Greetings one and all. Today is going to be a little different. I am reviewing a camera bag I used on my last photo walk. Yes, a write up. One of my issues is carrying all my gear, or most of it. With all my lenses, my two camera bodies, and strobes (flashes), I have to decide what I am taking and not taking on a typical outing. Currently I am using a Lowepro Slingshot 102AW. It's a nice bag, but a little small. I could upgrade to a larger one, and maybe one day I will.
So one of our members gave us the opportunity to do a test run on a different product called Kata Bags. I jumped at the opportunity to see how it stacks up against my bag. I decided to try out the Kata 3N1-20-DL. It's larger then my current bag, but that's a good thing. Step one was figuring out what to carry. Much thought was put into this. We were going to be walking along the waterfront trail from Pickering GO Station to The Black Dog Pub in the farthest reaches of Scarborough. Lots of nature, with some indoor shooting later. What would I need? Well here's a shot of what I decided to take.
Here you see the choice of gear. I have my main camera body, Nikon D200 with the MB-200 battery pack attached and my 35-135 Nikkor lens on it, my 35mm AFS DX lens, 70-300mm lens, two SB-600 Strobes, two Yongnuo CTR-301 receivers and one trigger, a cable release remote, a circular polarizer, a graduated ND filter, my home made flash modifier, cell phone battery recharger pack, spare battery for my Nikon D5000 (which was using my 16-85 AFS DX lens), a small tripod for use with a strobe, and my small camera tripod. Not to mention spare cards, a flash light, and a couple other small items.
A lot of gear. With my Lowepro, I would have to leave the battery pack, one strobe and possibly a handful of other gear behind as well. It all adds up.
Now how did it load into the Kata bag? Quite nicely actually...
One thing about the Kata bag worth mentioning. It can be set up for different carrying styles. It can be worn as a back pack or as a sling bag. A bonus feature is that it can be set up for left or right handed people. Since I am not ambidextrous I set it up for right handed use.
I noticed that the bottom compartment can be customized for what ever you need to carry. Since time was at stake at the beginning, I just slapped my gear into what ever pocket would fit. I definitely needed more time to set it up properly, my issue, not the bags fault.
While walking about though it was fun to use. Being able to fit my main body fully kitted out easily was a nice feature. Getting used to how it opened and where the zippers were located was challenging though. I am too used to my old bag and I think I would get used to it easily through repeated use.
As Matt explained to me there were several optional features built into the bag that didn't come into play. for example the back was set up to take a dolly insert so you could add wheels for travel. Nice idea for long trips through terminals. As well you could buy a tripod attachment for the exterior of the bag. From what I saw on the website, this could be a nice feature.
Now I did use it well. Grabbing this camera, that lens, putting it back, grabbing it out...Much repeated through the day. It was a lot of gear to carry though. Considering we were on our feet from about 1040 hrs to 1800 hrs, that makes a long day carrying a lot of gear.
Here's where the only complaint about the bag comes into play. By the end of the day, I had to switch to the back pack configuration. The reason why is that the padding on the straps was not enough and the straps were a little too narrow for my comfort. My right shoulder was hurting when we reached the Black Dog. I have another bag at home I got from Adorama that's a small sling bag. I used it for about a month and it took over two months for my shoulder to stop paining me.
Using my Lowepro, I have never had that problem, even when overloaded. If Kata did a minor redesign I would jump all over it. A bit softer padding, a wider shoulder strap, and it would be golden.
Then again, with that one minor issue I would recommend it for walking about and travel. Remember I was on my feet for a good 8 hours carrying more gear than I normally do. So that may be one factor in the pain. As well, giving myself a bit more time to set up the bag properly would have come in handy. I kept forgetting where I had placed certain items, but that's nothing to do with the bag. It had a lot of pockets to store gear in, and I like pockets.
With all the padding as well in the main bag, I felt my gear was very safe. I won't rate it one a scale or star or anything. That's pointless. Best way to rate it is that I think it would be worth the money to purchase this item.
Thanks and have a great day.
Oh, you can go to the Kata Bags website for further details as well.
As well, you can shop for this bag at B&H.