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Old Apr 28, 2006, 5:47 PM   #1
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For those of you not familiar with Kata, they manufacture body amour, bullet proof vests and helmets for the Israeli Elite forces. They also make incredibly tough video and camera bags, and a few of their bags are designed to work in conjunction with their body amour – which make them a favorite of war-zone photo correspondents.

The styling and construction of their bags reflect their experience in body armor. The front and back are constructed of padded ribs that absorb impact. I've read reviews that describe the ribs as egg-carton like, but that gives a false impression of fragility – these bags are tough. The ribbing feels more like hockeygear than egg cartons. The bags are also light – the R-102 ways just over 2 lbs, less than half what most photo backpacks weigh.

The pack is part of a camera bag system that includes a chest pouch and a waist pack - designed to be worn either separately or together – for those photographers with a lot of gear, or who want more flexibility in what they carry on any given day.

Here is the front and side views of the R-102:

Front and Side Profile

Even fully loaded the Kata retains a nice trim profile – unlike the author modeling it. The photo on the right shows the included tripod carrier. The carrier attaches to either side of the pack or to the back as shown.

Side Profile, Being Worn

One very cool feature is the rapid access port on the back of the pack - this allows you to quickly get at your camera(s) without having to open the whole pack. Note: you can even open the access port when the tripod is securely mounted (as shown below).

Quick Access Port

The R-102 also comes with a reversible rain cover - black for rain (and advertising) and silver to reflect the sun in hot conditions.

Reversible Rain Cover

The Kata R-102 has plenty of space to store your photo equipment. On the inside, there is a large padded compartment – like most photo packs you can configure the dividers as needed.


Internal Dividers and Storage Pockets[/align]
In addition, the "lid" of the bag has a large zippered pouch (top/right photo) for storing cables, or smaller equipment. In the center of the lid (behind the access port) is a small mesh pocket.

Unfortunately, the Kata R-102 does not have dedicated space for a laptop computer.

On the back of the pack, there are 2 small (very small when pack is fully loaded) zip pockets, and a number of loops for attaching additional gear such as lens cases or a water bottle.


External Storage[/align]
Kata provides special camera straps and D rings on the rucksack that allow you to hang your camera from the shoulders of the pack (rather than around your neck). This is handy when shooting with a heavy lens for extended periods.

The bag has plenty of room for a medium-sized photo kit...


Camera Gear[/align]
and the extra height in the center area below the quick access port comes in handy for extra essentials.


Total weight completely loaded 18 lbs (without tripod). Light enough for a run through an airport. Compact enough to go under your seat, and tough enough to rest your feet on.

You can see more of the Kata lineup here...


I paid $135 for mine at www.desktopdarkroom.com (around the same price as the Tamrac Expedition 5)

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