Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
Nice Idea, But Not Ideal
on March 30, 2012
I purchased this because I was looking for a bag that would allow me to carry a fairly large amount of gear on my back while still being able to shoot out of the pack (e.g. do lens changes without taking the bag off and setting it on the ground) I looked at a lot of different options and narrowed it down to the Lowepro Flipside bags and this Kata bag. I had read that the flipside really wasn't designed for someone who is tall (I'm 6'6") or someone who is large (I'm also pretty big beyond just my height). The Kata looked like it might work better.
I found the bag to be just ok. For someone of my height, even with the straps let all the way out, the bag still rides very high on my back. I didn't feel like it was going to ride in a position where it would actually help take the load off of my shoulders. The waist belt was nowhere near my waist. This had the added side effect of making it so that when the bag swung around, it was up so high that it became difficult to actually get stuff out. I tried practicing with it and got a little better at it, but this movement never really felt comfortable to me.
The straps are well padded, however, and are relatively comfortable. The ability to adjust the straps to a variety of different configurations is a nice idea, although the sling maneuver really only works with the bag either in the criss-cross position or sling position. Neither really works that well. The criss-cross position crosses really high on my chest and requires you to put the bag on in sling position first and then attach the other strap. It just isn't that convenient to me.
The bag stores a decent amount of gear, but it didn't store as much as I had hoped. There are basically three slots in the bottom of the bag. Depending on the depth, you can configure the dividers to fit your purposes. Maybe it's my own inability to properly configure the bag, but I never got it adjusted in a way I really liked. When I had the camera out (which was most of the time) it left an empty section in the middle of the bag. The result was that the compartment the camera should have been in got crushed by the weight of the bag. It made it difficult to put the camera bag in when I needed to do so. I was also quite annoyed to find that the outside pockets that were supposed to fit flashes really didn't. I have two flashes that I like to keep in my bag at all times. The first is a Nikon SB-600 and the other is a LumoPro LP160. The Nikon flash could fit in one of those exterior pockets, but it didn't fit well. It was a tight fit that required wrestling with the pocket to make the flash fit. That wasn't what I was hoping for for an exterior flash pocket. I wanted something I could easily remove and return my flash to. I wasn't able to make the Lumopro flash fit at all. I was really disappointed by this as it meant I had to give up space in the main part of the bag to hold my flashes. This limited the other gear I could hold.
One feature I did really like was the open compartment in the top of the bag. When I am using the bag on the move, I often have my family with me. There are often lots of little things I would like to be able to stash in the bag. The top compartment gave me lots of flexibility to carry miscellaneous stuff or to fill it with random photography stuff. That flexibility is really nice to have.
I wouldn't say that this is a bad bag. It seems to be well-constructed and probably pretty durable. It's a little confusing to get set up and difficult to use. There are a ton of different zippers, lots of clasps, and the straps can be configured in a variety of different ways. The idea is a good one, but it just doesn't work for me in real life usage. It's uncomfortable and difficult to use as a sling-around pack, and just an ok backpack. It's a compromise. If you are of average height and build, maybe it's a good compromise for you. It wasn't a good compromise for me. I think I need to decide if I want a big pack to carry all my stuff or something smaller I can shoot out of. I thought I might be able to get both in this bag. I wasn't. Hopefully my experience will help to give you a good idea of whether it would work for you or not.