Best Camera Backpack for Hiking – Atlas Athlete Pack
Wether you are heading out for an overnight back packing trip, or just a small hike the Atlas Athlete pack will have you covered. Some of the most biggest issue’s with traditional camera backpacks is that they are bulky, heavy, look to fancy (thieves) and don’t have room for hiking gear. The Atlas pack its lightweight, small, looks like a normal hiking backpack and has room for camera gear, clothes and camping gear.
Atlas makes two different size’s, an Athlete (30l) and Adventure pack (50L) for all your needs
The Atlas packs are designed to be a discrete camera pack, that offers a traditional hiking backpack feel. They are purposely designed to resemble a traditional hiking backpack so it blends in (thieves), and is more comfortable than normal camera packs. After having the Athlete pack for a year, it has quickly turned into my favorite hiking camera backpack ever. It covers my minimalists camera setup, has plenty of extra storage, holds a tripod, extra water bottle and is durable.
I personally have the 30l Athlete pack, which carries my Sony A7iii, 24-105mm, Mavic 2 Pro/controller, Go Pro, Mic, 3 drone batteries, 2 camera batteries, ND Filter kit and more. The camera compartment can be made smaller to accommodate more clothing and gear in the main compartment.
I use the Athlete pack mainly for day hikes ranging from 4 – 15 miles and it has always provided enough room. I have used the Athlete pack once for an overnight backpacking trip and it was completely full, but it worked great. My pack was lightweight, super comfy the entire 6 mile hike and required me to pack minimalistic.
For hikers looking to do multi-day adventures, the Adventure pack (50l) is a much better option, with more camera gear and main storage room.
Top 3 reasons – Atlas pack’s are the best travel camera backpack
1 – It looks and feels like a normal hiking backpack.
To some people this might be a negative if you are going to be using it for work or exploring cities. I mainly only use it for hiking or as a travel backpack and it blends in compare to fancy looking bags. No-one would ever think I have $6,000+ worth of camera gear inside and assume I am just a normal hiker or traveler. I used to have a LowePro Whistler 450 that was super bulky and screamed “look at me, I have expensive camera gear”. The Athlete pack is great for hiking or using as a carry on to backpack Southeast Asia or Europe.
The Atlas pack is truly the best travel camera bag because it is extremely comfortable, handy and can accommodate a 3l water bladder. Traditional camera backpacks are known for being bulky and uncomfortable. The Atlas packs are designed with a similar back and shoulder strap system to a normal hiking pack. The backrest is comfortable and the weight is close to my back which causes less fatigue.
The final reason why I love the design of the bag is that it has two side pockets for water bottles or a tripod. My old LowePro didn’t have any water bottle holder which is ridiculous. The Atlas pack has a compartment on the front that can stretch to hold wet shoes, a towel, water bladder and plenty more.
2 – The Camera compartment is small, compact and expandable
The camera compartment on the Atlas packs is much shallower than traditional camera bags. This could be a good or bad thing depending on what type of gear you have. My Sony A7iii, fits perfectly without poking out and feeling it on my back. This allows for a thinner backpack, with the weight physically closer to your back. People with a traditional DSLR may have issues with the depth. The interior camera compartment also expands which allows me to fit my drone, camera, microphone and plenty of batteries.
The small camera compartment has required me to minimize my setup and pack what is only necessary. This has allowed me to sell my extra equipment and condense my kit to 1 lens. I do plan on purchasing a second lens in the future, and will be able to fit it by moving my extra drone batteries to a zipper compartment. I have slimmed down my camera gear and it has made me purchase and bring only the most important items I will use.
3 – Multi Purpose and Everything is Accessible
The waist belt has two pouches (one on each side) and they actually fold out to carry a water bottle, phone or spare batteries. I have never seen a backpack with a similar pocket design, and it is brilliant. I have the left waist pocket pulled out 95% of the time with my phone inside and use the other one to put my lens cap in when using my camera. Truly a game changer when it comes to conveniently grabbing certain items.
The entire camera compartment dividers can be removed, to allow more room for clothing or hiking gear. The Athlete pack could be used for a three night trip without carrying camera gear.
The side pockets on the bag are great for tripods or extra water bottles which can be accessed while hiking. It takes a little bend of the arm behind you to reach, but can be done!
The Good – Atlas Athlete Backpack Review
Every backpack has it designed audience, and I happened to be the intended user for this backpack. I wanted a backpack that could carry my minimal gear, provide comfort on long hikes and blend in with the crowd. This bag fit my needs perfectly with my mirrorless A7iii, DJI Drone and Go Pro. I am not a professional and do photo and video for fun, so I don’t need a bunch of room for camera gear. If you are someone that needs a Gimbal, 3+ lenses and a backup camera a LowePro 450 or Shimoda design bag might be a better fit.
This bag makes me keep my kit small which is great, but one day would likely want to upgrade to a two lens kit. Preferably a 16-35mm and a 100-400mm which would cover almost every focal length.
It would take some reconfiguration of the bag, but I believe I could make it work by possibly switching to the DJI Mavic Air 2. The Atlas Athlete pack also has a designated laptop sleeve which can hold my 15 inch MacBook Pro. This athlete pack is the best all in one backpack I have come across after searching for years.
I generally use the bag for day hikes which means I am only throwing a jacket in the main compartment or a change of socks. The pack stays small and light when there is minimal gear, but can expand to cover all of my needs.
The Bad – My main issue with the Athlete Pack
When it comes to choosing a hiking backpack, comfort in the back and shoulders is one of the most important aspects. Atlas has the back part covered, which is great considering I already have back issue. My only problem with the Atlas athlete pack is the shoulder straps that aren’t the comfiest.
They seem kind of “hard” and a little too narrow to provide proper support that I would want. After 6 miles or so I can feel my shoulders starting to hurt and will adjust my bag every so often. I have not hiked over 15 miles with the bag, but honestly I think any bag would start to hurt after that long.
I am hoping that Atlas will come out with a version 2 of the Athlete and Adventure packs, which would make an even better camera hiking backpack. My biggest critique would be comfier shoulder straps and removing the huge “Atlas” name on the backpack.
Best camera backpack – Atlas Athlete Pack
Any backpack or camera backpack is going to have issue or places for improvement. The Atlas Athlete pack is the first backpack that I have ever found that truly checks all the boxes for what I desire in a bag.
- Multiple Small Compartments
- Removable Waist Strap
The camera backpack that covers every aspect of my needs, is the Atlas pack.