Going Mobile: Review of the Kata T-214 Torso Pack

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Introduction

This summer, I had the opportunity to take a long-awaited photo safari to the south of France. My agenda included a lot of rambling through hilltop villages and steamy city streets, and with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38° C), I wanted a small, light bag that would fit all my essential gear, but would not be a burden during those long, hot walks.

In addition to my DSLR body and a trio of lenses, I wanted to be able to accommodate a flash, circular polarizer, lens cleaning kit, iPod and cable (for bulk photo storage), flash cards, batteries, a monopod, and other odds and ends in my photo bag.

Essential Gear

Essential Gear

I currently own a Kata R-102 photo backpack, that can easily hold this gear and more, but I was concerned that a backpack would be awkward to access in the crowds that I expected to encounter on this trip. I also own a modified Kata T-212 torso pack that I use as my standard walk-around bag at home, but the T-212 is too small for this amount of equipment.

I am a big believer in having the right tool for the right job. I have been a fan of Kata camera bags for years, and so I decided to try the new Kata T-214 torso pack.

Design top

If you are not familiar with Kata, they are an Israeli company that designs and manufactures body armor for Israel’s elite forces. They also produce a line of photo and video bags favored by photo journalists. Kata’s experience with body armor is reflected in the construction of their camera bags which are light and extremely rugged. The padded ribs on the T-214′s front panel provide great impact resistance without adding significant weight. All of the stitching is solid, and all the buckles and connections click securely into place as advertised.

The T-214′s military pedigree is also reflected in the styling of the bag – which I describe as S.W.A.T. meets RoboCop. The T-214 is a combination of black and gray, with black zippers and buckles.

T-214 Front View

T-214 Front View

Side and Back Views

Side and Back Views

Usability top

The T-214 can be worn in one of 2 ways – as a standalone sling bag, or connected to one of the Photo Backpacks of the Kata EPH system such as the R-102 or R-103.

T-214 Standalone and EPH Modes

Side and Back Views

I use the T-214 almost exclusively in standalone mode, but for those people who have a LOT of gear to carry, the combination of the T-214 and a Photo Backpack will provide massive carrying capacity.

In my previous reviews of the R-102, and T-212, I describe the carrying capacity of those bags, and details of how the EPH system bags can be used in combination. Readers interested in these details should refer to those reviews as background:

Review of the Kata R-102 Photo Rucksack

Review of the Kata T-212 Torso Pack and the W-92 Waist Pack

The beauty of a sling style bag is that it can easily be moved from back to front for rapid gear access (or for security in a crowd). The T-214 also includes a detachable anchor strap that prevents the bag from shifting position when biking or rock climbing.

The shoulder strap on the T-214 is well padded, and very comfortable – even with a full load. It can be adjusted to suit your height and positioning preferences.

Like all Kata bags, the T-214 comes with a bewildering array of straps, connectors, and buckles, but with very minimal instructions. Given the versatility of these bags, and the number of ways that they can be configured, I feel that a detailed user manual should be provided with the bags. Some information can be found on their website, and occasionally, a brief sheet of basic instructions is included, but you are still pretty much on your own to figure out how everything fits together. I can easily see how it might be challenging for some.

I also feel that a lot of the straps that Kata supplies on these bags are too long. I find that I am always tucking them in or looping them back so that they do not dangle. While I realize that many people are taller than me, and that there may be other uses for the straps that I have not yet determined, I would still like to see shorter straps or some convenient method of keeping the excess neatly coiled.

Compared to the T-212

The T-214 appears to be an update to the T-212, but external appearances aside, they are very different bags. The dimensions of both bags are identical except for depth, but that additional depth is a significant difference. Where the T-212 is ideal as an accessory bag or as a casual walk-around bag (typically holding my Nikon D200 and attached 18-200 zoom), the T-214 is a full-fledged camera bag that holds almost as much as my R-102.

Kata T-214 vs Kata T-212

Kata T-214 vs Kata T-212

The T-212 shipped with an unusual triangular web strap that wraps around your back for use as a standalone bag. I eventually modified my T-212 to a more versatile sling-style bag by removing the web strap and attaching a shoulder strap to it as shown above. I was delighted, therefore, to see that Kata had abandoned the web strap, and opted for a sling when they released the T-214.

The other significant improvement to the T-214 over the T-212 is the closure system of the main compartment. The T-212 has a single zipper (with 2 pulls) that spans the top and both sides of the main compartment. The problem with this design is that it risks the contents spilling out if the zipper is opened fully.

The T-214 replaces the single zipper with a pair of zippers, a Velcro strip, and a security buckle. The two zippers can be opened or closed simultaneously by pulling on a strap that connects the zipper pulls. The strap occasionally separates in the middle, but is easily reconnected via its central buckle. This design completely eliminates the spill-out problem of the T-212 and adds significantly greater content security.

T-214 Closing System

T-214 Closing System

Storage Capacity

The interior of the T-214 is one large sub-dividable compartment. Two removable partitions are included that can be positioned as required to fit your gear configuration. The partitions are hinged at the top, so that they can fold down over smaller lenses for additional protection.

The Main Compartment

The Main Compartment

In my configuration, I use the central pocket of the main compartment for my DSLR body with attached zoom, and the other 2 pockets for lenses. If you own an SLR larger than the D200 – or use an extended battery pack, you may need to experiment with other configurations.

Because the T-214 is triangular in shape, one side of the bag is significantly taller than the other. Longer lenses can be stored in the tall side as in my configuration below.

Main Compartment Capacity

Main Compartment Capacity

It is possible to fit lenses in the T-214 that are somewhat longer those I show here. There is approximately 11 inches of clear height at the tall end of the bag. The constraint in my configuration is the diameters of the lenses.

Exterior Storage

The T-214 also includes 3 exterior storage pockets.

A flat pocket suitable for manuals, filters, cables, and similar gear covers the entire back of the bag. After I published my T-212 review, I was asked if a small notebook computer would fit in this pocket. The answer is no – the triangular shape of the T-214 doesn’t allow for it.

A smallish expandable pocket on the front of the bag can be used for additional storage, which I use to keep my Nikon SB-800 flash in.

A buckled pocket on the side of the T-214 is ideal for a cell phone, iPod, or lens cleaning kit. My Dell Axim X51V PDA in a hard shell case fits perfectly in this pocket.

Above the buckled pocket is a short loop strap that can be used to attach something to the side of the T-214. In a perfect world, I would be able to attach the belt loop of my SB-800 pouch or a small lens case here, and tighten it to the bag. Unfortunately, because the strap has a rubber end terminator, it is a closed loop, and cannot be used to connect other closed loop pouches. This strap would be more versatile if it had a snap buckle that would allow objects to be attached and removed more easily.

Exterior Storage

Exterior Storage

In The Field

So How Did the T-214 Work in France? My quibbles about straps aside, it was exactly what I was looking for, and I liked it a lot. It is small, light, and holds a lot of gear. It was ideal in crowds, and on long, hot hikes.

Almost all of my essential gear fit in the T-214. I had a small problem finding an adequate space for the lens hoods, and I eventually ended up storing them in the space beneath my D200.

My monopod did not fit on or in the T-214 at all. I tried to jerry-rig a couple of connectors to strap it to the bottom – but I wasn’t satisfied with any solution that I came up with. In all fairness though, that sort of carrying capacity would probably fall in the realm of backpacks.

The T-214 fit easily under my airline seat on a very long Trans-Atlantic flight without crowding my feet.

Conclusion top

The Kata T-214 is a top notch travel bag for those that place a premium on size and weight, but still want to carry a reasonable amount of gear. I find the sling bag an ideal compromise between volume and portability.

The bag is attractive, comfortable and provides exceptional protection. This would be an ideal bag for rock climbing, cycling, or other sports that require your gear to be securely anchored but still be readily accessible.

At $95 US, the T-214 isn’t the cheapest bag on the block, but neither is it outrageous given its build quality and versatility.

I give it two thumbs up!

Positives

  • Highly durable and well constructed
  • Large carrying capacity
  • Easy access to eqiupment
  • Flexible storage configuraiton and options
  • Handy external pockets

Negatives

  • Extra-long straps can be fiddly
  • No facility for carrying a monopod
Features: (9/10)
Usability: (9/10)
Build Quality: (10/10)
Value: (8.5/10)

Was this article helpful? Feel free to leave any feedback or comments.

As I say to all my family, friends and readers – reviews usually comprise of one person’s opinion. Do yourself a favor by visiting your local camera shop and try the product out for yourself. If possible, bring your gear with you to make sure that everything fits. This will give you a better idea whether it is suited to your needs.

Support Shuttertalk by purchasing the Kata T-214 on Amazon with free shipping!

24 Responses to “Going Mobile: Review of the Kata T-214 Torso Pack”

  1. Anonymous says:

    hi, where you store the lens hood then?

  2. Rob Will says:

    I put them in the flat pocket in the back if the bag is completely full, and in one of the interior pockets if I am carrying the bag at less than capacity.

  3. Anonymous says:

    i tried the combo 12-25, 17-55 on body D2x, and 70-200 just cant go in :-)

  4. Rob Will says:

    I wasn’t sure that a big camera body like the D2X would work. I am sure it is the camera body where you are running out of room – yes?

  5. Anonymous says:

    yes, you are right

  6. Dani says:

    Hi,

    I just wanna say that this bag is amazing, if your are thinking in buy it or not… DO IT!!! It’s perfect to travel: you can store your camera carring the bag in the front and carry another bag with water, food, clothes….

    If you are worried for the capacity… I just say this:
    - One external flash
    - Canon EOS 350D + 75-300
    - 18-55
    - And more equipment like: memory cards, lens cleaner, another small flash, batteries, the charger.

    the quality is great, and despite his price, I will buy it again.

    I hope this could help you!!

    Good luck!!!

  7. Terraunbound says:

    Thank you Rob for an indepth review of the 214. Last year I purchased the T212 and have been moderately happy with it – the 214 looks like Kata took our comments seriously. Until I can get the gumption to purchase a new bag

    - how did you convert the strap on 212 to be rid that triangular strap? And did it hang OK on the body with just two points of connection?

    Thanks!
    Shelley

  8. siuwan says:

    Hi, has anyone figure out a way to connect a monopod (or small tripod) to the bag? I know it is probably not feasible but you never know…

    thanks

  9. Julian Tan says:

    Hi Siuwan and welcome to Shuttertalk! A tripod or monopod holder would have been great wouldn't it?

    I think Rob mentions towards the end of the article:
    My monopod did not fit on or in the T-214 at all. I tried to jerry-rig a couple of connectors to strap it to the bottom – but I wasn't satisfied with any solution that I came up with. In all fairness though, that sort of carrying capacity would probably fall in the realm of backpacks.

    So my guess is that it probably can't be done, in an elegant way at least.

    Thanks for the question!
    Jules

  10. Rob says:

    Sorry to take so long to answer your comment – these comments are kind of hidden on the site unless you go through the article’s home page. It is actually faster to post questions in the Shuttertalk forums as I scan those most every day.

    I had a strap that had a snap clip on either end (it is actually the shoulder strap from my W-92. I clipped that strap onto the T-212 to the rear and top buckle points – and yes, there are only 2 points of connection – but it hangs very well. Even with my T-214, I use the T-212 a LOT as a walkaround bag holding just my D200 and 18-200 VR.

  11. Nukeplumber says:

    You might want to look at the M-Rock sling bags- the Olympic (527) and the Arches (528), at http://www.m-rock.com. They come with waterproof covers attached with a cord, and are very well built.

  12. Richie Price says:

    Hi,

    this bag looks sik!
    However my main concern is if it can holster a Nikon D80 with a 300mm lens attached to the body in either the middle divider or the end one.
    Also are the dividers adjustable velcro allowing the compartment size to be adjusted?

    cheers

  13. Nicole says:

    Hi, can the Asus EEE (or similar mini-notebook) fit in the flat external pocket?

    Thanks for the great review! :o )

  14. Arto says:

    Has anyone any idea is Nikon D700 + 14-24mm + 24-70mm fit in this so that it does not matter witch one of the lenses is attached to the camera?

  15. EnglishBob says:

    Late reply but I get a D400 + 24-70 F2/8 attached and a Canon 70-300 in my T214… I reverse the lens hoods and leave them mounted.

    I have also made the same equipment fit mounted on a 50D.

  16. K says:

    I have my eye on this bag too and where I’m from on the West Coast it does rain a lot. On researching it on Ebay, the lister posted some detailed info (I’ve been to the KATA website and though I didn’t thoroughly research it, they may have mentioned it as well). Here is what it said on the ebay listing:

    Innovations from Kata

    Kata has been developing lightweight carrying and protective equipment for military, law enforcement, and the professional video industry for 17 years! Discover the ergonomic and tough technology tested under fire by professionals, to withstand the rigors of daily use, to protect your investment in equipment.

    TST-Thermo Shield Technology

    State of art solution that gives the perfect protection for the digital equipment while creating an extremely light product. The outer surface of the TST is thermo-formed in a protective “rib-shape” construction. It is made of Super Nylon® – a MIL Spec, double cord, WATER and dust proof, high tenacity and abrasion resistant fabric.

    Underneath, a cross-linked, closed cell PE+EVA shield is impact and shock protective while providing a comprehensive insulation against cold, heat, and moisture.

    I’m assuming that all KATA products have this, since this was listed on the ebay product for the T-214 torso pack. Hope this helps! I know it’s been a while since you posted, but if someone else is interested I’m sure they will find this info helpful :)

  17. JohnM says:

    Wow it an amazing bag for sure. All this stuff can be very useful in carrying your laptop or mobile technique for example. I mean I a mobile application developer by myself so I need to carry many things with me every single day. This bag would definitely help me to feel more free and easy. Thanks for the interesting and useful review here. I will be waiting for other great articles from you in the nearest future too.

    Sincerely,

    John Mandrick

  18. Anonymous says:

    yep, too small for a cam with a portrait grip.

  19. Steve Burmeister says:

    I very much appreciate everyone’s comments! I’m hoping (without a shoe horn;}) to coax a D300 with the MB-D10 battery pack and a 17-55 2.8 mounted, and an 80-200 AF-S vertically, into the T-214 main compartment. Seems very close; think it’ll go? Looks like a sweet upgrade to my big old Domke Journalist’s bag.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Is this bag water repellent? How does it go in adverse weather conditions ? Sounds like pretty much what I am after though still not completly convinced that it will fit a canon 40D with 70-200mm f/2.8 attached plus another wide angle and smaller odd and ends. Be nice to hear back or find something out here …….

  21. Anonymous says:

    How would this bag hold up to rain? I know it doesn’t come with a rain coat but heard nothing of it water repellancy …..or if you were to get caught out. Be nice to hear that the armour also was insulated with some type of plastic to keep water out. Being its such a great bag. Also wondering how flexible it is and if in fact it handle a 40D with a 70-200mm F/2.8 lens attached by altering the dividers. I have been looking for a sling that would and this seems to be the only one that comes close unless I went for the lowepro but then I’d have alot of unwanted space and flop. Surely there is a bag that can conveniently carry a full size body and good size telephoto with another wide angle for a day trip then going over board?

  22. djca says:

    Could this fit a 350D+vertical grip, Canon 70-300mm USM IS, Sigma 10-20mm, Canon 28-135 USM IS, and a 430EX flash?

  23. chuck says:

    But does come with a rain/sun coat!

    Also, I see no reason why a prosumer camera + 70-200mm F/2.8 wouldn’t fit. It holds a lot of space.

    I carry a D70s+135mm F/2, 2*sb-600 flashes, 2*sunpack flashes, lots of flash accessories (gobos, reflectors, barn doors, diffusers, gels etc).

  24. Erwin says:

    I just recently purchased a Canon 550D/T2i body along with a 70-300mm lens and a lense hood. I like to keep the lens attached for quick use, and I understand that I’ll have to attach the lense hood in reverse, but would I be able to fit this (attached) in the T-214? Overall, which is the better bag? Would I be able to carry a monopod on the DT-213 as well?

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