Top positive review
95 people found this helpful
Excellent choice for SLR gear and laptop
on April 15, 2006
I settled on the Kata R-103 after looking at the Lowepro Computrekker and Tamrac Cyber 6 and also considering Crumpler "Whickey & Cox" and the Tenba PB-15C. Having a backpack with room for both laptop and camera gear is great for taking a business trip with a rolling suitcase without also dragging a third piece of luggage for the camera, a load that puts you at risk for having to check your luggage
I have a DSLR, 3 lenses, flash, tripod and the usual assortment of cables, plus a Dell D-600 laptop, charger and cords. The Dell is 15" wide (long?). That assortment would fit any of the five backpacks noted above. If you have more gear than that, you need a bigger backpack, and all of the above makers have bigger models.
The Kata R-103 has several unusual features that give it an edge, but most important, it has a very comfortable harness that can be adjusted to fit both short and tall people. Another reviewer said it fits people 170-180cm tall (5'7" - 5'11"). I'm 167 cm tall (5'6') and it fits very well indeed - a lot better than the Tumi laptop "business" backpack I use when I'm not taking camera gear around.
Kata Features: (1) The zippers for the main (camera) compartment go around the outside edge and down under the bag, allowing it to open compeletely for easy access. (2) There's a smaller zippered flap on the main compartment that gives you easy access to just the camera and lens without the risk that any other gear will fall out. That flap is also zippered all the way down both sides to the bottom. (3) The laptop is accessible from the side, which seems better than access from the top if you want to get at it on a plane (although the zipper could be an inch or two longer). (4) It fits a full-sized 15" laptop. (But get Kata's next size - Model HB-207 -- if you have a 17" laptop!) (5) It has a sternum strap, which makes the bag more comfortable to carry and secures it so you can bend or lean over without the load shifting. (6) It comes with a unique set of straps that replace your regular camera strap so you can carry the camera around your neck, as usual, or hang it from the straps of the backpack. That reduces strain on your neck. It makes you look irremediably geeky, but hey, if you travel with a pile of lenses and a laptop, you are a geek, so why not look like one? (7) It comes with a clip-on waist strap and a strap-on tripod carrier that's much easier to use and less ungainly than the one on the Lowepro Comptrekker. (8) There's a fairly large pair of zippered pockets hidden under the main flap - ideal for cables and small items. (9) And finally, it's not as deep from back to front as the Lowepro Computrekker or the Tamrac Cyber 6, which makes it better balanced everywhere you go and easier to maneuver in tight spots like airplanes and subways.
When new, the zippers feel stiff and so does the harness, but once the zippers have been used a few times and you've walked a couple of miles, the bag loosens up just enough -- kind of like breaking in a good pair of hiking boots. The materials and construction appear to be first rate -- tougher fabric and beefier zippers than the Lowepro bags of the same class. And before buying, I asked Kata a question via their web site and got an immediate and comprehensive response, which is a good sign.