Atlas Athlete Camera Backpack Review

Best Travel Photography Backpack in 2019
The search is finally over for the best travel photography backpack, introducing my review of the Ultimate Atlas Athlete Backpack!

After years of travelling in all types of conditions, I’ve tried many bags, packs and equipment solutions to transport my photography gear. But this always resulted in failure, drawbacks and spending money on experimenting to find a solution.

I spend most of my time on the road, travelling from deserts in Egypt, camping in Scotland or wilderness expeditions in Central Asia. This results in my gear going through hell and back. This resulted in never finding the perfect backpack for my needs. But, say hello to the best travel photography backpack on the market – Atlas Athlete Backpack!

Atlas Packs
Allan Henry the General Manager of Atlas Packs has designed 2 Atlas packs to cater for the athlete and adventure photographers.

The smaller, more travel-friendly of the two is the 40lt carry on compatible backpack called the Atlas Athlete Pack. This is the backpack that I currently own and will be talking about in this review.

Complete video review of this pack can be found over on my YouTube Channel.

So why I switched? I was tired of my F-stop setup. This is the direct competition to the Atlas Packs, due to it being F-Stops largest carry-on compliance backpack. But the F-Stop bag was uncomfortable when fully loaded. And guess what, I’m a travel photographer that loves adventures where my bags are fully loaded for camping, trekking and multi-day hikes.

As a result, I needed a photography backpack that can handle everything, plus more. It has to protect my valuable camera gear, have extra room for luggage, be comfortable and carry-on compliant. Sounds like a big ask?

But the Atlas Backpack delivers all this, plus more! And, honestly, I’m finally so happy to say this quest to find the perfect travel photography backpack is over…

Let me explain why…

Mountains adventures are no issue for the Atlas Packs
Atlas Backpack Pericnik Waterfall Slovenia

The Design & Build Quality
Previous bags I’ve owned had a removable Internal Camera Unit (F-Stop ICU) with the Atlas Packs the system is built-in. This allows 2 advantages, more stability with less moving parts due to thicker padding. And, more space allowing the bag to be smaller with less “dead space”.

An In-built compartment allows the bags to hold their shape and feels more sturdy. When the bag is completely empty it can still stand up by itself. Add the smart “origami system” allowing you to choose between luggage or camera space.

The bag completely empty is only 20lt. But ultimately folded out and fully packed it can handle a storage space of 40lt. Nifty!

It’s the simple things that make this the best travel photography backpack!

The solid build of the Atlas Packs is not the only positive, security is one of their top priorities. The Atlas Athlete Pack is back opening which provides full access to the camera compartment.

Due to the zips opening behind the waist belt, this allows for full maximising compatibility. This is due to the zips opening all the way to the base, not like other backpack openings where the flap tries to fight against you.

This results in maximum safety!

These backpacks are similar to a traditional hiking backpack offering a large, expandable top-loading main compartment. So this means you can access the main compartment along with a 15″ laptop sleeve. Due to this, you cannot access the camera compartment from the main top compartment. This assures your expensive equipment is protected and secure. Smart!

Furthermore, this backpack offers expandable pockets on the side for a tripod or water bottles. Adding an additional elastic compartment for wet or dirty clothes which includes a front zipper for the real adventurers.

Storage in the Atlas packs is endless, it’s like a bottomless pit. With a large storage compartment on the top for quick access to the small wallet-sized safe compartment for valuables. An additional quick access pouches on the waist belt for a drink bottle or lenses. These compartments are perfect when hiking, allowing access without having to remove the bag from your back.

You’re starting to understand how feature-packed this travel photography backpack is! Doesn’t end here with one more compartment, a neatly stored rain cover allowing you to take this bag anywhere in all conditions!

Expandable size of the packs – Image from Atlas Packs Website
Top & Back loading compartments – Image from Atlas Packs Website

My Favourite Features

STORAGE COMPARTMENTS – Storage in the Atlas Athlete Pack is near perfect. Phone, passport and chargers in one compartment. Spare batteries in another and you’ll still have more compartments for bits and piece. Perfect for the travel photographer!

THE EXPANDABILITY – This backpack turns from a 20lt bag into a 40lt bag by loosening the side buckles. Although the camera compartment is relativity shallow, the bag expands without losing shape and remaining comfortable.

COMFORT – Usually overlooked in a travel photography backpack is the comfort of waist straps and shoulder straps. This Atlas Athlete Pack resembles the highly rated and award-winning Osprey Backpacks.

This allows me to over-pack for multi-day treks and it remains comfortable to carry!

THE ORIGAMI SYSTEM – Origami System a unique design to the Atlas Packs. This system allows travellers and photographers to combine all their needs into one backpack. Catering for weekend getaways or photography assignments the Atlas Packs has you got covered.

The useful function of the origami system allowing you to choose between extra camera gear or storage.

My Travel Packlist:

  • Fujifilm X-T3
  • Fujifilm X-H1
  • Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4
  • Fujinon XF 16mm 1.4
  • Fujinon XF 16-55 f/2.8
  • Fujinon XF 55-200 f/3.5-4.8
  • Manfrotto 190Go! Carbon Tripod
  • Batteries, Filters & Accessories
  • Waterbottle
  • x5 T-shirts
  • x5 Underwear & Socks
  • x3 Shorts
  • x1 Long Pants
  • x1 Jacket
  • x1 Jumper

Possibly the toughest question of them all.

  • Camera Compartment is shallow. (As a mirrorless shooter no big issue)
  • No loops, hooks to attach external gear to the bag (E.g Sleeping Bag)

Price was something that greatly concerned me before purchasing the backpack but 3 trips later all my concerns are gone. This is simply due to it being 2 backpacks in one! If you’re to purchase a good camera bag and a good adventure bag it’s more expensive. Therefore just buy an Atlas Packs?

A near perfect travel photography backpack!

If you’re looking for a comfortable adventure backpack to carry both photography and outdoor gear, look no further.

Atlas Backpack perfect in all weather conditions

“I first started photography from my overwhelming passion and sheer love of outdoor adventure. Overnight camping expeditions where the stars glisten in the night sky, vibrant sunrises to enlighten any heart, these moments have to be witnessed. I was tired of seeing blank faces after telling people about my adventures. Hence my passion of photography grew!”

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