Cotopaxi - Nepal 65L Backpack - Gear Review

Monday, February 09, 2015

Cotopaxi, founded in 2009, does things a bit different than most outdoor gear brands, they sell exclusively online. This direct-to-customer model allows them to cut costs, use better materials, and extend the savings to the customers without the brick-and-mortar markup. Another unique thing about this company is they're one of, if not, the only outdoor gear brand with a humanitarian mission. All their products are tied to specific humanitarian causes with at least 10% of the profits benefiting their partner organizations.


I recently embarked on a two month long solo backpacking trip throughout much of Europe, hitting 30 cities in 10 different countries along the way - but more about that later. My pack of choice for this trip was the Cotopaxi Nepal 65L, which is deemed by the makers themselves as a "load-toting backpacking pack for international journeys and rugged mountain trails." Let's check out some of the features listed on their website and then we'll get into my thoughts on the pack. The purchase of this pack helps their humanitarian mission by providing 3 weeks of schooling for a child at Shree Nepane Primary School.


Features: 
Describing the pack, Cotopaxi has outlined that "the pack's main body features a butterfly zippered opening for easy access to your gear, and two large front zippered pockets and a removable top lid stash smaller items. For quick side hikes, trips to the market, or dashes to the summit, the internal hydration sleeve doubles as a lightweight backpack." The pack has "configurable side compression straps, a top rope-compression strap and attachments for your ice axe and trekking poles."  Cotopaxi proudly notes that the pack is made at their factory in the Philippines.

Additional features listed on their website:
  • ·         Contoured, padded backpanel with adjustable torso length
  • ·         Adjustable, padded mesh waistbelt with zippered pockets
  • ·         Padded mesh shoulder straps with hydration clip and zippered phone pocket
  • ·         Removable top lid with internal organizer pockets
  • ·         Butterfly opening on main compartment for easy access
  • ·         Removable internal hydration sleeve doubles as an ultralight summit pack
  • ·         Two large front pockets, side water bottle pocket
  • ·         Top compression rope strap and configurable side compression straps
  • ·         Trekking pole and ice axe attachments
  • ·         Included rain cover


My Thoughts: 
Simplicity in design shines through with this pack. Coming in a plain cardboard box I wasn't entirely sure what this giant surprise at the front door was, however, upon its unpackaging I was blown away. Sleek and stylish with undeniably quality construction, I was excited for the trip to come. Something I thought cool of it's arrival was the "Official Cotopaxi All-Access VIP Pass" that, according to them, "grants you complete access to the Shree Primary School in Kumari, Nepal." If I ever make it to Nepal, I will surely be paying it a visit. With an MSRP of $229 through Cotopaxi's website, this pack is unquestionably reasonably priced for a bag of its size.

Some other things pros I found in this bag were the full side zipper, which made it ridiculously easy to access things stuffed into the bottom of your bag without having to take everything out. On the pack there are tons of different options for attaching items outside the pack, and overall it was very a solid side, with very little squeaky or slippery parts. With that, the design of back, being sturdy and sleek in nature, made it easy for navigating crowded streets, train stations,  and trains. Another bonus of the design is that it actually fit into the overhead storage areas on most of the trains I rode throughout my excursion. The pack's quality withstood the test of 2 months of straight abuse, being thrown from hostel locker to hostel locker and random places between. Everything I had wanted to bring and more could fit in this pack no problem, and for the amount of shit I had tucked in every nook and cranny, it withstood all the tests I had put it through.

On the other side of things, I didn't find much about this bag I didn't like. Namely, the external compartments were nice, but their size and the dependence upon the amount of things packed into the main compartment for available space made them less useful throughout my expedition. Additionally, the water bottle pocket on the side wasn't all too useful, as my relatively average size bottle didn't fit into the allocated spot. This forced me to hinge it to the outside of pack, which in the end led to its disappearance near the end of my trip. However, those are all negligible. My biggest gripe with the pack was the fact that it caused some chafing on the shoulders after prolonged usage. Every now and then you would have to wander about 45-60 minutes once arriving in the city with the pack on your back to the hostel I had booked. Eventually this started leading to some tenderness on the shoulders and overall discomfort while carrying it. Another minor issue was the ease at which the suspension of the pack could be adjusted. It took me about a week and a half of messing with the straps to find the setting that was right for me.


Conclusion:
Overall I was very content with my decision to bring the Nepal 65L on my two month expedition with me. The quality of the product was great because it alleviated any potential hardware issues throughout my excursion. I would definitely recommend this pack to friends as an affordable option for a long trip out into the wilderness or Europe. I cannot wait to test this bad boy out on a long hiking trip once the weather turns in my favor - living in these northern states can be grueling at times... A big thank you to the Cotopaxi team, namely Anders, for allowing me to test out this gear and become familiar with the outstanding quality of Cotopaxi products. I cannot wait to pick up the next installment in my Cotopaxi gear. Humanitarian missions and great products come together for a winning situation. - big things are in store for Cotopaxi in the near future.


NEPAL - Tough-As-Nails Pack, Innovative Features from Cotopaxi on Vimeo.

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