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Old Sep 29, 2008, 2:36 PM   #1
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I currently have a Lowepro Slingshot A200. It's a bit too small in one dimension and the corner zipper stitching is giving way (this after probably 2 years of daily use). I know that I definitely want another sling bag as I find it the most useful solution for me, but am not sure what I want to get next. A shoulder bag is too heavy for what I carry and I hate having to take a backpack off every time I want to change a lens.

I know I don't want to go with the Slingshot A300 - it is just too big and I don't want the hip strap (the A200 looks more like a book bag than the 300). I didn't particularly like the Tamrac sling bags as they seem to be harder to access (I have the dividers in my A200 where I can easily get to 3 lenses and only one slot is hard to get to - I keep my rocket air blower in it). I don't want a bag that will encourage me to carry more stuff - I tend to carry more weight than I should now (I'm a small female).

There are several alternatives I've found on-line. First is the new Kata 3N1 series. That one really appeals to me as you can adjust the straps either as a sling bag or a backpack, and you can also adjust them as a backpack-cross shouldered, so by using the quick release you can turn it into a sling bag. I just have trouble visualizing how the bag is organized and how big it is (there are 3 sizes, I think I might want the biggest one, but it might also be too big for me).

Another option is the M-Rock sling bag. I had never heard of this company until a month ago when I was on vacation. We visited a camera store in West Yellowstone that had a number of their products (but notthe sling bag) - they appeared very well made, nicely padded and well thought out. Their website indicates that their largersling bagis a bit bigger than the Lowepro, which would probably answer my need for a little extra room without adding more spaces for new stuff.

However, the Kata intrigues me. Has anyone actually seen this bag yet? Is anyone familiar with the M-Rock sling bag (it's also a bit more expensive than the Lowepro).

I carry on a regular basis - Pentax K20, a 300mm lens, a 105 macro, a 50-135 f2.8 zoom, a 12-24 zoom, rocket blower, flash, sometimes a small 77mm f1.8 lens, sometimes an extension tube, polarizer, spare batteries, cards,etc. The 50-135, 300 and macro lenses are all heavy and large, one of them has to be mounted on the camera to get it all to work (which it only barely does).

If anyone has any suggestions or experience with either the M-Rock or the 3N1 Kata, please let me know.
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Old Oct 1, 2008, 4:10 PM   #2
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Harriet, the only one with which I have experience is the one you've already eliminated....the Tamrac. I bought the largest Tamrac, and I have difficulty carrying the things I most want. I can mount either my Sigma 70-200 or my 50-135 and carry the other one in the bag. Add my flash unit and the FA 50mm and the bag is pretty well full. (If I were willing to bury another small lens below the divider, I could, I guess, but it would be extremely clumsy to get to.) I find myself very much missing the Lowepro Nova 5 I had stolen this summer.

Paul
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Old Oct 1, 2008, 9:23 PM   #3
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Thanks, Paul - you've verified what I thought when I looked at the Tamrac.

I know the Kata 3N1 is new, but I hoped that someone had already taken a chance and ordered one. It looks really neat on their website.
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Old Oct 2, 2008, 11:40 PM   #4
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Like you Mtngal I have the Lowepro 200. Its pretty handy and carries everything I want. Ive purchased a couple of extra pouches and water bottle carrier for it. I find it durable and well constructed. Ive used its built-in raincoat a couple timse and found it quite handy. The slingback feature makes it a good table to use as support for taking pics. Also it doesnt encourage me to carry any more than I need. I think you might have trouble finding a better pack. But good luck.
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Old Oct 10, 2008, 3:27 PM   #5
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I've now looked at both the Tenba sling bag and the Kata 3N1 10 and 20. They didn't have a 30.

Just putting my Lowepro 200 next to the Kata 20 and the larger Tenba - from the outside theylook much the same size. The Tenba and Kata don't have the pyramid shape that the Lowepro does for the top pocket - there would be more room there.

Some reactions: I didn't like the Tenba zippers - they were harder to move and I found myself tugging at the pulls. It might be better if I had a full pack, but since one of the first things that happened to the Lowepro was that I lost one of the zipper pull tabs, I'm cautious of that. The Kata's zippers didn't cause me any trouble.

The Kata comes with a separate cover. It's not like the Lowepro where the cover is attached to the bottom of the bag and is integral to the bag so you always have it. Since I've never had to use the Lowepro's cover, don't think that's a huge disadvantage for me.

The Tenba's access is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It has the quick access of all three (on the side/top) that allows access to part of the bag. You can access the whole thing by unzipping the whole back of the bag. It makes access easy only when you have the bag off. It looks like its very versatile as far as how you can re-configure the bag.

The Kata's access is better if you want to get to places while wearing the bag. There are more zippers because of the way its designed, though. It did look like I could re-arrange the bag to carry my big lenses, but I didn't actually try it so I don't know if the 20 would be wide and deep enough.

Since I didn't like the zippers on the Tenba, I didn't look that closely at the shoulder strap. It looked very similar to the Lowepro.

The Kata's strap paddingisn't as stiff as the Lowepro's, and definitely not as wide at the top. I'm a little concerned about the softness - it'll probably be pretty comfortable at first, but one of the things that's happened to my Lowepro over the couple of years I've owned it is that the strap padding has compressed due to the weight I carry. I was thinking about ways to re-stuff it when the zipper stitching started to give out. They can't be very stiff because of the design of the bag - it has 2 shoulder straps so you can either use it as a backpack, or put one of the straps in it's sleeve and carry it as a sling pack. Or put both straps cross-shoulder where you are carrying it like a backpack, but you can use one of the quick disconnects to undo one of the straps, making it instantly into a sling bag for access (the reason I'm really interested in this bag, this would be really handy for hiking). So perhaps the softer padding might not be a bigissue - I'd probably wear it as a backpack on occasion.

I'm still undecided - I'd like to see the 3N1 30 (the largest size) next to the 20 and then try to put my equipment in it. And I'm still wondering what others think about these bags.
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Old Oct 12, 2008, 7:06 PM   #6
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As a final note - Costco storeshave the Lowepro 200 on sale for $67.99 right now (I bought mine in Bakersfield). That was a deal I couldn't refuse - its significantly less than any of the other bags I was considering (and cheaper than the usual price for the 200), and after all, my old one had lasted several years.
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