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on February 20, 2010
Last year I decided that it was time to replace my camera backpack and after much research, realized that the SINGLE perfect bag just does not exist. So, I decided that I would need to get 2 bags-- one for my day out excursions and another for my week+ long vacations when I am away from home. For the former, I got the Lowepro Slingshot 200 All Weather Backpack (Black), which is GREAT (see my Amazon review for details). However, it isn't big enough to carry as much of my gear as I want for longer trips, including my laptop. So, I knew that I was going to be buying a complementary bag for those occasions. I have been waiting for the 3N1-33 since I first learned of its impending arrival in November 2009. As soon as it became available on Amazon, I snapped one up.

First, I will highlight what I like about this bag:

1. It is light-- much lighter than the camera backpack that it is replacing.
2. It has a huge capacity-- I can easily pack everything I own into this bag, including my Canon 30D, 70-200mm 2.8 IS and hood and case, 17-55mm 2.8 IS and hood, 50mm 1.4, Canon 1.4 multiplier,430EX II flash, Kenko extension tubes, Arctic Butterfly and Loupe, filter packs, Pocket Wizards, BH-55 tripod head, battery charges, manuals, cords, lens cleaning supplies, and more.
3. ALL the backpack straps tuck away-- LOVE this feature! Nothing to hang out when carrying it around as a bag instead of a backpack. ALL camera backpack makers should follow Kata's lead here.
4. The quick-draw release system-- VERY quick to get at your camera.
5. Carries my 15.4" laptop with room to spare.
6. Comfortable waist straps
7. It is a good size-- even though I am a smaller man, it doesn't look or feel too big on me
8. Excellent construction-- solid stitching, rugged materials

At first glance, this bag seemed to be about as good as it gets. However, after using it a few times, I discovered its shortcomings...

1. The 3-in-1 system, while a GREAT concept, just doesn't really work with this bag. In fact, the bag doesn't really work well as a sling bag at all. The bag is so big that you do end up carrying a ton of gear in it. However, the weight of all that gear really adds up. While it is very easy to sling the bag into position, it is quite difficult to put back on your back with any real weight in the bag. Additionally, because of the flexibility provided by the 3-in-1 system, the shoulder straps really don't work great for any one of the configurations. In sling mode the single shoulder strap rides up your shoulder to your neck and can be uncomfortable. In backpack mode, the straps ride out towards the edges of your shoulders and don't distribute the weight very well. In X-position mode (both straps attached in sling mode), both straps ride up to your neck and squeeze your neck. Regardless of how you wear the bag, I would recommend wearing a collared shirt to prevent as much chafing as you can.

2. The lower internal area is very roomy, but not overly configurable. It works great if you want to have your long lens attached to the camera body in sling mode, but, if you want to carry your long lens unattached, and have another lens attached to the body, the internal dividers aren't really flexible enough to accommodate that. You are forced to put your long lens in the top section, which then essentially means that not much else can go there. So, if you are going to be using multiple lenses including your long lens, you end up swapping gear around from bottom to top quite often.

3. Minor nitpick-- the top handle, while very sturdy, causes you to carry the bag at its widest position (i.e. it extends away from your body the maximum width- 12.6"-- of the bag) to be comfortable. If the handle were turned 90 degrees, then it would only extend 9.3" from your body.

Unfortunately, for me, the negatives outweigh the positives and, like the other reviewer here, I have decided to return my bag. I think my lesson learned is that ANY sling bag of this size is probably going to suffer from the same usability issues due to the sheer amount of weight it can carry. If the bag really cannot perform as a true sling pack, then I have decided it is better to just get a true backpack instead. The alternative backpack-only bags that I am looking at are all much less expensive which is an added advantage (the extra $50+ just for a laptop sleeve seemed a bit extreme anyway...)

There is so much to love about this bag-- I really wish it had worked out better for me.
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on August 5, 2011
I was looking for the perfect camera bag for a DSLR camera, 3 common lenses (70-200 telephoto, wide angle, and 50mm prime), flash, and a few filters. Additionally I want to carry an iPad and misc. things like lunch, guide book, water bottle, tripod, etc. Perfect to me means light weight, easy access, rain proof, flexibly configurable interior, and good padded straps so it is comfortable on a longer walk/hike.

After an exhaustive search the Kata 3N1-33 was the closest I could get to perfect. Other bags I considered were the Lowepro Fastpack 250, Tamrac Evolution 8, Tamrac 3385 Aero Speed Pack 85, Lowepro Slingshot 302 AW, and the Lowepro Flipside 200. I read extensively about them all, compared stats on weight and dimensions, and tried all of them on in stores too.

Bottom line is the camera gear above is a lot - both in terms of volume and weight. There is just no small/light pack that will carry all of it, and there's no getting around the fact that you have a big bag and a lot of weight on your back.

I quickly ruled out all the sling-only models as that much gear gets too uncomfortable with the weight on 1 shoulder. I tried it and they would only work on very short excursions. For the backpack models, the Tamrac Aero 85 is nice (good waterproof zippers, fairly light, laptop compartment), but it doesn't have a waist nor sternum strap (very important for longer walks/hikes). The build was a tad thin too - less protection - but OK for a short jaunt or day trip. In contrast the Tamrac Evolution 8 is built incredibly ruggedly - great internal padding, rugged exterior, strong weather-protected zippers, excellent straps (with waist and sternum straps), intelligently designed with carabiner clip points everywhere and many exterior pockets, and with a more stylish appearance overall. But with the Evo 8 the interior was tight, just barely fitting the gear above and requiring a struggle at times to get it in/out, and it is flat out heavy - a full pound heavier than the Kata 3N1-33. But if weight is no object for you and the interior tightness doesn't trouble you, the Evolution 8 really is an excellent bag. The Lowepro Flipside 200 is promising - very slim in profile and light, but the internal layout is not very configurable - you can't move the position of the camera and it is always facing with the top of the camera into your back. Looked/felt kind of weird but in the end it works - for only the camera gear and nothing else at all. Lastly the Lowepro Fastpack 250 really met all my functional requirements. It is light (a tad lighter than the Kata), fits all my gear comfortably, large laptop slot, nice waist strap. But it has no sternum strap, no weatherproofing/cover, and the build quality was a level below the Kata.

No bag was a clear winner, but for my purposes I'd say the top 3 are the Kata 3N1-33, Tamrac Evolution 8, and Lowepro Fastpack 250, with the Lowepro Aero 85 a runner-up. Ultimately I chose the Kata 3N1-33 because it fits all my gear comfortably (unlike the Evo 8 which was tight), build quality was very high all around (unlike Fastpack 250), and it is light (unlike the Evo 8). The cross-strap flexibility of the Kata seemed interesting too.

Now that I've owned the Kata for a month, here's the real scoop on its performance. It is a very nice bag. Build quality is indeed good, though I wish the zippers were a tad more rugged (not that I've had any issues, but it just seems like I might mess them up some day). The interior design and the way the zipper routes all the way around the side-entry and main compartment is smart. It is easy to open the bag way up and quickly load in your gear. You can't do that with the Tamrac Evolution 8 since the main compartment and the side-entry areas are separated by permanent fabric. The Kata's "Yelloop" interior is nice - it's very easy to see everything inside (including filters) unlike the black/grey interiors of all other competing bags. Also the Kata's interior is remarkably configurable due to the Velcro being everywhere; most other bags had far less Velcro inside so the configuration was more limited. A simple yet smart feature is the way the dividers nearest the side entry easily un-Velcro by gripping and pulling on a tab and folding back, giving you easy access to other lenses for a quick change. No other bag had that easy access. The laptop slot is huge and with an extra-padded bottom so you won't worry about your laptop crunching when you set the bag down. The top compartment is very roomy and holds everything you'd need. Straps are comfortable and it has a good waist strap, though I did wish it had a sternum strap. In theory the adjustable straps enable you to move to sling mode or X-mode (which obviates the need for a sternum strap), but in reality I found that I use only the traditional backpack-style configuration. The loaded bag is just too heavy for sling mode, and in the X mode you can't swing the bag around easily to get at the side entry (yes you could unbuckle one of the straps, but that's a pain). I found it's easiest to use in backpack mode - just withdraw 1 arm and sling it around on the remaining shoulder. And BTW the side-entry thing is awesome - very easy to whip out your camera quickly for immediate shooting. Oh and the rain cover is terrific - I used it on my very first day out when we were hit with a surprise rain shower. Great to know the gear was totally protected.

Here are the features I wish the Kata 3N1-33 had (but it doesn't):
- Sternum strap
- Dedicated water bottle mesh pocket
- Carabiner mount points all over the exterior
- More elegant way to strap on a tripod (the Evo 8 has that built in; with the Kata it's a purchased add-on)
- A large flat pocket on the outside for storing camera manuals and such. Tamrac Aero 85 had this, and it's nice to put rarely used items like manuals in their own pocket rather than consuming space in the upper compartment.

Last but not least I wish some camera bag company would design a bag specifically for an iPad/tablet, rather than adding a full-sized laptop slot. The laptop slot adds about a full inch to the bag's thickness and .5 - 1 pound of weight. I really want a slightly smaller bag that carries an iPad, my camera gear, and some misc. stuff in the top compartment. It would be great to get that and a smaller/lighter bag to boot.

As it stands overall I am very pleased with the Kata 3N1-33. It holds all my gear with ease, is nicely designed and configurable, high build quality, and its light. It's ... nearly perfect.
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on April 6, 2010
This bag is BIG and it gets to 25 pounds easily with your camera gear & laptop on board. It is perfect for a carry on bag that holds everything you need (and probably some that you don't) for a photo trip. I easily put a laptop, 3 SLR bodies, 5 lenses (including my old school 80-200mm telephoto), charger, flash and a point and shoot into it.

Once loaded, you really need both shoulder straps to carry the load. The waist strap secures the pack nicely. That makes it a little harder to access your camera from the side zippered flap, but it is still very convenient. This pack is going from car to plane to car to travel destination. From there, I will unpack what I plan to bring on a walk about and put it in a Kata DT-213 - a much more reasonable sling pack. I don't see myself doing any hiking with the 3N1-33.

Laptop sleeve is well thought out and perfect for holding both lap top and charger. Zippered outside pocket makes it convenient for airport security compliance.

Design, materials and features are exceptional. Let's see how it holds up after a few trips.
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on August 27, 2011
I did a lot of research on camera bags. I looked at the Tamrac Evolution 8, Lowepro fastpack 350 and this Kata 3n1-33 bag. By the way, i'm a 5'5" male. Here's what i came up with:

Lowepro Fastpack 350:
-decent quality
-fits large computers (at least 15.6"-17")
-kinda boxy and large for my size
-no tripod holder (not that big of a deal, you'll figure out a way to attach it)
-quick access only on one side
-no rain cover

Tamrac Evolution 8
-build quality slightly better than Lowepro
-quick access both sides
-tripod mount
-sling/backpack option
-better shape. It tapers at the top so i think it looks better, but you will sacrifice some space. It's more aerodynamic if you were flying through the air like superman.
-most expensive!
-heavier (from specs)
-barely fits my Dell Precision M2400 (14") with larger battery. If i had a 15.6", it may not fit.

Kata 3N1-33
-Great build quality
-tripod mount
-access on both sides
-comfortablly holds my computer
-sling/backpack option
-It's super boxy for my size

Here's my take. I dont feel much of a difference in weight. Lowepro may be a tad lighter. Having the sling/backpack option seems like a clever idea, but i dont know if i would ever wear these bags as a sling because it just feels awkward. the bags are too big for a sling. the raincover is nice, but putting it on is not as easy as the videos. but if you do plan on going to niagra falls or plan on a rainforest trip, you may want one. Access on both sides is nice so you can access lenses. the tripod mount is nice, but it does not fit my Manfrotto 732CY very well, which i thought was a compact tripod. You can make it fit, but like some other reviewer said, it really feels awkward because your center of gravity is off because its so far from your body. I just need to use a mini tripod if i travel, or hang my Manfrotto on the bottom or side. If you plan on bringing your computer, make sure it fits. I plan on getting a 15.6" so i'm pretty sure it wont fit in the tamrac. by the way, all bags carry my gear: d7000, 70-300mm, 50mm, 18-200mm, 11-16mm Tokina. When i first packed my Kata bag, i didn't zip the bottom all the way, i just had the clips on, and my 50mm fell out and shattered! So make sure everything is fully zipped up before putting the bag on.

So what's my final decision? I love the Kata bag,'s just way too huge for my size. I feel like an astronaut. I would have went went with the Tamrac Evo 8 but it wont fit my computer if i got a larger one (15.6"). I ended up dropping the idea of bringing my laptop and I got a tamrac Evolution 6. I tried to make the Kata work because i loved that bag, but it's just too big. My suggestion is try to find a camera store to put these bags on. it's hard to tell how they fit without trying them. So if you're a small guy or short girl, consider the Tamrac. If the Kata fits well on your body, then it's a great bag. If you have a budget, go with the Lowepro.
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on April 4, 2011
This bag is made very nice and sturdy. However it's like trying to wear a suitcase on your back and swing it around to the front and back again. I couldn't do it. When I tried the cross position the straps road up and rubbed against the sides of my neck leaving them all red and blotchy and feeling like I was being choked. It unhooked easily enough to swing around front and get the camera out but as it did, it burned my skin from the friction and dragged my clothing around with it, so I don't feel it works as advertised (for me anyway). I'm in FL so it's not like I could wear a turtleneck to help protect my skin, so you might want to keep this in mind. The strap has a small amount of texture to it which may help to prevent it from slipping on clothing, but really isn't skin friendly at all. Also that small amount of texture made it very difficult to swing it back around to the back position. Again scraping against my neck and dragging my shirt around with it. I'm guessing it would be impossible once it was filled with gear. Maybe if the straps were softer it wouldn't have been so bad?? The standard back pack position felt comfortable but I bought it mostly for the quick draw benefit.

There are some really nice features in this bag. It fit my Dell 15" xps like it was made for it and didn't really take up any room. nice. The quick pull of the tab to open it to take out your camera is really nice. The side access had enough room to keep my 100-400mm canon L series lens attached and ready to shoot. That's why I ordered the 30 series as opposed to the 10 or 20. So if that's the size lens you have, it will fit. It has plenty of storage space. I did think that the storage area on the side of the camera was pretty difficult to access though.

I think it would work best for someone larger than me, and I'm not all that small at 5'6" medium build. So you strong 6' guys out there, you may love it. That may be who wrote all the rave reviews. It was larger than I expected so measured it. The width is larger than 12.6" and that was with nothing in the bag. Maybe that's measured seam to seam, but I'm sure if I filled it, it could go to 14"+ or so easily.

Just too big for me. I felt like I was struggling with it. I was exhausted in a half hour and I didn't even fill it. I just practiced the different ways to wear it with my camera inside and tried to whip it around and take the camera out as advertised. Let's just say, it sounds a lot easier than it is in real life.

Hope this review helps you in your search.
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on October 13, 2011
Originally, I purchased the medium sized 3N1-22, but exchanged it for the larger size 3N1-33. What I needed was not so much the extra length as the larger width to stow my camera+lens+lens hood for quick access. Mostly this system worked very well, allowing rapid access to the equipment through the side of the backpack instead of from the top or rear. In addition to better quick-access, this arrangement seems to help prevent surreptitious access from behind when in crowds. When worn in the two-strap full backpack configuration, carrying 22 lbs of camera equipment is very comfortable and convenient. When configured in the single-strap quick-access sling, I found it less comfortable after about 20 minutes.
There seems to be an oversight on the part of the design of this product when trying to access equipment through the side panel while the pack is positioned as a sling in front of the wearer as recommended by the manufacturer: the pack opening closes up under the weight of the equipment because it in essence forms a hammock with all of the weight being supported by just two straps attached diagonally on opposite sides of the bag. Adding some stiffening elements along the edge of the openings to counteract this effect might go a long way towards improving the access (see user provided image.)
It's great that the straps are color coded to make switching to sling mode from backpack mode less confusing, but still the conversion process requires supporting the pack on some stable surface while disconnecting two straps, reconnecting diagonally and lengthening one of the straps, and then tucking the three now-excess straps into the pockets provided on the back of the pack. In other words, if you encounter a picture opportunity while using it as a backpack, it's quite cumbersome to respond by accessing the camera for the first shots, and then converting it into a sling for subsequent use. Remember, chances are that the wearer is standing up while performing these operations.
Hint: I attached a colored cable-tie to the quick-release on the side of the pack that is the correct handedness for accessing the camera. This identifies the access side, and helps prevent opening the "bottom" of the storage compartment on the opposite side.
I'm not sure there is any optimal solution for comfortably carrying heavy delicate equipment that also allows safe quick access to it; but the 3N1 is a good approximation. It certainly is a flexible system.
review image
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on May 1, 2010
I use the KATA 3N1 sling bag with a Canon 7D with 28-135mm zoom and a 15" MacBook Pro. Works great. I don't have a lot of extra lenses and other camera gear yet, but when I get them, I am confident I can carry them all safely in this bag. IMHO, a sling style is the only type of camera gear backpack to use. Being able to slide the pack from your back to your waist in front of you is really easy. This is a big bag, designed that way to hold the laptop and lots of other stuff. If you are not planning to take your laptop to where you are taking photos, you probably want a smaller version of the 3N1. I'm 6'2" and don't mind the extra bag size at all when I am not bringing the laptop along on a shoot. The zippers are well put together, as are the bag seams. Inside padding is pretty typical of these types of gear bags -- velcro ends on various sizes of dividers so you can configure away to hold all your various items. There are plenty of different compartments so you can segregate often-used from seldom-used items in different pockets that are easy access or more difficult to access when you're wearing the pack, respectively.
I'd definitely buy this bag again.
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on July 21, 2014
I got this backpack for a slightly non-standard use. I was looking for something that would allow me to take the bulk of my photo gear as carry-on, while still having some room for small electronics and other travel items. I have a Pelican 1510 case that holds everything, but it's not really made for the miscellaneous stuff I carry and is a roller style case, not backpack.

I also looked at the Manfrotto Tri Adventure (large), LowePro 350 AW Video, and Mountainsmith Borealis AT.
- The Manfrotto Tri Adventure couldn't comfortably fit my 70-200/2.8L lens. It "fit", but it was quite snug and couldn't hold everything else.
- The LowePro 350 fit everything, but I wasn't really happy with the construction.
- The Borealis AT is a beast. Unfortunately, it couldn't hold all my camera gear. Plenty of room in the "other" half of the case and all kinds of extra pouches/storage on the exterior. It would be really easy to stuff it to where it wouldn't fit as carry-on and, because of its bulk, might be called out for a size check.

The Kata case is a little light in the "other" category (it was a tight squeeze for Kindle HDX 8.9 with otterbox case), but fit everything I needed for camera equipment:
- Canon 6D body
- 70-200/2.8L-IS lens
- 35/1.4L lens
- 24-105/4L lens
- 16-35/2.8L lens
- 530EX-II Flash
- WiFi hard drive
- Pocket blower
- Enough room to throw some extra filters and accessories, but not a dedicated place for them.

There's also 2 small outer pockets where I put memory cards, battery, and charger.
The "other" section had USB charges/cables, Kindle, gorillapod, and misc toiletries.
There's also a D-hook where you could probably clip a monopod/tripod, but those go in checked baggage for me.

When I get to where I'm going, the Kata becomes home-base storage and I select what I want to carry in a Crumpler 6-million-dollar bag.

I didn't try that Kata in Sling configuration or wear for a long duration (not why I bought it).
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on February 14, 2012
This is my second Kata bag. I started with the Kata DPS Digital Rucksack 467 and it was a tuff and sturdy bag that held everything I could jam into it. It made two trips to Europe loaded with my camera, laptop, chargers, Kindle, cellphone, pens, pencils, notepads, peanuts, water and several other items. After almost 3 years the bag still looked like new so when it was time to replace it for something that would hold all my new camera gear it was a no brainer. I upgraded my camera equipment and even though everything would still fit in the rucksack I just felt this new bag would be a better fit for me.

The Kata KT D-3N1-33 Sling/Backpack I ordered was listed as in Used/Like New condition. When it arrived it was still in the original plastic bag with all the original (new) tags and packing fillers.

The bag is all I could ask for. I was able to load my Canon T3i with the 18-55 mm lens attached. I then stored the 55-250mm zoom lens, lens hoods, lens filters, one of those large size rocket shaped lens cleaners, the battery charger, microfiber cloths, SD cards, and several other items all in the bottom compartment and there is still room for another dslr camera body, at least one more lens, filter and a few more toys. That left loads of room still available in the top zipper compartment. When I get ready to travel again there will be plenty of room for my Kindle, the Kindle charger, cellphone and charger, a couple of cd/dvd disks in their plastic cases, the camera manual, and a lightweight rolled up nylon jacket. The computer section is large enough to hold the computer power supply in the bottom and a 15.6 laptop on top of that.

Once the bottom storage area is all zipped up correctly there are buckles that fasten over the sippers to prevent them from being accidentally or intentionally opened to protect you gear from damage or theft. The sling pack can be rigged to hang over either shoulder where you can slide it to the front of your body and have quick and easy access to the camera and other essentials stored in the bottom. The interior is a nice bright yellow making it easy to find all those black or white camera components. I have found that once the camera is out, keeping the sling bag in front of you makes a perfect stable platform to prop your arms on to steady the camera for better shots. Besides being able to sling it for left or right-hand users it can also be configured as a straight out backpack.

I haven't purchased it yet but you can buy an additional "sling" for carrying a tripod that will attach to a d-ring located at the bottom of the top carry handle and the snaps at the lower corners of the bag that prevent the zippers from opening too far.

When empty the pack is very light weight...when loaded it's your choice how much weight you want to carry.

I really love the bag and I work with several avid photographers that have seen it and want one. I haven't found a single "con" about this bag and I wouldn't hesitate to rate it higher if there were more stars available. Now if it would only make me a better photographer.
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on January 6, 2011
For my use (documentary filmmaking in third world conditions), this is the perfect size and feature set. I'm packing 3 lenses, Canon 60D body, Macbook Pro, LED light, media, portable hard drives, extension cables, and miscellaneous accessories for a trip to Zambia next week.

Whe it arrived, it looked a little smaller than I had imagined, but it is actually an excellent size. It took me a little bit to wrap my head around the designers' thinking about the zippers, compartments, straps and various pockets, but I am really happy with the versatility it affords.

For the size, it's substantially lighter than other similar bags, due to their advanced construction materials. The shoulder straps appear well-padded and sewn, we shall see how they hold up but I anticipate very well.

Kata's bag quality is well-known. It is one of the three industry-standards in the video world (Porta-brace, Petrol and Kata). This bag does not disappoint. By the way, it doesn't scream "I'm a camera bag!" which I also like very much.
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