on all sides.

To open

The back opens to the left, this is ideal if we carry the bag on the hip and keep it for us. So the bag hangs on the hip belts around our waist. So we no longer have to keep the flap open with our chin or a hand during the actions that we have to do in the bag. The back is also equipped with a Laptop box and can be seen above 3rd photo.


Small things along the outside of the bag give the Shimoda a big advantage. I'll sum them up. Gsm pocket (not for mega large cell phone!) And drink holder in the shoulder straps on the front of the chest. Waste and storage compartments in the hip belts left and right.

Adjustable shoulder straps and adjustable in height, S, M, L and XL. The shoulder straps come nicely round and over the shoulder which is necessary for good wearing comfort. Here especially the better bags distinguish themselves from the cheaper version.

Shoulder straps also feel different, they feel more firm around the body instead of pulling on the shoulders themselves, (good to feel while turning with the body). It feels comfortable. This I could experience well during the tours, no neck pain.

In the bag

What's in my bag and what's in it.

Now a photo bag has changed from day to day and from person to person. Here the backpack is ready for a trip and I use what is in it right now.

Content during this review

Filters + holder, Drone + remote, extra bag, body and 3 lenses, 150mm macro, 60mm macro, 24-70 zoom. Sony camera.

Adapter from Sony to Canon, cable release, color chart, GoPro, extra batteries for camera, GoPro and drone

A Gimbal to film and the extra body and lens where I take the pictures.

Rain cover, Shimoda bag (blue) and a Shimoda insert light on the bag 3rd picture below.


The inside of the bag feels nice and new. With me there are two units here, a small one and a big one. Units and accessories can be bought according to your own desire or needs.

You can tilt the unit in the bag as shown here on the left of the images. You can not use this unit along the back. You will not see any camera material in the bag along the back, but you can open the bag along the side and reach your material along the side This is just like a flip side bag ideal if the bag has to stay on the shoulders and still has to be opened a lot.

You can also use the unit along the top of the bag.

This is the first bag that has so many possibilities to design this also contributes to comfort. This offers several advantages over the F-Stop.

Photo backpack

There are also many things that you can buy. Units in the bag, large rain cover, camera bag that you can attach anywhere on the bag. There are also smaller bags that can also be ordered here. Each camera bag thus becomes a tailor-made bag.


Along the inside the bag is also reinforced with a frame which improves comfort. Very necessary because we usually burden these bags heavily, including our back and neck.

This frame ensures better wearing comfort. This can also be found in the F-Stop bag, so there is no difference here either.

Added values of the Shimoda Tov F-Stop

Both good photo bags so I do not want to compromise the F-Stop.

But what are the differences for me personally that direct me to send Shimode.

- More possibilities to decorate the bag.

- You can insert and remove your material on 3 sides.

- Multi functional shoulder straps (storage compartments, fully adjustable to the wearer)

- The bag is more user-friendly. laptop is on the back (better protected)

- When wearing it connects just a bit better on the shoulders and back.  

- extra baby carrier that you can use on your bag, for example to carry the camera along the outside of your bag. As a result, you have your hands free and it is protected in the rain when walking.

- large rain cover this way you can use it even if your tripod is hanging on your bag.

- You can adjust units or inserts better to your personal taste.

Not unimportant the weight!

Because this matters a lot when we take the kite, or while walking!

Shimoda Weight 1300g compared to F-Stop 1900g, that's 600gr. And here we speak about a small lens lighter, so we can take 600gr of material more.

Tripod can be attached left or right on the back (so that you can hang something else on the other side, eg two tripods). This is not possible with the F-stop.

The inserts are preformed (thermoformed), so better protection, stronger and take up less space. These are also relatively easy to move in the bag.

Includes two loose straps for accessories (with F-stop it is not included). We can use these to quickly attach tent or sleeping bags to the bag at the bottom.

This can also be a thick coat that you want to quickly mount to the bag, so you do not lose any interior space in the bag.

Target price Euro's

I do not think Shimoda wants to be the cheapest, but think they just want to bring quality. There, both bags are in the same price range.

Shimoda Explore 40 Backpack - Blue Nights - (520-001)       € 290.00

Shimoda Core Unit Small - Parisian Night - (520-091)              € 50.00

Shimoda Core Unit Medium - Parisian Night - (520-092)         € 80.00

Shimoda Accessory Case Small - River Blue - (520-093)         € 30.00

Shimoda Accessory Case Medium - River Blue - (520-094)    € 35.00

Shimoda Rain Cover for Explore 40 and 60 - (520-096)              € 9.0                                                                  

Total of my stake                                                                          € 495.00 


F-Stop Tilopa v3 Anthracite backpack                          € 319.00

F-Stop Shallow ICU Medium                                             € 59.95

F-Stop Shallow ICU Small                                                  € 74.95

F-Stop Packing Cell Kit (bags)                                          € 59.95

F-Stop Hydration Sleeve Malibu Blue                              € 12.95

F-Stop Rain Cover Large Nine Iron                                   € 18.95             

Total for the same amount                                             € 545.75


Now we have a total of 3 F-Stop bags in our family. If I see the difference, it is still a small 60 € less for the Shimoda. In addition, I have some more advantages.

We all use different bags at home, the eldest son uses a big f-Stop for his Drone material and video material. My wife uses a middle size of F-Stop and Benro slingbag. I myself also use F-Stop for the heavier work, and Tenba for the slightly smaller trips.

If I look at everything that is 3 times € 60.00 and that is a nice sum to think about. Afterwards it turns out to be cheaper and that is always a decisive factor in purchases we do.


That Shimoda Design Explore 40 comes here for me the best from the comparison.

With lots of small extra things that for me personally still stand out compared to the 50L F-Stop where less can. Does not sound logical, but 100% light to the ergonomic layout.

This Shimoda photography bag is also very easy due to the check in of the airports and is also important for people who sometimes take a kite.

Then there are numerous inserts (spacers) to customize the bag to your own wishes or needs.

This makes the big difference for me, we can do 100% of our own sentence in this bag on the inside. small units, large units, combination of several small ones and laying them flat. By turning this around we can use a bag along the side.

Extra carrying straps to attach sleeping bags or other to the bag (eg tent) this bag is also a real trigger in my eyes. Then you have a larger model that completes the line.

Extra bags to put small tools or other. On the bag is also a 5 year garante from Shimoda, this is always nice.


I will keep you informed about how it is after a few months of use.



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