Photographers. If somebody offered us a cool bag in lieu of a day rate, we’d probably take it. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of my career I’ve just about keeled over with the rapture at the sight and feel of some shoulder borne, web slung, wheelie driven mix of cordura and zippers. Gotta have it. Just gotta. Hence my garage is a bag graveyard, strewn with relics of cases gone by and zippers gone off the rails. Once mighty containers, with the double stitched linings and the thirteen secret zippered, waterproof compartments in the front flap alone, hang lifelessly, toting only dust and the occasional mouse turd. (Photo above by Will Foster.)
So, we’ve had a good tour of bag land, and have finally arrived at some conclusive (for us, anyway) evidence that bag science is finally delivering on the promise of a cure for the bagaholic shooter. We’ll be posting intermittently (did I have to say that, faithful readers who put up with my erratic blogging?) on bags we have experimented with and are fond of. While I stop short of saying we are in bag heaven, the mix of Kata, Thinktank, and Moose bags have really elevated the game.
Let’s start with the big guns, what we do our heaviest shipping with, the Kata line. We use their OC line, a mix of mostly 88′s and 97′s, with a couple 86′s mixed in. (Check out the website, the numbers correspond to different sizes.) I have to say that our experience across the board with these guys is pretty flawless. They are made from some type of ballistic material that can probably fend off an RPG, hence since traveling with these, I have had zero, zero damage to my stuff, despite the fact that there are certainly some airline bag handlers, disgruntled with lifting them, who have played bombadier with these puppies, dropping them out of the airplane to the tarmac without the benefit of mechanized conveyance.
The interiors, blessedly, are the color of a school bus. Makes sense. Every drop some tiny little biddy bastard screw thing, or plastic whozimawhatsis down into the hold of a standard black bag? You might as well have dropped it into a black hole. (In fact, you did.) The yellow brick road interiors of these bags simply makes sense for mostly black photo gear. They also smartly divide up the top flap into zippered compartments for the interior, and hollow spaces (2 of them) on the top of the exterior. These two pics are how we travel with speedlights. The whole nine yards fits into one bag….SB900s, SD9 battery packs, SC-29 cables, SU 800, Maha chargers, Flashpoint stuff, Lumiquest light shapers, Honl grids, Ray flash, gels, batteries, Hoodman loupes, instruction manuals, Wave tool, Swiss Army knives, gaffer tape, and spare batteries. Everything is numbered, and color coded with tape.
We throw this puppy into FedEx, or the hold of a plane. It survives admirably. The question mark is the wheels. They have hung in there, mostly, but I have busted a couple of sets over the last year or so. (They are independent of the case, thus replaceable.) But, as I hark back, I have busted the wheels on virtually every case I’ve ever owned. Ever smash a set of the built in wheels on a Pelican case? Not a happy day. The wheels turn into non-spinning lumps and the bag turns into the equivalent of an anvil. (Ever swung a heavy, hard, plastic type case, loaded with gear, out of the back of a Suburban, and before it hits the ground, the first thing it makes contact with is your shins? Oh, my. You feel like you just attached a set of jumper cables to your lower legs, the way you start hopping around.) The Kata’s are padded all around. And the zippers, the Achilles heel of most bags, have remained resolutely intact.
All in all, great bags, well thought out, and good protection for the gear. Next up, quite soon, bags for the smaller stuff. Thinktank, and how we’ve adapted them to our traveling ways, more Kata, and the Moose bag.