Atom Packs "Atom"

Discussion in 'Reviews & Previews' started by snow, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. snow

    snow Summit Camper

    I recently purchased an Atom Packs "The Atom" ( after reading about it on here. I don't normally like unboxing or first impressions reviews but seeing as I'm one of the first to get one I think people might be interested.

    The Atom is a 35-40l frameless pack. By default there is no hipbelt but I opted for a removable 20mm webbing belt. I also asked for stretch pockets on the shoulder straps (which I think are now included by default) and some cord to attach a sit pad to the back. The pack cost £145 + £5 shipping. Mine is a size large and weights 450g without the 25g hipbelt, which is slightly more than on the website (360+20+20) - I'm assuming this is the cord and the size.

    Tom of Atom Packs was very easy to work with on the options and very responsive. I should mention at this point that I was online order #10001 so I can't comment on how service is now that he's busier! It did take me about 5 weeks to get the pack but, again, it was one of the very first ones and I understand Tom was still getting supplies in.

    The construction of the pack seems good. I'm not an expert but for the most part it looks entirely professional in terms of stitching etc. It should be noted that the inside is not finished in any way so the seams are kind of ugly. This is mostly seen where the shoulder straps are sewn in:

    The only other quality issue is the stitching for the pocket on one of the shoulder straps:

    This doesn't affect use at all but you can tell it's hand-made. I assume this would not be an issue on any more recent packs.

    The features on the pack are excellent. The shoulder straps are thick (similar to my GG Gorilla, thicker than my KS40) and wide. The strap pockets are great and a really nice design:

    The side pockets are big - I don't have appropriate bottles to hand but I think 2x smartwaters would fit. I can get a bottle out and back in while wearing the pack.

    The front stretch pocket and "palante" bottom pocket are both a good size and easy to access - no complaints. I don't know how much use the hipbelt will get but it's nice to have. The straps for the pad could maybe be better arranged with an attachment at the bottom but this is my fault for not specifying! It seems to hold the pad well anyway (wrong size pad in picture):

    The top closes with a roll top which is reinforced with plastic on the inside, with a strap over the top. There is quite a big extension collar. Overall I would say the size is about the same or even bigger (fully extended) as my KS40 (claimed 32l on the inside).

    I loaded the pack with most of my normal kit (around 4.5kg base with this pack) and some books and it carries very well. I've experimented with going hipbelt-less with a daypack and this should be much better. Here are a few pictures to give an overall idea.

    With just my gear:

    With my gear - not fully closed so you can see the extra room for food etc:


    Overall I'm super happy and would highly recommend the pack at this stage. Happy to answer any questions as well!
    gixer, FOX160, Teepee and 10 others like this.
  2. fluffkitten

    fluffkitten Thru Hiker

    Looks nice. :)
  3. theoctagon

    theoctagon Thru Hiker

    Thanks for posting, good to see a few more pics, hope it serves you well :)
  4. roli

    roli Hiker

    In addition to the "unpacking" images of @snow I put a picture story on my Atom custom on my blog. Obviously, I should take the pack out for a decent amount of miles to get a coherent conclusion. However, in case of interest feel free to check out my initial thoughts and pictures on this novel pack. The main difference to snows pack can be seen in the custom side closure option.
    Charles42, JKM, snow and 1 other person like this.
  5. FOX160

    FOX160 Section Hiker

    I am liking the Prospector in sick Blue.
    One person tent or new backpack:/
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
    JKM likes this.
  6. liamarchie

    liamarchie Trail Blazer

    Have you had this pack out in the field much since the initial post?
    I'm considering one now over a Zimmerbuilt pack since its a UK brand.
    Chiseller likes this.
  7. snow

    snow Summit Camper

    I haven't had it out in the field unfortunately. Used it as a carry-on for flying and it performed well. Hoping to get out in the next month...
  8. liamarchie

    liamarchie Trail Blazer

    thanks for that, one of my main criteria for a new pack is that its suitable for carry on
  9. Maxplosive

    Maxplosive Backpacker

    How much weight have you tried loading it up with? I have a base weight of about 5.5kg and with food I'll carry at most 10kg ever. Trying to decide between the Hyberg Attila, the Atom or if I'll have to save up for the Prospector
  10. snow

    snow Summit Camper

    I loaded something like 6kg when I was trying it; using it as a carry-on I don't actually know but probably more that that, maybe 8kg (about 25-30l of clothes/books). It carries well under those circumstances but I haven't done anything like a full day yet so can't really comment. Sorry!
  11. Maxplosive

    Maxplosive Backpacker

    Alright, thanks for the reply. Won't be needing a pack until July so I guess I'll wait and see.
  12. roli

    roli Hiker

    I'll make a tour end of May with my custom Atom and can then write my experiences, if wanted.
    fluffkitten likes this.
  13. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    ...I'm sure the words of an 'UL Guru' will be valuable to us all :D
    murpharoo, FOX160, roli and 5 others like this.
  14. tallest of pauls

    tallest of pauls Ultralighter

  15. snow

    snow Summit Camper

    Didn't get out (trains...:banghead:) but I did pack the Atom for "real" and walked around for an hour and a half or so. Zero complaints so far :)
  16. roli

    roli Hiker

    I did the first 100 kilometers of this tour (LINK to lighterpack) and can now draw a first conclusion w.r.t. the Atom pack.

    All features of the Atom are really nice. In particular the well padded shoulder straps, the mesh shoulder pockets (awesome) that I used for my GPS and smartphone, and my custom side locking option. I didn't used the snack buttom pocket often, as I only had two snacks on the whole trip. The side pockets worked for holding my drinks and the main mesh pocket was perfect for my rain gear. That said, it is a really nice pack. However, I still have a mixed feeling about the backpack. The reason is the weight, especially for my quite light gear setup. If the pack would come in with, let's say 300g like the ZPacks Nero or the Hyberg Bandit Cuben, than it would be the perfect pack. For me the robustness of the Atom is not really necessary for my UL hiking and obviously adds weight. So a version in LiteSkin and without the heavy backpanel in Cordura would have been the better option (this was not availbale when I ordered the pack).

    Overall, and not specific to the Atom pack, a pack without a real hipbelt gets uncomfortable (at least for me) at a certain weight. I tested this on the first day of the tour by adding some cans of beer. Thus, for an ultralight pack without a real hipbelt, I'd go for a real light pack like the Terra Nova Laser Elite 20 with 236g. If I need more volume for a heavier load, I'd like to have a working hipbelt. Therefore, the Atom is somehow in between those two worlds.

    Said that, I could reduce the weight of the pack by dismounting the bungee cords on the main mesh pocket and the top closure. Recently Tom offers a padded hipbelt option for the Atom, see here. That could help when having more weight in the pack.

    The Atom under the ZPacks Pocket Tarp.
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
    ColinHawke, Max and Dave Vaughan like this.
  17. ZenTrekker

    ZenTrekker Ultralighter

    Really interesting comments @roli, I've ordered a Prospector from Tom, with no pockets at all, so I'm hoping that the total weight will be down around 750 grams with back system installed. I have had back issues in the past, I think because I have a relatively long back for my size (I'm 5ft 6in but with a back length of around 21 inches). Over the years I've come to realise that the force on the base of my spine is probably disproportionally high, so a comfortable backpack with a frame & hip belt is a must for me. Having said that I want as light as is practicable.

    Did you read Tom Gale's mini blog on his website? . . . . . "a 300g (11oz) bag cannot possibly be expected to provide the support and comfort of one twice its weight with twice its features. A pack twice it’s weight would enable the user to feel as though they are carrying less overall, therefore the 300g weight penalty is worthwhile. This isn’t to say that a 300g pack has no place on the market, it absolutely does, but they must be used only at the hands of the truly ultralight, and truly ultralight I am not - I eat way to much for that."
    roli and JKM like this.
  18. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    As always food is the issue. If you carry a kg or not much more and have a 2-3kg base weight then a light frameless, hipbeltless pack is fine. Add 4-5kg for four or five days and two litres of water and even with a 6lb base weight, id want a frame and hipbelt. Then the fabric wants beefing up to deal with the loads and you end up with a justifiably heavier pack. As long as its not unnecessarily heavy alls good.
    I used to use a TN laser 20 for weekenders, doable, but I prefer my own designs now.
    roli and Max like this.
  19. fluffkitten

    fluffkitten Thru Hiker

    Keep seeing 8kg (18lb or there about) talked of as the maximum for a frame-less, hipbelt-less pack. Think that is about right.

    Of course you could go nuts and use a Laser Elite 20 with 17lb in it (and water bottles in shorts pockets) and go walk the AT - its been done. :D
    roli and WilliamC like this.
  20. ZenTrekker

    ZenTrekker Ultralighter

    A a light frameless, hipbeltless pack would never be fine for me, ever!
  21. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    Check out john zahorian's fkt. He had a large palante pack with I think 470 miles of food in :eek::arghh:
  22. fluffkitten

    fluffkitten Thru Hiker

    He did use a webbing hipbelt with that one, and grumbled abit about discomfort.:)
    roli likes this.
  23. roli

    roli Hiker

    I'd also add to the discussion that I see a difference in a simple webbing based hipbelt and in a version with wings. I e.g. carried 15kg in Scotland with an older version of Laufbursche's HuckePACK and in Skandinavia (Nordkalottleden) 6 days of food in the same pack. Even though this backpack is frameless, the wings on the hipbelt gave me better support than a simple webbing belt. From this point of view, I find the ULA CDT also quite interesting.

    And regarding the TN Elite 20: I am quite sure that this bag "kills" you when loading more than 8kg (same with the GG Murmur). But with 4-5kg it won't be worse than the Atom (beside the really small torso length of the TN).

    Finally, I think that the robustness of a pack counts when you are doing a really long tour like a PCT thru-hike. I never did more than 400km and in this case my pack and gear did not fall apart.
  24. roli

    roli Hiker

    There is a new review by Andrew to be found here.

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