To say that travelers are obsessed with luggage is an understatement. And for good reason: The right bag makes travel easier, cheaper, more comfortable, and safer, whether you prefer a carry-on rollaboard, a large backpack, a duffle bag, or simply a fanny pack.
Utah-based gear and apparel company Cotopaxi makes some of the coolest-looking packs on the market right now with smart designs and bright colors. We put two different Cotopaxi bags — the Allpa 28L Travel Pack and the Batac 16L Backpack — to the test in a variety of travel situations to see how they fared.
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Cotopaxi’s Allpa 28L Travel Pack
The Allpa 28L Travel Pack is one of Cotopaxi’s best-selling and top-rated packs. I’m not surprised – it’s the most reliable pack I’ve ever owned.
Allpa 28L Travel Pack’s size
- 28 liters
- 19 x 11 x 9 inches
- 2 pounds, 10 ounces
The Allpa Travel Pack comes in three different sizes: 42L, 35L, and 28L. Because I’m one of those insufferable travelers who strive to travel light and like to talk about it, I opted for the 28L version. The Allpa Travel Pack easily fits in the overhead compartment of even the small one planes, but is a bit of a squeeze to slide under the seat in front of you when full. I took it as my carry-on luggage for an 11-day trip that involved a variety of climates and managed to fit everything from my rain pants, woolen hat, and mittens, to my bathing suit, hiking boots, and a large pair of binoculars. Note that while not expandable, this Cotopaxi bag has the most solid zipper I’ve ever seen on a pack, so you can fill it a little more than it should be and still close it without the fear of breaking.
Allpa 28L Travel Pack’s practicality, comfort, and durability
The Allpa 28L Travel pack is a small step up from my 25L Black Hole Pack from Patagonia in terms of size, but a massive improvement in terms of practicality. While the Patagonia pack is top loading and requires that you use packing cubes to keep everything organized, this Cotopaxi bag opens like a suitcase and is pre-divided into three mesh compartments. It also features a shallow pocket in the front for the stuff you need to access on the go, like your passport, documents, book, phone, etc., and there’s a zipped, padded laptop compartment in the back with an additional tablet sleeve.
You can carry the Allpa 28L Travel Pack on your back or use the side handles to carry it like a case. I mostly used it as a backpack and it was much more comfortable than my Patagonia pack. It has thicker shoulder straps and a hip belt that sits just right. I walked many miles on the streets of Vancouver with this pack on my back and never felt pain or discomfort – and by then, it was pretty full.
I mostly used my Allpa 28L Travel Pack as a carry-on, but I did have to check it in once because I was bringing home some wine. Not only was the wine bottle intact on arrival, but the black streaks left on the front of the bag after traveling around airport luggage belts were easily washed off with some soapy water.
Allpa 28L Travel Pack’s looks and best features
While the pack is all-around excellent, there are some elements that are particularly ingenious.
- The anti-theft zipper system allows you to walk around big cities and take the metro squished among dozens of people without worrying about your stuff. It’s a simple yet effective system that should be a standard feature on every backpack out there.
- The tuck away straps makes a world of a difference when checking the bag at the airport. Luggage belts don’t like loose backpack straps as they get caught in the system and can create damage. Usually you’re asked to tie and put away the straps as well as you can, but some airlines go as far as giving you huge plastic bags to put your backpack in. Cotopaxi solved the loose straps issue in a brilliant, uncomplicated way.
- A rain cover on a backpack is nothing new, but it’s not a feature that’s on every pack sold. The rain cover fit is tight and works great. It is also neatly tucked away in its own pocket. I tested it on smaller backpacks when walking around Juneau, Alaska, in the pouring rain, and every item in my bag stayed dry.
- Cotopaxi’s signature colors let you pick just about any color of the rainbow. And with such a unique and vibrant pack, you’ll have no problem finding your luggage on the baggage carousel.
Cotopaxi’s Luzon 18L Backpack – Del Día
The Luzon 18L Backpack — Del Día is a popular daypack with a 4.7-star rating (out of five) on both the Cotopaxi and REI websites out of hundreds of customer reviews. Mid-sized yet spacious, sturdy, simple, and sustainable, it’s an all-around pack that’ll keep you prepared for anything the afternoon brings.
Luzon 18L Backpack’s size and comfort
- 18L (609 oz)
- 20 x 11.25 x 5.1 in (51 x 34 x 12 cm)
- 300 g (0.66 lbs)
The Luzon 18L Backpack’s size is one of its biggest perks. The pack skews long and narrow, conforming to the shape of your back (particularly for taller people) under light (yet sturdy) unpadded (yet comfortable) mesh shoulder straps. With no frame and a large interior compartment, this Cotopaxi bag is more of a sack than a rucksack, but it can fit a surprising amount of stuff.
I took my Cotopaxi bag on all-day hikes that required no technical equipment but lots of layers, food, and water (the internal hydration sleeve easily fit my two-liter Camelback bladder). On more than one occasion, I’ve packed it with two pairs of rock climbing shoes, two harnesses, a belay device, two light jackets, and a 36-ounce water bottle to cart to the climbing gym (where its bright colors always make it easy to locate and retrieve from the sea of cubbies). Once, I even stuffed it with a full load of laundry and walked to the laundromat seven blocks from my apartment (a considerably more pleasant walk than lugging around a hamper).
I have yet to try using the Luzon 18L Backpack for anything more than an afternoon activity, but it does make for a solid daypack on longer trips. Ultra-lightweight and able to be rolled up, it’s an easy pack to stash in a larger bag, whether you’re going backpacking or visiting a city.
Luzon 18L Backpack’s practicality and durability
Aside from the internal hydration sleeve and external zippered pocket, the Luzon 18L is one big compartment. This makes it easy to pack and very versatile but equally difficult to organize and navigate once packed. As someone who spends an equal amount of time in urban and outdoor spaces, I appreciate the fact that there aren’t a million single-use compartments that are only condusive to one activity or lifestyle — for city dwellers, both the hydration sleeve and external zippered pocket in the Luzon 18L could also double as a laptop compartment. On the other hand, smaller items like house or car keys, cellphones and chargers, energy bars, sunglasses, and sunscreen have a tendency to get lost at the bottom of the pack.
After a couple of months of light use, my Luzon 18L Backpack shows zero signs of wear, which is not exactly a testimony to its durability. But the positive reviews I’ve read from shoppers who’ve had the same Cotopaxi bag for longer and subjected it to rougher use gives me confidence that this is a pack I’ll have for a long time thanks to the ripstop nylon material, which is sustainably repurposed from fabric scraps that other companies discarded. Though not waterproof by design, I’ve also found the nylon material to be somewhat moisture-wicking, although there’s no flap covering the drawstring closure on top, which could allow water to get into the pack.
Luzon 18L Backpack’s looks and best features
Compared to many of Cotopaxi’s packs, the Luzon 18L Backpack is light on features. In some ways, that’s what makes it a good pick for an everyday daypack. It also makes Cotopaxi’s signature color-blocking one of this pack’s standout features.
Every Luzon Del Día backpack is handmade from repurposed materials and designed by the workers who assemble them, meaning every piece that’s shipped is easy to see and easy to identify — two things that are particularly helpful when it comes to wilderness preparedness.