As you may recall, I recently posted a brief review of the Tamrac Velocity 7x. The Velocity is comfy, but too small for anything larger than a Rebel-size camera. Plus, I wanted to carry my MacBook Pro and camera gear all in the same bag.
So, I narrowed my list down to two bags:
The Lowepro Fastpack 250 or the Kata DR-467
The FastPack is bulkier and holds more photo gear. If you’re looking for a camera bag that just happens to hold a laptop, I’d go with the LowePro. The Kata is smaller, more comfortable and a laptop/general use bag. It holds a smaller amount of photo gear and is ideal for commuters and everyday use.
My Daily Gear
15″ MacBook Pro, Canon 40D, 17-85mm EFS, 50mm EF, (see sidebar for camera gear) and misc. gadgets like WD portable HD, eTrex GPS. And usually, a lunch bag.
The Fastpack 250 is much bulkier. If you just look at the numbers, they aren’t significantly different. However, the exterior walls of the Kata 467 are less rigid, so they tend to collapse down if empty (that’s a good thing). The Kata has compression straps to help reduce it’s overall size.
Kata DR-467 vs. LowePro Fastpack 250
Again, the numbers are pretty close. But the Kata feels lighter. It’s mainly due to the overall bulkiness factor of the Fastpack.
Ok, I realize this is subjective, but after wearing both for a couple of weeks, the Kata 467 just feels better. Both have well padded straps and backing. Both have a top carrying handle, but the Kata strap has more padding.
The 15″ MBP kinda gets swallowed by the LowePro. It can easily handle a larger machine. Also, on the LowePro, both zippered sides touch the laptop when inserting or removing. I don’t see any scratches yet, but I wonder if they may appear over time. I’d rather nothing touched the machine. The Kata is much better… the compartment is smaller (still plenty of room for 15″ MBP) and the zippers don’t touch. An added benefit; the straps connect to the main bag, NOT the laptop compartment. So you can lift the bag with the laptop zippers open without the whole bag tipping forward.
15″ Macbook Pro easily fits in the LowePro Fastpack 250
LowePro Zippers Touch Laptop
15″ Macbook Pro in Kata DR-467
Zippers don’t touch on the Kata
Notice where the back straps are attached
The Kata is slightly harder to open than I expected. You need to unzip it each way, almost all the way, otherwise it doesn’t cantilever out. Once unzipped, you need to pull to get the compartment to open up wide enough to insert or remove the camera. In the field, smaller items in the front two side pockets are fairly easy to access. Items in the back row are fairly difficult. Sitting at a desk, it’s much easier. The size/stickiness of the items also plays a role (e.g. lenses with (rubber) hoods are more stubborn). The bright yellow interior really does make it easier to find things in lower light situations. The LowePro is MUCH BETTER for quick access to your camera and mounted lens. However, access to other lens required unbuckling the security flap and more unzipping. It is probably a tad slower than the Kata in that area.
To open the Kata, you need to (almost) completely unzip it.
Canon 40D with 17-85mm Lens
Nikon D300 with Grip and 18-200mm Lens
One reason I wanted an “all-in-one” bag is so I can just throw everything into one place, sling it over my shoulder and go. For me, that often includes a soft-side lunch bag. As you can see from the photos, both bags can handle a standard size bag just fine.
Kata and normal soft-side lunch bag.
Lunch bag inside Kata.
Lunch bag inside LowePro
Extra Kata Features
The Kata has a really cool feature if you travel. The back has an elastic strap that holds your backpack snug on any standard luggage. I used it this week on a trip to Chicago and it worked great!
Kata bag has excellent strap for luggage handle.
Also, it has a hidden pouch for a water bottle or monopod.
Neither have a place for misc paperwork… except in the laptop slot. With the Kata, you can make a “U” longways and it will fit in the top compartment. But most paper remembers the “U” shape after removed.
Top compartment view of Kata DR-467
Top compartment view of LowePro Fastpack 250
There is one thing that really bugs me about the LowePro; the waist support belt. I suppose if you are hiking, it is awesome, but for short walks or train/car use, it just gets in the way. The much smaller belt on the Kata is perfect for me. You can zip it tight so it doesn’t get in the way and you don’t even notice it.
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Lowepro Fastpack 250
Great Review! To all who posted, thanks for the info. 🙂
thanks for this nice post 111213
I was decided upon the Kata, until I spotted another bag called the E-volve Expedition P10_53. It’s sold on Amazon (gets top ratings) & elsewhere, though its not as common as the Kata.
As far as I can tell, it’s near-identical to the Kata, but far less than half the price. Judging by the photos & description, all the features seem to be the same, except the front zips have a different styling to them (just cosmetic) & the interior isn’t yellow.
Does anyone have any experience of this bag? Is it by the same company, re-branded, or has someone else copied it? And most importantly, are the materials & build quality the same? If so, I know which one I’m going to buy!
OK, nice review, but leans toward the Kata and doesnt focus so much on the Lowepro.
I like the kata 466 for its looks, but i like the Fastpack because its eaasily accessible to get the camera…
Now i am between those, and i dont really know what to do! Go for the looks, or the usability!
I just was hesitating between these two bags.
I’ve ordered the Kata. It’s exactly what I need.
Thanks a lot.
Great review. Exactly what I was looking for. I had a feeling the Lowepro would be a tad too bulky. Thanks!
This..what I was looking for, great review, well thought. Definately going for kata, Thanks. (Looks much better too)
Kata aint a tad good. The camera cnat be placed with lens on….to take out camera you have to keep the bag off on floor…..no side access to gear. Plus lowepro is more secure since the side zipper access if on side there are less chances of it being snapped by a subway guy….
Obviously, the dividers in the bottom compartment can be removed so you can place one camera/lens “sideways” in the bag.
I think the 70-200 will fit ok. Kata says the bottom compartment is: 13″ wide x 7.5″ tall x 5.9″ deep. The 70×200 is about 8.5″ long. The D300 is about 2.5″ thick. So it should squeeze in ok.
I no longer have my Kata… I use the ThinkTank StreetWalker HD now.
Maybe others can confirm?
Is it possible to store Sony A700 or Nikon D300, either with a battery grip, and a lens like 70-200mm f/2.8 with hood & collar in Kata DR 467?
Marcus, my FastPack 250 measures 46cmx30x20(ish). The last measurement can be pressed down to 18, but the straps underneath cause it to sit “higher” when untouched. In other words, if you were to cut off the straps and belt, it would be 17-18cm.
Hope that helps.
Great article and have been looking for a good comparison for some months now. One of the deciding factors for me will be whether the Fastpack is within the limitations some aircraft place on hand luggage. I am often restricted to 55x45x20cm – the last figure being the all important one. The Kata will fit perfectly, but I suspect there is more space in teh Fastpack. Will the Fastpack give a little if I am pressed to demonstrate the bag will fit in these small bins?
I wanted to tell you this was an excellent comparison. I have been carrying the Kata DR-466 since January and that is the longest I have ever carried any bag. I tend to be a bag junkie and have had as many as 6 or 7 vying for first place at any one time. Everything you have said about the 467 is just as applicable to the 466, I just happen to carry a 13″ laptop so did not need the extra size everyday, makes the best daily carry bag I have ever owned, after a little modification.
Additionally doesnt look like a laptop OR camera bag. I get flagged for hand inspection at EVERY airport ( it was explained that a lens looks like a big black blob on xrays) and the TSA guy carrying it over to the table told me I should get a camera bag, I opened it for him and he goes “OH it is , but just looked like a plain old book bag” this from a guy who see ALOTTA bags. I am probably going to get a 467 JUST for travel, after my trip to south beach last week I realized a smidge more space would be nice when on the road. Thanks for the great review
Great review! I’ve been debating between the two bags for traveling purposes (through airports and what not). I was pretty set on the Lowepro Fastpack 250 until I actually saw it in person and thought it was a bit too bulky– especially considering I’m a petite person (5’2) with kinda narrow shoulders.
I was thinking I may use the bag when I’m walking around in the city too, but in that case, I probably won’t have the laptop in there, just the camera and other random stuff (a travel book, guides, maps, jacket, wallet, etc.) .
I just wanted to thank you for the great review–the pictures and comments were really helpful! I had not previously heard of the Kata, but it turned out to be the right bag for me.
I first tried the Lowepro 250 b/c I’ve been happy with the brand’s quality in the past. The Lowepro is a good bag, but the problem is that the Lowepro 250 was just too big for me to wear comfortably when it was carrying my laptop + computer (I’m 5’4’/120 lbs) . The Lowepro is also quite stiff (although understand, it provides excellent protection, so I say this only in terms of comfort as you wear the bag for a long period of time). The Kata is only slightly smaller, but it just feels more comfortable. The Lowepro 250 is said to fit a 15.4 ” laptop—I note that it does not fit my 17″ laptop (mainly because of the way the zipper is angled; the bag is certainly tall enough), and even though it’s shorter, the Kata 467 does fit my 17″ laptop. I sort of miss the Lowepro’s quick-access side, I prefer the organization of my lens,etc. in the compartments of the Lowepro (slightly more space/easy to see everything), and the water bottle compartment is better on the Lowepro. I don’t like how the front flap when clipped delays access to the front compartment–on the Kata there are two outside zippered pockets that I use for quick access to memory cards, etc. (I keep empty cards in one side pocket, and used cards on the other side.)
The best thing for me is that finally I can replace carrying a camera bag, a laptop bag and a purse with just one bag! I use the top compartment to store my camera battery charger, spare battery, my laptop cord/charger, my rechargeable batteries for my flash, my wallet, cell phone, makeup–there’s quite a bit of space. I really like the compression straps and strap for attaching to luggage. I haven’t taken it on an airplane yet, but hoping that it will meet the requirements for “personal item” / fit under the seat in front of me.
I still think the Lowepro 250–or the Lowepro 350 (slightly larger)–are both good quality bags, but I would suggest that they might be better for someone a bit taller. They were definitely too big for me to use on a daily basis.
The Kata 467 is my bag. It is the largest one can get while still meeting even the most stringent carry-on allowances, and that is the most essential feature. It’s suitably padded with decent amounts of room. Quick access to camera? Put it in the top compartment. Good comparison.
Hey thanks a lot man, I’ve been looking at the Kata 467 for awhile after searching for a good bag on Amazon for my camera gear. I just ordered the Kata 467 on Friday. Reading this made me glad I ordered it.
Great review – I’ve been considering the Kata for a fe weeks but do like Lowepro products… This review has confirmed that the Kata should offer everything I’m looking for. Thank you.
i’m a pro who needs to keep both camera and computer gear on hand at all times. right now i’m using two bags, domke ballistic for cams and the gravis metro for my computer needs. they both work well individually, but carrying two bags can be a hassle so was looking for something that carried both together. i picked up the tamrac adventure 10 for an assignment in japan, which is a great travel bag, but didn’t translate well into everyday use for me, a bit too much bag.
as a person who frets over camera bag purchases, i really found your review of the kata extremely helpful and spot on as far as reviewed features. i was very enthusiastic about the new kata slings, but after this review, i think the 467 is for me.
Yes, I agree. The Kata is more of a camera transport bag. The 250 is better for quick access in the situation you described. One option when using the Kata is to place your camera in the top area. It’s not as protected, but you can swing the bag around, unzip it and pull the cam out fairly easily.
Great, just when I was about to order the 250, I spent at least 40 minutes playing with all the bags at the B&H store in NY, and cant make up my mind. Had these very two side by side as they are my choices as well. But the thing that brings me away from my favorite (Kata) is the fact that I have to drop it on the street in Manhattan to take out the camera hand now I need to hands for the bag while my camera is where? On the floor. If Kata would listen they would make the 3n1 20 or the 30 to hold a laptop and now it would be a simpler choice. Oh well the guy at B&H said I can return the bag in 15 days if I’m not satisfied. I will take one for a test drive.
Incredibly helpful review. I’ve been debating the Kata 467, Crumpler Customary Barge and the Mountainsmith Spectrum & Borealis. This is the best info I’ve seen out on the Kata. Thanks a ton!
What a detail review you have here. I am actually surveying for Kata 467 and wonder if it’s good. Now there’s no more doubt in me.Thanks!
An extremely valuable review. The only think I would have added is a discussion of how long an on-camera lens the Kata would allow. Fortunately, there is a Youtube film that shows a Nikon with an 18-200 lens.
Great review, it was hard decision for me to chose, but I am going to buy the Kata 67 because it have elastic strap , that way I can use it with my luggage. 🙂
“Well I think this thread is not a comparison of the two bags… why it advertises kata…. Do you have an experience to use your rain cover and yet the bag still gets wet?…”
Theres always one isn’t there. Your review was great. Up until reading your article I was thinking Lowepro. Having owned a Vertex 200 in the past I was concerned about bulkiness and weight. In partticular I agree with your comment about the waist belt. Lowepro really go overboard with these silly add-ons. Hardly anybody uses waist belts and they just get in the way.
I’m going with the Kata. The yellow intereior will be a bonus as well. Thanks.
Rain cover… no. I live in a fairly dry climate, so I’ve never used it.
Sorry if you see the article as slanted one way. As a commuter, the Kata meets my needs better. I think the summary clarifies my position; if you want a bag that is better suited for carrying photo gear, the LowePro is the winner. For an all-purpose bag, the Kata is better.
Well I think this thread is not a comparison of the two bags… why it advertises kata…. Do you have an experience to use your rain cover and yet the bag still gets wet?…
Really helpful and comprehensive comparison. You touched on just the right points and have helped me decide to go for the Kata. Thank you very much. Richard
Nice comparison. My Kata 467 just arrived and so far I like it. I wanted a top storage compartment and some kind of camera access without taking the pack competely off, plus a raincover. The 467 was around $67 with free shipping. I would have paid a lot more going with another brand that had the rain cover, laptop storage, and quick access compartment. I really like the cantilevered bottom compartment. I slip one strap off my shoulder and sling it around and unzip starting close to far, reach in and pull out the cam, I use a strap so I neck the camera, and have 2 hands to zip it back up. I find pulling the slack out of the zippers top side while zipping it closed back towards me makes it zip up nice and smooth. I practiced like a dork for a while and now I can bust out the camera and get it back on both shoulders without fumbling around at all.
I also like the little features to keep the zipper pulls from clinking around., al though they aren’t covered. The top also has a hole in it for a headphones cable, but I think putting a hole in top is a little weak. No biggie though really. I’d have the cover on in rain anyways. The water bottle/monopod holder is skimpy, it can’t hold a Nalgene, only the little throw away bottles – pretty much the only compromise – that and I wish there was more little pockets in the top compartments. The pen holders aren’t large enough for a lens pen like they were on my old Nova 4. The top compartment holds unused dividers, rain coat, and an extra large Nalgene on it’s side just fine. The 3 front pockets are fairly functional when the pack is full but not entirely. You can also put carabiners (or whatever your attachment method of choice is) on the shoulder strap loops to hold more water bottles etc. The weight from the top compartment does press down into the botton camera area so I tend to only carry 2 lenses, small flash, plus a bod with lens attached, it sitting flat on the bottom. When the D80 is sitting flat the top can’t push down enough to put any weight onto it. Overall the pack seems pretty comfortable – it’s almost more comfy loaded down than empty, which is a good thing 🙂
Thanks for the comprehensive review and photos, you have helped me make my decision.
Thanks so much for this interesting comparison. I was desperately looking for pictures like the ones you have posted here to help me decide which one to get. I don’t get why the companies don’t do what you have done here. Your pictures and commentary were really helpful. Sincerely, Nicole
Great review! Should help me decide, was going with the 250 now I will look at the 467.