Expert Review: Patagonia Atom 8L Sling Backpack

This review is my honest opinion of the sling pack, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2019.

A woman walking with the Patagonia Atom 8L sling on.

Photo by Hunter Reed

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About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the sling pack, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2019.

My take

The Atom 8L Sling Backpack is a comfortable pack for shorter hikes, or just as a day-to-day bag around town for one’s wallet, water bottle, and keys.

About the pack I own

  • Model: Patagonia 8L Atom Sling Backpack
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Size: One size
  • Pack capacity: 8L

About me

  • Height: 5’3”
  • Weight: 115lbs
  • Experience: 20+ years of backpacking and camping

Test conditions

  • When I bought it: January 2019
  • Length of trips: 1–5 miles maximum
  • Used for: Short hikes, traveling, a day-to-day pack to use around town
  • Where I’ve used it: Some hiking trails in Utah, some short hikes around Hawaii, and some days of exploring on bike in Tulum, Mexico
  • Seasons I’ve used it in: All seasons

How it performs

Back Breathability

What I was looking for

I was looking for a small pack to bring along on short hikes, walks, or around the farmers market that could carry my water bottle, keys, phone, and wallet. I had a backpack that I used for serious treks, so this was more of a casual pack to bring with me around town in lieu of carrying something like a purse or a handbag.

Why I chose this gear

I chose this product because a friend had gotten this pack and it seemed really convenient. Before getting the Atom 8L, I would bring a small crossbody purse if I needed to carry my wallet or anything else; but I am not a purse person, so I was on the hunt for a better solution. I liked that the Atom had a pocket on the front chest strap for my phone, and that it was easy to get in and out of. I also appreciated that it was large enough to carry my 32oz Hydroflask water bottle, because I find I carry this around a lot and tend to leave it in places by mistake. I didn’t really consider any other options when purchasing this; as soon as I heard my friend raving about her’s, I knew I wanted the same one.

What I love about it

  • Durability: I have used this almost everyday for the last three and a half years. It is starting to look a bit worn, but that’s a great life and I’m sure I could wash it and it would look much better. Other than that, there are no holes, stains, or issues. It seems to be extremely durable.
  • Weight: The Atom 8L sling weighs 12oz. For the durability of the product and what I use it for, this feels like a reasonable weight. I don’t have a ton to compare it to since it’s more of a unique product, and weight is not a huge concern given what I use it for.
  • Ease of use: I find it really easy to get in and out of the main compartment since I can just slide it under my arm. It’s also easy to access my phone since there is a phone compartment on the chest. It can be washed in the washing machine and air dried.
  • Adjustability: The chest strap is totally adjustable. I am on the smaller side and it fits me great; but it could also adjust to fit someone much larger than me if need be.
  • Capacity: The Atom 8L is on the smaller side. It doesn’t fit all the essentials for a longer day hike very well—though I wouldn’t want to take it on a longer day hike just because of the one-shoulder design. It does adequately fit my water bottle, phone, keys, or my camera, phone, keys, wallet. I don’t love walking around with my camera around my neck when I want to bring it places, or like carrying my water bottle all the time, so the fact that it can fit one of these at a time is awesome for me.
  • Features: There are two buckled straps on the outside of the pack that can be stored when not in use. On beach trips it functions as a way to attach my sandals to my backpack externally. I have also attached a spare hat and bandana to these straps so I have more room inside the pack.
  • Organization and pockets: For how small it is, this pack is easy to keep organized. There is a top outer pocket that has an internal hook. I use this to attach jewelry or other things that might get lost in the big compartment. I can also fit my wallet in this pocket. In the main compartment there is a sleeve, which I will use for larger things that I don’t want getting crumpled up (cards, important papers). The main compartment is where I keep larger things such as my water bottle or camera, and then the pocket on the chest is where I keep my phone. It fits my iPhone SE perfectly.
  • Pack Access: The zipper spans the entirety of the pack, and the pockets are also really easy to get in and out of.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Suspension and comfort: This bag has a thick shoulder strap and is pretty comfortable for wearing around town. But I don’t like doing anything longer than a few miles with it because it starts to make one shoulder feel a bit sore and doesn’t distribute weight well.
  • Weather Resistance: It isn’t totally waterproof, but it does have some durable, water-repellent coating on the outside. I have used it in heavy rain and it usually keeps the internal contents dry but feels heavy and wet quickly.
  • Other: It is important to note that although it is listed as a Patagonia backpack—a company that normally makes technical backpacks for hiking—the Atom 8L is much better as an around-the-town pack and not the best choice for most types of serious outdoor recreation.

Favorite moment with this gear

I use this pack a ton, but my top moment with it was on a recent trip to Mexico. A friend and I were staying in a town an hour or so from Tulum but wanted to visit for a day. After taking a bus there, we rented bikes and rode around to different sights. She brought a backpack and I brought my Atom 8L Sling. I was so happy to have this because it was really easy to use on a bike. I could use one hand to twist it around and grab my phone if I needed to know where I was going; and since it only has one shoulder strap instead of two, it was much cooler than having a thick, heavy backpack on both shoulders as we pedaled around all day. I kept my water bottle, cash, and passport safe and easy to access if I needed them.

Value for the money vs. other options

I don’t have much to compare this to price-wise because I didn’t really look around for other options before purchasing. I knew it was what I wanted, and I hadn’t seen anything like it before. I purchased it for around $65, and for the amount that I have used it, I think it is worth it. It has been my daily bag for three years and it's still in good shape. The pockets and organization are incredibly well-thought-out and I have purchased several as gifts for friends who said they liked mine.

Final verdict

The Patagonia Atom 8L Sling Pack is an awesome bag that I use almost everyday. It is my go-to pack for errands, travel, markets, day outings, or short hikes. It has plenty of zippers to keep everything organized and secure, it fits my water bottle, and it is still in great shape after three years of nearly everyday use.

Selling Patagonia on
Patagonia 8L Atom Sling Backpack, Black
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Growing up in Utah makes it hard to not fall in love with camping and hiking! Lucky for me my parents got me out at a young age and I've been enjoying trails and campsites all across the west since I was little girl! There's just something special about making some dinner over a fire and going to sl...

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