Lowepro Fastpack anyone?

Started May 26, 2008 | Discussions thread
Shanghaid Regular Member • Posts: 356
Re: Check out the new Kata

I just picked up two packs today, a LowePro FastPack 350 and a Tamrac Velocity 8. I also considered the Tamrac Adventurer 9, Tamrac Expedition 5x and the Kata R-103/R-106. I did not see the the Kata 3N1s. But here in Shanghai there were so many Katas, I am sure they were there also.

My needs were related to the following gear:

For field use:

18-200mm Nikkor VR lens
SB-800 Flash
Accessories - batteries, cards, filters, etc.
Swarovski 8.5x42 EL binoculars

For travel to/from work, weekends at the the coffee shop & vacation air travel:

18-200mm Nikkor VR lens
SB-800 Flash
Accessories - batteries, cards, filters, etc.
Computer - Lenovo T60 (weekdays); photography books (weekends)
Medium sized notepad

I tried the Tamrac Velocity 7, 8 and 9 for field use and selected the size that fit. The Velocity 8. It is well thought out (I already have a small Tamrac sling pack). This one also has a waist belt which makes it quite nice for load distribution, yet still able to ealiy switch gear without having to take it off. There is still room left to add a small 50 mm lens. Or if I leave the binoculars home, a larger added lens. I opted against a backpack exactly for the reason of ease of changing gear. I tend to often ride a mountain bike on vacation for back country movement and this pack gives me confidence for that purpose also. Note, slow simple riding for transport, not serious mountain biking.

This then led to a rather simple decision for the go to work/airport travel pack. It had to easily fit the computer, have easy access to the camera and computer, becomfortable and not overdesigned. Hence the FastPack 350. The Tamrac Adventurer 9 would have won for me if I need a pack for day hiking since it is more water tight. Note, I find the FastPack to be faster for interior access and more comfortable on my physique. However, both the FastPack and the Adventurer have included waist belts and chest straps which make them very nice. So slight comfort differences. That the FastPack - here in Shanghai - was half the cost was a clear benefit also. As for the Tamrac Expedition 5x, also nice, but over engineered for just going to work and for air travel.

The Kata R-103 was an interesting pack which I would never use for day hiking with heavy gear. Simply because it did not have a waist belt. That means the load is distributed over your shoulder and chest. After 15 minutes in the store walking around I was fatiguing. After 3 hours in the mall after purchase, no soreness carrying the Fastpack which was set to put the load mostly on my hips and a little on my chest and near zero on my shoulders. The Kata looked bombproof - literally. However, it did not easily fit my Lenovo T60 computer. Also I found access in and out of the pack less than easy. The cost - while not really an issue for me, was a negative for my intended use. The next model up, the R-106, was angelic. It was very comfortable. If I want to carry a traditional style backpack in the field with even more gear than I carry now, this looked interesting. But it will be a major undertaking to switch gear. Very appealing in all the Katas I looked at was the included camera strao system that buckle to the pack.

So many good packs to choose from.


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