Cotopaxi is a small start up minded brand that designs, manufactures and retails their own high-end outdoor gear with s true social mission called “Gear For Good”. Due to their consumer direct model you may not have seen their designs in person or worn their latest lifestyle packs. In an effort to spread the good word and make a slight difference of our own we are here to help you in your next gear purchasing decision.
So what does Gear For Good mean to me might you ask?
Cotopaxi funds nonprofit organizations that address the most persistent needs of those living in extreme poverty. Their primary focus areas are health, education, and livelihoods. Each one of their products is backed by what they call a Human Lifespan Guarantee. They are guaranteed to last 61 years, which according to the World Health Organization’s most recent statistics, is the average lifespan of a person living in the underdeveloped world. Each purchase of Cotopaxi product contributes to their health, education, and livelihood initiatives in developing countries. Visit their page HERE to see the initiatives.
With all of this GOOD at consumer direct prices we had to get down and dirty with the gear to see how well it performed for the everyday needs of an adventure seeking thrills seeker. The Cotopaxi Cusco 26L lifestyle pack was just the gear we were hoping to see when our request was answered.
This 26L mid-sized day pack in its Beech Canopy color way instantly stands out from the crowd. Upon arrival the majority of our friends responded to its unveiling with “ you always find the most unique bags that look adventure ready”. We only have Cotopaxi to thank for this one as their design team was spot on when asking themselves what a person would need to accommodate their daily work routine while also packing in enough tech for the trail.
Upon first wearing the Cusco you will feel the difference in ergonomic design compared to a traditional “lifestyle” pack. Most bags of this sort follow strict guidelines on how they must look in order to pass the eye test at first glance but fall short of wearing comfortably especially when packed to the zipper and used while traveling. The well-padded and contoured main straps felt secure and unrestrictive from the get go. They are made from surprisingly light foam and don’t slide back and forth on your shoulders like many inexpensive day bags which beg for constant readjustment. An additional smaller chest strap secured the two main shoulder straps with a clip and is adjustable for a snug fit when heading out on a trip. With these here highly adjustable straps forming an ergonomic shape we believe that many body types and sizes will find functional comfort in the Cusco.
The bag itself is built with a tapered design so that the lower portion is a bit narrower than the top. This keeps the weight even on your back while also preventing unnecessary movement when loaded with your gear. You can have the best looking pack out there but if it’s constantly slapping you in the back while walking or hiking than it’s useless. Fortunately Cotopaxi built the Cusco with daypack features while keeping its looks dialed for the office or classroom. At just $89 it doesn’t incorporate the level of padding and breathability of its more technical counterparts but will stand up to the test when pushed beyond its typical boundaries of use.
The Cusco remains modest when speaking of compartments with 3 main storage areas. The largest compartment houses a simple laptop sleeve that works well for a 13-inch computer and ipad if needed. The sleeve itself offers a thin layer of padding to protect your laptop. Since it’s a thin padding we still use a travel cover when taking it on a plane or road trip. The remainder of the compartment is very roomy and offers up a ton of options for gearing up. Given its tapered shape we made sure to pack smart for day hikes and place less important items at the bottom while keeping camera equipment and snacks on top. The spacious main compartment also works well for notebooks and work related necessities like our catalogs.
The outer-most pocket offered an additional deep storage space and was perfect for our weekend beach trips. We were pleasantly with how much room was available here as most packs only have small pockets up front. In this compartment you also receive a small divider to separate your contents based on your needs for the day. The third and final storage area is on top of the pack in between the main and front pockets. It’s much deeper than you would expect which only adds to this packs travel ready manner. We really appreciated how easy it was to reach in and grab our contents without have to force any pockets open or sort through five different dividers. To make it even more user friendly the Cusco incorporates oversized zippers that feel sturdy enough for years of use.
The Cusco 26L is as simply enough for everyday working conditions and offers plenty of style points for those trendsetters out there. This pack simply screams adventure ready and will grab some attention from those around you with its Beech Canopy color way and suede/leather accents. The water resistant nylon shell offers safety from the elements while commuting and allows fro wiping clean when dragged across your office floor. On the trail we had plenty of storage for a few jackets, snacks and a camera. The two water bottle pockets are a bonus on those hot Southern California days when we simply couldn’t drink enough. As a lifestyle pack at an $89 price point we didn’t expect to see many technical features and to be truthful are beyond satisfied with its simplicity. Just remember, one can never have too many packs.