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|The Kata OWL-272 DL D-Light Backpack is put to the test by ePHOTOzine member John Riley.|
Our choice of camera bags has never been so varied and sophisticated. New materials, new designs and every option and configuration that we could possibly imagine.
At the same time, this makes the choice even more difficult and witness to this is the cupboard full of unused bags that many of us possess. They all seemed a good idea at the time, so how does this new backpack from Kata fit in and will it end up being the bag that we use or the one left in storage?
Kata OWL-272 DL D-Light Backpack: Features
The backpack is of new lightweight construction, weighing in at just 1.8kg with all its included inserts and accessories. There are various innovative ideas incorporated, including the aeriform foam padding that protects the equipment whilst adding little to the overall weight.
The backpack has ample padding where it counts. Other features include an elements cover, laptop compartment, tripod holder, and lens pillow. It is within the allowed sizes for onboard luggage and Inserttrolley compatible should it be wished to improve the ease of handling during travel.
The EPH system compatibility means that a wide variety of Kata torso packs, waist packs and other accessories can be simply added to the backpack.
As standard, the backpack is equipped with 5 small dividers, 2 large dividers, 1 removable padded insert, 2 waist straps with connectors, 2 tripod straps, 1 rain cover and 1 lens pillow.
The main camera compartment will take a Pro DSLR with 70-200mm f2.8 lens plus up to six other lenses. There are plenty of pockets for additional accessories. The top section opens to reveal space for a 15.4” laptop plus accessories, or possibly food supplies or an additional camera.
There is a side pocket suitable for accessories or even a water bottle if required.
There is no particular protection to the base of the backpack, so if placed on wet ground it will be vulnerable to water. There is a substantial carrying handle on the top which enables convenient handling of the bag.
The shoulder straps are also substantial, being well padded and contoured. Chest and waist straps are provided and are secured by plastic connector clips.
Finally, a neat side pocket gives quick access to the camera body with attached lens.
|Kata OWL-272 DL D-Light Backpack: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
|(Top left) Weight does tend to fall on the lower back area.
(Top right) The main straps are well contoured and padded.
(Bottom right) There is a substantial carrying handle.
Kata OWL-272 DL D-Light Backpack: Handling
The most important factors with any bag are protection for the equipment, ease of carrying and ease of access to the equipment in the field. Some are more suited to carrying to a location and then using as a static store for the equipment. Some are suitable for accessing equipment on the move.
A backpack excels at carrying the equipment over long distances, be it cycling, walking or general travel. It is comfortable to carry as the weight is evenly distributed and enables quite large amounts of kit to be taken on a trip without too much discomfort.
Weather protection is fair, although zips are always a weak point and there are several here in quite exposed positions. The rain cover is of course an answer although it does severely hamper access to the bag. Now that we are seeing more weather sealed cameras and lenses we may want to carry on shooting in the rain.
Access is not so good on the move. In general, the bag needs to be removed when kit is needed. This involves stopping, removing the bag and then opening it up. This is unavoidable when changing lenses, but if the bag is carried over one shoulder it can be swung around so the side opening allows the camera and attached lens to be quickly accessed. This is a clumsy solution I think and only partly addresses the problem.
For the consideration of female photographers, Kata have placed the chest strap conveniently so it remains usable. This is not always the case and if intentional is a plus point for their R&D department.
In terms of access, the bag has quite a few obstacles with internal zipped compartments. This is necessary in one way, otherwise unzipping the main section could spill the contents out, so a second zipped cover is found. This has plenty of pockets itself and is ideal for storage of small items.
The main camera section holds just one body with attached lens, supported by a neat small pillow if required, plus various other compartments for up to 6 lenses. These will not be long lenses, so where the 70-200mm zoom goes if another lens is used is a potential problem. One answer is in the top laptop compartment, but that is not necessarily ideal.
I do find another drawback when it comes to lens hoods. Many can be reversed onto the lenses, but with fat wide angle zooms this may not be possible as the compartments are too small. Where the lenshood does go probably means up in that top compartment, mixed in with the sandwiches. Again, not an elegant solution.
Where this bag does really score is in its lightweight construction and the ability to carry quite a bit of kit comfotably whilst travelling. Adding the laptop increases that weight considerably, but it is much better than carrying two bags on to an aircraft. The equipment will be well protected and easily carried throughout the most arduous travelling.
Kata OWL-272 DL D-Light Backpack: Performance
The bag is well made, sturdy and obviously well up to the task required. It can be expanded by the addition of a wide variety of extra components. It can be fitted to a convenient trolley system for even easier travel. There is no back harness, so the bag pressing against the back is likely to get very wet if worn for long periods, but that applies to all backpacks of this type.
I also find that the weight distribution does tend to mean a fair degree of pressure is applied to the lower back. However, the straps are well shaped and padded and should enable comfortable carrying over long distances.
Kata OWL-272 DL D-Light Backpack: Verdict
A backpack is a compromise design that favours ease of carrying rather than ease of access on the move. An attempt has been made to improve this with the side access panel and this does help in some circumstances.
Being lightweight in construction whilst remaining sturdy and protective this backpack could be ideal for photographers needing to carry a laptop plus a moderate amount of camera equipment. It favours use for walking, cycling and general travel. It fits in well with the requirements for air travel and can be used as hand luggage.
In all these ways I think that many users will find it to be highly satisfactory.
Kata OWL-272 DL D-Light Backpack: Pros
Protects equipment well
Includes a laptop compartment
EPH Expandable system
Hand luggage for air travel
Kata OWL-272 DL D-Light Backpack: Cons
Limited space for bulkier equipment
Complex and slow access to bag
No base protection
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Kata OWL-272 DL D-Light Backpack: Specification
|Max. bag weight||1.80kg|
|Material||Exterior: Ripstop nylon
Exterior: TST rib structure
Interior: Aeriform foam dividers and padding
Interior: Yelloop bright yellow material
Spider Webbing Straps: Nylon and polypropylene straps
|Min. bag weight||1.20kg|
|External max. size (lxwxh)||35 x 28 x 45cm|
|Internal main compartment||30 x 18 x 30cm|
|Laptop compartment||28 x 4 x 41cm|
|Unique features||Elements cover