Kata DR-467 Digital Rucksack review: Kata DR-467 Digital Rucksack

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Enough room for large, heavy pro-level camera gear; holds up to15-inch laptops; relatively small size given its capacity; main compartment big enough for a hardcover book, magazine, and a light jacket.

The Bad No cell phone holder on the backpack straps; rain cover could be more fashionable.

The Bottom Line Kata's DR-467 Digital Rucksack is an excellent choice for a backpack to tote your SLR, a few lenses, some extra gear, and a laptop.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0

Lately, I've been obsessed with camera backpacks. It's not easy to find one that does everything I need, since I use backpacks to haul all different size SLRs, from the smallest entry-level, to the largest, integrated-vertical-grip pro bodies. Kata's DR-467 Digital Rucksack proved to be a very versatile bag and even has a sleeve in the back for up to a 15-inch laptop, though I easily fit my 15.4-inch Dell Latitude D820.

Possibly the best thing about the DR-467 is that it's not very large, but manages to tote a lot of gear. The bag performed wonderfully when I used it at the Consumer Electronics Show and the Photo Marketing Association trade shows. Not only did I carry my laptop, but I also packed the bag with a pro integrated-vertical-grip camera body, which weighs about 3 pounds on its own, as well as a flash unit, three heavy pro-level lenses, a small backup hard drive, an iPod, chargers for all the equipment, a couple of small notebooks, and various other small items, such as microfiber cloths and a slew of memory cards. The bag was able to carry so much weight that anyone who lifted it declared me crazy for having hauled all that through a trade show. I guess I'm not in such bad shape after all. Just in case I wanted to wuss out, Kata includes a strap across the back of the bag into which you can insert one of Kata's trolleys, though I used it to attach the Digital Rucksack to my rolling garment bag while making my way through the airport. When not wearing the pack, and not rolling it on something else, a nice padded handle on top lets you tote it in one hand.

The downside to packing the bag so full of gear was that it didn't fit underneath the seat in front of me on the airplanes I took to Las Vegas. For the record, I flew Jet Blue both times, though I don't know how their under-seat storage compares with that of other airlines. It came darn close to fitting, but the bottom compartment that holds the camera gear was just barely too tall when I laid the bag flat on its back. Of course, the depth of that compartment is precisely what let it fit such a large camera body, so I didn't mind putting the bag in the overhead compartment, which also gave me more legroom and an excuse to leave the laptop in the bag and get some much needed rest instead of doing work on the plane.

Like all Kata photo bags, the DR-467 has a yellow interior. At first glance, you might think this is extreme, but the interior makes it very easy to find an errant SD or xD card if one falls out of your memory card wallet. Plus, your lens caps will never blend in with the interior either. The top compartment is deceptively large. Kata says it's about 13 inches by 5.9 inches by 7.5 inches. I was able to fit a magazine standing up or sideways, as well as a decent-size hardcover book, and I'm sure that a travel guide and a light jacket would fit at the same time. That big compartment also has a spot for a cell phone, some pens, and a spot for the bag's yellow rain cover. While yellow is nice for the interior, I would've liked a more subdued color for the rain cover, though some people, such as hikers, would probably argue that the garish yellow makes you stand out more to cars or rescue vehicles. I'm sure that I would value the yellow color more if I find myself stranded in the wilderness. Perhaps a reversible design would be best for all occasions.

The front of the main compartment has three small zippered pockets. Since the bag has no dedicated memory card holders, I devoted one of those pockets to memory cards for my trade show journeys. The middle of the three pockets, hidden in what looks like a fold in the bag design, has some mesh toward the bottom so that small items won't fall out accidentally when you open it up. A pair of D-rings on either side of the other two small pockets gives the bag a slightly hardcore look while also letting you tighten down the main compartment if it's not completely full. A zippered pocket on one side of the bag contains a mesh pouch for a small water bottle. It's not large enough for a big Nalgene-type bottle, but a 12-ounce Poland Spring-type bottle should fit just fine.

The fact that I used the bag for two successive trade shows should tell you a lot. It's very convenient for my needs and makes a great all-purpose camera bag. Since you can remove the dividers from the camera compartment, you can even convert it to a general-purpose bag, though you can't remove the bottom from the main compartment to make one large, single-compartment bag. I prefer this, though, since those designs tend to make for a less stable bottom to the main compartment. The only problem I encountered was that a couple of stitches that attach the zipper to the main compartment became slightly loose toward the end of the second trade show. I can't really fault Kata with this though, since I feel like I heavily overloaded the bag and by then it had been through more than a month of extremely heavy use on an almost daily basis. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this bag to anyone looking for a modestly sized camera backpack that includes a laptop sleeve.

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