Reviews You Can Rely On

Cotopaxi Tarak 20L Review

The versatile nature of this bag detracts somewhat from its climbing-specific performance
Cotopaxi Tarak 20L
Photo: Amazon
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $100 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Versatile, colorful
Cons:  Heavy, not durable, large size
Manufacturer:   Cotopaxi
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 21, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 5
  • Climbing Utility - 25% 6
  • Durability - 20% 4
  • Versatility - 20% 8
  • Weight - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Cotopaxi Tarak 20 is a pack suitable for all sorts of outdoor adventures, and it climbs okay too. Multiple exterior attachment points and three pockets let climbers overstuff the pack and still keep things organized. However, the straps, spacious main compartment, and lid add up to make it a bit on the heavy side despite its lightweight materials. The back length is also longer than other models in our review, so shorter climbers might have some fit issues. If you're a medium to tall climber who's looking for a small pack to do more than just multi-pitch rock, this could be a good choice.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Cotopaxi Tarak 20L
This Product
Cotopaxi Tarak 20L
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$80 ListCheck Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$60 List
Check Price at Backcountry
$80 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
56
73
64
64
63
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Versatile, colorfulSimple, great zippered pocket, streamlinedDurable, comfortable, simpleSimple, sturdy, lightLight, great features, roomy
Cons Heavy, not durable, large sizeLimited attachment points, easy to drop stuffHeavy, few hydration featuresNo emergency whistle, draw cord and cord lock blend into packFragile, not super versatile
Bottom Line The versatile nature of this bag detracts somewhat from its climbing-specific performanceThough there are no extra features, this bag ticks all the boxes for multi-pitch climbingThis comfortable and utilitarian pack is light on features but heavy on durabilityThis is a great pack for multi-pitch rock climbs at a very fair priceThis small and light climbing pack is well optimized for alpine action
Rating Categories Cotopaxi Tarak 20L The North Face Rout... Black Diamond Creek 20 Black Diamond Rock... Black Diamond Blitz 20
Comfort (25%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Climbing Utility (25%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Durability (20%)
4.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
4.0
Versatility (20%)
8.0
7.0
4.0
5.0
5.0
Weight (10%)
4.0
5.0
3.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Cotopaxi Tarak 20L The North Face Rout... Black Diamond Creek 20 Black Diamond Rock... Black Diamond Blitz 20
Capacity 20L 16L 20L 15L 20L
Measured Weight 1.3 lbs 1.1 lbs 1.7 lbs 0.9 lbs 0.9 lbs
Padded back? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fabric Type 210D ripstop nylon 420D nylon 1200D polyester with TPU coating 840D nylon Dynex (210D + PE 200D)
Whistle? No Yes Yes No No
Accessory Pockets? Two external zip, one internal zip One external zip One internal zip One external zip, one internal zip One external zip, one internal zip
Outside Carry Options? Daisy chains, compression straps Daisy chains Top strap, two daisy chains Top strap doubles as rope strap Top strap, ice axe attachments
Hip Belt Yes, removable Yes, removable Yes, removable Yes, removable Yes, removable
Hydration System Compatible Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Key Clip? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Tarak 20 is a versatile outdoor pack from a company with a nice set of environmental and human values. Some of the qualities that make this colorful bag so versatile, however, limit its climbing utility.

Performance Comparison


Scoping new terrain with the Tarak.
Scoping new terrain with the Tarak.
Photo: Jessica Haist

Comfort


The Tarak 20 lands about in the middle of our testing pack when it comes to comfort. We never felt like the padded back panel was restrictive, which is nice. The back of the pack is also fairly narrow and tapers from top to bottom, another important quality.

This bag is, however, oddly tall. It boasts a back length of about 19" (around 48 cm) which is on the longer side for packs in this review. This means that, for many climbers, the bag will block access to the back of their harness, or they'll hit the back of their helmet on the top when looking up. Climbers of smaller stature could experience both!

This pack has a nice tapered design, but the back panel is longer...
This pack has a nice tapered design, but the back panel is longer than a lot of similar packs, which leads to fit issues for climbers who aren't tall.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Climbing Utility


Some of the features on the Tarak are well executed, but not all. The key clip is at the bottom of the internal zippered pocket, which we think is much better than the top. Removing the pack's hip belt is a pretty intuitive operation. The lid buckle is also intuitive and durable, and there are three zippered pockets: one on the lid, one on the front, and one inside. There are no hauling-specific attributes, though there are enough external attachment points to rig up something redundant with a sling or two. We did miss having a whistle integrated into the sternum strap buckle, and the bag is not particularly streamlined; the four external straps plus the lid strap offer many spots for greedy bushes to grab on.

The reservoir pocket is deep and will accommodate any bladder. The hanging system is a piece of webbing with a buckle that will work for many models and could be easily adapted for others. The setup has an odd feature, though. The hose port at the top of the system leaves the hose trapped under the lid instead of going through it, and there is nothing to help route the hose onto the shoulder straps.

The hose doesn't exit the pack towards the climbers face.
The hose doesn't exit the pack towards the climbers face.
Photo: Jessica Haist

Durability


The Tarak 20 is not a particularly durable pack. Top-loading packs that close with a drawstring are less prone to failure of the main compartment closure, and this bag has this design element. The materials, though, are not especially durable. The pack is made with 210D nylon throughout, which isn't very abrasion-resistant. Keep this pack away from wide cracks and avoid hauling it.

We like how colorful this fabric is (better for photos), but it's...
We like how colorful this fabric is (better for photos), but it's not very durable.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Versatility


Though our testing team is far from fashion mavens, many liked the eye-catching style of the Tarak. This was one of several qualities that helped this model score well for versatility. It's a useful bag for urban pursuits because it can easily swallow a laptop and other stuff for a day of remote work or a modest load of groceries.

The Tarak has a good rope carrying setup. For reference, this is a...
The Tarak has a good rope carrying setup. For reference, this is a 9.6mm 70m.
Photo: Jessica Haist

The overall size of this pack makes it a little cumbersome to pack into a larger bag for day trips from a backcountry base camp. However, the size, and the multitude of attachment options on the outside, mean that the Tarak can make trips into snowy/icy terrain with aplomb. It also worked well on shorter backcountry ski tours, where we were able to pack a low-profile ski helmet inside the pack.

The Tarak has a clever, secure, and simple system for carrying ice...
The Tarak has a clever, secure, and simple system for carrying ice tools.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Weight


The Tarak 20 weighs 1.3 lbs (about 584 grams). This is on the heavier side of packs in our test. Despite the lightweight fabrics, it's still a fairly large small climbing pack.

Weighing the Tarak.
Weighing the Tarak.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Value


We think the Tarak is an okay value. It won't fit all climbers well, and not all climbers will appreciate some of the features that make it versatile. But, if you're into supporting companies trying to make a difference beyond their bottom line, that could enhance the value of this pack for you.

Conclusion


The Cotopaxi Tarak 20 is a great general purpose pack that can easily be used for long climbs. It has some decent features that climbers look for, but lighter-duty fabrics mean it should be kept away from chimneys and hauling. However, its size and multiple external attachment options can make it a good choice for light and fast trips into more alpine or wintery terrain.

The Tarak is a colorful all-arounder.
The Tarak is a colorful all-arounder.
Photo: Jessica Haist

Ian McEleney