Review: Cotopaxi Cusco 26L Backpack

Photo: Jakob Schiller/

There’s a throwback trend in the bag world these days. Designers are making backpacks that look like they were built in the 1970s or 80 because that’s what’s in. The problem, I’ve found, is that many of these bags also carry like they were built 30 years ago. They’re uncomfortable and favor fashion over function.

The Cusco 26 from Cotopaxi, on the other hand, has stuck the perfect balance. It looks like a piece you might be happy find in your parents’s attic, but it also borrows from modern backpack design to ensure you can wear it for hours on a hike in the mountains or while running through an international airport to catch your flight.

Photo: Jakob Schiller/

The bag has a narrow cut, so it hugs your body and stays in place when you’re moving around. The straps are thick and padded, and a breathable back panel helps prevent a sweat spot from developing on your shirt. Inside there’s 26 liters of room—plenty for school books, or lunch and extra clotting on the trail—plus a padded sleeve that will fit up to a 15-inch laptop. The nylon/cotton canvas outer material is water resistant so you won’t ruin your computer if it starts raining and all the zippers are nicely accentuated with leather pulls.

Like other brands that donate part of their their profits for good, Cotopaxi has partnered directly with several non-profits around the world that receive a portion of the sales from every product the company sells. For the Cusco 26L, each purchase funds an on-site tutor for one child for a week at Qosqo Maki, a non-profit in Cusco, Peru that provides educational support and occupational training for children on the street and families living in poverty. You get a great backpack, a deserving organization gets much needed funding.

The Elements

  • Mashes styling from the 1970s with functionality from the 21st century.
  • Affordable.
  • A portion of the profits funds educational and occupational training for people in need in Cusco, Peru.
Photo: Jakob Schiller/