I can’t help but compare Kata’s ‘digital rucksack’ to the Lowepro Fastpack I reviewed earlier this year. Its looks, features, and price are similar, but it all boils down to personal preference and what you’re looking to do with it. My initial reaction when the Kata made it into the office was that it was a cheap knockoff of the aforementioned Lowepro, but after a few weeks I’ve changed my mind.
As I mentioned before the Kata and Lowepro are very similar. However, the Kata is roughly 0.5 pounds lighter and offers a few extra features that the Lowerpro does not. But the Kata has thin walls all around I worry that my cameras and laptop will get damaged easier than they would in the Lowepro. Of course, I won’t be testing that theory anytime soon.
The lower compartment reveals six or so slots for lenses, flashes, SLR bodies, etc. It can be customized to fit your needs. The entire compartment can be pulled out so you’re not limited to a fixed number of compartments. Versatility is where the Kata trumps the Lowepro. A small compartment located to the right side of the compartment reveals a netted holster for a water bottle or other trinkets.
The topside compartment has ample space for all types of gadgets and gizmos. There are three outer zipped pockets (two are smaller side pockets while the third goes from side-to-side) located on the topside compartment for smaller doodads as well.
The laptop compartment holds up to a 15-inch laptop and loads from the top. I much prefer to have a side-loading compartment because you have to push the shoulder straps away to get at the compartment on the Kata and sometimes I need to quickly remove my laptop, but this is one of those personal preference things.
Is the Kata comfortable? For short trips around the city I found the Kata to be comfortable enough, but for longer treks where I’d use the chest strap and waist straps it wasn’t as pleasant. The waist strap is nothing special and it’s the type you’d find on a cheap bag.
I mentioned before that the Kata and Lowerpro were comparable in terms of features but that the Kata had a few extras and while said extras wouldn’t make me choose it over the Lowerpro, they are worth mentioning. Included in the lower compartment is a small pouch that contains a rain cover for the bag should youencounter some rain along your travels. Another neat feature is a strap located on the backside of the pack that allows you to slide the handle of your rolling cart/bag through it so you don’t have trek through the airport with a heavy bag like I often do.
The Kata runs about $10 cheaper than the Lowepro on Amazon, but I’d drop by your local camera shop and take a look at both. The Lowepro feels more solid and well made whereas the Kata is less rigid. And to be honest it feels and looks cheap compared to the Lowepro. But, I’d take a look at both in person before deciding.