I've been fantasising about writing this Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack review for a long, long time, and now that I have done it, I must find another meaning to my life. I need something similarly motivating than trying the Allpa Travel Pack; maybe I'll climb Mount Everest.
Jokes aside, I was looking forward to testing the Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack for years, and when the opportunity arose, I jumped on it. The Allpa range is considered by many as the best travel backpack around, and I tend to agree. The bags look amazing (the colours!), has tons of different pockets to organise your stuff, and are made sustainably. Should you get one, though? Let's find out.
(First reviewed April 2023.)
Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack review: Price and availability
The tested Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack is available to buy now directly from Cotopaxi US, Cotopaxi UK and Cotopaxi AU for a recommended retail price of $170/£180/AU$350. This is the newest addition to the Allpa range that also includes 35-litre and 42-litre versions, as well as 50-litre and 70-litre duffels, gear-hauler totes and hip packs.
Allpa bags come in a number of colours, and you can also buy them in the 'Del Día' colourway made using other brands’ factory remnant scraps, keeping materials out of the landfill and giving each bag a unique and one-of-a-kind colour scheme. Getting a Del Día Allpa bag ensures no one else has the exact same Cotopaxi bag as you.
Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack review: Design and features
I tried the smallest, 28-litre Allpa Travel Pack, mainly because I had a flight booked to Geneva, and after I checked the dimensions of the bag, I noticed I could take it with me without having to pay extra (you might want to check your airline's specifications before you do the same, though). Plus, I like travelling light, so even though Cotopaxi recommends the 28L Travel Pack for 'microtrips', it has enough storage for a 2-3 day trip, especially if you're going to a country where you won't need five base layers.
Considering the size, the Allpa 28L Travel pack is considerably light (only 2lb 10oz/1.19kg) yet features a low-profile harness system, TPU-coated 1000D polyester shell, 840D ballistic nylon panelling, security YKK zippers and tuck-away straps. The full-wrap zipper opens the bag up 'clamshell' style. A smaller zippered pocket at the top (still a perfect size) and a laptop sleeve wedged between the back panel and the rear of the main compartment.
There are four reinforced grab handles around the edge of the Allpa Travel Pack, and inside, you'll find a large zippered mesh compartment on one side, and two subdivided zippered mesh compartments on the other. As you can tell, there are a lot of compartments to play with, and most of them are a good size, too.
Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack review: Performance and comfort
As mentioned above, I took the Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack to Geneva with me, and I also travelled to London with it when I ran the London Marathon 2023 (here's my article about the experience, centred around Apple's rugged smartwatch: I ran the London Marathon with the Apple Watch Ultra).
For the latter trip, I needed to take my running shoes and other bits, including the Cotopaxi Abrazo Half-Zip Fleece Jacket, on a just-in-case basis. Plus, my fiancee was there to support me, and we didn't want to be weighed down by carrying two bags, so we stuffed most of her stuff into the Allpa 28L, too. There was another reason why I suggested we took only one backpack with us: I wanted to see how much the Allpa 28L Travel Pack could cope with.
As it turns out, quite a lot. I'm always a bit wary of clamshell bags with zipped compartments because I feel they somewhat reduce useful space in the bag. That said, I love that my stuff doesn't just fall out of the bag when I open it, so, I guess, you win some, you lose some. I'm happy to report that 99.9% of the 28-litre capacity in the Allpa Travel Pack can be utilised to store things.
I loved the level of organisation I could achieve using the zipped pockets. Whenever I thought I couldn't add more items, I always found a little crevice somewhere with some space. And because I packed most of the things in different sections in the bag, I could also retrieve them easily.
As for comfort, I didn't carry the heaviest load around in the Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack, and it was super comfy. The sternum and hip straps held the bag in position no matter how far out I leaned, and the airflow was sufficient between my back and the back panel. The weather wasn't scorching, though, so I can't say how well it performs in hot, humid conditions.
We even used the rain cover – London weather, am I right!? – so I was glad there was one included with the purchase. Better still, the rain cover looks equally as fun as the rest of the bag. That said, and as much as I love the colourful nature of the Allpa, it makes it pretty much impossible to blend in, which might not be ideal if you want to avoid unwanted attention abroad. Nothing screams 'wealthy tourist' like a flashy, vibrant backpack.
But that shouldn't be a problem as long as you avoid visiting Brazilian favelas (although I've never been, so who knows). On the other hand, the same colourfulness helps identify the bag when you drop it off somewhere for safekeeping. 'Mine is the flamboyant backpack with 10,000 colours'. Easy!
Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack review: Verdict
They say you shouldn't meet your heroes, but I'm glad I got introduced to the Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack – it's everything I hoped for and more. It's durable, unique, versatile, comfortable, and incredibly sexy. If you like travelling light (as I do), the 28-litre size will be large enough for two or even three-day trips. For everyone else, you can use the bag for overnight excursions or buy one of the bigger versions. Just buy the bag; that's the main thing. You won't regret it.