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Best Travel Photography Camera Bags and Backpacks | Athlete Pack by Atlas Packs

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What's the difference...

Understanding how things are different helps explain how things are best used. Much like a 70-200 and 24-105, there is an overlap and a distinction is the role each lens plays based on the focal length. The packs work much the same way and this page covers the comparisons and the overlap. Let me know what questions you have...

how to choose...

Picking the right pack starts with the following three question. Let me know how it goes...

questions to be thinking about...

How much space do I need for camera gear?

Both packs will hold plenty of gear. How they go about doing this is different and the differences are important. The Athlete has a shallow camera core and bodies with battery grips are designed to fit tight and will rest above the dividers. In comparison, the Adventure packs more like a traditional camera bag with the benefit of not having zipper or ICU in the way of your gear.

How much space do I need for everything else?

That's the best part. When you don't need the liters, packs will pack down to what you have inside them. In this case both the Athlete and the Adventure can be packed / compressed down to half in size. The Athlete around 20 liters, the Adventure around 35.

Where are you going, what are you doing?

In large part your activity will drive much of the final decision. Having a solution that works well for lots of use cases is the goal here and in that regard, Atlas Packs excel. Why spend you money on a fixed liter camera bag with inserts or core units. Get an Atlas Pack instead...

A camera bag with lots of expandable space for non-camera

When you buy a camera bag you are selecting a size based on liters. When you buy an Atlas Pack, the size is based on torso length / height and the liters range from 20-40 with the Athlete and 35-60 with the Adventure.

Only Atlas...

Camera bags all come in fixed liters increments, that's the giveaway. Only Atlas Packs' expand out and compress down.

Questions to be thinking about

Understanding how liters work?

Volume / space inside bags and backpacks is measured in liters. Liters are measured with ping pong balls and then counting how many it takes to fill up each pack. Can you guess the counts?

How much is 20-40 liters?

20-25 liters is enough for all your camera gear, a tech pouch, lunch, a laptop and a few layers. At this size the pack will look and feel small. Once you hit 30 the pack looks about half-way full. Once you hit 40 the pack looks built out and large.

How much is 35-60 liters?

35 liters is a lot of space and offers tons of options for camera gear plus food and/or clothing for overnight. Once you hit 45, the Adventure starts to fill out and looks about half-way full. Once you hit 55+ the pack looks built out and large.

Why expandable is better than fixed liters?

Camera bags are all giant boxes!  We wanted a thinner, more nimble design that holds weight close to the body and doesn’t impede movement in busy urban areas or while moving over terrain. As a result, camera gear is kept low and close to the body while the lighter non-camera gear gets spread out higher and further out.

Understanding how the Origami Camera Core (TM) works...

Only Atlas has an Origami Camera Core (TM) that divides up the inside of the pack into a front and back so you can store and organize and shift the space in-between the sections.

Camping, hiking and trekking.

Only Atlas...

No camera bag on the planet hauls and loads like an Atlas Pack. Amazing workflow and organization between camping and camera...

Questions to be thinking about

Why not just use my hiking pack?

Why packs are so much better than bags

Which pack is smaller, taller, deeper?



The Atlas Packs' Origami Camera Core (TM) has been battle tested and proven for nearly a decade with thousands of customers world-wide. Stop bagging and start packing your camera gear properly!!

This video shows the same action from the perspective of the inside of the pack. This is a reversed out Athlete Pack.

This video shows shows a detailed view of the build quality and construction only found on Atlas Packs.

Which pack is best for airline travel?

Long lines, middle seats and ever shrinking legroom. When it comes to travel smaller is always better and it's never been easier to travel with an Atlas Pack.

Only Atlas...

One of the most important factors is footprint, how much space camera bags take up when on the ground, on your back and everywhere in-between, makes a big difference....

Questions to be thinking about

Which pack is best for airline travel?

That's going to depend on your camera gear. Both packs can be setup and sized for overhead and under the seat requirements, how each pack goes about this differs.

Which pack is smaller, taller, deeper?

The Athlete has a shallower camera core by about 1". The medium Athlete Pack is the shortest. The large Athlete, large Adventure and medium Adventure all all the same height. Generally speaking the packs are all the same width and they don't get much wider as they fill up. Instead they expand out and up.

Can the frames be removed?

Yes and easily stowed for travel should you need. The Adventure frame can be removed and installed by hand. The Athlete frame requires a tool to remove and reinstall.

Do I need a hip belt when I travel?

For the long lines and standing times the Traveler's style hip belt is recommended. Travel with the Adventure or Athlete style belts adds a lot of weight and bulk.

The Athlete Pack setup at 20-25 liters without the hip belt. At this size the pack easily fits overhead and under the seat. As you fill up the pack the height will increase and it may be necessary to remove the frame for under the seat requirements.

The Adventure Pack setup at 35 liters without the hip belt. At this size the pack easily fits overhead. To meet the requirement for a personal item the frame would need to be removed.



Why an "Athlete Pack" >> We wanted a camera bag that wouldn't impede movement in busy urban areas or while moving over terrain. The design challenge is that camera gear is very dense and heavy and needs to be properly supported or the bag will swing around too much.

The Athlete Pack is a true hybrid - just as much a hiking pack as a camera bag with just the right ratio of storage space for both camera and non-camera gear.

When Atlas first launched we asked Caleb Kerr to make us a video to help explain just how versatile the pack is. Still relevant after all these years. Click here for the og on yt

Value for the Money and Service

Only Atlas...

No camera bag on the planet hauls and loads like an Atlas Pack. Amazing workflow and organization between camping and camera...

Questions to be thinking about

How much is an Atlas Pack compared to the competition?

That's going to depend on how many liters the camera bag is. A 20 liters camera bag will cost less even with the ICU / Core Unit. At 30 liters - 50 liters, you can expect the price to be similar. Camera bags larger than 50 liters are typically more than Atlas Packs after you price in the costs of the ICU and Core Units.

Why are Atlas Packs not available at the camera shops and retailers?

The goal at Atlas Packs is to provide a service and solution different from the norm. If you want personal service visit our shop and showroom in Arizona. If you want a camera bag, hit Amazon or your local camera shop.

Super easy shopping and return policy!

Only Atlas offers 100 days to test and try, trade-in's on used packs, a lifetime warranty and online fitting. If you have a question ask, we respond to all messages same day!

What's included with purchase?

With Atlas Packs all packs are the same price and include a custom fitted hip belt, a rain-cover and a full set of dividers.





Extra Cost to Pack Camera Gear


Yes - You configure your camera gear inside a Core Insert that then goes inside the camera bag. The cost is extra and the price is based on size.

Different Size Camera Core Inserts

No - Atlas Packs include a sewn-in camera core than changes shape on the fly so Inserts or Core Units are not needed.

Yes - You just need to buy different size Core Inserts when you want to carry more or less camera gear

Expandable Outer Shell Size


No - Camera bags are sized based on liters and come in fixed liter increments (20, 30, 40 liters, etc..) This limits how much both camera and non-camera gear you can bring.

Dedicated Space for NON-Camera Gear


Limited -- Camera bags have very little room for non-camera gear, it's why they are called camera bags and not hiking / camera packs.

Atlas Packs' have a front shell that expands out for non-camera gear when you need it and compresses down when you don't. This is why Atlas is more of a pack than a bag.

Dividers that Spoon Camera Gear



Requires Pressure Fitting


Yes - The zipper actually keeps all the Insert from falling out. This is why the zipper is inset to your camera gear. Pressure fitting resulting in a fundamental compromise to a pack’s load carry ability and access to gear.

Custom Fitted Overbuilt Hiking Grade Hip Belt


No - Atlas Pack is the only brand that truly values hip belts. Available in multiple styles, sizes and colorways so you can go all day long!

Removable Hip Belt


Sometimes - Camera bags typically have sewn-in hip belts that torque and twist under weight.

Sewn-In Hip Belt


Most - Camera bags typically have sewn-in hip straps that are floppy and without any structure. These easily twist and torque under load. (much like the Traveler's belt)

Hiking Grade Overbuilt Hip Belt (in your size)



Special Shoulder Straps for Women


Yes - Camera bags with shoulder straps designed for women are needed to help offset pressure on the front of your chest because of how much camera bags "hang back". With a properly sized and fitted pack and hip belt you can position the weight higher up and help to elevate the pressure on the parts of your body that requires a curved shoulder harness. #straightisbest

Water Resistant Shell



Raincover Included



Removable Frame - Rucksack Mode


No - While you can remove frames from some camera bags, removing the frame creates problems for your camera gear. Frames are required to keep all the core inserts in place. With the frame out of a traditional camera bag, the bag has no use case.

Weight Bearing Removable Frame


No - Camera gear is detached from the frame in camera bags and ICU's. It's just dead weight and why camera gear feels so heavy.

Updated Yearly


Yes - The upcoming iteration of the camera bag you are now thinking about purchasing will be launched next year and endorsed by the same influencers who introduced you to the current model - ugh!

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