Cotopaxi Taboche 55L Backpack

Testing the Cotopaxi Taboche 55L backpack during a hike at Horsethief Butte in the Columbia River Gorge on Yakama, Wasco and Wishram ancestral land.  Photo courtesy of Nathan Kaul

Testing the Cotopaxi Taboche 55L backpack during a hike at Horsethief Butte in the Columbia River Gorge on Yakama, Wasco and Wishram ancestral land. Photo courtesy of Nathan Kaul

Quick Overview

This Cotopaxi Taboche 55L backpack ($190) comes in two colors, a jazzy Graphite/Fiery Red and an eye-catching Graphite/Aqua. This 55L pack weighs 4lb 17oz and offers plenty of space and thoughtful exterior storage for a multi-day backpacking trip.

My First Impression

Multiple, strategically placed exterior pockets made it easy to quickly store and retrieve items from the Taboche.  Photo courtesy of Nathan Kaul

Multiple, strategically placed exterior pockets made it easy to quickly store and retrieve items from the Taboche. Photo courtesy of Nathan Kaul

Right away, I fell in love with the contrasting Graphite/Fiery Red color combo. The dark blue fabric is all business while the fiery red straps, and white buckles round out a color pleasing palette. The colors really stand out in a natural setting which is what I prefer for photos.

I’m very conscientious of weight when packing for trips so I also like the fact that the pack isn’t too heavy.

As every backpacker, climber or day hiker knows, lots of exterior pockets are a must have! I like to keep things organized and easily accessible, especially on multi-day trips. This bag does not disappoint. There are plenty of exterior pockets that are strategically to maximize storage and easy access.

Another incredibly important part of choosing a pack is finding one that works for your body. I’m pretty picky about backpacks overall because they seem to create hotspots on my body—especially during long treks. However, my initial impression about this backpack was positive considering its weight, storage compartments, cushioned framed, and style.

Specifications

This pack weighs in at 4.17lb which is excellent for a 55L backpack. The size is very functional for overnight and multi-day backpacking trips.

Has the following specifications:

Never upend your entire pack in search of gloves again! Just store them here in one of the Taboche’s easily accessible exterior storage pockets.  Photo courtesy of Nathan Kaul

Never upend your entire pack in search of gloves again! Just store them here in one of the Taboche’s easily accessible exterior storage pockets. Photo courtesy of Nathan Kaul

The vertical pocket on the shoulder strap made it incredibly convenient to store and access small items like lip balm or car keys.  Photo courtesy of Nathan Kaul

The vertical pocket on the shoulder strap made it incredibly convenient to store and access small items like lip balm or car keys. Photo courtesy of Nathan Kaul

Raincover & pocket.  Photo courtesy Nathan Kaul

Raincover & pocket. Photo courtesy Nathan Kaul

  • Dimensions 29.2 x 41.9 x 13.8 cm (11.5 x 16.5 x 5.5 in)

  • Dual vertical outer pockets – for stuffing items high use items like my beanie, gloves, micro puffy, buff, etc. There’s also an inner mesh pocket for the rain cover.

  • Back panel has 4.5in of adjustment--fits torso lengths of 13.7 to 17.7in

  • Two side water bottle pockets

  • Two decently sized hip-belt pockets for quick access to essentials. No need to get hangry or miss out on an epic photo because you can’t find your iPhone

  • A vertical mini pocket on the strap that can fit small items like Chapstick or car keys.

  • The brain (top) of the backpack has both an outer and inner zipper pocket that stores an impressive amount of extra random gear.

  • An internal compartment that stores a water bladder

  • An inner mesh pocket for additional compartmentalized storage.

  • A spacious sleeping bag compartment.

Environmental & Social impact

One of the things I like most about Cotopaxi’s products is that they aim to create lasting products with a positive and measurable impact on the world. This Taboche backpack is no exception. It’s made in Bataan, Philippines and 2% of their revenue goes towards alleviated poverty which aligns with Cotopaxi’s motto of “Do Good”.

They also guarantee this bag to last 61 years! You can get it exchanged, replaced, or repaired in-house. I value organizations that offer in-house repairs because it reduces my overall carbon footprint by extending the life of products I already own but happen to need some TLC.

Views of Mt. Hood (Wy’east) via the North Side. The stratovolcano is located in the Cascade Range on Yakama, Wasco and Wishram ancestral land.  Photo courtesy of Rebecca Ross

Views of Mt. Hood (Wy’east) via the North Side. The stratovolcano is located in the Cascade Range on Yakama, Wasco and Wishram ancestral land. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Ross

Performance

I wore this pack while backpacking on two occasions. The first outing was a day hike to train for upcoming mountaineering trips in the Georgian Caucuses. It’s incredibly important to break in a new pack on training hikes. The last thing I want to do is to wear a pack for the first time during a technical climb only to discover mid-way that the fit is off. Right away, I was impressed with how the overall comfort. The cushioned back frame seemed to reduce hotspots. The pack also sat high enough on my waist to minimize unwanted pressure points on my hip bones.

The second outing was more technical. I climbed Mt. Hood (Wy’east) via the Sunshine route, a 2-day climb that required me to lug all of my gear up and over the stratovolcano. I packed as light as I possibly could; my pack weighed 40lbs including rope, which was not insubstantial but still a far cry away from my usual 65lbs on Rainier (Tahoma).

This was by far one of the most comfortable multi-day backpacks I’ve tried. When I’m not going ultra-light for a fast summit bid, I plan to make this pack my go to for sure.

Backpack Fit

This pack was ideal for my petite frame, sitting relatively comfortable on my waist. The Taboche has multi-directional straps that allowed me to get a snug fit in every direction and eliminated lateral movement/jostling. Although, I did have an excessive length of straps flapping in the wind, this just means it can adjust to a wide range of body frames.

For me, most bags put too much pressure on my hips—and having tight hips, to begin with, adds a lot of discomfort on long hikes. I was literally relieved to focus on my climb as opposed to thinking of ways to block out hip pain.

My shoulders did feel sore after my climb, but then again, I had been wearing the pack for 17-hours straight (with minimal breaks). Any weight on the shoulders for that duration would cause some discomfort.

My Overall Impression:

As an avid backpacker and high altitude climber, I think this backpack will personally become a staple for multi-day trips when I need to carry quite a bit of gear.

I really liked having a large compartment for my sleeping bag. It made stowing my sleeping bag a breeze, instead of a headache. I actually had enough room leftover that I was able to add some extra items.

The Taboche sat high enough on my waist to avoid hotspots on my hips where other packs normally cause pain and discomfort.  Photo courtesy of Nathan Kaul

The Taboche sat high enough on my waist to avoid hotspots on my hips where other packs normally cause pain and discomfort. Photo courtesy of Nathan Kaul

The biggest disadvantage, which I noticed right away, is that the Taboche is missing a hole for my bladder hose. Without this necessary feature, my water hose sat awkwardly with nowhere to go! It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s an unusual oversight in a multi-day backpack. Even still, I anticipate getting a lot of use out of the Taboche 55L!