I have spent the best part of the last two weeks on vacation in Singapore and Australia testing the Hama Katoomba 150L, one of two camera bags that the folks at lovecases.co.uk were kind enough to send me shortly before my departure.
After spending two weeks lugging this pint-sized camera backpack through airports, on the steamy equatorial streets of Singapore and through the relative cool of Australia in fall, I have come to love it and not just because I got it for free.
What I love about this bag:
- Size – it is compact enough that it doesn’t need to go in the overhead compartment.
- Capacity – it holds a tremendous amount for its size.
- Ergonomics – it felt great on my back.
My initial thoughts on the bag were a little dismissive. It looked a little too small. It wasn’t until I started packing my gear into the bag that I realized how much it could hold. It had no trouble with my Canon 7D, a fairly beefy 15-85mm lens, a compact 300mm and a 50mm. It could have easily carried a flash, I threw my charger inside the bag instead. I also managed to fit my Kindle in the small amount of dead space between the equipment and the shell of the bag. At the top of the back side of the bag there is a convenient little accessories pocket. I managed to fit in a small notebook, a respectably-sized wad of cash, my house keys, a cell phone and my iPod Touch. There is also a tiny flat pocket on the front of the bag where you can fit a lens cap. Plus, there are loops for holding two tripods – I didn’t take a tripod along on this journey so I didn’t get a chance to use them. While I would have liked to have seen an external pocket on the Katoomba, I think it would have taken away from the aesthetic – it is a sleek little bag and already holds a lot for its size.
As with other camera bags that you only wear on one shoulder, you do need to be a little careful about the weight. The load that I was carrying was easily manageable, but I got the sense that attempting to carry two tripods might be overdoing things a bit. One would be fine, but two would probably be too much weight for some people to carry on one shoulder. That being said, the bag was extremely well padded and with the under-arm strap in place the weight was very well distributed.
The build quality is excellent. The padding is substantial but not overly bulky, the zippers feel great and do a good job of keeping everything sealed and there is a rain cover to offer peace of mind when the weather gets really bad.
In general, it is tough to fault the Katoomba 150L. It does everything that it is designed to do very well. The only issue that I had was with the difficulty involved in taking out and putting back the camera. Everything fits together a little too tightly and that can make things difficult if you need to get your camera out in a hurry. This was much less of an issue when I mounted a smaller lens and would not have been a problem with a smaller camera – the 7D is quite bulky. There were quite a few times that I opted to carry my camera loose instead of in the bag because of this but chances are that I would have done that at those times anyway.
If you are looking for a compact bag to carry a big camera, the Hama Katoomba could definitely be it. As far as price goes, it is a little on the expensive side – but with this bag you definitely get what you pay for.
Price: About $95