F-Stop makes some of the most cherished, beloved camera backpacks on the planet. Anyone who uses their equipment swears by them, and their interchangeable internal units that allowed you to customize your backpack to fit your specific needs on a particular day is also brilliant. But despite these factors, from the perspective of an outsider or prospective buyer they seem… disorganized. Their stock of product is always low, their supply chain wait times are absurd, and their latest Kickstarter is not looking so good. So what’s going on at F-Stop?

Not long ago, a concerned F-Stop Kickstarter backer pointed out to me some troubling news regarding their latest campaign for the KitSentry, a bag system designed for tracking and organizing equipment. F-Stop Gear created a Kickstarter back in February 2015 for this relatively ambitious project, and funding closed successfully in April, 2015 at $27,039 with 227 backers.

fstop kitsentry kickstarter

Since that point, F-Stop has delivered no “real” updates. Over a year later, they have gone nowhere with the product and only issued apologies sporadically. The last public update was April of 2016. They were estimated to deliver the main product of the project nearly 10 months ago.

Below are two additional updates only provided to backers that were published late last year.

F-Stop KitSentry Backer Update 1 F-Stop KitSentry Backer Update 2

Many backers have expressed their frustrations in the comments section of the Kickstarter, several asking for their money back. Curious to see what the hold up was, I sent inquiries to F-Stop, just looking for them to provide additional context.

Despite initially responding that they would find out what the hold up was and get back to me, in the end F-Stop did not provide answers to my questions, and then ignored repeated requests over the course of weeks.

In order to figure out what was going on, I reached out to someone close to the company, who wishes to remain anonymous. What my contact told me branched far wider than just KitSentry, and spoke to the state of the company as a whole.

“F-stop was a great company at one point.”

“F-stop makes great products… unfortunately, those great products are never in stock and there is a deep rooted reason why that is,” my contact told me. “The company is run by a man of many faces. A narcissist that, to put it simply, got lucky with a good idea from a former partner and a good team that helped him build a powerhouse in its respective niche segment.”

Jeremy Koreski with the Sukha in Aloe

Marketing image for F-Stop Sukha bag, copyright F-Stop Gear.

Becoming that powerhouse apparently had an affect on the owner. “Over the last few years, things got to his head and he started living an unsustainable lifestyle, hemorrhaging company funds to feed his expensive travel habits that included flying business class all over the globe, 5 star hotels, and outrageous dining/bar tabs. He also used company funds to start up multiple side businesses doomed from the get go.”

“[The owner] shifts gears and jumps projects so often, he couldn’t get anything done.”

But isn’t that unethical?

“Most certainly,” my contact responded. “It didn’t matter what his team said, if you didn’t respect his wishes, he would shun you and cut you off, eventually forcing you out of your position. Most of the real workers earned the bare minimum salary, living paycheck by paycheck, making it hard to walk away as they were essentially signed on as a false promise of things to come.”

My contact explained that F-Stop’s owner is very good at keeping up appearances and putting fears to rest, despite reality. “The man is a great salesman. Socially awkward at times, but a great talker. He can convince you to question yourself and often stumbles on his own lies. Unfortunately, that’s about all he can do. He shifts gears and jumps projects so often, he couldn’t get anything done. Everything that business professionals say not to do, he did it. If you asked him if a project was a failure, he’d pin the blame on an old employee and deny it was his doing.”

Marketing image for F-Stop Gear, copyright F-Stop Gear.

According to my contact, the CEO sold his employees on grand dreams and plans that he either never fully thought through, or never intended to complete. “The man is interesting… he thinks very highly of himself and talks huge numbers that are more hopes and dreams than reality. Everybody around him has since realized he’s just an impersonator playing a real businessman, and quickly distanced themselves from the ticking time bomb he is. The sad part is he’s still out there scamming businesses to support his lifestyle. It’s a real life story of American greed. In his wake is F-Stop… left crumbling without any money to hold itself up. They are millions and millions in debt and as long as the CEO is in charge, the company will not last and will likely be bankrupt in the next year.

My contact wanted to stress that F-Stop used to be a solid brand, with a solid business backing it up. “F-stop was a great company at one point. They worked with great people, had great customer service, and yes there were delays, but they offered loaners and eventually shipped out product as a genuine effort to provide the best service,” my contact lamented.

“They are millions and millions in debt and as long as the CEO is in charge, the company will not last and will likely be bankrupt in the next year.”

“But somewhere along the way, the values that created the foundation of the company quickly crumbled. All of our best customer service reps (photographers), all got canned for bogus reasonings. The supply chain team that made positive strides were accused of inventory mismanagement, which was a lie. And marketing had to play public relations relaying incorrect messages to an already hostile and anxious mob of customers.”

Marketing image for F-Stop Nasturtium bag, copyright F-Stop Gear.

For example, my contact related a story where the owner took action not because it was the right thing to do, but because he wanted to make a point. “True story: The CEO once said he would set up a call center for optimal customer support, even though that wouldn’t really be necessary for a company the size of F-Stop. Well, somebody called the bluff, and he took action to prove that person wrong. So he spent money that should have been spent on inventory for F-Stop to instead set up an office and call center in Macedonia, relieving several very good and knowledgeable US-based customer relations reps to hire unqualified talent. Most have never used a camera or hiked a real mountain with a real backpack, yet they were expected to provide support to F-Stop’s customers.”

Back to the reason I originally looked into this: KitSentry. I asked my contact what they thought of the campaign, and the likelihood the product would get off the ground. “In regards to the KitSentry Kickstarter, it was a sham from the beginning,” my contact said. “A former colleague of the CEO apparently ‘stole’ an idea the CEO had and was trying to execute KitSentry in some form or another. Once that former colleague started creating public info about that product, the CEO got spooked and forced his now-former marketing team to create a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding for a half-baked product. Once the funding was raised, he transferred all the funds to himself, leaving nothing to the actual development team to spend on creating KitSentry itself.”

Needless to say, we really wanted to hear from F-Stop on this. I greatly trust the contact who provided the insights above, and have no reason to believe that the story would be made up. That said, it’s something that would really be better illustrated with input from F-Stop directly.

But F-Stop’s silence is deafening.

My original goal was to shed some light on a failed Kickstarter, and to help the backers either get the product they were promised or to get their money returned. But based on what my contact told me about the state of the company, neither of those options seems particularly realistic.

“Nobody from the original marketing team is there,” my contact told me. “The office in the U.S. once had 15 workers and now has one working for F-Stop. The company is based in Saint Louis and because they are in so much debt and being sued by so many people, they’ll likely move the company overseas after declaring bankruptcy.

“[As for] KitSentry… nothing will happen. It’ll die alongside the company in the U.S. Nobody that was involved with it early is even there anymore. All the people that were involved with it didn’t want to do it. They only did it because they were forced to do it.”

UPDATE 08/07/2016: F-Stop has officially announced the failure of the KitSentry Kickstarter, and backers will not be reiumbursed. Story.

  • Yikes.

  • Well, I have spoken to a number of employees, both in the US and part of the EU team, this morning in reference to this piece and unequivocally it is being denied. F-Stop has absolutely had issues in the past with inventory, but from my understanding all orders are shipping now and they are ramping up things in new areas. I can’t speak for the kick starter, but the source absolutely sounds like a disgruntled employee. I suppose time will tell which side is the telling the truth. But for now, I will continue using their products as they are the best photography backpacks on the planet still.

    • I still would very much happily have a conversation with F-Stop regarding this. When I mentioned that I was working on this piece to them a couple weeks ago, they said they would respond and then never did, despite repeated attempts on my part.

      • Mr Brovvn

        There is nothing for them to say….Your article is so on point they can’t think of a fake response to give you. I’m so happy you wrote this so everyone can finally see what the delays are for. I am a formal employee and I am happy I no longer work there.

      • I totally understand and while I am not a fan of anonymous sources for fairly scathing articles like this, it sounds like you gave them an opportunity to respond, which is great.

        The last thing I will say with this post is that 6 or so years ago F-Stop hired me to help build their Staff Pro Team, which I am currently on. During that time I did get a chance to work closely with those involved with F-Stop and was even give ownership of part of the company. When I parted way to continue to build my own brands and companies, I cashed out my ownership percentage, was paid fell and left with no qualms. Now I can’t vouch for the behind the scenes stuff as of recent, but what your source says in this article just doesn’t reflect my own personal, and now professional experiences. Take that for whatever grain of salt your readers want to.

        • Albert

          The article did say the company was doing great at the beginning, without any problems. That is in line with the comment you gave here. With so many people having negative things to say about this company I for one would never buy a product of them. Even if they are ‘the best bags’.

          Much appreciated for giving your two cents about this whole fiasco Colby. You didn’t have to do that and you are getting the full frontal heat.

    • Evosia

      Colby, you need to disclose that you are sponsored by them and that makes you biased. http://fstopgear.com/staffpro/colby-brown. One only needs to check all the customer complaints on the F-Stop Facebook page to see how true this article is. People waiting on back orders for months. I’ve been an F-stop customer for years, and I know this is a chronic issue.

      • Mr Brovvn

        Exactly! Colby gets all the free shit before paying customer do so of course they are the best to him and he sees no problem with it. This article is 110% accurate. I’m glad somebody is finally calling them out on it.

        • You seem angry my friend…

          I have had a good relationship with F-Stop over the years but I have not been privy to internal politics…that being said, I do have hundreds of clients of mine that I have pushed F-Stops way and while there have absolutely been shipping delays, they have always been happy with the bags do arrive.

          • Evosia

            And you seem defensive and just being a shill for the company. It’s obvious you have a good relation with them since they give you their stuff for free. Have a little compassion for folks who have their hard earned money tied up in back orders for months and they repeatedly get let down by false promises of when things will ship.

          • Simply sharing a counter point of view from my experience…which has nothing to do with free stuff. Who the heck sells their soul for free gear anyway? It is a fairly ridiculous assertion for anyone of even remote success in this industry.

            I have said repeatedly that I am not denying the delays or the drop in CS, read my comments, but that my experience have been different in the explanation of why there have been delays. I am also not hiding my name as an anonymous source…just stating my point of view. Not really here to get anyone’s approval.

          • Evosia

            Colby, you’re still a member of their pro staff team. A team you were paid to help build. You even stated you were given ownership of part of the company at one point. You may have financially gone separate ways since, but given all this history you have had (and still have) with the company, isn’t it totally reasonable to question how your personal experience with them is through very rose-colored lenses, and is therefore not representative of the real world problems F-Stop customers are facing with their orders?

          • Absolutely fair points to contest @Evosia:disqus …if we can also say that it is a little discerning that the entirety of this article is based off a single source that is not willing to stand by his name or accusations? That seems just as fair.

            As I said, Pro Team or not…history or not, I truly hope they continue building these packs and sort out what ever issues or challenges they have faced.

          • Mr Brovvn

            Single source? The person they mention is one, I’m willing to speak out, another previous employee actually wrote a book about her experience being his personal assistance and I’m sure many others would give their two cents if asked. You know well that many good people had to give up on that company and many were fired for no reasons, many invested their own money but what happened? Druid screwed them over, that’s why their are lawsuits now for money, discrimination etc. All i can say is you are lucky you cashed out because some lost a lot of money that invested in someone who blew it all impressing folks around the globe and throwing pool parties for them but luckily not everyone fell for the tricks.

          • Evosia

            While I like their packs, the more important issue here is the people affected. No bag or product is so important that I would ignore or turn a blind eye to how a CEO or a company treats their customers (and apparently suppliers and dealers as well.) My main concern is all the people who paid hard earned money waiting for something they are promised. Whatever the reason for the delays, there is no debate that it has been a chronic issue. And that raises a lot of red flags. This article help connect the dots about what is going on behind the scenes. I hope you are right that these accusations aren’t true because you are putting your reputation on the line by carrying their logo on your website and defending them here.

          • If you want to see it that way, that is fine, in terms of my reputation, but I am simply stating my own experiences and what I have been told since I don’t work for F-Stop. If that means I am staking my reputation, so be it. As I have said a few times here…time will tell how things pan out all around.

          • Evosia

            Sir, there’s a lot of money on the line from people who have orders placed with F-Stop. If you’re insisting that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with F-Stop’s business, and given your close relationship with the company and people you still know there, your words here will of course influence people’s decisions to either continue ordering from them and/or continue to wait for orders that have already been placed. Let’s hope F-Stop doesn’t leave them high and dry because if they do go bankrupt, customers may not be able to get their money back.

          • You are either not reading my comments or cherry picking my words to fit a narrative. I have not denied the delays or drop in CS at all in this thread. My possible point of contention is “why” it has been happening…not ignoring the issues of customers not getting their products. Even with that, I can only speak of my own personal experiences throughout all this as well as the conversations I have had with a few people that work there currently. You can absolutely take all of it with a grain of salt if you wish, but I would hope that after so many comments on this thread…all of this would be vastly apparent…

          • Evosia

            Colby, I’ve read all of your comments. From the beginning your comments have come on strong insisting on the positives about F-Stop and downplaying its problems. Unfortunately you deleted one of your comments I wanted to reference. In my previous comment to you, I was specifically addressing your contention of “why”. We both agree the long delays and poor customer service are a problem. But… why is it happening? Poor CS and delays aren’t as worrisome if F-stop’s business practices are otherwise in good shape. So is it just a hiccup as you seem to imply or is the truth closer to what the article reports on: millions of dollars in debt, mismanagement from the very top, misuse of funds, suppliers not getting paid, etc? You mentioned that according to your multiple sources inside the organization, it doesn’t paint the same picture as this article. You also criticize the article as scathing and the writer for depending on one anonymous source (more people have come out since to corroborate parts of the story.) Given your disdain for anonymity, it makes me question who your multiple unnamed sources are so that everyone can be better informed about our future purchasing decisions. FYI, if you haven’t read it, you should read Michael Bonocore’s thread on Facebook where several other F-Stop ambassadors share their not-so-rosy experiences.

          • To be honest, I am pretty much done with this conversation. I joined in to simply sheed some light on both my own experiences that seemed counter to this article and what I was told and I have been nothing but blasted for it. I love the internet!

            Everyone here is free to think what they want. I am not spending any more time on this.

            I will however ask if the employees are ok with being named and will edit this post with their names if so.

          • Evosia

            @ColbyBrown:disqus You are a brand ambassador for F-Stop. You have a long and deep history with the company including past part ownership and contractor/employee. You claim to have multiple (and still anonymous) sources from inside the company. So, yeah, if you want to speak publicly about your experiences then you better be prepared to be scrutinized in the same way you were scrutinizing this article. As a F-stop customer, I just want to know the truth. A week ago I was about to drop $900 on a new f-stop pack, icu and accessories. Then I came upon the Facebook comments from customers. Then this article. Then I read your comments responding to this article disputing what’s happening in the company. So your words have an impact on what I and thousands of other photographers do with our money. Before I risk my hard earned money, I’d like to know how much truth are behind your statements. Your sources being unnamed means you’re no more trustworthy than any other anonymous source. In fact, it reduces your credibility. The difference is that your sources claim these issues are not happening within F-Stop so I doubt they would face any repercussions from speaking positively about the company. I see no reason why they would want to remain unnamed. In contrast, I could see why the anonymous source for this article would like to not be named as she/he could lose their job if F-Stop finds out who it is.

          • BuckRogers

            Stop it. F-stop blows.

          • Mr Brovvn

            Thank you Evosia. Colby, Didn’t they also “fire” many staff pro’s due to giving out so much gear but getting barely any content back from them. The Staff Pro program was a joke it’self because they had so many “pros” but barely any content and feedback from them. The only reason you were able to get certain things on time was because a few of us really liked you and shipped it to you since you seemed to have responded better than others, you also had more opportunity like with lens cloths, etc.. Once Mike from Canon came in the whole program went down the toilet and they were scraping bags from walls to send out to pro’s to get content back because Anton couldn’t do it all himself but they also didn’t make enough bags since Druid decide to make 500 Shinns like a rookie ass owner instead of making more Ajna’s and Tilopas which sold like crazy.

            You just need to admit the ownership and management sucks bad and the reputation is basically 0 once again like it happens every year or two. You don’t see it because you get special privileges but why don’t we ask other former pro’s about their experience like Stanley from France who was promised bags for his trips, etc but then got burned due to terrible allocation.

          • Mr Brovvn

            Not angry at all Colby I’m just curious what employees you spoke to since there is like 3 left…The controller just left too because she most likely couldn’t figure out the messed up financial state she was hired to do just like one of the biggest financial firms in Saint Louis couldn’t and gave up because of all the lies. Nobody in the USA you could possible speak to since they are all fired and have a container going to Macedonia with all the office equipment?

            In Europe you have 1 Britt and 1 German left who are obviously going to say everything is fine since they turned a blind eye to all the issues and just keep feeding customer “it’s shipping”, “it’s on the water” bs that Druid tells them lol. I wonder how long they are willing to look stupid for and swallow their pride for an owner that doesn’t care how his employees look lying to customers just so he can live a lavish lifestyle overseas? What do you think? How many distributors and dealer gave deposits for factory direct orders and are still waiting? I can tell you because they found me on facebook and are asking me what the hell is going on even after I told them I’m not with the company for a year now.

            Keep pushing your clients to f-stop and you won’t have too many left to push because they will be disappointed with the service received.

            🙂 🙂

      • Sure I have been connected as part of the team, but that is irrelevant as I was stating what I was told and expressing my opinion. I was told 10k orders went out last month and as far as I know, there are no shipping delays right now (although maybe I am wrong in that).

        Either way I said in time we will find out the truth….not that there were not delays or that people weren’t unhappy. Even the article talks about how they are still killer packs.

        Anyway I too wish there wasn’t delays or a drop in CS in recent years, but I have been told that the ship is correctly. How that actually pans out…well time will tell…

        • Evosia

          If you aren’t here being a shill for the company, then why do you need to mention that they make “killer packs” or that people are “always happy with the bags” or that they are “the best photography backpack in the world”. At no point did anyone question the quality of the bags themselves. Yes, the bags are great. I use the Tilopa myself. But that’s not the point. What we’re commenting on are customer complaints about the awful delays and how bad communications have been with customer service. Just go on the F-Stop Facebook page and you won’t miss all the unsatisfied customers asking where their order is.

          • and I am not discounting the unsatisfied customers. F-Stop has had its share of ups and downs in terms of inventory and shipping times throughout the 7 years I have known them…no question at all.

            This article paints a very negative portrait of a company I have had a good longstanding relationship with, by an anonymous source of all things. I brought up the quality of the bags because it plays a role in why F-Stop is still popular, even with the long delays. I mentioned that “my clients are always happy with the packs” because that was in response to the other commentor who like you have inferred that my opinion is moot because I am connected to the company.

            All in all I hope F-Stop sorts out their shipping issues and continue to make packs, but what is said in this article is not indicative of my experience with them over the last several years (outside of the inventory problems).

          • Pete Collins

            Colby,
            I hope you are doing well.

            I just wanted to throw in my two cents about anonymous sources and why would folks choose to remain anonymous?

            There is almost an inherent backlash from any attempt at whistleblowing, especially if the whistleblower is a lower man on the totem pole. A CEO of a company wields amazing amounts of power over their employees, who are depending on him to take care of them and steer the ship in the right way. If I know that my speaking up will result in my being punished, fired or written off as an ex-employee with a grudge, then my only action may be to let the story out on the down-low. “Disgruntled Employees” can be folks looking for an excuse and a way to get petty revenge for some perceive slight… Or there is also a chance that they are the only ones with the guts to let the public know that something is wrong in the kingdom. Telling folks that the emperor has no clothes, sounds like a good idea in theory, until you realize the emperor runs the kingdom and that those around you will stop taking your calls and you will find yourself adrift on your own. In this business everyone seems to be only a couple of degrees separated from each other, so you are almost guaranteed that friends and those with tangible ties with the CEO will close ranks, and they should because friends watch each others backs. However, sometimes they cover for something that they probably know is true, but prefer to keep going with the flow, because it benefits them in some way. I know you Colby, and I don’t believe you are a “shill” but even in your attempt to bring a counterpoint to this article has a resulted in a backlash. Integrity and character are no longer a buffer against being attacked… as a matter of fact… speaking the truth is often the quickest way to be called a trouble maker and disregarded. So folks must decide… do they put there name out there and then hope they can weather the inevitable storm, or do they protect themselves… and remain anonymous. Now, I am not naive enough to believe that all anonymous posting is altruistic and solely in search of the truth, however, some of our greatest discoveries of wrong doing have come from anonymous sources. For the record, I have always put my name to my comments and not hid behind anonymity… but to my shame that has caused me to remain silent at times that I should have spoken up because I was too scared of how it would affect me and my family. I hope that makes sense… I don’t want the fact that the source is anonymous to mean that they might not have the inside track. We have to trust that Jaron did his due diligence and is confident in his informant, and at the same time hold him accountable to do all the necessary steps to maintain integrity in his writing, including protecting his sources. Sorry this went on longer than I intended, but in the end I hope that this article will open a greater degree of transparency to a situation that has more questions than answers right now.

          • Hey @disqus_T9OC7fjB0Z:disqus . Good to hear from you man. I hope you are doing well!

            I totally hear what you are saying. I suppose my issue is that the reason behind these delays and drop in CS at times flies counter to my experiences with the company, which is why I feel the need to stand up. This isn’t to say there aren’t or weren’t issues or challenges, but my multiple contacts within the org tell a different story.

            I hope in time, things are either revealed our worked out as I still take these packs with me all over the globe and truly hope things get sorted so I can continue to use them moving forward.

            All the best to you and your family!

          • Mr Brovvn

            Shipping issues? Dude… He owes soo much money to every factory and he’s not paying them! THAT”S WHY SHIT ISN’T SHIPPING!! The factories aren’t going to release the product until you pay them! That’s why the Kashmir was delayed, that’s why the new product’s were delayed last June. They switched to new factories which took about 6 months and now he isn’t going to pay them so after you fulfill these orders, what’s gonna happen next? The only way out is to find somebody stupid enough to invest more money so he can get a few more batches out.

  • Used CEO 7 times in the article, but didn’t name the CEO once? Did a second source confirm any parts of the story?

    • I did not see the need to call him out by name, personally. Editorial choice. As for confirmation, take a look here. Clients and even their ambassadors are either not surprised or confirming parts of the story: https://www.facebook.com/mbonocore/posts/10153662772041857

      • t_linn

        Editorial choice? Seriously? I’ve never seen a legitimate “news” article where the author was afraid to name the individual that was the primary subject of his post. Bogus, bogus, bogus. You should have provided his name and the name of the former employee who saw fit to write a book. By depriving readers of the ability to delve deeper into what you have written you diminish your own credibility.

    • Mr Brovvn

      I used to work for them. I can confirm all of this is true, literally every part about employee treatment, lawsuits, to the money spending habits its all true. The author doesn’t even mention the amount of investors that got screwed over, which is nice of him.

      • I saw your posts on FredMiranda from a month ago, but you wouldn’t call out the Owner/CEO there either when asked by a member? From my 100 foot view of the situation, you may be the source of Jaron’s article. It’s clear there are massive issues with lead times and communication, but their bags have performed flawlessly for me since ordering one of their first packs seven years ago. I will see how this plays out before making any future orders, but will also hold back my pitch fork until more information comes to light.

        • Just to be clear, I wanted the fact that the bags themselves have been exemplary to be without dispute. It’s the organization of the company that has left many, many people high and dry. I have never spoken against the quality of the product being outstanding.

          • someone

            I bought a Lotus bag in the initial production run when they were first released – had the multi-month delay in delivery, and frankly there’s no way I’d agree with the phrase “the bags themselves have been exemplary”.

            On my bag, the shoulder padding is too thin, the back is hard as a board causing sore spots if you’re only wearing a t-shirt, there are 3 external pockets you could hang hydration bladders in (rather than having it inside with your gear), but there’s no hanging loops for them, and the rubberised material the (black) bag is made of scuffs to white if you so much as give it a stern glance. God only knows what that does for its water-resistence.

            One wonders about all the reviews of f-stop bags which talk about how rugged they are, and how they look brand new after constant abuse. Mine looked damaged and secondhand from putting it on the ground while getting gear out almost as soon as I’d started using it.

            Exemplary isn’t the word I’d use.

        • Mr Brovvn

          I did call him out, that’s why I was let go…He hated the fact that a 25 year old figured him out before anyone else did. He owed two factories about a million each and then said we won’t do business with them anymore because we can find new ones. I told him and other fellow workers that that will never work. How will you continue to pay the factories you owe millions to and take on new factories? The reason for the last delay is because they switched factories and when you do that, it takes months of work before they can come out with a well quality product. As far as the FredMiranda post, I haven’t checked in a while and when I did, I never saw anyone ask me to call him out but even if they did I would tell them the same thing. I mainly posted on there to sell some of my bags I had laying around that others could use since I’m not a photographer I used the bags when I had to travel.

        • Mr Brovvn

          I have no reason to lie. The bags are great(good job Ian) the owner is a complete shit show though. That’s why he is being sued by everyone left and right and why the source(which I’m pretty sure I know who it is) is doing what he did since he was screwed over far more than any previous employee.

        • Mr Brovvn

          I am not the source although I did get played and screwed over. The bags are great, Ian deserves all the credit 110%. The source is someone bigger than me who has connections unlike me. I’m just a hard worker that has put in more hours than any of their “directors” “vps”, etc but the difference between myself and those guys is that I figured the owner out and I did not want to take money from distributors I built relationships with so he can take their money and go show off. I did not want to keep lying to customers about orders “on the water”, “shipping”, etc. I learned to be ethical and treat people the way you want to be treated. I did get burned badly but I’ve recovered from it. I just don’t want to see anymore business loose money to him and customer throw money and simply not receive their backpacks for the trips they have coming up. If you honestly want to know more, leave your email and I will reply to you and you can ask me anything you want and I will be honest with you 200%.

  • The F-Stop bag I reviewed was awesome, but thankfully my favorite brand is still another, one that is always in stock and now even carried in my local mom-and-pop shop… Mindshift! Holy crap those bags are awesome.

    It’s still a shame to read this, however I must admit I’m also a bit relieved. Why? Because at least the (alleged) culprit is not the extremely high quality of the gear itself, but the internal habits at the company.

    You see, in this day and age when cheap Chinese junk completely saturates so many markets, especially the photography accessory market, (flashes, tripods, etc.) I always fear for the longevity of companies that try to blaze a trail against that flow, going for quality over quantity.

    Take Tamrac for example. Extremely high quality bags, and one of the most generous warranties I’ve ever heard of. By some accounts, it is / was a lifetime, no-questions-asked warranty. (Akin to Jansport?) So upon hearing of their declaring chapter 11, I had to wonder- was it just a case of “too good to be true” coming back to haunt a company that was giving away the kitchen sink? It’s entirely possible that Tamrac’s legacy of innovation and quality simply wasn’t hip and stylish enough to compete with all the sexy new brands that were probably not as good quality, but way more “attractive” and affordable to boot. Or, who knows…

    Either way, I guess companies like RRS and others can continue to give me hope, that if you’re full of integrity and have a solid, high-quality product, you’ll survive. Too bad I can’t afford an RRS tripod because I spent all my money on cheap Chinese junk…

    Regarding the validity of these claims: Resource Mag is not a tabloid. If this article had been posted on some of the other clickbait-y sites out there, I might have completely ignored such shocking accusations. Obviously the inventory problems are pretty undeniable, but the claims of personal luxury on the part of the CEO are certainly not to be taken lightly. I wouldn’t blame someone for choosing not to believe that part. I personally make it a point to not fully believe something I hear until it is independently verified, but in the meantime this is certainly an eyebrow-raising read.

  • Sarah Louise Pickering

    Sounds a familiar story to the F-Stop Kashmir Kickstarter project. We all waited months to hear updates and it was the same response, silence until someone started threatening legal action. The poor online team had to then scrape together various excuses, which changed from day to day.

    Almost 6 months after the due date, we finally received our bags (not without issues though). I’m thankful my bag turned up and it’s actually been a lifesaver for me, but I’m appalled that it’s ‘lifetime warranty’ will be null and void if they disappear and even more disgusted that I’ve funded some obnoxious, egotistic, pathetic excuse of a businessman’s extravagant lifestyle, to the detriment of the company and its employees.

    • Mr Brovvn

      The bags were finished on time but the factories wouldn’t release them because the owner didn’t pay them. The dude was throwing pool parties in HK and even invited the owner of the factory he owes money to come to the pool party….What kind of person invest someone to a pool party which isn’t cheap that he owes money too? No wonder the factory cut him off.. It’s crazy how it’s been going on for so long. If I knew people and had connection I would have wrote a book like a previous employee did of the shady crap that’s been happening and pushed it out so much that nobody would want to give him a penny anymore. That’s why he’s lost partners, employees, vendors and the list goes on and on.

  • This was such a disappointing article to read. While it confirms a lot of suspicions about the current state of F-Stop and adds to the color of so many unhappy comments on other social media sites related to F-Stop, it was a company I once held in very high regard.

    I have two of their packs which I love and was recently interested in ordering a new one until I saw what people were writing about the delays in receiving their products. While their products are great, if the facts presented in this article are correct, I regret supporting such a business person who runs his/her company to the grond at the expense of the employees. Such a shame.

  • Wildness

    This is so very sad. I so love my F-Stop bags. But, at the same time, I have never received good service from them in the last three years starting with my purchase of my first bag (Their website couldn’t properly calculate bundles and it assured purchasers that it would be properly charged on the backend… it wasn’t and I was over charged. It took over two weeks to get the refund I was promised within 48 hours). A year and a half ago I bought one of the new bags coming out… it took months and months to get it… they finally did after I called for five straight days. And, just today I received the shipping confirmation for a rain cover I ordered at least three weeks ago… that the website said was in stock.

    I’ve had my suspicions about how poorly this company must be run despite the greatness of their bags… Now it all sadly seems true. For now I don’t need any new bags, but when I do F-stop bags are no longer an option.

  • Of course I ordered a bag a month ago and now see these articles online. If I don’t get it in a week I’ll contact my credit card company. What a shame as I was über pumped on getting one of the bags. 🙁

  • Brennan McKissick

    None of this is surprising. I’ve always loved their bags but by the time I was in the market for one a few years ago these stories of delays and stuff came around and I veered away and now that LowePro has the Whistler out for a lower price that does almost the same thing and is always in stock and has the backing of a well established company it’s hard to really look at the F-Stop bags anymore even with how good they are.

  • David Talbot

    Sad but true, have been a happy user of F-Stop gear for at a guess 4 or 5 years but even when buying my first bag (a Loka that is still going strong) back then it was delayed by a couple of months beyond the original and every order since has been delayed. Must say I’ve now started stalking ebay for F-Stop kit as I have no confidence in the company’s ability to deliver what I need when I need it.

    • Mr Brovvn

      I remember exchanging emails with you and processing your orders lol. I don’t think your delay is or was as bad as some of the recent ones but then again I’ve had customer who waited close to a year a few years ago to get theirs when I first started with the company.

      • David Talbot

        Nope, 2 or 3 months for me. Though now at least here in Europe over the last month or so I’ve had an Ando and Tilpoa delivered from Paramo in the UK and Cameranu in the Netherlands respectively in a couple of days so stock is here and at least the retailers are getting it to the customers! Think my 3 bags should keep me going a while now and hopefully when I need to replace them F-Stop will be be back on track.

  • John Smith

    As a former employee, I just feel lucky I didn’t decide to stay there. It is true that the CEO has an extravagant lifestyle. So much money has been wasted on his unnecessary travels…I have also seen employees being fired because they got tired of lying to customers. And I appreciate Jaron’s effort shedding light on the internal side of the company, as I don’t want to see more people getting trapped in the endless waiting for products. Just hope my words can add more credibility to this article.

    • Chaitanya

      I hope this company is out of his hands for good. I was about to pull plug on one of the bags but looking how bad the inventory is maintained and reading bad experience of other people online, I am getting a lowepro bag(again) even if it opens me up to robbery as lowepro is well known camera bag brands here in India.

  • John Wallace

    For what it’s worth there is plenty of stock in australia, we haven’t had any issues apart from some delays on one or two products

  • joshcarlisle

    For what it’s worth FStop has a response of sorts over on their blog (http://fstopgear.com/news/2016-06/recent-update#.V6Nr5riU0uU) . With their current issues I would have expected a response from their senior management (or CEO) would be appropriate and not just their senior designer. Nothing new for us long time customers (explaining supply chain issues) along with some apologies. A slightly different perspective and sincere but in many ways confirms some aspects of this story (although in a different light of course). I have two bags from them and my first attempt was back in 2011 so this is nothing new. I’ve experienced the same contrast between their buying experience (horrible!) and bag experience (fabulous) so I do hope they get their act together – it would be a shame for such a great product to be lost to photographers due to mismanagement.

    • Mr Brovvn

      Josh, the same senior designer you mentioned had his last day today with the company. He apparently hasn’t worked for them in the last month. That leaves two high level employees that have left this month. The controller and the one and only designer that made the quality packs. I’ll copy and paste this instagram comment below:

      My days at F-stop Gear have officially come to an end. I have not been working for almost a month now and today was officially the last day. My work email was plastered all over the internet but it no longer exists- ianmillar2016@gmail.com is one place to find me. I still wish the best for the company and friends. And I hope it overcomes its current and past challenges. Anyhow looking forward to a fresh start…

      • joshcarlisle

        Wow – really looks like a sinking boat.. what a shame 🙁 Thx for the info Mr. Brown.

    • David Talbot

      Yep, I love my Loka I’ve had for about 4 years at a guess but back then it was the same story about containers on ships and working to clear backlogs. Things always turn up in the end and are always the fantastic quality F-Stop boast about but that 4 to 6 weeks, which seems to have been their constant estimate of delivery time since I first came across them, is plain and simple wishful thinking!

  • Thanks for the warning – I waited months for Ajna last year and was thinking about getting a Tilopa (better shoulder padding). I guess I won’t be ordering a new one and patiently wait to score a 2nd hand one. It’s a shame – I really like the bag I have.

  • Oliver Krüger

    Difficult. I ordered a Tiilopa in early July and my reseller confirmed the shipment for this wednesday. Practically I´ve to use F-STOP backpacks because theire partnership with PhaseOne and it´s just easier for me to use them. I don´t know much about the quality, because I just have a ICU and some internals which PhaseOne assemble in a Peli case, but I just heard good things (about the product).
    I´ve to admit that I feel uncomfortable after reading this article. Normally I give not too much to the opinion of former employees, but in this case, I don´t think that this is a kind of revenge.
    I guess it´s a result of a free market; A good idea, a good product and good people are not enough, if the management doesn´t work as well. So, in this case the mechanisms on the market arrange that a company will not have a future, there are many examples.
    Sad for employees, sad for the good idea. But, don´t forget, it´s possible for them to change.

  • Screamin_Jay

    My workshop students love F-Stop. I see their bags all the time. Sounds like a good company to buy out of BK and turn it around. Tamrac? Think Tank? LowePro?

  • PSAGuy

    I just ordered a bag from F-Stop in January 2017. I was told (on the phone) that the bag and ICU is IN STOCK !
    To date has not shipped but they told me it’s this week.
    I’ll report back.

    • Any news?

    • chromeorange

      Has your bag shown up yet?

    • David

      I ordered a bag and ICU in early feb, showing in stock, and it showed up a week later

  • Wasn’t there a whole active comment section here? Where did the original comments on this article go?

    • Woah good question. It was all hosted through Disqus. I have no idea why they disappeared. We will investigate.

  • Kilo Lima

    This company is full of crap. That’s just all there is to it. I purchased a simple Brooklyn Sling in 2013. The zippers failed on the first use as I was opening it to get my passport out when passing through immigration in Japan and it dumped my stored items on the ground. As it was only a week old I figured I’d get easy and great service from a fellow American company. I received a handful of correspondence from their representative “Dave Hunsche, Lead Relationship Manager, F-STOP// Camera Bags & Accessories, Main 253.236.0070 Ext 1301 Direct 314.667.4921 … dave@fstopgear.com“. The final email stated a “check was on the way and had been mailed”, which was odd as I asked for a simple bag swap and never gave an address for mailing a check to me. Of course three years later and I’ve never heard a word from them and had no replies to my inquiries and of course no check.
    If they don’t want to back their products like they state they will or follow through with new orders that is completely fine. But don’t lead people along and waste their time. Just be honest …

  • David

    All I can say is I own three of their bags, and they have been great. Customer service has also been very good, in my experience. My experience is just that, MY experience, but it’s been a positive one.

  • John

    Hmmm an article written by someone who has worked for Lowepro bashing a competing camera bag company. Conflict of interest? Bag shill? Where is my tinfoil hat?