7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Lightweight, high quality materials, convenient design,
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This review is from: Kata KT DL-3N1-20 3-In-1 Sling Backpack (Black) (Electronics)
I'll be honest, I almost sent this bag back when I got it. I got frustated with the configuration of the dividers to fit my needs, and the zippers which don't always operate smoothly. It also felt so light weight that I was fooled into thinking it was cheaply made. But I gave it a chance, and it turned out to be VERY well made and fits my needs perfectly.
For those who don't know, KATA was founded by a couple Israeli special forces soldiers who were making their own combat gear. The company was later purchased by a huge photo equipment conglomerate, but that hasn't dumbed down the quality as far as I can tell. The materials are top notch, and they look and feel tough. Those fussy zippers appear to be designed to keep sprinkles and dust from entering the bag. (Zippers are working better after a bit of "break-in".) Of course, steady rain would call for using the included weather shield, which covers all but the straps. The padding is somewhat thin, but dense enough to protect expensive lenses, as long as you don't throw it around like an airline baggage handler.
I sat myself down on the floor for about an hour and played with the velcro-attaching dividers and my gear. I have 2 small primes and two larger Canon L zooms. My goal was to be able to access all my lenses from the side zipper when the bag was slung horizontal in front of me. I finally made it work by turning a small divider sideways between the two primes. The original divider setup seems to assume that you'll pull your camera from the side and other articals from the front, but this is not practical or safe (easy to spill or drop gear). I also set it up so that once the DSLR is out, two divider "doors" on either side of the attached lens corridor open to reveal the other lenses. This works very well for changing lenses without setting anything down, which was a major requirement for me.
I also learned to place frequently used filters in the upper side pocket facing me when the bag is slung horizontal. I do have to take the bag off to access the top compartment, opposite side pocket, and opposite side of main compartment, but the need to do this is not frequent. I just make sure to store things in these spots that I don't need often.
The bag is comfortable to wear as a single-strap sling, but I have added enough weight in gear that I use the backback configuration with two straps for a long hike. Of course, access to the bag without setting it down is much trickier in backpack mode. I have a monster of aluminum and steel Bogen tripod and probably wouldn't use the optional tripod attachment because it would add too much weight, unless I got a lighter carbon fiber model (when I get rich).
A LowePro Orion waistpack was my previous bag. It was very high quality and heavily padded and I used it for over 15 years. I could access ALL my gear by sliding it around to my front, but I was outgrowing it (no room for new gear). I have to say being able to carry on my back and still have quick access works much better than having my bag bouncing on my buns or the tops of my thighs as I move. I had to hold the LowePro steady if I wanted to run, but cinching the strap(s) down on the KATA (which adjust quickly and easily) allows me to run with my hands free (and nothing bumping my butt or upper legs).
I've had the KATA for just over a month and have taken it on multiple outings without any issues. I don't expect to have any after closely examining the stiching. I would recommend the KATA 3n1 line if you need a medium sized bag that you can carry securely while on the move and still have quick access. My very first camera bag was a shoulder bag, and when it swung out, threw me off balance, and pulled me into a creek when I was hopping rocks... Well I found a better solution. $99 is a lot of money for a hunk of straps, padding, and pockets, but I carry over $3,000 worth of gear in it. So paying a little more for something well made is worth it, even in my stingy, economical brain.