Cotopaxi Allpa 35 Backpack Review

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35 is a sturdy travel pack that's the perfect size for almost any length of trip. With lots of color options, tons of built-in organization, and a clamshell opening, it's hard to go wrong with this pack.

Disclaimer: I’m not a Cotopaxi affiliate, I just found a backpack I really like, and I want to share about it.

Our family often goes on trips of 2 weeks or less, and every time we do, we pack everything we need in our backpacks. As a mom of 5, I learned very early on that it was much easier to have everybody carry their own clothes instead of lugging around a massive suitcase and then having to dig through it to find each person’s stuff.

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I have always packed my own clothes and toiletries in my trusty Osprey Mira AG 26 hiking backpack (which is no longer sold, but here’s their new Mira 22 or the Mira 32). I have to say that I LOVE this pack for hiking, but it has always been inadequate for travel. It’s just not quite big enough, so I was always having to distribute some of my things in the tops of everyone else’s backpacks. And the main compartment is narrow and deep, so you have to dig everything out to find anything.

Finally, my sweet husband decided that for an early Christmas present, I could choose a travel backpack that would better fit my traveling needs. After some obsessive research, I decided on the Cotopaxi Allpa 35. I can’t say that the fun color options of the Del Día collection of this bag wasn’t a factor (I love fun colors!), but I’m here to tell you that this bag lives up to the hype in every possible way!

a petite woman wearing the cotopaxi allpa 35 review

About Cotopaxi

Before we get into a review of the backpack itself, let’s talk a bit about Cotopaxi and their Del Día Collection.

Cotopaxi is a fantastic company to support, because they are committed to making gear in the most ethical and sustainable way possible, and they also give at least 1% of their annual revenue to their Cotopaxi Foundation, which gives grants to different nonprofits who are working to help fight poverty in Latin America. You can read more about that on the Our Impact page of their website.

Their Del Día Collection takes it another step. From their website, they explain:

“All Del Día products are made in the Philippines using fabric left over from other companies’ large production runs. This keeps perfectly good materials out of the landfill, putting them into the hands of thoughtful adventurers like you.”

So that’s why the Del Día collection items are made out of a very random (and in my opinion, fun) assortment of colors! The Allpa 35 is just one of MANY items in this collection, and now I want them all!


cototpaxi allpa 35 review

The Outside

First, I have to say that the Allpa comes in the wild Del Día colors as well as a few more “normal” color schemes for those who aren’t as into the crazy colors as I am. So don’t let the color scheme in these pictures turn you off if that isn’t your thing. It’s just that is IS my thing!

The bag is made from thick, durable fabric, and held together by huge, heavy-duty zippers. Each zipper has an anti-theft tab that you can tuck the zipper under, which I thought was a very nice touch. It won’t completely stop a determined thief, but it will make it much harder for someone to open your backpack without you knowing.

There are TWELVE loops on this pack. Four on the top, four on the front, and four on the bottom, which you can use to attach whatever you want. That’s just an insane number of loops.

As I show in the video, the main complaint people have about this bag is its lack of a water bottle pocket. I have to admit, I don’t love that either, and it caused me some pause when deciding if this was really the bag I wanted or not. But I solved that by getting a carabiner and clipping my water bottle to one of the top front straps. I’m happy with my solution, and I actually like that my water bottle is easily accessible and isn’t taking up precious packing space.

On the top front, there is one large compartment that goes about halfway down the pack. Inside this compartment, sewn to the back wall, is a large mesh zipper pouch, and inside the zipper pouch are two smaller pockets. You can fit an astonishing amount of stuff in this pocket! I had a whole bag of granny smith apples in there, and it barely took up any of the space.

cotopaxi allpa 35 review side access zipper
cotopaxi allpa 35 review laptop zipper sleeve

On the sides, there are long zippers down the back of each side, close to your body. One zipper opens into the main compartment for easy access, and the other opens to a spacious laptop sleeve and space for other flat, skinny things like a notebook or travel documents.

The Allpa also features large handles on all four sides of the pack, so you can pick it up easily no matter how it’s sitting.

cotopaxi allpa 35 review back view straps hip belt

On the very back, you have some thick, padded, and curved straps with a chest clip. The straps have clips at the bottom so you can clip it around a chair leg or something to prevent it from being snatched in public.

It also has a thick, nicely padded mesh back panel. There are pockets behind this panel where you can stuff your straps and waist belt into it if you’d like. I can see how this would be handy for checking your backpack on an airplane (though I’m not sure why you’d want to do that) or even for getting the straps out of the way when stowing it in the overhead bins.

cotopaxi allpa 35 review open with compartments pockets zipped

The Inside

When you open the backpack, the clamshell design and mesh zippered compartments makes everything immediately visible and at your fingertips, which is so nice when you arrive somewhere exhausted and don’t feel like guessing where you packed the things you need.

The right side is the large main compartment. In this side, I was able to perfectly fit two of my slim packing cubes, my toiletry bag, and a very old, small Clinique bag I keep my small amount of makeup in.

cotopaxi allpa 35 review open packed clamshell zippers open

On the left, there are 3 zippered compartments: 2 small ones at the top, and a medium-sized one at the bottom. In the medium compartment, I stashed a pair of tennis shoes (inside the floral cloth bag), a blowdryer and way-too-big diffuser, my microfiber hair towel, and several full-sized things that didn’t fit in my toiletry bag, like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and hair gel. There was still wiggle room in this pouch, if I’d had more.

The top left pouch holds the rain cover, and I just left it there. I found the top right pouch to be the perfect place for my electronics and cords: headphones, phone charger, and watch charger.

As you can see, for just a weekend trip, I wasn’t very worried about being a super efficient packer. But there is plenty of room in this backpack to either pack more efficiently for a longer period of time, or to just live your life as a sloppy packer like me.

How Does it Fit?

I am a fairly petite woman at 5’2″ tall, and this backpack is very comfortable on me, even when fully loaded. I know that not everyone loves wearing hip belts and chest clips, because they look dorky, but let me tell you, they make a HUGE difference in how a pack feels on your back. Instead of all that weight hanging off my shoulders, the hip belt sits perfectly on my hips and moves the weight of the pack from my shoulders and back to my hips. And the chest clip makes it not pull on the fronts of my shoulders and secures the bag so I’m not worried about it falling off.

I debated for a while between this 35 liter Allpa and the larger 42 liter. After years of frustration with a too-small pack, I wanted to make sure that I was getting one that was big enough. I’m so glad I went with the 35. It has all the space I could possibly need, and is at the upper end of what I can comfortably carry. I think the 42 would be way too big for someone my size.

cotopaxi allpa 35 review petite woman wearing

Video Review

If you’re more of a video kind of person, I’ve also uploaded a video review showing everything I’ve packed in the bag for a weekend trip, all the cool features (although I forgot to mention that you can stuff the straps behind the back panel in the video), and how much it can hold! Enjoy!

cotopaxi allpa 35 review petite woman
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