Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kata Bumblebee PL-220 Camera Backpack Review

We photographers are a crazy lot, first we buy super expensive gear and then we get into this endless loop of buying other necessities and accessories. On top of the necessities list is a camera bag which can safely hold our precious gear from accidents and natural elements.

I have been using the Kata Bumblebee PL-220 for almost 3 years now and I thought its about time that I pen down my experience with this camera bag.

As I won't be going into all the features of the bag you can find them here: http://www.kata-bags.com/bumblebee-220-pl-for-2-pro-dslr-up-to-8-lenses-500mm

I primarily bought it for hiking and this was one of the bags which comes under the Pro-Light series.
The bag itself is around 3kgs which is pretty light for the kind of protection you get with this bag. Apart from the light weight what got me hooked to this bag was the design and the Gecko straps. The back of the bag actually looks pretty neat and the overall quality and construction gives a feel of a well engineered bag.

The thing I love the most about this bag is the amount of space it provides, so far it has been able to accommodate my ever increasing gear. The zip bags provided inside the bag helps in keeping things organised and easy to fetch. The only thing I hate about the organisation of the gear inside the bag is the fact that it has been designed to keep the camera body at the bottom of the bag, I was never comfortable keeping my camera in that position and I moved it to the top where it fits but only without the battery pack attached, with the battery pack it becomes a task to zip the bag closed. Now if you happen to have a camera where the battery pack can not be removed, you basically have to take your chances because in the event of a fall there is only so much protection that a camera bag can provide.

The laptop compartment is a snug fit and you can be sure that your laptop will be safe. Because it takes upto 17" laptop I'm able to carry a warm cap and a light jacket on top of my 15" MacBook Pro.

The rain cover is one of the best I have ever used on a camera bag, I have used it in heavy rains and it performed flawlessly. The bag came with a camera strap that can be attached to the front of your back strap when you are wearing it. On a hike with a camera + 70-200mm f/2.8 in hand this strap feels like God send, it completely takes the load off your neck. Although while using this feature taking the bag off your back kinda gets tricky but I have gotten used to it now.

I have a love hate relationship with the Gecko straps, on a hot humid day the straps feels like they are biting your shoulders but in winters they are super comfortable. I feel Kata needs to provide some kind of extra padding here. On the other hand the waist strap is awesome as it completely takes the weight off your back.

One major gripe I have with the bag is that without the laptop in the bag and camera on the top position the bag has a tendency to fall on its face. Something to do with weight distribution I guess.

All in all the bag has served me well so far, it has its own negatives and positives like most things. So far I have just one zipper loop broken out of the four in the main compartment zip. No seams have come off so far which speaks volumes about the durability of the bag as it has been used extensively in the outdoors.

So is this the perfect camera backpack you were looking for? I would suggest you try it before you buy it, I guess in this bags case the bag chooses you as much as you choose the bag. If it fits, you will be a match made in heaven for years to come.

As for me, I'm still looking for that perfect camera backpack.

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