Words from Tom Gale, Atom Packs Founder. 

Why Did I Design The Notch

The Notch is the pack that I wish I had when I was hiking the PCT in 2015: while my base weight was fairly low at the time (sub 5kg / 11lbs) the amount of food and water I needed meant that the 450g / 1lb pack that I had sewn for the trip was often hugely overloaded and uncomfortable.

The pack and I finished the trail no problem, but I spent a lot of my time hiking, pondering the physical and mental cost that I was paying by using a pack that wasn't quite up to the task, and how had I sewn one that was better featured, the pack would be working more for me rather than against me.

To be fair to 2015 Tom, I really didn't know how to make backpacks at the time. The pack I took to the PCT was the 4th one I had ever sewn - it was the best backpack I could have made in those days. It’s been 11 years since then, and not only have I had a lot more practice now, but I have much better equipment than my Mum’s old sewing machine!

The Notch has a great mouldable frame and a curved  to cope when the going gets heavy, but is light enough and minimal enough to not feel overspec’d the rest of the time.

Pros - The pack can support higher loads while still being small - A 40L pack stops you overpacking, teaching discipline. There’s also no denying that small packs are cool.

Cons - The pack is 185g heavier than the Atom+ in 40L (but I would argue that this weight is working for you, not against.)


 The Notch


Who is The Notch For?

I think if you are a hiker that is considering taking a 40L pack on a thru hike then you could do very well with The Notch. Even if you fill it with modern hiking gear, you will still struggle to overload it. It is, however, small enough to encourage discipline in your packing choices - after using this backpack for a few months, you may find you are ready to try removing the frame for an easy 100g weight saving, or maybe you’d even be ready to drop down to one of our even lighter packs.

Perfect for: Long distance lightweight thru hiking with long food and water carries, or slightly heavier but shorter overnight trips.


For technical specs, or to shop visit The Notch on our website.