Part of their (Re)Purpose collection, the Tarak is a lightweight hiking backpack made from the remnants of other companies product runs, giving new life to fabrics that would otherwise be tossed away.
As mentioned above, the Tarak backpack is part of Cotapaxi’s Del Dia line and produced almost entirely of leftover material from other products’ production runs. What would normally be sadly wasted, is now transformed into a carefully crafted and individually unique backpack. No two backpacks are exactly the same as the colors vary completely from one to the next and each pack is individually selectable. The Tarak holds two liters worth of equipment inside the main compartment, has a zippered mesh interior pocket complete with a key clip, and has a zippered pocket on the lid. It is also adorned with an exterior zippered pocket on the back of the pack, and compression straps to cinch the pack down into a tighter, more stable state. It includes a removable foam back panel, adjustable padded chest straps, two basic but adjustable hip straps, and it only weighs 1.24 lbs. It retails for $100 bucks and comes in an ever changing combination of colors, selectable on their website.
What I liked
O.K. Let’s start out with the obvious thing. I love the very idea and good nature of a backpack that is built from upcycled materials. Not only does it take some strain off the environment, it provides additional jobs and even results in a pack that aesthetically very unique and interesting. The colors really stand out on the trail, and the best part is each combination is unique to that specific pack. No two are exactly alike, except for the actual specifications. It is this kind of earth friendly philosophy that I can really get behind, given the fact that getting into nature is one of my favorite pass times. This idea of re-using leftover materials provides more visual variety, more products, and comes across as nothing but positive from my perspective.
Comfort wise, I was really surprised with this pack. It looks fairly minimalist, which often times means a bit of discomfort is sewn into its very fiber. Yet, this isn’t the case at all. I really loved how the slim and narrow shape paired with the lightly padded back panel. It sits so gently against the spine that is almost becomes unnoticeable most of the time given a fairly light pack load. The shoulder straps are also foam padded and even formed to fit the curves and angles of the collar bone and chest, which does a great job of removing pressure points. The chest and hip straps are also both adjustable for a custom tuned fit. The hip straps are fairly basic, but do a great job of keeping everything in place and stable on rougher terrain. The pack just seems to hug the body and feels more worn than carried. I’m yet to feel any discomfort while wearing it, even when stuffing it to the literal brim. I would rate the pack carrying capacity at just over 20 lbs.
The pack is also really well built. Despite being made from remnants, the designers were choosy about what materials went in and it pays off. It is built almost entirely out of 210 denier ripstop nylon, which is indeed burly and holds up great over long term use. Scrapes and scuffs have little effect on the finish and it has so far held up fantastically. The sewing itself sings of quality craftsmanship, with nary a fray or inconsistent stitch to be found despite it coming from so many individual pieces of material.
Organization is mostly great. The combination of the large internal compartment, combined with three smaller pockets makes it really easy to store and organize items in a logical way. For me, keys and wallet go inside the small zippered pocket that resides within the main stuff compartment. Meanwhile, my phone, emergency supplies and snacks go into the top lid for quicker access. Other items are simply stuffed inside the main compartment, and this works rather well for the most part.
The pack is also very stable. There are three different cinch points, one bringing the lid downwards to compress the load vertically, and two that wrap around nearly the entire perimeter of the pack at two different elevations, which brings everything inside into a nicely compressed center point. It makes for a great hiking, scrambling, or even biking and boarding pack due to this. Just don’t overtighten the vertical strap or the spine tends to bow out, which doesn’t feel great.
Weight wise, I’m very happy with the pack, especially given the features, price and build quality. At just over one pound, I can take it anywhere.
On the trail, the vivid colors and backstory of the pack becomes a great conversation piece for chance encounters with other friendly hikers.
What I didn’t like
One thing that really surprised me with the pack was the lack of exterior pockets for water bottles. While I never really found an issue of stuffing my soft bottles inside the pack, I do like the speed and convenience of having them easily accessible on the outside of the pack. On the other hand, keeping the water inside is actually more stable and nimble, while also reducing the chance that the pack will get hung up on a branch or other obstacle (nice for skiing for example). So there is that. In the end I kind of appreciated the trade off, but having the option is always nice.
Given the soft nature of the back panel, some care must be given to packing. Large, bulky items, especially hard ones, will protrude through the foam padding. I found that careful packing and gear choice made this easily avoidable, but if you must carry large, bulky or chunky items, you may feel it pushing through.
I’m a big fan of the Cotopaxi Tarak. Even ignoring the environmental and economical benefits of re-using materials, the Tarak is an exceptionally comfortable and competent day hiking pack that easily and readily extends itself to other outdoor sports. I love the styling of the pack and the durability is just about as good as it gets. But, we cannot discount how good of an idea of building such a complex piece of gear out of remnants really is. It is a pack that looks great, feels great, and is always catching the attention of those who see it. It is a great pack with a great idea behind, making is a great purchase.
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I want to extend a huge thanks to Cotopaxi for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help.
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