As a general purpose photographer’s pack with the ability to be used as a daypack when needed, the tough and versatile Kata DR-466i delivers the goods at the right price.
Photographers usually start off with a simple compact camera, but those who fall prey to the temptations of more advanced equipment quickly end up having to carry a literal bagful of gear. Once they get to the DSLR (plus multiple lenses) stage of the addiction, a sizable dedicated camera bag is not far away. Many initially choose the shoulder-slung messenger-style bags much favoured by professionals, but the bigger ones aren’t really comfortable once they’re loaded down with equipment, especially over a long day or an even longer walk. Which is where the photography backpack comes in.
Kata is an Israeli company that got its start designing bags and equipment storage systems for the military, notably for elite special forces units. It subsequently applied that expertise to a huge range of photo and video solutions from point and shoot cases to heavy duty packs for professional use. The DR-466i is one of Kata’s medium sized backpacks, designed to haul DSLRs, lenses and other accessories such as speedlights and tripods.
It’s not really aimed at hardcore professionals, who tend to use backpacks that have partitions from top to bottom so they can be loaded with nothing but photography gear. Instead, the DR-466i is meant to be used by photographers who need a more versatile bag, so it’s separated into two sections, with camera gear going in the bottom and day-to-day stuff going on top. It will easily swallow a DSLR with mounted lens (as long as said lens isn’t too long) and the modular dividers allow accessories of various shapes and sizes to be accommodated. The well padded lower camera insert can be removed and the divider unzipped, which transforms the pack into a daypack.
The large top compartment is perfect for stashing snacks, USB drives, a warm jumper and other essentials, and there are a number of internal and external accessory pockets for memory cards, filters, pens, phones and the like. The bright yellow interior looks good but it also makes it easy to spot small objects in the bag, unlike the dark grey material found on the inside of many similar bags.
In addition, there’s a thickly padded notebook compartment that will gulp at least a 15” notebook and on the outside, a tripod strap and pouch (which can double as a water bottle holder if no tripod is carried). The DR-466i comes with a slip-over rain jacket and can have Kata’s optional wheeled Insertrolley added for trips where dragging is preferable to carrying. There’s a larger 467i model available if the 466i isn’t quite right, as well as a slightly smaller 465i (without the laptop compartment).
This backpack is tough and well made, with zips that seem bulletproof no matter how much it’s loaded up and a heavy duty outer and double stitched seams that shrug off wear and tear with impunity. It shows no discernable wear despite being used as a cycling pack on a regular basis and being crammed beyond it’s capacity on overseas trips (it’s compact enough to go in the cabin). The shoulder straps are well padded, as is the back and there’s a neat adjustable chest strap, all of which makes even a heavily loaded DR-466i quite comfortable. The thin unpadded waist strap is a bit inadequate, which limits the bag’s usefulness on big hikes, so there are better choices if long distances are your thing.
It’s hard to moan too loudly about any aspect of this backpack but it’s easy to shout its praises to the sky. The design and construction are first rate, it’s comfortable and flexible and looks good to boot. With a better waist strap this would be a five star product but it’s still a very accomplished bag that should provide sterling service for a long time to come. ASHLEY KRAMER