Kata R-103 Digital Rucksack: I’m loving it this week!

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I’ve had my Kata R-103 Digital Rucksack for a while now. However, I never realized how useful it would be until this week! If you’re a landscape photographer or simply want to take your gear with you when you go explore the great outdoors, a backpack is a must. I own all kinds of camera bags and computer bags. When it comes to carrying both my laptop AND my camera gear, I don’t hestitate. I pull out my Kata bag.

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KATA makes several different bags for all kinds of uses. However, I have found the KATA R-103 to be one of the best all around solutions for carrying both my 15.4" MacBook Pro and my camera gear. The R-103 easily handles my camera body, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, a second lens, backup hard drive, batteries, memory cards, MacBook power supply, 3G data card and cables.

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There’s also a tripod pouch that attaches to the outside. This lets me carry my Gitzo Traveler with ease. There’s a quick access door to access just the camera when you need it fast. Also there are camer straps that allow you to hang the camera from the backpack straps while you’re wearing it to releave the stress from your neck.

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This bag is also carry on friendly. I can easily fit it under the seat in front of me on the plane.

 

Sounds good! What’s not to like?

Well there’s a fine line between the balance of wanting to carry more and keeping the size down. For example, it would be nice to have a document pouch for carrying papers. Right now the only place to carry papers is in the same compartment as the laptop. Also it would be nice to have a place for a water bottle. Sure you could attach a canteen to the side, but you would have to rig it yourself as there is nothing built-in. Otherwise, I love this bag and it is really coming in handy this week. I drove up to Horseshoe Bend yesterday and little did I know that it was going to be quite a hike from the car to the actual "cliff" that I shot from. Had I had to carry a shoulder bag, it would have been annoying at best. There were times when I wanted both my hands free and the Kata R-103 fit the bill nicely. As a result, I was able to grab this shot without having to worry about the gear I was carrying:

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The Bottom Line

If you want to carry both your computer and your camera gear, you should definitely check out the Kata line of bags. The Kata R-103 that I use is available for $174 at B&H Photo and $173.81 at Amazon. There are also additional accessories available too. Check out all my latest gear recommendations here.

  • Hey Terry – I actually had one before and I returned it. The built is very good but I just didn’t like how it fit my needs. It’s a great bag though if you need to carry both your laptop and your camera.

    When I bought it, my camera gear couldnt fit in the bag and I can’t also carry all my hard drives due to the limited space. 🙁

    Mike

  • Big C

    Terry,

    Thanks for the post, I was just looking for bags.

    I have a lowepro bag and I love to use it as a carry on also, but the problem I’m having is that I want to be able to detach the laptop part of the bag once I get to my destination because I don’t need my laptop as I climb mountains/rocks/cliffs such as yourself ?JK.

    So thanks for the link I will see if they have something that may suit my needs.

    Big C,

  • I looked at this one, but ultimately decided that the Crumpler Whickey & Cox . I don’t like backpacks that allow someone to access my gear while standing behind me, as with the Kata. Perhaps I’m paranoid, but I like the fact that the Crumpler bag only allows access from the part that touches your back.

  • Craig Herold

    I see you have a D700 nicely placed in the bag. Does your D700 have the aux battery grip??

  • Hi Terry,

    I just got a Kata DR-467, and I LOVE it! I previously used a Lowepro backpack for my SLR and a regular shoulder briefcase bag for my 17-inch MacBook Pro, but the strain on my back just got to be too much. So I got this backpack, and it’s perfect! It’s so much easier–especially when I fly. Now it’s just one bag instead of 2.

    By the way, I really love your blog. Thank you!

  • Jake

    I got this bag this past christmas. I love it. I can fit my 30d, 24-70 with lens hood, 100-400 with lens hood, the kit lens, 18-55 i think, a nifty fifty, a rocket blower, charger, memory card wallet, extra batteries, two external hard drives (both are laptop hard disks in cases). I recently returned from Hawaii and was glad to have it.

  • I have the Kata R-102 (no laptop) — fantastic bag. I can carry all my primes or my workhorse zooms and a few primes — 15-20 pounds — and still walk around for 4 – 8 hours without problems: the weight is so well-distributed across your shoulders, back and hips — extremely comfortable. For those who want to add a laptop *and* external pockets, the new R-104 is out: same internal dimensions as the 102 & 103 (except and extra 1/2″ of depth), plus the laptop compartment and two side compartments. Looks like another winner.

  • Peter

    Hi Terry

    Nice review you wrote. I second the question Craig Herold asked. »Does your D700 have the aux battery grip??»

    I have a D300 with a battery grip myself and I’m thinking of getting a bag like R-103, but I’m not sure it will fit my camera if I’ve got the battery grip mounted, will it?

    I’m glad to see that the MBP is small enough (or is it the bag that is big enough?) to fit within the bag. Is it hard to get the MBP in and out of the rear pocket without scratching it’s surface?

    • Peter, Yes, the D700 has the battery grip and it does fit. The MBP is easy to get out with no scratching. It can actually hold the 17″ model. So there is plenty of room for the 15″ model.

  • Peter

    Thanks Terry,

    That was the information I needed to make the decision to buy a very good, but secondhand used Kata R-103.

    I will have it delivered to my home next week.

  • Steve

    Terry, I am almost ready to purchase the R-103 myself, but have concerns over my big lens–the Sigma 50-500. This lens is 8.6″ long when compressed. Will this fit when attached to the body (Nikon D300, in my case).

    I appreciate your advice.