Our Story

Atom Packs

Hidden away on a farm just outside of Keswick, you’ll find us pottering away, busily making lightweight custom backpacks for your next adventure.

At Atom Packs, every backpack we make is an individual and built to last.

We’ve tried and tested our designs over thousands of miles in hundreds of locations around the world to make a range of packs designed to suit most hiking needs.

We know every person is unique and one backpack doesn’t necessarily fit all - so for those who need a different size or to add a little something extra, check out our custom backpacks and create one that’s right for you!

A big thanks!

We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us on our journey, we wouldn’t be here doing what we love without you.

If you need to speak to us about order enquiries, advice for your pack or just to talk about thru-hiking adventures get in touch.

A journey of 13,000 miles

How did we get here?

Atom Packs was founded by me: Tom Gale. I spent the bulk of my 20s trying hard to avoid any serious commitment to anything that wasn't hiking, snowboarding or drinking cider. After hiking 5000 miles with an ill-fitting backpack, eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I borrowed a sewing machine, scrounged some fabric and had a crack at making one myself. I learned two things: Sewing machines are an absolute mystery and backpacks are way harder than you'd think to sew.

The journey making these early prototypes took me across three different kitchen tables, two attics, four sewing machines and eventually over another 7000 miles of trail. By the end of 2017 I felt pretty ready to launch the company: Atom Packs went live at the end of January 2018.

I had bought enough material and hardware to make 50 backpacks. I figured there's no way I'd sell 50 in the first year, but if I did, then maybe i could do this as a full time job. I had taken on just enough guiding work to pay my rent over the summer, money for food would need to be created through backpack production. As someone that is heavily focused on food, I thought that adding in this jeopardy would be somewhat motivating... it worked.

Without really meaning to, I sold 50 packs in our first six weeks. I guided on only one day and had to cancel my bookings for the rest of the summer. Atom Packs had found its niche and the market was much bigger than I first thought.

The bedroom workshop in our house share made our living situation fairly untenable and a small dedicated workshop was quickly sought out and moved into. For that first year i just remember a lot of very late nights, trying to find the time to cut, sew, photograph, pack and ship every pack myself, all whilst dealing with a pretty insane volume of emails and an equally insane list of customisations that people would ask for.

Things are a little calmer now. We have moved four times in six years and, on average, we take on a new member of staff every six months. Atom Packs now has 17 sewing machines, one massive laser cutter and is currently responsible for employing thirteen individuals.

We are now located on a farm just outside of Keswick. Crafting our backpacks here, in the shadow of a mountain called Skiddaw, the gap between process and place is now blurred. We create where we play, the mountainscape that we work in inspiring and becoming part of what we do.

It's been a wild ride.

Tom Gale (a reluctant businessman)

"Well... that escalated quickly"