The Atom Packs Atom+ EP50 is one of the most ultralight backpacking packs available. It has a removable carbon fiber frame and padded hip belt, integrated shoulder pockets, and a convenient bottom pocket that allows you to hike long days without needing to stop to get gear or food from inside your pack.
Atom Packs Atom+ EP50
Price: £250 ($262)
✅ Excellent pockets
✅ Fully strippable
✅ Very cushioned shoulder straps and hip belt
❌ Lower weight capacity
When Ordering From USA:
- Shipping Costs: £10 ($12) | £25 ($30) for orders over £120
- Import Fees: There are generally no duties, taxes or charges to pay at the border if the value is $800 or less.
- Lead time: 5-10 Days
- Shipping provider: UPS
- Weight: 23.8 ounces (1.5 pounds)
- Weight/Load Capacity: 30 pounds
- Volume/Carrying Capacity: 50 liters
- Frame: Carbon fiber hoop frame
- Frame Material: Carbon fiber
- Suspension System: Carbon hoop frame, 8-millimeter foam back panel, padded hip belt
The Atom Packs Atom+ EP50 is one of the lightest ultralight backpacking packs available. It is handmade in England and improves on the design of many other cottage industry pack makers. This pack comes standard with shoulder strap pockets and a bottom pocket.
It also has a carbon fiber frame, padded hip belt, and a foam back panel. All these suspension elements are removable, too. With the frame and hip belt removed, this is as light as some of the most lightweight frameless packs out there.
The Atom+ is great for thru-hikers with a truly dialed ultralight setup but needs a minimal frame and hip belt for some longer food and water carries or shoulder season gear. This pack’s main compartment is only 45 liters, which is enough for an ultralight hiker but may prove too small for bulkier equipment.
The total weight capacity on this pack is only 30 pounds, also. For a sub-10 pound base weight, 30 pounds is more than enough weight capacity. But, anything more than a 10-12 pound base weight, plus food and water, will be pushing the limitations of this pack’s ultralight intentions.
For other ultralight backpack reviews, read our post on the best ultralight backpacks.
Performance Test Results
What We Tested:
How We Tested:
I have thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, the Colorado Trail three times, and the Grand Enchantment Trail, along with countless shorter backpacking trips. I tested the Atom Packs Atom+ EP50 in autumn on a series of backpacking trips in Grand Staircase Escalante, Utah. The weather was cool enough that I needed to carry a few extra layers and a warmer quilt. The bottoms of those slot canyons were sometimes quite cold, and I was glad for the additional layers I brought.
The Atom Packs Atom+ EP50 is a very ultralight pack. The total weight of this pack is 23.8 ounces or 1.5 pounds. This is one of the absolute lightest packs you can buy that still has a frame and hip belt.
Everything in this pack is functional and all the features are well worth the weight. It has shoulder pockets, side pockets, a back pocket, and a super useful stretchy bottom pocket. Plus, the frame, hip belt, and foam back panel are removable. If you don’t need the added weight of those features you can easily remove them.
The stripped weight of the Atom+ is 18.2 ounces, barely more than a pound. The frame weighs 1.9 ounces (55 grams). The hip belt weighs 3.2 ounces (90 grams). And, the foam back panel weighs 0.5 ounces (15 grams). In total, the stripped weight of this pack is 5.6 ounces lighter than it is with this suspension system.
Compared to other ultralight packs, this is one of the lightest backpacks with a frame and hip belt. Even compared to frameless packs, there are very few that weigh less than this pack does. When you remove the frame and hip belt, this pack becomes one of the lightest of all the ultralight backpacking packs available today.
The Atom Packs Atom+'s total weight and stripped weight are 23.8 ounces and 18.2 ounces, respectively.
The Atom+ performs very well on price. For a pack with a fully padded hip belt and carbon fiber frame, this is one of the best values for an ultralight backpack out there.
It is made of durable and lightweight EcoPak EPX200, an expensive laminate sailcloth material made of recycled plastic. And it uses stretch Dyneema Mesh for the back pocket and bottom pocket. This Dyneema mesh material is highly durable and quite expensive. It’s remarkable how inexpensive this pack is, considering the materials.
Of the few ultralight packs comparable in weight and design, this is about as inexpensive as it gets. Compared to other packs with a frame and hipbelt, there aren’t many packs that compare to the Atom+.
Furthermore, no other packs come standard with as many pockets as this pack. Most ultralight packs don’t come with shoulder strap pockets, and even fewer come with a bottom pocket. Once you factor in the cost of adding shoulder strap pockets to other comparably-priced ultralight packs, the Atom+ is the best value. And when you consider the value added by the unique bottom pocket, there is almost no pack comparable to the Atom+ for any price.
The Atom Packs Atom+ is available on the market for £250 or $262.
Storage and Capacity: 9/10
This pack has a great weight-to-volume ratio and an excellent weight-to-capacity ratio. According to Atom Packs, the Atom+ can comfortably carry up to a 30-pound load. In my experience, I’d say this is accurate. 30 pounds isn’t the highest weight capacity, but it’s similar to most ultralight packs, even some that weigh more than this.
The main body fits 45 liters of gear. Thirty pounds is an adequate weight capacity, considering the volume, too. A 45-liter volume capacity is just the right amount for an ultralight thru-hiker or backpacker, and most gear that takes up that volume doesn’t weigh more than 30 pounds.
With a base weight of 8-10 pounds, you can carry 5 days of food (10 pounds) and 4 liters of water (8.8 pounds) with this pack. If the weight capacity were any higher, the total volume of the bag would need to be higher unless you were carrying tons of food and water.
This pack can’t carry a lot of highly bulky items. But, 45 liters is more than enough space for an ultralight tent, down sleeping bag, inflatable sleeping pad, down puffy jacket, extra layers, and several days of food. I even used this pack for two-day backpacking trips carrying shoulder season layers: a zero-degree quilt, warmer puffy jacket, down booties, and hiking pants for chilly mornings.
This pack is cable of fitting a full-sized bear canister, but only when you pack it vertically. If you always plan to carry a bear canister when backpacking, a higher-volume pack would be better than the Atom+.
I found packing a bear canister vertically in this pack is about as annoying as it is with other comparably-sized packs–that is, relatively annoying. You must pack the bear can on top of your quilt, then squeeze the rest of your gear along the sides and on top of the canister. It doesn’t have a robust strap system on top of the pack to carry a bear can outside the bag, either. But I find carrying a bear canister on top of a backpack uncomfortable and awkward.
This pack has more pockets than almost any other ultralight pack. It comes standard with shoulder strap pockets and a bottom pocket. It also has the standard pockets found on most packs: a side water bottle and a rear mesh pocket.
The bottom pocket is the most unique pocket on this pack. This pocket is made of Dyneema stretch mesh and is the size of the entire bottom panel of the pack. This pocket’s opening is on the right side of the pack, and as long as your shoulders are reasonably flexible allows you to easily access the contents of the pocket while you’re wearing the backpack. I find this bottom pocket to be the most convenient place to carry enough snacks to walk all day without stopping to eat.
Since using a custom pack with a similar bottom pocket for multiple thru-hikes, I would find it very difficult to return to using a pack without a bottom pocket. The bottom pocket is much more convenient than hip belt pockets. You can fit more stuff in a bottom pocket, and you don’t have to mess with a zipper whenever you want something out of the pocket. Generally, I carry a half day’s worth of snack food in my bottom pocket, which I pack into a ziplock bag. I refill this ziplock with snacks during a lunch break for the afternoon. Having a bottom pocket allows me to hike all day without stopping to eat. This allows more time to stop when I want to explore a cool area or take pictures since I’m not forced to stop by hunger.
The bottom pocket of the Atom Packs Atom+.
The shoulder strap pockets are both the same size and can easily fit a modern smartphone or small water bottle. I store my phone in one of these pockets. In the other pocket, I carry chapstick, a small bottle of sunscreen, headphones, and other small items I need to access quickly.
The two standard side water bottle pockets have an adjustable cinch cord to tighten or loosen the pockets depending on the number of bottles you’re carrying. Each pocket has a 2.5-liter capacity and can easily fit two 1-liter SmartWater bottles or comparable bottles.
Like most ultralight backpacking packs, this pack also has a mesh back pocket. This pocket can stretch to fit about 5 liters worth of gear. Generally, I keep a rain jacket, my bathroom kit, a headlamp, and a spork in this pocket. This back pocket can fit more than this amount of gear, but the pack has enough other pockets that it’s easy to avoid one pocket ending up as the “junk drawer” of your backpack. In my experience, this back pocket ends up as the junk drawer of most ultralight packs.
Internal Frame: 7/10
The Atom+ uses a tent pole-width carbon fiber hoop-shaped like an upside-down U for a frame. The rest of this pack’s suspension system consists of a padded 3-inch wide hip belt and an 8-millimeter foam sheet fitted into the pack's back panel.
The shoulder straps have an S-shaped curve that follows the upper back, shoulders, and chest contours. S-straps are commonly thought to be more comfortable for female anatomy, but I know many male hikers who also prefer S-shaped straps, myself included. Though every body is different, S-shaped straps are usually more comfortable for me. Of all the hikers I know, I’ve found more of them prefer S-straps, regardless of gender.
I find this frame does a good job of distributing the pack load between the shoulder straps and hip belt. When you unclip the hip belt on this pack, you can feel a noticeable load added to the shoulder straps. The added weight onto the shoulder straps is significant, but not as much as some more robust frame systems with multiple aluminum struts.
There aren’t load lifters on this pack, either. This makes where the pack load sits less adjustable, but it does keep the overall weight down.
Compared to other ultralight models, this pack feels more like a frameless pack with a frame added as an afterthought. This pack is comparable in weight to frameless packs, too. So, even though this pack has a frame, it is more akin to a frameless pack. It has a slightly higher weight capacity than a frameless pack but only weighs a few ounces more than the lightest frameless packs.
The Atom+ is exceptionally comfortable when carrying a lightweight thru-hiking kit. If you need to carry loads that are consistently over 30 pounds, I suggest a different pack. But, if you use this pack as intended, it’s more comfortable than most ultralight packs.
The back panel of this pack is textured nylon, similar to Cordura. This material is less slippery and, therefore, much more comfortable than the laminate material used on the rest of the pack. A 3D mesh panel along the bottom of the back panel provides extra lumber support and increases overall comfort.
The S-shaped shoulder straps of the Atom Packs Atom+ are made of 3D mesh and 10mm foam.
The shoulder straps and hip belt use 3D mesh that sits against your body. This mesh allows some air to flow between the straps and your body. The 3D mesh combined with the plush 10-millimeter foam makes all the straps on this pack very comfortable. The S-shaped curve of the shoulder straps also makes the pack very comfortable.
I hiked with this pack for many long days, wearing it for over 8 hours per day, and never experienced any chafing. Even when I used the pack without the hip belt, the pack didn’t chafe on my back.
Compared with other ultralight packs, this is one of the most comfortable packs I’ve ever worn. As I mentioned above, this pack is comparable to minimally framed or frameless packs. When you compare it to those packs, it’s hard to find a more comfortable backpack anywhere.
The hipbelt of the Atom Packs Atom+, same as the shoulder straps, also uses 3D mesh and 10mm foam.
The Atom+ has all the features an ultralight thru-hiker could need:
- Stretch mesh exterior pocket
- Two side water bottle pockets
- Stretch mesh bottom pocket
- Stretch mesh shoulder strap pockets
- Removable padded hip belt
- Removable foam back panel
- Removable frame
- Ice axe loop
I already spoke at length about the pockets, but they are by far the best features of this pack. The removable frame and hip belt are also great features, as they add slightly more weight capacity onto one of the most ultralight packs available.
Aside from the excellent pockets and the removable frame, this pack doesn’t have many extra features. It uses a stretch cord for the side compression straps, which work great for holding your trekking poles in place. Since most people use side compression straps more for securing tall items like trekking poles in the side pockets, this is a thoughtful addition.
This pack features a roll-top closure with plastic snaps to secure the top opening shut. It has a single piece of webbing and a plastic buckle to hold the roll-top closure down. Outside the stretch mesh front pocket is a zig-zag elastic cord to store a folded foam pad or air-dry clothes. It also has a single ice axe loop and shock cord to secure the top of your axe.
Compared to other ultralight packs, this has fewer features than some. However, I think this pack has all the right features without any extras that don’t add that much value.
This bag is highly adjustable in terms of weight. The frame, hip belt, and foam back panel are removable.
This pack is less adjustable in terms of fit but does come in four different sizes. The Atom+ comes in four sizes, more than most comparable ultralight packs. These sizes can fit a variety of torso lengths, from 15 to 23 inches. Each size is only adjustable via ladder lock buckles and webbing. However, this is the case with most ultralight packs.
You can also adjust the hip belt on this pack to many waist sizes. Each bag can be customized with any size hip belt, so if you’re tall and skinny or short and stout, you don’t have to buy an extra waist belt to make the pack fit. The hip belts will fit any hip size between 28 and 40 inches. They will also fit people with even larger hips, but the padding won’t wrap around as far.
This pack is very water resistant but didn’t perform quite as well as some packs in waterproof testing. I filled this pack with pink tissue paper and put it in the shower at my house to see how waterproof it is.
After three minutes of a complete “downpour,” with the pack sitting on the floor of my shower getting pelted with water from above, the middle contents of the tissue paper remained dry. But, the bottom and top layers of tissue paper were quite wet.
The materials used in this pack's construction are waterproof, but water can get through the seams. This is what allowed water to get into the pack during this test.
The bottom pocket material absorbs water, and since the pack was sitting in a pool of water, it quickly caused the bottom tissue paper to be soaked. For the waterproof test, I did not stuff the pack very full of tissue paper. This allowed the weight of the water to compress the tissue paper inside. It then pooled on top of the pack and soaked through the seams along the roll-top. I suspect some water also got through the opening of the roll top when the pack tipped over near the end of 3 minutes of total “downpour.”
If this pack had waterproof taped seams, it would be completely waterproof as long as the top roll closure was rolled down far enough. However, since it doesn’t have taped seams, this bag is only water resistant.
Compared to other ultralight packs, this pack is more waterproof than many. It is less waterproof than bags built to be waterproof, though.
The Atom+ is a highly durable pack. I took this on several hikes through extremely narrow slot canyons, where I had to drag the bag across many sandstone rock faces. After all this abuse, the pack looks almost like it did when it was new.
The Ecopak EPX200 material holds up very well to abuse. And, the pack uses a 210-denier Robic Extreema material on the side pockets, shoulder straps, and hip belt. This Extreema material is even more durable and improves the pack's durability since it’s in all the high-wear areas.
I used a pack with this same Dyneema mesh on the back pocket on the Continental Divide Trail. After nearly 3000 miles of hiking, this Dyneema-reinforced stretch material shows no signs of wear. On the Atom+, the bottom pocket is also made with this Dyneema mesh. The front mesh material is usually the part of a pack that wears out the fastest. Since I’ve seen the Dyneema mesh used on the Atom+ last a long time, this means the Atom+ is one of the most durable packs available.