The lightweight recycled polyester of the Cotopaxi Palmas comes into its own on chilly spring and fall runs. To the touch, this jacket's material feels lighter than any other we have tested, and, in line with the lightweight feel, the breathability is fantastic. Additionally, folded seams offer a comfortable lining, and elastic cuffs and a hood drawstring help keep everything in place when moving. While overall this is a comfortable and effective running layer, there are a few little frustrations that kept it out of the running for any awards.
Cotopaxi Palmas Review
Cons: Stuff pocket is larger than it needs to be, weather protection isn't great
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Our Analysis and Test Results
A soft, lightweight, and stylish running jacket that will shield you from morning chill as well as the wardrobe police. Don't be fooled by the retro designs on the Palmas; it's as functional as it is good-looking.
While Cotopaxi doesn't reveal the actual denier or thickness of the fabric used in the Palmas, it is one of the thinnest jackets we tested. The material feels airy in your hands, translating to a high level of breathability through the fabric and an ability to dry quickly. Additionally, there is a set of air intakes on the back panel that help with airflow. The result is a jacket with adequate breathability, even for hard workouts.
The ultra-light material of the Palmas, even with its DWR coating, proved to be vulnerable to the elements. In this day and age, there is a large range of available materials, from ultra-thin Gore-Tex to recycled polyester, used for running layers. While the Palmas is about a third the cost of the Gore-Tex models we tested, it's also about a third as protective against the elements. During morning runs brushing past wet plants, the DWR coating performed effectively and allowed water to bead and shed away. But anything more proved detrimental to our comfort. Similarly, with wind, the thin material was effective to a point, but high winds pushed through the thin material easily.
Comfort and Mobility
Thumb loops, generously cut sizing, and soft recycled polyester combine to make a fantastically comfortable jacket. Internally, seams are obscured with folds to keep abrasive thread away from the skin. Similarly, a large protective flap lines the zipper to keep it off of your body. Thumb loops guarantee that the adequately sized sleeves stay in place and don't require any fiddling during a jog. Overall, the Palmas offers plenty of mobility and comfort for running, though the thin material is vulnerable if attempting to use it for other activities such as climbing or biking.
As we stated previously, the airy recycled polyester of the Palmas makes for a really lightweight jacket. When stuffing the Palmas down in a pack, it disappears easily. The included stuff pocket, however, is about twice as large as it needs to be considering how packable the jacket's material is.
The high level of contrast with the color scheme we tested stands out against urban environments in the day but lacks the necessary pop without 360 degree reflective markings for the night. Overall the visibility is okay, but as it is with many jackets tilted towards use in urban environments, reflective markings are critical, and having just the chest logo as a reflector isn't really good enough. When testing this jacket, standing at the corner of 1300S and 700E in Salt Lake City, nearly every person waiting in the turn lane was looking at their phone. While extra reflective markings can't guarantee you won't be hit, they do help tip the odds in your favor.
If you're looking for a functional jacket to cut the chill out of spring and fall mornings, the Palmas is a great choice. Not only is this a functional jacket, but it is also one of the more stylish layers we tested. Additionally, ethically sourced recycled polyester isn't a cheap material, which is why it isn't used as often for already expensive outdoor layers. Ultimately this is a comfortable and effective jacket at a fair price.
While there are jackets available that offer more warmth, weather protection, or packability, the Palmas is effective and looks better than almost any other jacket in our lineup. If you aren't gearing up for the Wasatch 100 and just need an effective jacket to jog around the local trails, the Palmas won't let you down.
— Brian Martin