Kata HandsFree-493 DL
Priced £59.95, www.kata-bags.com
A FEW years ago I invested in a high-quality camera bag. This backpack can pack in a hefty 35 litres of equipment and as is always the case, every spare inch is taken.
The downside to this is that I tend to walk around with a bag weighing 15kg which contains every imaginable gadget, gizmo, charger and cable.
Very rarely do I need to use any of this equipment when I’m out and about, but as I have a bag large enough to carry it — that’s what I do.
This is all very well until you are in a tight space within a shop or the sun is beating down outside.
The idea of carrying four different mains chargers for my equipment suddenly doesn’t feel so appealing when your bag is dripping with sweat and you have just cleared a shelf full of ornaments with your backpack.
The answer is to travel smarter — take only what you need and compact this into a space which is easy to carry all day — every day.
My decision to first opt for a backpack is because I like to have full use of my arms at all times.
The answer to my dilemma is obvious — I need a waist pack which gives me complete upper body freedom, plenty of space to pack in the essentials while compact enough so as not to cause an obstruction when in tight spaces.
The Kata HandsFree-493 is a waistbag which features one main large compartment which can be subdivided internally and two equally-sized side pockets.
Kata say this waist bag is ideal for a DSLR with mid-size lens attached, a spare lens, a flash and a water bottle or third lens.
I topped this by carrying two DSLRs with small lenses attached, two additional lenses and a compact LED flash unit.
No matter how much you pack into this bag, it’s comfortable to wear thanks to its thick padded waist belt with robust quick-release clip.
The main compartment measures a spacious 16cm(h) x 16cm(l) x 12cm(w) and includes padded dividers to split this area into two or three smaller spaces or alternatively, it can be completely removed to create one large section.
The dividers are easy to manipulate to your liking thanks to the hook and loop fastening system.
This main section is accessed via a sturdy twin U-shaped zipper which allows the top section of the bag to peel away leaving you unobstructed access to the compartment.
On the lid of this section is a small pocket ideal for memory cards or batteries if they are the slim rechargeable variety.
The two side pockets rest either side of the main compartment to give the bag equal weight balance between the right and left sides.
As these pockets take on a slightly rounded shape and are well padded, they are ideal for additional lenses.
To give you an idea of storage capacity, the pockets are large enough for a standard 18-55mm kit lens and a couple of batteries.
The pocket was just large enough for my 55-200mm lens and a couple of spare lens covers but wasn’t quite large enough to handle my 70-300mm lens.
The second of these pockets is slightly different in that it features an inner extended sleeve which tightens with an elasticated cord and toggle.
This pocket can be used the same as the first or it can be used as a bottle holder.
The elasticated closure cord allows you to keep this pocket unzipped without fear of losing your drink.
A key feature for any UK-based photographer should be the water-tightness of the bag as cameras are expensive and we experience a lot of wet weather.
Included with this marvel is a full-size elements cover. This elasticated rain shield simply covers the entire bag should the heavens open.
As this cover includes its own clip, it can be fastened to a small hook on the bag’s exterior to drip dry or for day to day storage.
Since switching to a waist bag I haven’t missed the weight-lifting effort required with a typical back pack.
This bag is large enough for your gear and allows you much quicker and easier access when on the move while being compact enough so that it doesn’t get in the way in tight corners.
A well made and competitively priced bag.