Cotopaxi are an ethical outdoor gear brand with a difference. A remarkable social mission might be the beating heart of the company but innovative, considered and durable design is the backbone. Read on to find out more about this brand and what we think sets their gear apart.
Cotopaxi founder Davis Smith grew up in Latin America, an adventurous upbringing that inspired a deep love for the great outdoors (the company is named after Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador), but also offered an up-close insight into communities of hardworking people across the world living in extreme poverty. A desire for ergonomic adventure gear and the desire to do social good are the two core pillars of the Cotopaxi brand.
Whilst hitting our BuyMeOnce product criteria comes first, Cotopaxi’s social mission is well worth shouting about. Everything the brand does aims to build a bridge between people who love to explore and global communities in need of aid and awareness.
Cotopaxi products are guaranteed for 61 years. Why? Because that is the average lifespan of a person living in the developing world. Cotopaxi is a certified B Corporation, and 2% of their revenue goes towards a range of charities such as International Rescue Committee and Educate Girls, aiming to provide health, education and livelihoods in developing countries and in the US. It makes a difference to know your purchase is doing some good at home and abroad.
THE DEL DÍA COLLECTION
Cotopaxi’s Del Día range is an intriguing waste-saving concept that has been beautifully executed. This entire collection of durable backpacks and travel accessories, ranging from the Dopp Del Día Washbag to the Tarak Del Día Climbing Pack for serious adventurers, is manufactured using small batches of leftover fabric and components, resulting in unique products and some beautifully crazy colorways. (It was described as "artistic in its scrappiness” by Gear Junkie).
A green zip here, a yellow strap there; this is extreme waste-saving turned into distinctive and exciting design, an effect that can only be achieved by handing complete creative control over to the maker of each bag. This is one of the ways Cotopaxi is trying hard to shine a spotlight on the making process as part of their commitment to transparency and global connection.
A “made proudly in the Philippines” tag also sits inside each product, intentionally big and bright rather than hidden away, incorporating the national flag and language. It was designed alongside Cotopaxi’s Filipino employees as a way to recognize the value and importance of their work and to help people feel a more tangible connection with their production process and country of manufacture.
The products themselves are made from repurposed ripstop nylon, a fabric widely used in outdoor gear due to being extremely durable yet ultra lightweight. It’s noticeable that a no-frills, streamlined approach has been used during the design process. Certain products in particular, most notably the backpacks, have been mindfully designed to be versatile and multi-purpose.
A lightweight daypack called the Luzon Del Día is one of the most popular products in the range, understandable considering the tough construction coupled with real versatility. With sturdy, solid stitching all the way round, its unstructured body and lightweight fabric means it can be easily compressed and stowed away. Perfect for commuting, for cycling round the city or for stowing in a larger pack on your travels ready to bring out for mini adventures.
This same principle is applied to their more technical gear. Whilst on many climbing packs it’s usual to see toggles, straps and buckles galore, the Tarak Del Día is as streamlined as it can possibly be whilst providing ample lash points for comfortably arranging your gear. Less to catch, snag and break, and easy to operate whilst out in the elements, even if wearing gloves.
Ergonomic, durable design coupled with an innovative approach to reducing waste would be enough for us to shout this brand’s name from the rooftops, but their commitment to transparent manufacture as well as an admirable social mission makes it easy to feel great about supporting Cotopaxi.
A product from the Del Día range in particular is one you can be proud to show off on your travels, camping trips and on the subway. We only hope that more brands catch on to this method, and that a jazzy mix of colors and components comes to signal a product manufactured with minimal waste; a bright bold patchwork as a sustainable badge of honor. Who knows? It might happen.