In September 2009 when I quit my IT job to venture into video production and photography I didn’t have much gear. The kind people at Kata donated an HB-207 bag and I excitedly promised them that I would review it.
After my subsequent two month road trip of the South Western USA it was time to submit my review. I failed. Big time. There was no excuse and I felt guilty. Then I forgot. Then I would periodically remember and feel guilty again. Then I felt that it was too late. The truth is, in life, it’s rarely too late. So, firstly, sorry Kata. Secondly, here is my review of the HB-207.
The HB in HB-207 stands for Hiker Backpack which immediately tells us what this bag is all about. It is designed to carry gear safely and in comfort over distances. I hiked with it on several occasions and found that the adjustable straps and overall design made for a good fit with my geometry and distributed the weight of what I was carrying well.
I met a couple at Arches National Park, as I was hiking the slick rock trail to Delicate Arch. The woman noticed the HB-207 on my back and asked me about it. As we trudged up the incline in the heat of the Utah sun she could see that it was perfect for the job, and, in fact, by the time we got to Delicate Arch she told me she would be investing in one.
The Angel’s Landing trail at Zion National Park, Utah, is not a easy hike (by that I mean mildly terrifying and very technical). Anyone who has climbed it will remember the sheer drops of several thousand feet mere inches from the path and solid metal chains fixed into the rock on some of the more precarious sections, for the adventurer to grab a hold of. I did this route with the HB-207 on my back.
Once or twice I was reminded of the size of the bag when I had to twist around rocks on the upper ascent but that says more about the narrowness and confined spaces on parts of that trail than the bag. I suppose what I’m saying is: if you are on a technical hike with it, just remember that it is there and it is a big bag – don’t knock yourself off the trail!
The designers seem to have thought of everything. Highlights include velcro-secured inner sections which can be repositioned to hold particular items, a separate laptop compartment, easily accessible top and front pockets, side pockets for water bottles and snacks, rain cover and additional straps and holder for a tripod. My bag also came with a camera strap which has its own SD card mini zip pocket built in, handy if you’re just out with your camera slung around your neck.
The HB-207 stored all my equipment while I travelled. Its dimensions came just within airline limits for carry ons which meant I was able to take it (and all my valuable equipment) with me onto the plane and fit it into the overhead locker. I continued to keep all my valuables in the bag for the whole two months, only removing that stuff I didn’t need when I used the bag on hikes.
Having all my gear in one place allowed for creative flexibility. Changing lenses, filters, cameras was all possible without returning to base and the bag’s design allowed me easy access to my equipment. Early morning sunrise shoots were made easier because after the hard part of jumping out of my sleeping bag and tent was over (not easy at places like the Grand Canyon, where temperatures were well below freezing), all I had to do was grab my HB-207 and get to my destination. During my two months on the road I always knew where all my equipment was and that it was securely stored.
If you are looking for a robust camera bag that offers comfort, strength, volume, durability and easy access to your equipment then the Kata HB-207 is the bag.