The ATO Backpack - Product Development

I had always wanted to make a backpack/bag/rucksack (why are there so many words for this product?) And to be honest I really didn’t think it was going to happen anytime soon. I’ve become so used to dealing with factories taking what you would assume are the most simple instructions and making a meal out of them. So much so, that when I finally decided to start sampling, I was expecting a long and arduous process.


Instead, here we are, half a year later with a backpack I am incredibly happy with.

Before I even started sampling I needed to decide what kind of backpack I was going to produce. Personally, I travel a lot & a huge part of me wanted to make a larger bag that fills that need for lightly packing up to a weeks worth of clothes + extras. However, as much there is definitely a market for this (& trust me, a bag of this kind will be coming in the future) I figured a slightly smaller, versatile backpack would be a sensible entry point.


So as with all products we produce, the first stage was to conduct a tonne of research into what kind of backpacks I thought would be most suitable. My end goal being to produce something that was practical and suited the majority of needs of your average travelling freerunner. Unsurprisingly I actually ended up taking a lot of inspiration from the average type of bag a skateboard brand would offer but wanted to bring over a couple of elements from bags that have also sparked my interest.

ATO Backpack Sleeping Bag Straps Parkour Freerunning Clothing Streetwear

Due to the fact I had convinced myself the factory was going to struggle with making a backpack, my first goal was essentially to see if they could even make one. I found a bag I thought suitable and sent it to the factory with some minor changes and very little else. I really try to avoid doing this as you’re essentially ripping off someone else's design but as I have said before, this was just to test the factories capabilities and start what I initially thought was going to be a long sampling process. The real work was going to come with the 2nd sample.


After what feels like a lengthly wait I finally received some photos from the factory before being shipped the bag a couple of days later. Amazingly they had managed to get everything pretty much perfect. The original manufacture of the bag along with the changes I had requested. The sleeping bag straps still needed work & weirdly they seem to be able to make silly mistakes such as printing the logo underneath where the straps will then sit but things like this are easily fixable. Now came the fun bit!


One thing I really wasn’t happy with was the main pocket positioning & lack of smaller pocket for items such as a phone or keys. My current backpack has a phone pocket and in my opinion it's essential. I also wasn’t particularly happy with the laptop compartment and just generally how cheap the current sample felt. After some more research into other bags, I got the tape measure out & worked out where I wanted to shift & add the pockets. I also went mad with the scissors, cutting off anything I didn’t like and moving things to where I wanted. I find giving the factory as many visual aids along with measurements is the best method for ensuring an accurate sample.


It was around this time, during a bout of jet lagged insomnia, I started cutting mesh fabric out of a jacket sample and laying it on the bag wherever felt suitable. With the help of a few safety pins & a couple of photos I felt I had got the idea across.


Now that I look back, I’m baffled as to how it took me so long to think of. But it wasn’t until I was packing my camera bag, well after I had sent the next changes to the factory, I realised the practicality of removable lens dividers. I immediately put together another document detailing what I required and where and fired it over. To be honest, once again I was unsure of whether the factory would grasp the concept/be able to implement the idea but once again they surprised me!


This all brings us to here. I now have a bag that I’m incredibly happy with and can’t wait to see out in the world. Due to the large amount of products we are producing over the next few months and the current push to really increase production value, we are opening this up to a pre-order to raise the capital to put this item into production. The bag has only been out a few days and we have already almost hit the required minimum so we should be going into production very soon!

You can preorder the bag here.


The ATO Backpack




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