I decided to write this review since I have this bag for more than 7 months now and have been using it a lot. Before I bought it, like most of us do, I searched the net for reviews and thought I’ve got it completely figured out. I was sure back then that this bag is exactly what I need. And now, after months of experience with it I would like to share my conclusions and hope they would help some of you to make the right decision.
Buying Kata 3n1 (20) bag my requirements were:
1. I like to hike a lot, mostly one-day hikes, and I always want my camera with me. So I needed my photo bag to sit comfortable on my back.
2. Usually I take three lenses on a hike with me, all of them being Canon lenses: EF-S 10-22, EF24-70 2.8L, and EF70-300 f4-5.6. I needed my backpack to have room for these lenses, their hoods, 40D camera body, two polarizing filters and some additional stuff.
3. All the equipment should be properly stored but easily accessed when I need it.
4. Sometimes I take a tripod with me.
5. I also wanted a very durable bag that would provide a proper protection for everything I put in it since I am not so gentle with my equipment (except lenses of course!!!).
So did Kata 3n1 20 bag do the job?
Let’s go over each requirement and see:
1. This bag has very versatile shoulder straps. You can unclip each strap at its base and clip it to the other side making it possible to carry the backpack in three different positions: the usual backpack position, the sling position, and the x-position.
I tried all of them during my hikes and here are my conclusions:
The usual backpack position is the most comfortable one. I could hike for hours on rough terrain with backpack sitting comfortably on my back. The X-position is not very comfortable. I couldn’t walk long distances using it because x-shaped straps started pressing on my neck and shoulders and I had to pull them to the sides with my hands. Also the sling position, which is very convenient when you want to quickly get your camera, is not very comfortable. I couldn’t hike long distances using this position – the weight on a single shoulder (and neck) was too big. I think that if your gear doesn’t weight as much as mine, then you could use the sling position, but since I had to carry pretty big weight I didn’t find it useful.
2. I have enough room for all the equipment described above and I even have some free space left. So this requirement was fully satisfied.
3. But having this equipment organized conveniently is whole another story. The easiest thing is to get the camera with attached lens out of the side opening (the bag has openings from both sides so you can choose which side you want to use). But when you want to reach other lenses, it is not so easy. You have two options: a. To try and pull the lenses through the side opening and this is pure hell. And b. To take the backpack off your shoulders, put it on the ground (or table, or something), open the central compartment and take out what you need. Even the second option is not as easy as it seems since the central compartment can’t be fully opened – you can see it from the photo:
So when I put a lens in the far end of the bag then it won’t come out as easily as I would like it to. I have to say that the top compartment is very good. I like the way it opens and although it seems pretty small, I manage to put there quite a lot of stuff. I also like the handle on top. Two small side pockets on the outside are good for ipod, filters and cleaning cloths.
4. There is nothing on this bag that allows to attach a tripod, and this is too bad. If it had only a little something that I could use to securely attach a lightweight tripod, I would be a much happier man 🙂
5. This bag is very and I mean VERY durable. Its build quality is excellent. Much thought was put in all the weak elements, and in this bag they are very strong. All the gear is perfectly protected inside the bag, and it also has a rain cover. I took it on several hikes during rain and all the equipment stayed dry. I couldn’t say enough good things about the materials and the build of this bag and I am not going easy on it when I use it!
- Excellent build quality.
- Comfortable when carrying it as a usual backpack.
- Very convenient side openings.
- Great top compartment.
- Good equipment protection.
- The main compartment can’t be fully opened, which makes it difficult to access gear.
- If your equipment is heavy, then you can only use this bag as a backpack and not as sling.
- Impossible to attach tripod.
All that said, I am still using this bag and probably will use it for a while. If you found this review to be helpful, consider supporting my site by buying the Kata 3N1 20 backpack through my affiliate link.
After publishing this article as you can see from the comment below, I was contacted by Doug Feldner, the product manager for the Kata line in the US. He told me something very interesting! There is a tripod holder for the Kata 3n1 series! When I try it I sure will write a few lines about it here.
You can read my review on the tripod holder for the Kata 3n1 series here.