Kata 3N1 20 Backpack Review

I've owned this Kata 3N1 20 bag for over 2 years now, and I gotta say, it's pretty solid. Before my gear outgrew it, this bag was what I took to weddings with me. I still use this bag when I don't need to bring my full set up to stuff like model shoots or engagement sessions.

Carrying Capacity
The image above demonstrates the maximum capacity that I've found this bag can carry (although I rarely carry this setup now): two Nikon D700's, 70-200mm VRII, 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.8G, 85mm 1.4G, spare batteries, and memory card wallet. The 3N1 20 is the middle version of the series, which also includes the smaller 3N1 10 and larger 3N1 30.  

This bag has two main compartments: the top (pictured above), and the bottom, which holds the bulk of the camera gear. A nice feature is that you can unzip the bottom of the top compartment, thereby creating one very large compartment for storing a large lens or camera setup. Kata was smart to also make the interior of their bags bright orange...it makes finding gear in the dark easier than an all-black interior bag. If you think about it, most camera equipment is black to begin with, so this is a great help to photographers.

In the photo above, you can see a mesh pocket and two smaller pockets, for holding things like memory cards or batteries. 

Top compartment with D700 and 85mm 1.4G attached. The largest lens I've been able to fit in this compartment while attached to my camera is the 24-70, but I most commonly will store either the 85mm or 35mm with D700 attached here. 

This bag has two of these small zippered compartments that are great for carrying batteries. The downside is if you pack the top compartment, it's tough to fit items in these side pockets. 

Zipper System
This bag has a unique zipper and closure system that allows for quick access to your camera by just pulling on the clip tab. The four clips on each corner of the main compartment keep the contents secured if something happens to the zipper, or if the zipper isn't engaged. 

Build Quality
Kata started out making bags for the Israeli military, so it's no wonder their bags are built so well. The outer shell of this bag is made of a tough ballistic nylon that still looks new after two years of use. One example of this bag's durability was a couple weeks after I bought it, and was out on a shoot. I was wearing the bag, and backed up right into a large cactus plant. I cringed as I heard the thorns scratch the bag's exterior, but upon examination, no damage was done. Pretty cool :)
Main compartment empty. The dividers can be detached and moved around to your preference. The whole bag has an internal frame that helps the bag hold its form even when full loaded up with gear. 

Setup 1: The "traveling heavy" setup: D700, 85mm, 50mm, and 70-200mm in main compartment. D700 and 35mm in top compartment. 

Setup 2: The "traveling light" setup: D700, 24-70, and 85mm in main compartment. 

The bag comes with a CF/SD card holder, which can be attached via velcro to the main compartment zipper flap. 

This bag was about $100 from Amazon, which is pretty good for a camera bag with as many features as this one. 

Shoulder Strap System
The main feature of this bag is that you can wear the straps three ways...a sling style (pictured above), a traditional backpack style (pictured below), and a crisscross system that's a hybrid of both styles. I've tried all three, and actually prefer the backpack style. The other two feel awkward to me.

Ironically, my biggest critique of this bag is its strap and back panel. Both have enough padding, but it doesn't breathe at all. There's no mesh material, so your back gets sweaty very quickly, especially in Hawaii where I live. 
Traditional backpack style. Note the trolly carrying strap in the middle of the back panel. A cool feature is you can slide this over a Kata Trolly and carry the bag on wheels. 
Rain Cover
The bag comes with a bright yellow rain cover that matches the interior of the bag. The rain cover is detachable and can easily be cleaned. 
Front of the bag with rain cover. Since the rain cover is light colored, it actually helps to keep the bag a little cool if left in the sun (compared to a black or dark gray rain cover like some other brands). The rain cover works well in light to moderate rain, but in heavy rain, the runoff at the top of the bag tends to leak into the straps (pictured below). 


--solid build quality throughout. 2 years and counting, and this bag still looks pretty new.
--rectangular shape means this bag is very efficient with space for storing gear.
--bright interior helps finding gear in the dark.
--rain cover protects in light to moderate rain and keeps bag cool outdoors.
--unique zipper system allows for fast access to gear.
--two main compartments can be combined to fit a large lens if needed.
--I didn't mention this earlier, but the carrying handle rocks.

--price of $100 is very reasonable.

--back panel and shoulder straps do not breathe well, especially in warm weather.
--rain cover doesn't function well in heavy rain.
--sling and crisscross styles for the shoulder straps are awkward for me.

Despite the shortcomings of this bag, I've come to really appreciate what it is capable of in the field. It's become pretty useful for any shoot that I'm not required to bring my whole setup, and travels well.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to comment below :)


  1. Thanks for this review! I'm looking for a larger backpack to organize and hold all my gear for a day. I was strictly looking at LowePro and Tamarac until I found this review. I'm definitely now liking alot of these Kata bags, loaded with features and they actually look good too!



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