As usual I'm catching up on reviews so the Hazard4 Kato isn't new to the market, but as a result I've given it a solid 1 year beating and the design is still certainly relevant as a modern gear bag. Based on the smaller Tonto, the Kato is a slightly larger size meant to be a great mini messenger bag to hold EDC type gear along with ipads, similar tablets, netbooks, and small laptops.
Externally the Kato looks fairly plain and civilian bag-like, especially in a color like black. A little webbing on the sides and loop velcro is about the only tactical visual cue, which can be useful for not only patches, but small velcro backed pouch accessories. Alternatively if one is more worried about matching their environment, a good mix of tactical colors are offered currently including Coyote, OD, Multicam, and ATACS. One first impression is the main flap can hold a lot more than similar designs. Using double zippers a substantial pocket is built into the flap which has a few extras in the interior. The front interior has a simple sleeve pocket with a small velcro closure to help it stay flat while the back side of the compartment has some bonus loop velcro for CCW accessories like holsters and a small loop point up top for lashing gear. When empty the main flap overall stays fairly low profile, while being able to turn into a good sized GP pouch when really stuffed. A rubbery tough material is even on the lower part of the flap to reinforce durability as it is one of the main high abrasion zones during use. As a nice extra touch the double zippers are lockable for those who want extra security options on the most external pocket.
For the main flap closure a 2" SRB is used which is the kind with a built in safety lock. Personally I hate the safety locks as it can get toggled accidentally with normal environment interaction and I've never accidentally released a SRB to begin with. Rant aside, for those who share my feelings, one can do a little surgery by removing the lock slider and the rest of the SRB will function normally. Core functionality wise the SRB works well as the main flap securing method. There is enough webbing slack to adjust based on how full the Kato is and the bottom of the pack has a webbing slot to hold the slack. This is so a lot of webbing isn't dangling down even when the pack is cinched down.
To balance out the large capacity flap, there is a handy top access double zipper to allow access to more interior compartments. Although you will want the deeper pockets already open for this to actually work well, it certainly is a configuration option so one doesn't have to manipulate the flap at all to access the vast majority of the Kato. Once the flap is folded over / open, the admin area is available which offers a nice area of PALS webbing for extra mounting options. This is a good balance of still offering modularity, while keeping it covered to be more discreet. As for what to mount on the PALS I wouldn't go too crazy as the Kato will soon stick out and start to become cube shaped, but something like adding a couple rifle or pistol magazine pouches is very reasonable. With the help again of that top access zipper, the bag can even be SRB secured in this "open" flap mode still offering access to the back tablet pocket. Before I forget, the interior side of the flap has another sleeve pocket with small velcro closure that is most easily accessible when in the open flap mode becoming the back side of the pack.
The admin compartment that the PALS is externally on, opens up clamshell style with double zippers to reveal a sleeve pocket party; Many levels of sleeves being on the back side with a single map style clear vinyl sleeve pocket on the front interior. So the compartment doesn't just flop open straight down, webbing is sewn into the sides to create a consistent 90 degree access opening with the zippers all the way down. Although the webbing is sewn to create good fold points, if the webbing is knocked to a side it will jam up the zipper and thus I always recommend 550 cord setups for these compartment styles. Not only will the zippers be much less likely to snag on 550 cord, but it then allows the user to adjust just how much the compartment will open. That small detail noted, the admin area is still a great organizational zone for smaller and thinner items.
On to the main compartment, it opens up with double zippers as to be expected; in combination with the flap and its top zipper this allows different security levels. The interior is fairly plush offering padding on the majority of the sides and electronic friendly soft materials. A tricot-like material is used on the back area to create a sleeve pocket that can be an additional tablet storage zone. Tricot is both soft and velcro compatible. In the middle is a built in padded divider that is great for photo gear uses, however can be folded flat out of the way for those who don't need it. The bottom and sides use the same nice quilted soft material as used in the back tablet pocket to play nice with all of your electronics. Finally there are also small sleeve pockets on each side which work for small item stash zones. If curious just what one can get away with storing here, I've seen a 12.5" Dell Elitebook fit inside the main compartment.
As recently mentioned, on the back of the bag a tablet pocket opens up with double zippers and the whole pocket is lined with a soft quilted material. Although the main intent was to fit an ipad, the sizing has some extra room so other similar tablets can fit right on in. For those who aren't carrying a tablet, the pocket also certainly makes for a cushy ride for a CCW option. The external back uses the durable rubber-like material again to guard the common contact zones and has a simple velcro webbing loop as a belt loop option. Most of the time users won't use the belt loop, but if you know you are going to be on the run, it really helps out with bag flopping.
Since a shoulder bag, the shoulder strap will of course be doing most of the mounting work. It is tri-glide adjustable and comes with a shoulder pad. It will depend on how tight you need the strap, but sometimes one can use the tri-glide placement to help keep the shoulder pad in the position desired. The strap ends have swivel snap hooks to interface with the D-rings on the pack, 2 up top and 2 on the upper sides allowing some ride customization. A 1" modular cross strap is even included which has a snap hook end and a loop SRB end. Using a modular approach the connection points on both straps offer ambidextrous setup possibilities. Additionally a beefy drag handle is integrated on the top of the flap for quick grabs, the large rubber piece adds both comfort and non-slip qualities.
Not to be forgotten are the side zones. On the right side is a PALS webbing party that also has an integrated sleeve pocket offering some more modular expansion options. With 2 rows x 4 channels this should be plenty of space to add a water bottle pouch or anything similar. The left side instead has a double zipper GP pouch and goes with a vertical webbing strip on the exterior to give a more civilian look. For some smaller details there is even a drainage hole and a lash loop on the lower sides. The interior is more straight forward with a sleeve pocket on the back side.
Durability wise the pics you see here were done AFTER about 1 year of use between my girlfriend and I so I think it is fair to say it has held up quite well. She liked to use it more like a civi purse while I had fun filling it with more tac EDC items. This also goes to show the Kato can be a very versatile pack overall even though it has some nice specific user features. For those into modern messenger bags, but don't need quite the bulk of full size, the Kato is quite feature rich for its size. Being just big enough to be an EDC bag that can hold a tablet, this still seems to be a rare size so I definitely recommend those type of users check it out. From Tactical, to Photo / Electronics, to just misc EDC I think a lot of different folks can put the Kato to good use.
MAIN COMPARTMENT_12.1" L x 9" W x 3.1" D (31 x 23 x 8 cm)
BACK COMPARTMENT_12" L x 9" W x 0.75" D (30.5 x 23 x 2 cm)
MAIN MATERIAL_ DuPont® 1000D Cordura® (500D Camo models)