This past February I had the great privilege of meeting Allan Henry, general manager and the main driving force behind the up-and-coming camera bag company Atlas Packs. After our first interaction, I knew that this product and company were doing something special. They had come up with a design that not only checked all the boxes that a typical outdoor photographer looks for but it managed to carry just like a hiking bag which is something that I had never seen out of other bags in the market.
I knew I had to get an interview with him and after the fact, I’m even more impressed by what Atlas Packs is doing.
The company was founded by David Tedesco who while on a month-long Everest trek in the Himalayas was just unsatisfied with the fact that his bag had no room for a camera. Henry can still remember when Tedesco asked to help with the design of a backpack after the frustrations during his Himalayas trip. In typical entrepreneur fashion, Tedesco bought a sewing machine and found a manufacturer to build his first Atlas Pack prototypes.
After working through dozens of iterations he had finally created a bag that carried and functioned properly. When Henry got involved, Tedesco and his research and development team had gone through dozens of different pack designs searching for a functional bag that carried like a hiking pack. The idea behind the built-in camera core instead of an ICU system was to ensure that the bag carried the load perfectly and in my experience, I have never had a bag that carried so well in the outdoors. They had built a carry system that not only carried great but was also expandable without sacrificing the user experience. It was limiting but in a good way, if you could fit it in the camera compartment you could say with confidence that it would carry like a dream.
Once the design was nailed down they needed a manufacturer to build bags that could withstand the rigors of getting beaten and banged around on the trail, along with protecting the precious camera gear. They ended up landing on DONG-IN ENTECH. Co which may not sound familiar to most but they manufacture the world’s greatest technical bags companies including Gregory, Patagonia, Osprey, and Arc’teryx. Working with one of the best research and development facilities in the world, DONG-IN has proved to be an invaluable partner to Atlas Packs in their journey. With generations of experience, they stand alone at the top of the technical bag industry.
They make their bags in multiple back panels and in sizes small through extra-large, another rare thing in the camera bag industry. They are working to cater to and listen to the consumers who are out there putting in the hard miles and relying on this equipment to hold up through these harsh environments. While I hung out with Henry at his booth at the OR trade show he made it a point to listen to what all interested consumers had to say about the bag. He further explained that the company wasn't trying to make bags to do it all, he admitted that he didn't use the bag on his typical sports shoots but he was confident that on the trail it would carry and do its job like a dream. Atlas Packs true to their roots made sure that every purchase went directly through them and not a website. This was to ensure that the customer would get the perfect pack for their body and their gear. Unlike the typical shopping experience in brick and mortar stores where more time then not they act like one size fits all. All the while Atlas is making sure to not cut corners all the way from research and development to distribution and this is why it’s one of the highest quality bags on the market.
Now I have to take a moment to recognize Allan Henry who was the first person I met associated with Atlas Packs. He is an accomplished sports photographer with most of his work centered in golf. Henry started by sneaking into golf tournaments with borrowed a 400mm from a buddy, tossed it over his shoulder and walked around like he was supposed to be there. He faked it till he made it showing the ambition and dedication that he now channels into Atlas. He is a picture-perfect example of seeing something he wanted to do and going for it. After he started getting recognized, he went on to be featured in Golf Mag, ESPN, Golf Digest, and Golf Week and got picked up to shoot for USAToday. He’s the main driving force behind the brand and deals one on one with all the ambassadors that they have added. Just seeing all the passion and work ethic that Henry puts into his company shows why this brand is so deeply loved by all who use their products.
Atlas is nervous and excited about the challenge, but they're also super confident in their next release. The series 2 Athlete pack which has been a labor of love and the company is very proud to say that no finer camera backpack has ever been produced. Going forward Atlas Packs is set to release their new Series 2 bag on Kickstarter this month. Where they feel like the bags have finally hit their maturity and they’re ready to continue to build the brand further into a more household name in the industry.
When looking at the outdoor industry from a photographers perspective it seems like the wild west. For awhile F-Stop bags had seemed to be keeping a good grasp on the market that Atlas Packs is going after but with the recent manufacturing and distribution issues they have lost trust in the community. There are other outdoor bags from big names such as Think Tank, Mountainsmith, and LowePro but in my experience, they just don't carry like the Atlas Packs. When I'm out on the trail putting hard miles under me, I need a carry system that works as a hiking bag and carries my gear like a camera bag. For the time being when I'm taking my gear on the trail, I'll be reaching for my Atlas Pack. They are built for photographers by photographers and that is a tradition I hope they keep as they potentially grow into a behemoth in the outdoor space.