Travel product review & photos by “Go-To Global Gal” Alyce Howard.
If I’m honest, I can be a bit of a shopaholic—once I start buying things I tend to have the compulsion to splurge—especially if I’m buying gifts for someone else. So the best way for me to not fall prey to my shopaholic tendencies is to avoid shopping as much as I can, satisfying myself with spots of intense window shopping (in stores or online) where I tell myself I can buy it later. Usually, I don’t go back and buy it later, but sometimes, a really special item will catch and hold my interest long enough that when “later” comes and the timing seems right, I may just go ahead and “treat myself.”
One such item was Cotopaxi’s hiking daypack—the 18L Luzon del Dia. Over a year ago, I got my first glimpse of the colorful, festive backpack with its adorable llama logo in an online ad and my interest was instantly piqued (I’m a sucker for bright colors and llamas!). Clicking on the image, I went to their website and my delight over the trendy design quickly turned into enthusiasm as I read about how these backpacks are made and the company’s mission. This wasn’t simply a hiking backpack that looked cute and seemed like it would be really handy to have on a long hike. The company’s motto was “Do good,”—a motto which they not only promote to their customers, but also seem to follow themselves: giving grants to a number of initiatives around the world to advance education, health, and the creation of jobs, focusing efforts on tackling and addressing the needs of those living in extreme poverty, and working with local non-profits that benefit the communities where they have their factories. At the same time, Cotopaxi works hard to create relationships with their employees while giving them a sense of ownership and pride in the products. On top of all that, they use high-quality repurposed materials that would have otherwise ended up in landfills. I could go on, but the fact of the matter was I was surprised, impressed, and more than a little tempted to splurge on one of their backpacks. I like purchasing from companies that have a reputation for quality, treating their employees well, giving back, and using environmentally conscious practices.
But the Luzon del Dia backpack had an added level of distinction. Reading about the del Dia backpack I found out that:
“Rather than following a set color pattern, each employee is given complete creative control over the color of the Del Días they make. The result? Detailed, creative, one-of-a-kind packs with a personal connection between creator and user.”
The company did this because they wanted to celebrate their employees’ talents and give them a creative outlet—two things that one rarely expects to see in a factory setting.
As much as I loved the idea and the backpack—and the price was completely reasonable—I just couldn’t seem to justify the purchase (the amount of hiking I was doing a year ago was ‘rare’ at best and didn’t seem to warrant spending the money) and so I left it alone. But for over a year the advertisements for Cotopaxi kept popping up every once in a while and I continued to drool.
I started hiking in the mountains and cliff-side trails here in San Diego more often and then, in the spring, I began planning for my return trip to Seoul—the capital of South Korea where I lived four years ago. I planned to go mountain climbing during my trip and so, finally, in honor of a trip four years in the making, I splurged and ordered the Cotopaxi Luzon del Dia. Curious to see if the del Dia might be for you? I’ve outlined the pros and cons of this 18L daypack so you can decide for yourself. Even though I can tell you that I’m a total fan, I’ve worked hard to be unbiased so that you can make up your own mind!
- Unique, one-of-a-kind backpack
- Created and sold by a company with a lot of heart
- Made of durable materials
- Lightweight, but large enough to hold a lot
- Includes an inner pocket for a hydration pack (like a Camelbak) and places for the hose to go
- Comfortable straps and buckles at chest and waist for extra comfort when the bag is full
- Outer pocket for quicker access to smaller items (keys, cell phone, camera, etc.)
- Great price! When I ordered it, it was $49 but I was also given their insulated water bottle—sold for $24—for free. Compare that to the price for many Camelbak products of a similar size and you’ll see how reasonable the del Dia is.
- Fast processing and delivery—I ordered my bag in the morning and within three hours it had shipped. It arrived in just two days.
- The lightweight material means that it’s easy to roll the bag up into a very small size—great for slipping inside your suitcase or even a large purse, if you want/need.
- The packaging and extra goodies that came with the bag made me feel like Christmas had come early—very fun, cute, and definitely made me feel even better about my purchase.
The del Dia comes in this awesome box, with all sorts of goodies (stickers, decalls, passport with handwritten notes), and their motto is front and center as soon as you open the box.
The front and back of the one-of-a-kind daypack purchased directly from their website, along with the bonus insulated bottle I recieved.
- You have to purchase the hydration pack separately. (But you can purchase these for very little on Amazon—I got my 2L pack for around 13 bucks, but you can find them for even less if you want! Even with purchasing the hydration pack the overall price is still very competitive.)
- It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind backpack—you have no control over the colors that the designer picks and uses. This can be kind of fun and cool, but it also means that you could potentially end up with a backpack in colors that you don’t like. If you aren’t up for that risk, you may want to purchase one that comes in standard colors, rather than the Luzon del Dia.
- This backpack is NOT for you if you will be traveling to a place where theft/pick-pockets are a possibility/risk (unless you won’t be putting any valuables in it). The smaller pocket is on the back of the bag (facing anyone behind you) and the top closes with a drawstring (and no flap going over the top). This isn’t necessarily a problem—especially if you are going to use it somewhere where theft isn’t really a concern, or only for carrying clothes, water, and snacks—but it is something to consider. I knew I’d be using it while hiking in Korea or in California so I wasn’t concerned about theft.
- If you are someone who likes lots of pockets/sections, this bag might not be for you. Besides the one outer pocket and the sleeve for the hydration pack it is simply a big open bag. (I like that, but I understand that’s not for everyone.)
For me, when I got the bag I was really excited, but if I’m honest I have to admit that the colors were not my style/preference. It was still really cool knowing that the person who made the bag had picked everything out and created it themselves. Embarrassingly, I’ll admit that I did cave and see if I could find a brightly colored one somewhere online to purchase a few days after my first bag arrived, which led me to finding it on Amazon. I purchased a second one from the Cotopaxi store on Amazon (because I could pick out the colors I wanted—I believe the second one that I bought is simply called the Luzon) for a little less and had it delivered within a week.
I’ve used both backpacks—the darker one on a hike up to Potato Chip Rock here in San Diego, and the bright one on my hike up and down Mt. Bukhansan in Seoul two weeks ago—and I love them! I hope this review has helped you decide whether or not this unique daypack might be something you would like to use on your next hike or trip! Till next time!
Want to learn more about some of the ways Cotopaxi gives back? Check out their “Impact” page!
More on their mission: