Kata 3N1-30--A thoughtfully designed sling style camera bag

Kata 3N-30 Camera BagWhy did I buy the Kata 3N1-30?

I've given up on the quest for the perfect camera bag and now realized that I need several camera bags just like I need several lenses.  For a short day trip a small camera bag suffices.  However, I needed a bag that let me safely carry multiple zoom lenses, a camera body, battery chargers, and a GPS for a 10 day trip to Maine.  The Kata 3N1-30 got great review, looked well built, and was a sling bag style I like.

Does the bag hold the equipment safely?

The bag's dimensions are 12.6" x 7.5" x 17.7"--it conforms to current FAA airline carry-on regulations.   On our full flight it fit easily under the seat.   There are basically two compartments in the bag.  The interior main compartment is 11.6" x 6.3" x 11.8".   The manufacturer claims that the bag will hold  A D/SLR with battery grip & long-range zoom lens attached as well as, 5-6 lenses, flash + personal gear.  Will it?  If the 5-6 lenses are prime lenses--definitely.  It is a bit harder if the lenses are professional zoom lenses.  However, I did manage to get a nice long (400mm f4) zoom and a wide angle in the bag along with a couple of prime lenses.  Of course with a bit of creative packing I also got a GPS and a couple of chargers into the main compartment.  The equipment is protected by padded dividers--Kata calls this its Modi-Vers System.  The system allows you to create compartments that meet your requirements. The divider can be cut with scissors to any desired size. Attach the newly cut divider to another divider or the walls of the bag with a Velcro connector. The top compartment is quite roomy and can hold chargers, memory cards, and even a paper-back book or two for the plane trip.  The two side pockets are easy to access and can be used to hold filters, and an extra set of batteries.  They do bulge into the top compartment and steal space though.  I truly wish Kata had put an easily accessible external pocket big enough for the paperback book, plane tickets, and maps.  I hate opening the top compartment everytime since I'm afraid I'll spill all the other items in that compartment.

A really neat feature is the removable Media Kit.  You can use it to store memory cards or batteries and remove it from the bag (it's attached with Velcro) when you need it. 

The Kata 3N1-30 does include a rain Cover is included to protect against rainy conditions.  The rain cover folds away into an integrated pocket.   Without the rain cover the bag is not 100% sealed against moisture.  There are a number of points where the zippers do not meet and leave a small hole through which rain could enter. 

Is the bag easy to carry?

The bag weighs 3.3 lbs--fully loaded a lot more.  It is made easier to carry by the well padded straps and the option to carry it three ways.  It can be carried as a sling bag on either the left or right shoulder or as a backpack to spread the load.   Frankly, getting in and out of the plane I used another option, grabbing the bag by it's top handle and walking along the narrow aisles.  I just had to be a bit careful about not tripping over the dangling straps.  In backpack position and "X" position you can comfortably carry your equipment for long distance walking when needed. The included chest belt and balancing hip strap helps take the load of your heavy equipment off your shoulders.

Can I get to the equipment quickly?

In sling position, the bag swings around from back to front to achieve quick draw access to your main camera and backup lenses as well as fast and easy changing of lenses.  For me the 3N1-30 is a bit big to make it swing around easily.   Once I manage to swing it to the front, it is easy to get to the equipment in the "quick-draw" compartment.  Kata did make it possible to configure the "quick-draw" compartment on either side of the bag--great for left handers.  Most of the equipment in the main compartment is easy to get to.  However, the cover on the main compartment does not open all the way.  This makes it a bit tough to get to the lenses stowed away in the back of the main compartment.  The equipment in the top compartment and the side pockets is easy to get to just unzip and it's there.  One of the best features is

Is the bag well built?

The Kata 3N1-30 appears to be a sturdy bag.  The exterior is reinforced Nycore grid fabric which according to Kata's website is a  1000 denier Cordura fabric with a water-repellent finish.  The straps, buckles and zippers are sturdy--a good thing since the bag relies on the zippers and buckles a good deal for it's structural integrity.  The interior has a yellow smooth lining which makes it easy to find those little camera bits that always seem to hide in black colored bags. 

Conclusion

The Kata 391-30 is a usable bag that like almost every other bag could use a few improvements.  I truly wish the zippers would seal all the way and not leave a hole in the outer envelope.  A small external pocket big enough for a paperback book and my travel documents would be appreciated.