LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ATHLETE PACK
Remember when mirrorless meant small and light, well those days are long gone...
Unlike other camera bag companies that design bags with removable inserts in various sizes, also known as ICU's or camera cubes, at Atlas Packs we design our packs with a sewn-in camera core. The top section of our camera core includes a unique flexible section. This top section can be positioned by the user to shift space between the camping and camera section of the pack. Much better than having to buy a bunch of different size inserts.
We call our solution the "ORIGAMI CAMERA CORE (TM)", inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding and rate based on the types of camera gear it supports. Let's get into the details...
ATLAS PACKS ORIGAMI CAMERA CORE (TM) | US PATENT 11,033,086
NO ICU OR CAMERA CUBES
The fact that all your camera gear is fully accessible is one of the key features of the Athlete Pack. For anyone that has not used an Atlas Pack before, our packs don't have ICU's, camera cubes or inserts.
These systems are all expensive and poorly designed. None of your camera gear is actually attached to the bag, it's all in loose cubes that slide around and require a "pressure fit" via the main zipper to stay in the pack.
SIMPLE PUSH AND PULL
Atlas Packs has designed and developed much better system. The ORIGAMI CAMERA CORE (TM) is clean, elegant and does not make any noise. There is nothing to take out, store or remove.
Activate with a simple push / pull. Your camera gear is fully accessible, easy to access and well secured. Don't let the removable ICU marketing win you over, Atlas Packs fit with frame in. Time to say goodbye to your old ICU!
SEWN-IN IS SOLID AND SECURE
The ORIGAMI CAMERA CORE (TM) is incredibly strong and durable and because it's sewn in, it part of the structure of the pack. This means your gear will carry lighter and you will feel fresher and you will have full access to your gear. In the photos above the pack goes from 10 to 7 liters with a simple pull and this space has been allocated to the camping section.
CAMERA BODIES EXAMPLES
ASSORTED CAMERA BODIES: + Gripped Sony Alpha + Canon 5D + Canon R5 + Sony Alpha (non grip) + Fuji X100
The increase in depth means that it's much easier to store gripped bodies in the Athlete Pack, but what about non-gripped bodies and smaller sets of gear.
In this photo above, we have an assortment of camera bodies arranged without lenses. As you can see, the depth of the Athlete Pack is still really shallow and works great with the smaller systems and sets.**It's important to note the Nikon D850 with an RRS L-bracket attached will now fit in the Athlete Pack.
SONY ALPHA BODIES WITH GRIPS
Let's take a look at a Sony kit with a gripped a7 iii body and 70-200 lens attached. The important thing to note in the above example is how much higher the camera body sits when hot-shoe up. Even though there is enough room, my recommendation is to put gripped bodies in grip side up.
SONY ALPHA GRIP-UP IS BEST
In the above photo you cam see how much shorter the grip-up method is. With the hot shoe up, the eye piece sits well above sidewalls and has a tendency to pop-off. Of note: **Without grip the eye-piece on mirrorless bodies goes well under the sidewalls.
GM & RF Wides
2021 ATHLETE PACK: + Gripped Canon R5 Kit with Canon R5 and 70-200 2.8 RF, 600 RF, 15-35 2.8 RF and Mavic Pro and remote.
Now let's get into the glass. The new generation of Athlete Packs means you can drop-in six inch tall glass.
Let's talk about glass for a minute. The biggest change to come as it relates to camera gear will happen right here. Big lenses like the a 500 are getting smaller and lighter. Wides and primes are getting heavier, wider and taller. And everything is getting more expensive.
CANON R BODIES W/GRIP
NOTE: GRIP IS UP
In the next set of examples, we've taken a gripped and non-gripped Canon R5 with a 70-200 RF lens and placed it at the bottom of the pack. The thing to note here is that this section of the pack is the tighest and placing tall object here places a lot of pressure on the zipper. Putting a gripped body (of any type) at the bottom of the pack is NOT recommended.
CANON BODIES W/O GRIPS
Here is the exact same kit without the grip. As you can see there is ample head room for both the body and lens now. Please use your judgement when setting up your pack. Move tall items up higher and keep the tension away from the bottom corners.
2021 ATHLETE PACK: + Gripped Sony Alpha with 70-200 2.8 GM, 16-35 2.8 GM, 12-24 2.8 GM and 100-400 GM
Just to make sure I am clear >> In the Athlete Pack you can expect gear to sit above the height of the dividers and sidewalls. This is expected and normal. It's a super shallow pack!
You will find that when the pack is zippered close there is a lot more room inside than one can measure with a ruler. In terms of usage, you can expect tall (6in / 15cm) sized gear to fit. It's important to note that tall gear should be arranged so that there are no highs and lows.
If you do not balance out your setup, your backpanel will have a dip. When balanced out correctly, the backpanel is designed to secure your gear. The fit will feel firm and secure and flush against your back.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
2021 ATHLETE PACK: + Gripped Sony Alpha with 70-200 2.8 GM and 16-35 2.8 GM. + Gripped Canon R5 with 70-200 2.8 RF and 15-35 2.8 RF
So how much is too much. As with the prior example, sometimes it's best to put lenses in flat. Keep in mind many of your tall lenses (16-35, 24-70) now get dropped in and this opens up a ton of room!As such, a lens just a bit bigger like the Sony GM 12-24 2.8 could be okay to stand up, but my recommendation is to lay it flat and not stress out your pack or the connections on the lens. Said another way, the Athlete Pack may not have enough room for ALL your tall gear all at the same time.
BIG GLASS AND VIDEO GEAR
2021 ATHLETE PACK: + Sony 200-600 GM with 1.4x Converter. Sony Alpha a9 ii with 16-35 GM 2.8 and Sony Alpha a7 iii with 20mm GM 2.8
The new generation Athlete Pack works incredibly well with long telephoto zooms like the Sony 200-600. This lens can easily be stored with or without the teleconverter.
However, this lens cannot be stored with the body attached. In previous versions of the Athlete Pack you could get away with doing this, but not with the 2021 due to the increased density and friction.
The compromise here is that it's better to transport lenses this size with the body off and not stress the pack or sensitive connections between body and lens.
RESIZE ON THE FLY
Here is one more look at how the ORIGAMI CAMERA CORE (TM) in the Athlete Pack measures up. A simple push/pull lets you resize enough space for a large lens, drone or 2-3 smaller lenses. Much better than having a bunch of cubes and inserts floating around.
ADVENTURE vs. ATHLETE PACK
2021 ADVENTURE PACK: + Gripped Sony Alpha Kit with Sony GM 200-600, GM 16-35 2.8 GM + GM 24-70 2.8 GM + GM 100-400
If you must have the body attached on a lens like a 200-600, get the Adventure Pack. As you can see in the below photo, the workflow and access in the Adventure Pack is very different from that of the Athlete Pack.
The packs shown on this page are all sample packs. The colors and details are different from the final production copies shipped to customers.
All Atlas Packs are hand made. Please variations between copies. When it comes to specs and measurements including but not limited to height, length, weight, volume, capacity, liters, in, cm, etc.. the information I provide is intended to guide, and not an exact ruler based measurement. Said another way, a ruler will does not measure how gear fits and organizes, how foam compresses down.
Please expect a period of adjustment. The packs need to loosen up and settle in. Please let Pro Support know if you have a copy that feels overly tight or does not work as per the examples shown.
My goal is to create and share real life working examples of how I setup and carry my gear in my packs so you can do the same.
PS: I made a point to keep lens hoods and rear caps on in most of these examples. We did not include any lens caps for the photos, but do when we are transporting gear. Using your pack and not using front lens caps is not recommend.
ATLAS ATHLETE PACK: MEASUREMENTS & SPECIFICATIONS
The Athlete Pack is a 40 liters +/- pack. For the purpose of specifications, there is no practical difference in volume between the large and medium size packs. On paper, the medium size pack holds slightly less camping gear than the large size pack. The pack shown here is the large size Athlete Pack setup first as a 20liter pack and then expanded out to 40liters.
The magic number is 18" / 45.5cm.
If your torso is shorter than 18 inches then the medium is best for you. If your torso length is longer than 18 inches then the large pack is best for you.
Bottom line >> Go shorter if in doubt, if the pack is too tall fitting will be a challenge and the weight will not distribute properly.
HOW TO MEASURE
1. Cut a piece of string to exactly 18" / 45.5cm.
2. Hold the top of the string on your C7 vertebrae and drop the bottom end.
3. Now feel all the way down to where string ends. It will fall either above or below your Iliac Center (essentially your love handles and where you rest your hands when you are putting your hands on your hips).
If the string goes past your love handles, that means your torso is shorter than 18" = medium size pack. If the string ends before your love handles, that means your torso longer than 18" = large size pack.
HOW TO DECIDE
BASED ON HEIGHT:
+ If you are 5’8 / 1.7m or below, the medium size pack typically fits best.
+ If you are taller than 5’11/1.8m the large size pack typically fits best.
BASED ON TORSO:
+ If your torso length is shorter than 18"/45.5cm the medium size pack typically fits best.
+ If your torso length is longer than 18"/45.5cm the large size pack typically fits best.
Torso length provides the most accurate measurement for backpack fitting.
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
Looking to nerd out a bit about the history and background. Here are the details about the Atlas Athlete Pack. The first copies are early prototypes, this Athlete Pack has an ORIGAMI CAMERA CORE (TM) rated for Leica, micro 4/3 and mirrorless systems circa 2015-2017. Production was very small, limited to just 300 units and they were not sold to the public or available online. You had to find us at a camera trade show or festival and be personally fitted to purchase one of these early editions. Fast forward to 2017 and the launch of atlaspacks.com.
This is when we started to sell an Athlete Pack with an updated ORIGAMI CAMERA CORE (TM). This generation Athlete Packs is rated for non-gripped DSLR's and mirrorless bodies, L-size and GM glass placed flat as well as systems like micro 4/3 and Leica.
Over a 5+ year period we made numerous small incremental updates and improvements based on customer feedback with one exception. When asked to increase the depth we always pushed back... Why?
The short answer is... There was not enough of the right types of camera gear out in the market to justify the change in design. Keep in mind most consumer are not upgrading to the latest and greatest no matter what message boards say. It takes a while for everyone to catch-up and that time happening now.
Camera gear is the heaviest, expensive and most fragile item you will carry on your back and the key to the success of the Athlete Pack is how well it keeps all that precious weight close to your body. National Geographic said the Athlete Pack is "one of the best camera bags for travelers", Ski Magazine said, "best camera bag for skiers" and Outside Magazine said, "best photography gear for 2020" amongst many other awards and accolades ;). With the release of this new generation, the Athlete will continue to be the pack that leads the way.
Working with our partners at Sony and Canon we are granted access to camera and video gear before the public. We test and spec'd every imaginable combination and with purpose and precision have designed the new generation of Athlete Packs for your next generation of camera and camping gear.
Details on all of the updates and features are below. Of note: Smaller gear sets like APS-sensors, Leica and Micro 4/3 size kits all still fit great; it's just that the new bodies and grips, tall GM and RF wides and long-telephotos now fit too :) Thanks for your support and interest. We love to chat and say hi. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Cheers and thanks,
[This page was last updated DEC 23, 2021 ]
THE MAIN LIST:
UPDATE 1: DEEPER
CHANGE: Added 2cm to of depth to ORIGAMI CAMERA CORE (TM).
IMPACT: Loss of 2cm from camping section of pack is immaterial. Gain of 2cm to camera section is a material change in design. The increase in depth/height means tall lenses (6in / 15cm) can now be dropped-in instead of placed in flat.
BENEFIT: Users can expect to store 2-3 more lenses in the new generation Atlas Athlete Pack when compared to the prior versions.
UPDATE 2: STRONGER
CHANGE: Increased strength and higher rating for ORIGAMI CAMERA CORE (TM).
IMPACT: Friction is a key ingredient to the way the ORIGAMI CAMERA CORE (TM) functions. Be sure to test out just how much pop and snap your the pocket has. We made significant improvements to friction and structure with new types of foam, the shaping of the foam (also called "skiving") as well as all the outer fabrics that connect everything to the pack and frame.
BENEFIT: Users can expect the Athlete Pack to safely and securely carry heavier loads.
UPDATE 3: NEW DIVIDERS
CHANGE: Doubled width of divider foam from 5mm to 10mm. Added new sizes.
IMPACT:One of the updates I'm most excited about is the new dividers. They are thicker, softer and even more pliable and come in a few new sizes too! The other reason I'm so excited, if you currently have an Athlete Pack, you can update the rating of your pack simply by getting new dividers!!
Please see the section below for why you should get the new dividers and NOT upgrade your pack.
BENEFIT: Users can expect camera gear to stay even more secure and be able to use fewer dividers. Works for all versions of the Athlete Pack