Review of Kata Photo Backpack


I purchased the above bag some 5 months ago as my current Lowepro Backpack was well beyond its sell by date, it was starting to let in water and was wearing out in places. This new Kata bag was not cheap, almost £150 so it should be good, although it must be 20 years since I last purchased a decent bag.

So, the new bag, why was it chosen? I chose it due to its size, I needed a bag to carry a couple of DSLR’s (with battery grips attached) and assorted Lenses etc, this was the only one the shop had that fitted the bill, and I have heard good reviews on Kata bags as they are the ones used by the Israeli Military, so they should be tough.

First impressions are good, its a spacious beast, great padding and a very comfortable harness. Its a bit disorientating at first because you lay it on its face to open and close it, this seems a bad idea until you realise it keeps all the mud off your back when you are using it on location, a good point I think  (I’m sure Mrs P will appreciate it!) It has one main compartment accessed through the sides and top zippers, this is flexible as are other bags and you can customize it to suit your needs by moving the Velcro padding around (I was left with quite a few spare dividers so they are not stingy in that dept) It also has 2 small pouches that can be used for small items, you can Velcro these wherever convenient, they have zippered access and a clear front so you can see what’s in them before you delve in. When you have all your items safely stowed in the main compartment it has a mesh zippered cover to prevent them moving around when in transit, if you overload the bag though, you will have trouble zipping this up, it does however, have a strong Velcro tab which attaches securely to the bag dividers keeping it secure as well. Inside the flap is another large zippered (at top) compartment primarily aimed at storing a Laptop, not something I carry, so I shove my Gloves, hat, overtrousers etc in here, its a good idea as it keeps the wet items away from your camera gear. The sides also have 4 zippered compartments useful for small flattish items that you need quick access to in the field. Also it has a front compartment where you could store a small Tripod, I keep my Brolley and large Torch in here, it also has a ‘Backbone’ zipped into the front to help keep its shape. Also included are a full waterproof cover and a Tripod carrying sling which are attached easily to the bag.

The bag is exceptionally comfortable to carry, even loaded with 30+ kilos of gear, the harness is superb with a back sculptured support to wick away moisture, it also has a midrift strap and even a method for attaching your camera to the backpack to keep the strain off your neck, very clever. After lugging it around for a few hours and taking it off your back to use it the items inside have not moved at all, so they seem to stay put very well indeed.

In use it does take a little getting used to the ‘upside down’ concept but after a few trips it becomes second nature. I tend to overload my bag and try to cover every eventuality with a plethora of lenses etc so it is heavy, this is obviously up to the individual, and they do have similar bags in smaller sizes.

My only minor misgivings are possibly the lack of small item storage, something I feel Lowepro do very well.

Roughly this is what I can get into my bag;

  • Canon 5D MK11 with Battery Grip (stored on its base-upright)
  • Canon 40D with Battery Grip (stored on its base-upright)
  • Canon G10 Compact Camera in leather case
  • Canon 28-80 f2.8L series lens + Hood reversed
  • Canon 17-40 f4L series lens + Hood
  • Canon 8-15 f4L series lens + Hood
  • Canon 70-200 f2.8L series lens + Hood reversed
  • Canon 50mm f1.8 MK1 lens
  • Lensbaby
  • Holga Lens (don’t ask)
  • Canon 1.4 Teleconvertor
  • Canon 2.0 Teleconvertor
  • Canon 12mm and 25mm Extension Tubes
  • Tamron 90mm Macro lens plus water mister + Hood reversed
  • Batteries for all cameras
  • Canon 430EX11 Flashgun plus AA Batteries/O.C.lead/diffuser/Softbox
  • Small LED Hotshoe Light
  • Lee Filters (8) plus lens adaptor rings (5)
  • Other circular and square filters in cases
  • Lowepro Memory card wallet
  • Lee Filter holders (2) plus 105mm Polariser
  • Manfrotto Table Top Tripod
  • Lastolite Reflectors (2)
  • Hat, Gloves, Scarf, Overtrousers, spare socks, choc bars
  • Rainsleeves, Micro Fibre Cloths, cleaning kit inc Rocket blower
  • Cable release and Intervalometer
  • Compass, Head Torch, Brolley and large torch
  • Other bits and bobs
  • Which all told, weighs in at 32kg! I find it easy to pack at home but it never all goes back in when out in the field!

With a few sacrifices I can easily get my 500mm f4L lens in with the hood reversed. So with 4 or 5 trips in and it looks good, I am liking it except for the weight, but thats my doing! As to whether it will last as long as my previous Lowepro bag is still in question.

Ian Pinn, NOPS Chairman 2013