🎒 ATD 1 backpack long-term review
Written Dec 15, 2022.
Since living nomadly I’ve been dreaming and looking for the truly best backpack that I can use as a one-bag.
"Onebagging" is a minimalist approach to travel and packing. The idea is to pack all belongings into a single bag, rather than carrying multiple bags / suitcases. This makes for more efficient travel with less clutter. Moving gets much easier around and no more lost checked bags.
I even built a website around this.
For me that means a bag I can use all the way from daytrips to a full carry-on for my months-long trips.
The ATD1 seemed the best shot as these. After months of eyeing it, I finally pre-ordered it and received it in July 2021.
I went with the XPAC version for the extra waterproofing and the substentially lesser weight than the Cordura version.
Been traveling with it ever since and now feel ready to review it.
It was with me on rough road-trips in the jungles and deserts of Colombia, in the trunk of the Jeep in US national parks, to weeks long van-trips in Europe and during a 3 weeks motorbike trip around the south of India.
It’s the one getting crushed at the bottom.
I’m not very careful with it. It often ends up thrown on the floor, in the sand or stuffed under an airplane seat. I often carry it by one of the side handles, applying direct pressure on the main zip opening.
I can say the backpack is built solid. 1.5 years later, the wear it shows is limited.
Even though the Xpac version was supposed to be less abrasion-resistant, the fabric of the body is still in very good state.
One exception is at the bottom angles of the bag, where understandably it gets the most ripped. (Bottom is the only part in Cordura thankfully.)
Some of the seams are starting to show usure. For example this one on the main shoulder strap.
The metal pieces used for the compression straps are rusting a bit (replaceable though).
So while it is built really solid, it might not really last a lifetime of hardcore travel.
What this bag has for itself is extendability.
From carrying the strict minimum for a day of cruising to 50L of heavy stuff.
Thanks to side compression straps and the huge roll-top, the capacity is easily adjusted.
As a day bag, it works mostly great except for two things:
1. It looks a bit weird. The roll top cannot be hidden and gives a bit of a "croissant" feel to the bag.
👉 Suggestion to designer: if we could just have little strap/velcro to attach the top of the bag body to the part just above the top handle, that would allow to stuff and keep the rolltop inside hen not in use. It might limit a bit access to the main zip, but worth it imho
Might try implementing that myself with a sewing machine.
Would fix the croissant effect:
2. The bottom hip belts cannot really hidden and they end up dangling around.
👉 Suggestion to designer: I would be nice to be able to stuff them inside the water-bottle pockets like it’s possible for the compression straps. Just another small hole in the pockets.
Then the bag can be stuffed to some legendary levels:
The super extendability makes it perfect for unexpected purchases when you're out and about.
Whether you're traveling with all your belongings or just a laptop, you can easily grab groceries for the week without having the hassle of carrying them in an extra bag.
The bag sports an almost-360 zip opening. Great to access any item wherever it's located in the bag.
Very useful with airport security to pull up the laptop from the top / side in a sec.
I love that the bag webbings come with little velcro extras - they keep the extra rolled up so they don't dangle around.
Side water-bottle pockets
Edit: this was fixed in the latest iteration of the bag 🎉
One of my biggest gripe with the backpack is the side water-bottle pockets: they're not expandable, rendering them useless. It's difficult to access or put items inside when the backpack is stuffed.
👉 I remember reading somewhere the designer said this was intentional to ensure long-term durability.> Isn’t there some kind of high-quality material that can give some stretch and maintain it over time?
Quick access pocket
On the front of the bag, the quick access pocket is great and I love the soft fabric inside.
It's perfect for sunglasses, a laptop charger and even a Kindle.
The key hook is quite useful.
One slight annoyance I noticed is when the bag is fully opened via the 360 opening on its back, this pocket is difficult to access, as it ends up at the bottom of the bag.
Over time the fabric has stretched a bit. While I guess that's expected with frequent use, I often found the pockets aren't tight enough and things I put there don't stay well put. Same for these mini pen/toothbrush pockets. When opening I'm carefuly small things don't fall of.
The bag is okay to wear. Comfort of wear hasn't been an issue but hasn't been an highlight either.
The shoulder strap could use some extra & softer padding for when the bag is fully packed, but they aren't uncomfortable by any means.
The lumber area of the bag in XPAC makes it a bit sweaty at times.
I find myself often pushing the bag away from my pack with my hands to allow air to pass. That said, I live in hot places and I'm not sure how that could be improved without a full ventilation system.
Oh, and that bottom handle is great in to pull the backpack in the airplane top compartment.
Overall, and despite the flaws I mentioned, this bag is still the best I found on the market for my needs.
If Attitude Supply addressed some of the details like
the side pockets, being able to hide the rolltop during daybag mode, improved a little bit the comfort and inside fabrics, I would jump on the upgrade.
Did you find your perfect backpack? Would love to see yours :)