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|Gary Wolstenholme takes a look at the Kata Beetle, which costs around £275 and is a huge bag, suitable for lugging large amounts of gear.|
Those who have a lot of gear will understand the challenges faced when travelling, especially as you may not want to leave parts of your kit behind. The Kata Beetle 282PL offers a solution, providing space for up to three camera bodies and six lenses, with space enough for a lens up to a 300mm focal length and for a laptop computer with a screen up to 17inches in size. In an attempt to see how much kit the bag can swallow, I managed to comfortably fit the following items inside:
- Nikon D700 with MD-D10 grip a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR attached
- Nikon 300mm f/4
- Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8
- Nikon 20-35mm f/2.8
- Sigma 24mm f/1.8
- Nikon 50mm f/1.4
- Nikon 35mm f/2
- Nikon 135mm f/2
- 2 SB-800 flashguns
- Wireless triggers
- Remote release cable
- Spare batteries for camera and flashguns
- Lens cloths
- Lens cleaning fluid
- A 12inch laptop
- Laptop power cable
- Lexar UDMA card reader
- Mouse and USB 3.0 Express Card
- Laptop screen shade
- A folding plastic step
The bag is designed with travel through airports in mind and as a result an optional rolling trolley can be used for transporting your gear. The sheer size of the bag may become an issue though if you're expecting to take this bag as carry-on luggage. The bag is 52 x 37.5 x 27.5 centimetres and I just can't see it fitting in those cages used to check baggage size at airports. I checked three separate airlines, Ryanair, Easyjet and British Airways and the dimensions of this bag exceed each airlines restrictions. Although I'm sure there must be an airline out there that will accept a bag this size, it's no good if they don't fly where you want to go. Personally I'd rather not chance it with an oversized bag either. Also the bag weighs around 3kg with everything attached, which means a fair amount of you cabin baggage weight allowance has already been taken by the bag, before you've even filled it with anything.
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|(Above) Shoulder straps are made from a moulded material that feels very comfortable, even when fully laden.
The materials used are generally amongst the highest quality I've seen from a rucksack like this. Heavy duty black Ripstop nylon is used for much of the exterior, which will offer some protection against the elements. For those times when you get caught in a deluge, a reversible protective cover is provided which is black on one side, and silvery on the reverse. The silvered side should keep your equipment cool when out trekking across a desert, or on holiday in Greece.
Moulded EVA foam has been used for the shoulder straps, which looks quite different to what you'd expect on most rucksacks of this size. Even when the bag is fully laden, these straps spread the weight evenly, thanks to their contoured shape, making heavy loads a little kinder to your back. A huge variety of extra straps and fixings are provided to ensure the bag will never leave your back, even in a force 9 gale. Although these extras can be useful, there are just so many of them and I find they can hinder getting the bag open or closed. As the bag opens from the rear, there should be no issues with light fingered individuals helping themselves to an expensive lens or three, which provides added piece of mind.
There are two places that a laptop computer can be stowed. A padded neoprene sleeve is located on the reverse of the lid, which can accommodate a laptop with a screen up to 17inches in size. A separate deep pocket is also available on the back of the bag, which will take a 15inch laptop, allowing for quick access if you must check your Facebook page on the train.
A lightweight, yet sturdy cradle is provided for attaching a tripod to the exterior of the bag. The mounting system can be attached to the front, or either side of the Beetle, depending on your preference. I quite like it attached to the side so there are no issues placing the bag down when you wish to access your stuff, although this positioning can make the bag unbalanced.
Kata Beetle 282-PL Rucksack: Verdict
The Kata 282-PL is made to excellent standards and will be able to take the rigours of daily use, while laden with a huge amount of gear, without any major drama. I especially like how comfortable the EVA moulded straps are and the attention to detail in the design.
Although Kata claims the bag is carry-on size, after checking three popular airlines it seems this may not be the case, so international travel with this bag may be limited to the Eurostar for now. It is a real shame as many features, such as the ability to attach a trolley, would make this back perfect for this kind of activity.
If smooth airport transitions aren't on your list of concerns, but being able to carry and store as much gear as possible is, then this rucksack should be high on your list of choices. Admittedly, it isn't cheap at around £275, but the quality of materials used is more than enough to justify the price.
Kata Beetle 282-PL Rucksack: Pros
Constructed from excellent quality materials
Comfortable moulded EVA straps
Tons of space for equipment
Can accommodate a 17inch laptop
Reversible protective cover
Tripod attachment on the front or either side
Compatible with Kata's Insertrolly system
Kata Beetle 282-PL Rucksack: Cons
Access to the bag can be fiddly
Slightly larger than standard UK carry-on size
Pricey, but the high quality probably justifies this
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Kata Beetle 282-PL Rucksack: Specification
|Size (exterior)||37.5 x 27.5 x 52cm|
|Camera compartment inner dimensions||34 x 16 x 48cm|
The Kata Beetle 282-PL costs around £275 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Kata Beetle 282-PL