Kata 3N1-20 Sling-Backpack Review


Kata 3N1-20 Sling-Backpack Review

Kata 3N1 Backpack / Sling Pack Review

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http://www.cameratown.com/reviews/kata3n1/ (2 of 12) [9/7/2008 16:03:21]

Kata 3N1-20 Sling-Backpack Review

Reviewed by Ron Risman, September 2008

The Kata 3N1 Sling-Backpack, part of Kata's DPS (Digital Photo Series), features a unique

TST RIB structural protection for a digital SLR with battery pack & mid-range zoom lens

attached as well as 3-4 lenses, flash, and other personal gear.

The unique 3N1 design makes this the first bag that can be used as a sling bag for either rightor

left- handed or as a full-function backpack. The 3N1 is available in three sizes:


3N1-10: Size: 6.5"D x 8.7"W x 16.1"H,


Designed to fit a digital SLR with a

mid-range zoom lens attached and 1-2

extra lenses with accessories

3N1-20: Size: 7.5"D x 9.3"w x 17.3"H,


Designed to fit a digital SLR with a

mid-range zoom lens attached and 3-4

extra lenses with accessories

3N1-30: Size: 7.5"D x 12.6"W x 17.7"H, 2.9lbs


Designed to fit a digital SLR with a long-range zoom lens attached and 5-6 extra

lenses with accessories

Powered by Chitika

For the past few years I have been using the Lowepro CompuTrekker AW backpack to carry all

of my photography gear (see chart below). I love the CompuTrekker AW and it has served me

well, as it is able to fit and carry whatever I seem to throw in it, including my Dell 15.4" laptop

Kata 3N1 Backpack / Sling Pack Review


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and tripod. The downside is that the CompuTrekker is just too large to use out in the field. The

Kata 3N1 on the other hand is perfect for daily trips, photo walks, or hiking. I found a new

friend, the Kata 3N1.


I was thrilled when the KATA 3N1-20 arrived at the door. I spent no time opening the package,

setting up the bag and taking some product shots in various configurations. This is the first

thing I do before using a product as I want to be able to show you what the product looks like

before life happens to it. I am actually very careful with my gear so this typically isn't a problem

- but better safe than sorry.

Since the Kata 3n1 can be worn three different ways I spent a few minutes looking over the

instructions. This helped me to fully understand how to wear it. As the name implies, the Kata

3N1 is no ordinary photo bag. You can wear it as a left-sling, a right-sling, or as a backpack.

Actually, when wearing it as a backpack you can choose a 4th configuration - crisscrossing the

straps in front of you (X), which allows you to quickly convert it to a sling bag just by unlatching

one of the straps. This provides added comfort for longer periods while still offering the

convenience of front access by switching it to the swing layout.

I spent about 10-15 minutes trying on the different configurations and walking around the office

before feeling ready to load the bag up with gear. Empty, the Kata 3n1 only weighs 2.9lbs so

this was not a test of comfort and feel, just a way for me to get used to the layouts before

weighing it down with gear.

Load it up!

The next step in the testing process was to open up my current Lowepro Trekker AW case that

currently houses all my camera gear to see how much of it would fit into the Kata 3N1-20.

Since the bag is about 4" smaller (width) I knew there would be some tradeoffs, but I needed to

dive right in to find out what they would be. Since the Kata 3N1 is small enough to be my day

case I felt I didn't need to worry about fitting things I wouldn't need out in the field, such as

battery chargers and cables. The Lowepro CompuTrekker AW holds everything I need but it is

just to cumbersome and heavy to wear while shooting.

The table below shows the items that I was able to fit into the Kata 3N1, compared to the larger

Lowepro CompuTrekker AW. Aside from a few extra accessories the Kata Bag held even with

Kata 3N1 Backpack / Sling Pack Review

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http://www.cameratown.com/reviews/kata3n1/ (4 of 12) [9/7/2008 16:03:21]

its smaller dimensions.

Accessory Kata 3N1

Canon EOS Rebel XT Yes (Top compartment) Yes

Sigma 10-20mm HSM Lens Yes (on Rebel XT body) Yes

Canon EOS Rebel XTi

Canon EOS EF 28-200mm


Canon HG10 AVCHD


Yes (Side sling


Lowepro CompuTrekker



Yes (on Rebel XTi Body) Yes

Yes (inside upper right) Yes

Canon 430EX Flash Yes (inside bottom) Yes

Canon 50mm F/1.8 Lens

Canon EF-S 18-55mm Lens

Yes (swap with 18-55mm

when needed, inside



Yes (swap with 50mm when

needed, inside compartment) Yes

Lensbaby 2.0 Yes (side pocket) Yes

Cokin Filters Yes (inside compartment) Yes

RF Remote Yes (side accessory pocket) Yes

ExpoDisc White Balance


Yes (inside compartment) Yes

Folding Disc Reflector Yes (inside - laying on top) Yes

Li-Ion Battery Charger No* Yes

Trek-Pod Mini Tripod No* Yes

Cables (USB / HDMI) No* Yes

Pec*Pad Cleaning Solution

& Pads

No* Yes

Dell Inspiron 6000 Laptop No Yes

* These items would easily fit depending on what gear is important to you. If you are not

traveling with two bodies and 3 or 4 lenses there would be plenty of space for the items marked

with an asterisk (*).

As you can see from the list above, despite the Kata's 3N1-20 smaller size (compared to the

Lowerpro CompuTrekker AW), the bag is very capable of carrying a day's worth of gear. I was

Kata 3N1 Backpack / Sling Pack Review

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http://www.cameratown.com/reviews/kata3n1/ (5 of 12) [9/7/2008 16:03:21]

easily able to fit a Canon HG10 AVCHD camcorder, Two Canon Rebel D-SLR's, four lenses

(18-200, 10-20mm, 50mm or 18-55mm lens, Lensbaby), external flash unit (Canon 430EX), RF

Remote control, a folding pop-open reflector, Cokin filters, White Balance filter, extra batteries

and memory cards. If I were traveling for more than a day, I would most likely swap out one of

the lenses to make room for one of the Canon battery chargers. It is possible I would be able

to find room for it even without swapping, but with the configuration above, the bag isn't

overloaded, but it's tight.

One of the BIG differences between my Lowepro CompuTrekker AW and the new KATA 3n1 is

the fact that I can comfortably wear the Kata 3n1 Backpack / Sling all day while out in the field.

The Lowepro backpack I only use for traveling to and from a shoot or when flying because of its

larger size.

A big advantage to the 3N1's Backpack / Sling design, at least for me, is the ability to switch

from one to the other. A sling is less comfortable over longer periods as the strap crosses your

chest (much like a seat-belt), but for short periods a sling provides for easy in/out camera

access. If I plan to do a lot of walking I'll wear the Kata 3N1 as a backpack, which is more

comfortable over longer periods. If I plan to take a shot here and there or if the weather is less

than ideal then I would wear it in sling mode as this would allow access to the camera without

removing the bag each time. Even when the sling mode gets a bit heavy on your shoulder you

can easily switch it to the opposite shoulder just by switching to the right or left handed strap.

The flexibility of this bag is what makes it unique.

Backpack today, Sling bag tomorrow!

Prior to reviewing the Kata 3N1 I had always envied those that had a sling bag, but after

spending hours wearing this case both as a sling bag and a backpack, I must admit that I prefer

wearing it as a backpack most of the time. I am not usually in a situation where I need to keep

taking the camera in and out of the case. I typically remove the camera, put the strap around

my neck, and keep it there until I'm done shooting. Having the backpack with me makes it

convenient to switch bodies or lenses as needed. If the bag was in sling mode it would actually

be quite awkward as I already have a camera around my neck which would interfere with the

sling operation.

During ski season (snow) I would use the sling option instead as it would allow me to quickly

remove the camera for shots on the slope and back again when the going gets tough or when

I'm ready to get back on the chairlift. I'd just swing the sling to the front and would be good to


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Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III

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Canon Powershot A470

Canon Powershot A590 IS

Canon Powershot A650 IS

Canon Powershot A720

Canon Powershot G9

Canon Powershot S5 IS

Canon Powershot SD1100 IS

Canon Powershot SD770 IS

Canon Powershot SD790 IS

Canon Powershot SD790IS

Canon Powershot SD870 IS

Canon Powershot SD890 IS

Canon Powershot SX100 IS

Casio EX-Z1080

Casio Exilim EX-F1

Casio Exilim EX-Z80


Fujifilm Finepix F100fd

Fujifilm FinePix F40fd

Fujifilm FinePix F480

Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

Fujifilm FinePix S1000fd

Fujifilm Finepix S100fs

Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro

Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd

Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd

Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd

Kodak EasyShare Z1012 IS

http://www.cameratown.com/reviews/kata3n1/ (7 of 12) [9/7/2008 16:03:21]

Case Design

The Kata 3N1 features KATA's TST RIB structured protection and should keep your gear safe

from shocks and bumps even in rough conditions. The bag is not waterproof but a rain sleeve

is included to help insure that the case and your gear stays dry in inclement weather. 2 large

Kata 3N1 Backpack / Sling Pack Review

Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS

Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 VR Lens

Nikon AF-S 16-85mm f/3.5 - 5.6G VR


Nikon Coolpix L14

Nikon Coolpix L18

Nikon Coolpix P5100

Nikon Coolpix P80

Nikon Coolpix S210

Nikon Coolpix S550

Nikon Coolpix S600

Nikon D3

Nikon D300

Nikon D60 Digital SLR

Nikon D90 DSLR

Olympu Stylus 790SW

Olympus EVOLT E-420

Olympus Evolt E-420 DSLR

Olympus EVOLT E-520

Olympus SP-570 UZ

Olympus Stylus 1030 SW

Olympus Stylus 1200

Olympus Zuiko 25mm F2.8 Pancacke


Olympusu SP-560 UZ

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FS5

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ18

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LZ10

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ5

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50

Pentax K200D

Pentax K20D

Pentax K20D Digital SLR

Pentax Optio A40

http://www.cameratown.com/reviews/kata3n1/ (8 of 12) [9/7/2008 16:03:21]

center buckles and 2 smaller bottom buckles help to keep the bag fit and snug, though they

must be un-buckled in order to unzip and open up either the side or front pockets. The top

compartment is fairly large and can easily hold a mid-size DSLR with a standard- or

short-length zoom lens but it would be nice to have some sewn in velcro strips in order to

accomodate a divider when needed. The top compartment does feature two fabric pockets that

can accomodate your mobile phone, memory cards, or extra batteries.

My biggest complaint with the case design is

how tight access is to the upper middle

compartments. This is caused by the rear side

buckles which reduce the size of the flap at the

mid section of the case. To get gear into these

compartments you'll need to flex the top of the

bag a bit to create an opening wide enough to

slide things into these compartments. It is

definitely tight, but doable.

Another issue I had was when trying to close

the side zippered pocket while in Sling Mode.

The strap that holds the bag around your

shoulder pulls at the opening of the unzippered

pocket, creating a bend in the zipper, which

ultimately requires you to pull the sections

together using both hands while zippering the

side compartment back up (See photo on right).

With practice I have been able to make this an

easier task than it was the first few days of my review, but the unzipped corners on each side

should have a better support system in order to keep the zipper 'track' inline.

Review Summary

While there are some slight design changes I would recommend to Kata, overall the Kata 3N1

is a home run. Kata sent the mid-sized model (3N1-20) for me to review and, for me, it was the

best choice. The larger bag would have held more of my gear, but I would not have wanted to

lug it on my back. The smaller bag would be even more convenient to carry all day, but at the

Kata 3N1 Backpack / Sling Pack Review

Pentax Optio W60

Pentax Z10

Ricoh Caplio GX-200

Ricoh Caplio R7

Sigma DP1

Sony Alpha DSLR-A200

Sony Alpha DSLR-A350

Sony Alpha DSLR-A700K

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S750

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T200

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300

Sony DSLR-A350 Digital SLR

http://www.cameratown.com/reviews/kata3n1/ (9 of 12) [9/7/2008 16:03:21]

expensive of having to leave some camera gear behind. The mid-size bag holds everything I

need for a daily trek, while being comfortable enough to wear all day. Of course, you would

want to decide on which case is best for you, based on the cameras and lenses you own.

The Kata 3N1 also includes a rain cover that fits in its own pouch when not in use and expands

over the entire bag when needed. When not in use I found it convenient as extra protection

between a lens and the body of the case. Speaking of protection, the Kata 3N1 features Kata's

TST RIB structured protection designed to protect your gear from unwanted shock.

Retail and Street Price

At at price of $149.95 (street prices from $99.95) the Kata 3N1-20 is highly recommended and I

consider it a great value. The closest competition to this bag would be the Lowepro SlingShot

200 AW ($89-$99), but unlike the Kata 3N1 does not offer the backpack mode or the ability to

switch to your left or right side.

Kata 3N1 Backpack / Sling Pack Review

http://www.cameratown.com/reviews/kata3n1/ (10 of 12) [9/7/2008 16:03:21]

Modi-Vers Compatible

The Kata 3N1 bags are also Modi-Vers compatible. The

Modi-Vers is a customizable divider system that can be cut to

fit whatever size you need to keep your gear snug. I did not try

the Modi-Vers system, but it actually sounds like it could allow

for more room inside the 3N1-20 that I reviewed here, by

allowing some smaller "dead" space to fit things like a battery


Complies with Airline Regulations

The Kata 3N1 bags comply with most airline regulations for carry-on luggage, though

regulations are constantly changing. I have never had a problem carrying the rather large

Lowepro CompuTrekker so I don't imagine there ever being a problem traveling the the Kata

3N1 bags unless they ban bags all together.

Insertrolley Compatible

This bag is also compatible with the Kata Insertrolley, a system that allows you to either use the

trolley separately or with several cases at once. Just slide the trolley through the integrated

sleeve on the rear of the bag for secure and easy mobility. Again, this is not a product that I

have reviewed here. The description comes directly from the Kata-Bags.com web site.

Additional Photographs

Kata 3N1 Backpack / Sling Pack Review

http://www.cameratown.com/reviews/kata3n1/ (11 of 12) [9/7/2008 16:03:21]

Where to Buy

The Kata 3N1-20 reviewed here is available from Amazon.com for only $99.90 at this time

(9/2/2008). This is a savings of $49.10 off the list price. Please use the link to check the latest

price. Your purchase from this link helps to support our site and will also save you money in the


For additional information check out Kata-Bags.com web site.

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