- Review Price: £100.00
Since none of the cameras I’ve ordered for this week have arrived due to the icy conditions, and I’m currently nursing a badly sprained knee for much the same reason, I’ve got a couple of camera accessory reviews for you this week. For today I’ve got a great new camera rucksack from Kata, just in case any of you are foolish enough to risk going outdoors with a camera in this weather.
The Kata 3N1-30 (three-in-one, geddit?) is a cleverly designed camera bag that combines the comfort and load-carrying capacity of a rucksack with the convenience of a shoulder bag. It has a number of ingenious features that enable it to switch between the two roles quickly and easily. It’s not a cheap bag, currently selling for around £100, but its versatile design means that you won’t ever need to buy another.
Like all Kata bags the 3N1-30 is extremely well made. The outer shell is of heavy-duty showerproof black cordura nylon, while the inside is lined with a softer nylon that is coloured bright yellow, making it easier to find small accessories hidden away in the corners It is thickly padded with closed-cell foam, and has a a unique internal ribbed structure that make the bag surprisingly rigid, providing a good level of protection for your precious cameras equipment. It comes with a slip-over rain cover for additional protection against the elements.
The same attention to detail has been applied to the design. The plastic snap-clips and zips are all heavy duty and securely double-stitched, and the well-padded internal dividers can be rearranged in several different configurations to accommodate a wide range of equipment. The main compartment measures 29.5 x 16 x 30cm (11.6 x 6.3 x 11.8 inches), plenty of room for a full-frame DSLR with a battery pack and telephoto lens, plus half a dozen extra lenses or other accessories. There is a separate detachable wallet for memory cards.
As well as the main compartment the 3N1-30 has a separate top compartment big enough for a packed lunch, an anorak and your weak lemon drink, with a few small pockets for pens, a mobile phone and other bits and pieces. There are also two small zipped outer pockets that are ideal for loose change, car keys and other small items.
The bag is designed to fit airline carry-on baggage size requirements, and will fit into overhead lockers, although it’s too big to go under the seat. The external size is 32 x 19 x 45cm (12.6 x 7.5 x 17.7 inches), and the shoulder straps can be tucked away under the external back padding, safely out of reach of the carnivorous jaws of airport baggage conveyors. It has a large padded handle on the top for carrying the bag when the straps are stowed.
The bag itself is quite light, weighing only 1.7Kgs (3.7lbs), but if you’re lugging around a particularly heavy collection of gear, the back of the bag has a loop to accommodate Kata’s optional folding trolley system. There is another version of the same bag design, the 3N1-33, which is almost identical but also has a large well-padded compartment for a laptop computer. The external size is 7.5cm thicker, and the extra compartment has an internal size of 27 x 4 x 42cm (10.6 x 1.6 x 16.6 inches), easily big enough for a 17-inch laptop.
The clever part of the design of the 3N1-30 is in the placement of the straps and the position of the zips for the main compartment. The shoulder straps can be unclipped and re-connected either as the twin straps of a rucksack, or by connecting the strap to the clip on the opposite corner it can be worn slung across one shoulder, with the unused strap tucked away behind the back padding. In this position it is easy to swing the back round in front of you, where the side-opening of the main compartment gives quick access to your camera. The compartment opens on both sides, and the internal partitions can be re-arranged for either left or right-handed operation.
The bag can also be worn with both shoulder straps crossed across the chest, which gives the load support of the rucksack configuration, but allows it to be swung around front by simply unclipping one of the straps.
While the swing-around design isn’t unique – the Lowepro Slingshot range uses a similar design – the Kata 3N1-30 combines the convenience of this system with the practicality of a well-made rucksack. At £100 it is quite expensive for its size, but since you’re effectively getting two bags in one that makes them £50 each, sort of. Sorry, it must be the painkillers.
My only real criticism of the design of the 3N1-30 is that like many current camera rucksacks it has no straps to carry a tripod. Since like most serious photographers I seldom go anywhere without one, this is a bit of a handicap. There is a large D-ring sewn into the front of the bag, but this is mostly cosmetic. I suppose you could tie a tripod onto it, but it would be quite awkward to carry. However the rather nondescript external appearance does have one big advantage; it doesn’t immediately scream “I’m a camera bag full of expensive gear! Please steal me!” to every opportunist thief in the area.
The Kata 3N1-30 is a well-made, stylish and cleverly designed bag that is ideal for both keen hobbyist and professional photographers. It has room enough for a large DSLR kit plus other travel items, and its dual-purpose strap system makes it eminently practical for both daily and travel use. If only it had some sort of fastening for a tripod it would be pretty much perfect.
Score in detail
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