The Prospector is the flagship pack from Atom Packs, a British Company. Each pack is hand-built to order by owner Tom Gale, and the packs are made either as a standard configuration or fully customizable. The packs are made-to-measure for your back length. The basic model weighs 22.9 oz (650 g) and is customizable with an impressive variety of options. Tom seems very open to discussing your requirements and built me a pack that I would not have been able to spec elsewhere.
- Available as a standard model with preset options as defined by the manufacturer, or as a build-to-order, customizable, bespoke lightweight backpack.
- 45 L volume (standard model) that can comfortably carry loads of up to 35 lbs (15 kg).
- 35 L and 55 L volume options also available (My customized pack is 60 L, so larger packs are an option).
- Side pockets (2.5 L each) with drain holes that are easy to access and deep enough to hold plenty of gear.
- Roll-top closure.
- Removable top and side compression straps.
- Sternum strap.
- Ice axe loop.
- Customizable options:
- Shoulder pockets: 0.5 oz (13 g) each.
- Bottom snack pocket: 1.1 oz (30 g).
- Removable internal pocket.
- H2O port (comes as standard, but can be removed if you don’t want it).
- Load lifters.
- Hip belt pockets.
- Weight (base model with no add-ons): 22.9 oz (650 g).
- Main body fabric: VX21 (standard); customizable as VX07 for 1 oz (28 g) weight savings.
- Heavy-duty bullet mesh front pocket.
- Side pocket fabric: VX21 (standard); customizable as VX07 for 0.4 oz (12 g) weight savings.
- Base: VX21.
- Frame: 1mm HDPE sheet with a removable and mouldable aluminum stay.
- Body back panel: 500D Cordura.
- Back panel padding: 10 mm closed cell foam.
I requested a 60 L backpack for review, and Atom Packs owner Tom Gale constructed it with a sturdier frame, thicker plastic, and two stays instead of the standard one as he realized I would be carrying heavier loads with it. This adds 2.1 oz (60 g) to the total pack weight including a frame sheet of 33.5 oz (950 g). With almost every possible option added to it, it is still impressively light for a pack of its size. A standard Prospector has 45 L of volume, weighs 28.2 oz (800 g), and has a 3.5 oz (100 g) frame sheet.
At 60 L and about two pounds, this is an impressively light pack for the level of comfort and practicality it provides. The back frame is well padded and successfully transfers the weight to the hip belt. I particularly like the mesh pocket for stowing away my wet tent (this is Britain, after all!). I use the bungee cords to store my rain gear which gives me easy access to it without having to open the primary storage compartment of the backpack.
The optional hip belt pockets are accessed with a zipper that runs across the top and are roomy enough to hold a few snacks and a compass. The optional shoulder strap pockets are the perfect size to store a GPS or mobile phone. The bottom pocket is easily accessible whilst wearing the pack, and I find it useful for tucking in maps and gloves. If you didn’t have the optional shoulder or hip belt pockets, this would be an ideal place to store snacks and similar necessities.
I like the backpack’s aesthetic look, and it seems well constructed with sturdy, waterproof fabrics. The seams are not taped, but with very few seams to leak, and the fact that I always use dry sacks inside my pack, it was personally not a big deal.
I tested the pack immediately after receiving it with a 3-day hike in the UK, carrying 30 lbs (14 kg). The pack was comfortable from the very start, and I had no issues whatsoever. The only concern I had on my first inspection was the hip belt clip for a pack built to carry up to 40 lbs (18 kg) seemed a little small; however, so far it has been perfectly adequate, and any weight savings is appreciated.
My favorite pack to date has been the ULA Catalyst, and with the additions I specified, the Prospector compares very favorably to it. I am testing it more rigorously on the TGO Challenge across Scotland this year, after which point I will present a more comprehensive review here at Backpacking Light.
This pack was provided to the author by the manufacturer at no cost, with no contractual obligation to publish a product review.