Kata D-3N1-30; 3 in 1 Sling Backpack Review
June 9th, 2011
Reviewing equipment is not something I do a lot on this blog, but my new Kata D-3N1-30 has inspired me to write about it. I bought this backpack because I wanted something with a little more non-photo space than the Lowepro Fastpack 250
that I’ve been using for several years. I also thought it would save some weight by not having a laptop compartment, which I don’t use when I go out into the woods.
I put my gear into the Kata D-3N1-30 and headed out into the woods for a day of shooting. The new backpack failed to be a useful pack in every way possible.
First, it actually has less non-photo storage than my old pack. That’s not a design failure, of course, but it would have been helpful to have measurements in the description to help know the actual size of the pack.
But here are the design problems I encountered with this pack:
1. No water bottle holder. Anyone going for a hike with photo equipment is going to need to take something to drink. Not providing a way to carry that bottle on the pack is a problem. There are two small zipped pockets at the top sides of this pack. They seemed to be large enough to hold bottles, so I used them to carry my drinks. But when my last bottle of Gatorade tumbled over a cliff while I was trying to get the pack on my back I decided that those pockets really will not work for that purpose.
2. The harness tries to do too many things and as a result does none of them well. It’s supposed to be possible to use the pack with the straps in a variety of configurations: Normal, with a strap on each shoulder, as a sling pack with just one strap diagonally across the chest, and with both straps criss-crossed from the shoulder to the opposite hip. None of these configurations are comfortable enough to use for an all-day hike. The straps are not wide enough to be comfortable. They are attached too far apart at the top. A normal arrangement with the straps like most packs results in the straps wanting to slide off the shoulders. The crossed arrangement with one strap is uncomfortable for any distance and allows the pack to flop around too much when doing things like scrambling across rocks or up and down cliffs. The idea of crossing both straps across the chest…well, that’s just not going to work, is extremely uncomfortable and nearly impossible to get in and out of.
3. The zippers don’t work. I like the idea of being able to swing the pack around to the side and access my camera. That works just fine with my Lowepro pack. It doesn’t work at all with the Kata because the zippers are nearly impossible to open. The padding around the gear isn’t stiff enough, allowing the zippers to fold and jam…I could never get access to the camera without taking the pack off. Total design fail. Another problem caused by the weak padding is that once the camera was out of the pack the lenses on either side of the camera would move their padded partitions into the camera’s space…so then it was nearly impossible to get the camera back into the pack. It required way more force than I like to exert on my camera to shove those lenses aside and push the camera back into its spot in the bag.
This bag looks great on paper, but does not even begin to perform in the field. Mine will never go into the woods again on my back. It will live in the studio and be used for storage of gear that I don’t use often. I guess I’ll go look again at the Lowepro Fastpack 350
and see if it might do what I want. It seems to be bigger than my model 250. What I really need is more non-photo equipment space so I can get my rain gear, first aid kit, trail mix, lunch, wet wipes to clean up the models…all that sort of stuff that I like to carry, in the pack where it belongs. I wish they made a “300” model without the laptop pocket.