Published on October 15th, 2009 | by Greg0
Modular Bag Mayhem: Tom Bihn and Kata
Welcome to Truly Obscure! If you’re just finding us you’ll quickly realize there are things we really enjoy around here, like traveling and eating. If you are a return visitor you’ve already discovered how much we enjoy our various hobbies, and how much we enjoy well-made products that are fun, stylish and most of all usable. What better way to illustrate these things than with one of our favorite bag makers Tom Bihn, as well as newcomer Kata with their 3N1-20 Camera Bag.
So here’s what we did. Earlier this summer we packed up our Tom Bihn Aeronaut as neatly as we could, utilizing the packing cubes, in a way that allowed us to pack enough clothes and shoes for a long weekend out in the Midwest. Midwest? Absolutely, late summer means state fairs, and state fairs mean FOOD! . Our Aeronaut got us there, and our Kata-Bag is kept us well stocked with our photography equipment so that we didn’t miss a shot of fried Snickers or funnel cake at the fair. A quick word about the Aeronaut is that it can be used as a backpack, a sling bag, or as a duffel bag. It’s designed to fit into any overhead luggage, even international regulations like those found at Heathrow Airport. It’s made from U.S. 1050 denier Ballistic nylon, is lined with ultra-lightweight yet tough Dyneema/nylon ripstop fabric, and has splashproof zippers as well. Ours was equipped with an Absolute Shoulder Strap, which makes it extremely comfortable to carry. We could wax poetic about how much we love Tom Bihn, but really it would be better if you picked one up and see firsthand why we think they’re so great. The Aeronaut is available through Tom Bihn’s website for $200 or on Amazon for about the same. The packing cubes range from $15-18, and the Absolute Shoulder strap is $30, from the Tom Bihn site.
Once we arrived in Des Moines, Iowa, it was time to get the big guns out. Let’s face it, we were there to eat, have fun, and to take a whole lot of pictures. Kata has us covered with their 3N1-20 bag. This bag, much like the Aeronaut, is designed to be worn several different ways. (What can we say, we dig flexibility!) For easy access to the bag we found it best to wear it across the shoulder like a sling, though it can also be worn like a backpack and with the straps crossed over your chest in an X formation, for the maximum amount of stability. The way you wear it depends entirely on how much gear you are carrying, the distance you’re carrying it, and over what type of terrain. There are few places that you couldn’t take this bag comfortably, even in the midst of mysterious “delicious” tenderloin Mexican cuisine.
Our primary photo bag setup includes two lenses and one DSLR camera body, several filters, a couple of memory cards, our Joby Gorillapod, and a small point-and-shoot camera. The 3N1-20 carries all of that without even breaking a sweat; there is room for a DSLR body with a mid-zoom lens attached, 3-4 additional lenses and an external flash. We were able to access the contents of the interior portion of the bag through the external pockets, and though it took a bit of fiddling around with the bag initially to figure out how to do so, it was a feature we grew to truly appreciate. We were also quite pleased that this bag came with a rain cover, as we did have to deal with being rained on through our fairground adventures. It’s a bit nerve-wracking to have that much camera gear out in the elements, but with the rain cover on it all stayed perfectly dry! We will happily add this bag to our camera bag arsenal, and you should consider doing the same. The Kata 3N1-20 retails for $95-150 through retailers like Amazon.