Kata Revolver-8 PL Backpack
$249 / £229 www.kata-bags.us

The Kata Revolver-8 photo backpack is unlike anything I've ever seen in the travel gear department. The backpack's primary feature is its roulette-style revolving lens compartment that enables photographers to quickly unsheathe a telephoto, standard or macro lens within seconds. Fortified with plenty of additional features, the $250 Kata Revolver-8 sits at the more expensive end of the camera backpack spectrum, but many pro photographers could be tempted to lay down their cash after seeing what it is capable of.

We'll begin with the Revolver-8's headline feature: the revolving lens compartment. The backpack can accommodate four standard or macro lenses and one telephoto in the main chamber alone. In order to access a lens, just unzip the flap on the left or right of the bag. In use, I've found that access from both sides enables you to grab a lens regardless of the bag's orientation on my shoulder. Two rugged plastic buckles provide support to the main compartment and act as zipper stops, though the entire compartment can be zipped open when the buckles are released. The bag's exterior dimensions measure 9.8 x 19.3 x 13.0" (24.9 x 49.0 x 33.0 cm), which places the Revolver in the average category of size.

The Revolver-8's revolving lens chamber is attached to the inside of the backpack and the outside panel via snap enclosures. The snap enclosures enable the chamber to revolve. Using great force, I was able to unsnap the outside panel of the backpack from the chamber. This is a good thing because it satisfied me that the lens chamber will not pop off and go rolling down the side of a mountain accidentally - it takes brute force to unsnap the thing. In addition, the safety buckles also serve to make sure that the lens chamber will stay in place, so I have no issues when it came to the security of the Revolver-8's lens chamber design.

The Kata Revolver-8 can hold five lenses in its main, revolving chamber. Lenses can be accessed by unzipping either side flap. An expended view of the Revolver-8's revolving lens chamber.
This is how to get access to a lens stored in the Kata Revolver-8. The interior dimensions of the Kata Revolver-8 reveal ample real space for lenses and small accessories like flash guns. 

So where does the camera live? Atop the Revolver-8 is a square flap that unzips to reveal a second large chamber for a DSLR, complete with a velcro-based lens strapping. Here I was able to fit my 5D Mark III with 24-105mm lens attached and I still had room to toss in the battery charger and other small accessories. The bottom of the camera chamber also unzips to reveal the revolving lens chamber beneath, so if your camera is out and strapped to your shoulder, lenses can be accessed from the top of the bag by reaching inside. The flap that conceals the camera chamber has a small zip pouch that I found perfect for lens filters and wipes. Two external pockets bookend the camera chamber, offering ample space for additional storage like phones, keys and laptop accessories.

Speaking of laptops, the Kata Revolver-8 can accommodate up to a 15.4-inch laptop, courtesy of its large, independent zipped pocket. Kata has thrown in a strip of rectangular foam at the bottom of the laptop pocket to ensure that the device is protected when the bag is set down, and if you want (or need) to, the foam along the back can be replaced with heavier-duty material. 

As for comfort and versatility, I've found the Kata Revolver-8 to be top notch in every regard. The shoulder straps can be configured in a multitude of ways to suit the natural contours of the individual, and there's a cross strap with buckle connectors for added security. The cross strap can be configured at different levels along the shoulder straps, and a detachable waist buckle can be mounted to the bottom of the backpack for even more stability. Kata has also included a two-sided elements cover: the black side is for rain protection and the silver side is for heat and dust deflection. If your challenges are photographic, rather than environmental, the silver side can also be used as a makeshift reflector.

The shoulder straps on the Kata Revolver-8 are fully adjustable. A full-size tripod can be mounted to the Kata Revolver-8.
The two-sided elements cover, shown in split view. A travel strap makes airports friendly again.

Another noteworthy feature of the Revolver-8 is its compatibility with other EPH (Ergonomic Photo System) Kata bags, meaning that other Kata backpacks, torso packs or waist packs can be added onto the Revolver-8 for additional storage. The Revolver-8 also has a travel strap for mounting the bag on a telescoping suitcase handle, as well as two removable straps on the front of the bag for securing a tripod. Stitching is rugged and durable, while the loop zipper enclosures make buttoning up the bag an easy task.

Summing Up

The Kata Revolver-8 photo backpack is truly one-of-a-kind. It's unique in featuring a revolving lens chamber for easy lens accessibility, but the additional storage options are nothing to sneeze at. This backpack is aimed at the professional who possesses an arsenal of lenses that need to be deployed quickly throughout a typical shoot. The addition of a laptop sleeve and camera chamber up top make the Revolver-8 one of the most attractive packs on the market. Materials and construction quality are top-flight.

What we like: Innovative solution for multiple lens users, ample storage space for camera and accessories, top notch construction and design, versatile configurations fit a swath of users' needs, tripod, laptop, travel suitcase and EPH System support sweeten the deal, elements cover has multiple uses.

What we don't like: Honestly, we're still trying to come up with something here... the Revolver isn't cheap, but it's a great backpack with some unique selling points.

Mike Perlman is a freelance photographer and writer, based in Bar Harbor, Maine. After a spell reviewing camcorders at Camcorderinfo.com, Mike moved to infoSync World as the Senior Photography Editor, before taking up a role at TechnoBuffalo.com as the head of the Photography department. These days, Mike runs his own photography business and contributes to dpreview between shoots.