Review: Cotopaxi Tarak del Dia

A pack for all seasons

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." Einstein's famous maxim seems to have been applied to the Tarak Del Dia, a 20-liter skiing/climbing pack from Cotopaxi. Gone are the overwrought elements so common nowadays: excessive pockets, oversized buckles, superfluous straps, et al. Nope, the Tarak keeps it tight, with a streamlined design and just four storage areas: a large main compartment, an interior pouch for essentials, a zippered outside sleeve, and a standard top-flap pocket. A hook-and-loop closure system replaces the bulky main buckle of most packs, and the Tarak's side compression straps are about half the usual width. The shoulder straps and waistbelt are appropriately slim – this is a 20-liter pack, so unless you're lugging boulders up a mountainside, a bunch of extra padding is pointless.

Make no mistake: none of these minimalist exclusions affect the comfort or utility of the Tarak. I stuffed mine full of extra layers, snacks, water, and a few safety essentials, and charged up Truman Gulch determined to find its flaws. I failed. While skinning, I barely even noticed its presence, and on the downhill, its longish, low-profile shape sat snug to my back the entire time. For ice-climbers, there's a pouch on the bottom for seating tools; rock-climbers will appreciate the sleek design, with nothing to snag them up or slow them down. The Tarak makes a great hiking ruck for short outings, and is the perfect size for a Bridger Ridge ski pack. If it didn't come in such wacky colors, I'd use it as a hunting daypack, too.

But that cornucopia of color is yet another attribute setting this pack apart: Cotopaxi uses leftover fabric from other outdoor companies. Which means that each pack is repurposed, responsible, and unique – and it may just match those old Outa Ware garments you bought during Andy's flamboyant phase. Available at Crazy Mountain Outdoor Co. on W. Main. $100;