Monday, November 14, 2011

The Kata Beetle 282 Backpack

At the heart of my "Studio in a Backpack" is the Kata Beetle 282 backpack. There are a lot of things I like about this pack, but let me tell you about a few of them. It's a fully adjustable pack, just like sophisticated camping packs and it has both shoulder straps and a waist belt with dual adjustments. What seems like a minor detail, but one that I particularly like, is found on the long straps that adjust the waist support. They have little velcro tabs attached that allow you to secure the long ends of the straps when you've found the right length. This may seem like a little thing, but not having lengthy flopping straps is a really nice touch.

Another feature that makes this pack unusual is the fact that it opens from the side holding the supports. With most similar packs, you put the pack down with the straps on the ground and then zip it open from the reverse side. This means that you put the side you're soon going to put on your back in the dirt, mud, and crud, thus transferring that stuff onto yourself. With this Kata, you put the opposite side down and open the pack from the straps side, keeping the side that goes against your body clean. Smart design, if you ask me.

Once the pack is open, you see the Kata feature that seems very simple, but no other companies have followed- that is, the interior of the pack is bright yellow instead of the usual black.  This means that it's much easier to find your black cameras and lenses when the lights are dim. Again, it seems like a little thing, but if you've ever fumbled around looking for a certain lens or body and you can't find it because black on black renders it invisible, you know what I mean. It's a very nice detail.

The rest of the 282 is what you'd expect from a quality camera bag. It has a fully customizable interior, allowing you to set it up with multiple configurations. There's plenty of cushioning to protect your gear, in case you have to check it with the airlines. There's a laptop compartment that accommodates a 17 inch computer. You can even get an optional wheel system ( Kata calls it the Insert Trolly) so you don't have to carry the pack if you don't want to.

This pack sells for around $ 290.00 in the US and I think it's worth every penny. If you'd like to learn more you can check it out on the Kata site .

My next post will discuss the items carried on the outside of the pack.


  1. Hello Forest,
    I have an R-103, which is an older model from Kata but it isn't quite big enough to take all my gear. The new Kata's look lighter but I wondered if they are as strong and protective. Also have you ever tested it in rain without the cover?

    I currently have three bags in total including a Tenba and a CCS but none of them are perfect for every occasion. Are you still happy with the 282? Any problems as carry on luggage when flying?



    1. Oh, I forgot to answer your other questions. I feel that the new Katas are clearly as protective as the older ones. I never tested it with the rain cover. And the 282 fits in overheads with a little effort. Sometimes I took the waist belt off to make it go a little easier.


  2. Hi Ashley-

    I had an older model, too, and I think it was the R-103. The 282 isn't as ergonomic as the 103, but it definitely holds more. Unfortunately I think the 282 either has been or is going to be discontinued. I'm trying to find out from Kata as I write this. (That's why it's taken me a few days to answer your question.

    I currently am trying out the Bumblebee 220. It's closer to the 103 than the 282. The problem I saw with the 282 for some folks is that it was a bit like carrying a brick on your back- not very form fitting. That was fine when I was using it because I carried it mostly through airports and around village streets. If you're carrying it in rougher circumstances, like in the field, mountains, etc. where your balance is critical, I think the 220 might be a better choice. But it doesn't hold quite as much as the 282.

    I hope that helps. Please let me know what you decide.

    Good luck, Forest

  3. Hi Forest,
    I'm pretty sure you are right about the 282 being discontinued, since shops in the UK are either out of stock or clearing stocks, so it might make sense to wait and see what comes along instead. Having written to Kata myself a week ago I'm also waiting for a reply...

    It's reassuring to hear that the new bags offer just as much protection because they don't look quite as heavy duty in the online photos. From the research I've done it looks like the 282 will be a problem in Europe at least for flying, which would force me to stick with the R-103 and pack with great care.

    The R-103 is still a good bag for a day out when you don't want to carry a huge amount of gear, though the laptop space is a bit miserly and you'll struggle if you need to go somewhere with the full kit, so I'm really looking for something that will act as a storage space for my entire kit at home and also let me carry it all comfortably outdoors on those occasions when I need to take it all.

    Thanks for your reply and on a side note I'm also a dinosaur that likes to use a hand held light meter.

    Best regards


  4. Have you found a Bumblebee 220 to compare to your R-103? It might be bigger.

  5. I haven't seen a 220 up close but the measurements suggest it is bigger for sure than the R-103 and clearly worth considering. I get the impression it is deeper so there are opportunities to store lenses either vertically or horizontally, while the space for a laptop is also larger. It's hard to imagine that the 220 would be any kind of disaster, especially with Kata's reputation.

    I have a long history with Tenba bags as well so I'm also taking another look at their range. They produce the solidly made shootout backpacks and someone suggested I look at the hybrid II roadie, which is a route I hadn't considered previously.