Cotopaxi Tarak 20L Review
Cons: Heavy, not durable, large size
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Cotopaxi Tarak 20L
$100.00 at Amazon
|$80 List||$110 List|
$109.95 at Amazon
|$80 List||$59.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Versatile, colorful||Simple, great zippered pocket, streamlined||Durable, comfortable, simple||Light, great features, roomy||Simple, sturdy, light|
|Cons||Heavy, not durable, large size||Limited attachment points, easy to drop stuff||Heavy, few hydration features||Fragile, not super versatile||No emergency whistle, draw cord and cord lock blend into pack|
|Bottom Line||The versatile nature of this bag detracts somewhat from its climbing-specific performance||Though there are no extra features, this bag ticks all the boxes for multi-pitch climbing||This comfortable and utilitarian pack is light on features but heavy on durability||This small and light climbing pack is well optimized for alpine action||This is a great pack for multi-pitch rock climbs at a very fair price|
|Rating Categories||Cotopaxi Tarak 20L||The North Face Rout...||Black Diamond Creek 20||Black Diamond Blitz 20||Black Diamond Rock...|
|Climbing Utility (25%)|
|Specs||Cotopaxi Tarak 20L||The North Face Rout...||Black Diamond Creek 20||Black Diamond Blitz 20||Black Diamond Rock...|
|Measured Weight||1.3 lbs||1.1 lbs||1.7 lbs||0.9 lbs||0.9 lbs|
|Fabric Type||210D ripstop nylon||420D nylon||1200D polyester with TPU coating||Dynex (210D + PE 200D)||840D nylon|
|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, ice axe attachments||Top strap doubles as rope strap|
|Hip Belt?||Yes, removable||Yes, removable||Yes, removable||Yes, removable||Yes, removable|
|Hydration System Compatible?||Yes||Yes||No||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.
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!
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
— Ian McEleney
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