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Cotopaxi Tasra 16L Review

A collapsible and unique option with ideal features to accommodate wanderlust
Cotopaxi Tasra 16L
Photo: Backcountry
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $85 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Collapsible, unique design, three ways to carry, functional storage, lightweight
Cons:  Lacks protection, water resistance is lacking, not good for heavy loads
Manufacturer:   Cotopaxi
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 30, 2019
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 10
  • Laptop Protection - 25% 3
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Storage - 15% 7
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Water Resistance - 15% 3
  • Style - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Cotopaxi Tasra 16L is loud and proud! Constructed of brightly colored and uniquely patterned panels of repurposed and recycled materials, this backpack is 100% unique in design. Unlike other laptop backpacks, it is collapsible and built more like a suitcase than a backpack. It offers three modes for travel — as a backpack, briefcase, or messenger bag. Its larger interior pocket can be stuffed full with extra layers, folders, and soft-covered books while the interior laptop sleeve can handle up to 15" laptops. While we absolutely love this backpack for its cool look and easy to use storage, it does lack padding and water protection. It's also not great for carrying around heavy textbooks or oddly shaped binders. Overall, the Tasra's unique modes of travel, collapsibility, and lightweight construction make it our Top Pick for Travel.

We tested the Del Dia version of this pack. If you don't dig the multi-color look, you can save ten bucks and get this pack in a single solid color.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Cotopaxi Tasra 16L
This Product
Cotopaxi Tasra 16L
Awards Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$88.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$79 List$60.00 at Amazon$29.95 at Amazon
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Pros Collapsible, unique design, three ways to carry, functional storage, lightweightFunctional, plentiful storage, water-resistant fabric, inexpensive, versatileWater resistant, large and simple internal compartment, low price, durableGood price, holds lots of books and binders, easy to useInexpensive, great organization, professional profile and style, easy to use
Cons Lacks protection, water resistance is lacking, not good for heavy loadsNot super stylishNot the most comfortable, lacks laptop protectionUncomfortable when weighted down, poor protection, questionable craftsmanshipPoor water bottle holder, no battery pack with charging station, questionable quality
Bottom Line A collapsible and unique option with ideal features to accommodate wanderlustThis spacious backpack offers functionality and value that is unmatchedThis is a military styled design that will suit you better on the trails and on the go than in the officeA classic model built for students who carry a lot of booksA feature-laden option that does the trick for a super low price
Rating Categories Cotopaxi Tasra 16L The North Face Bore... Timbuk2 Rogue Jansport Right Pack Tzowla Travel
Laptop Protection (25%)
3.0
7.0
4.0
3.0
4.0
Comfort (20%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
7.0
Storage (15%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Water Resistance (15%)
3.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
3.0
Style (10%)
9.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
Specs Cotopaxi Tasra 16L The North Face Bore... Timbuk2 Rogue Jansport Right Pack Tzowla Travel
Volume (L) 16 L 28 L 25 L 31 L n/a
Weight 1.0 lb 2.7 lbs 1.8 lbs 1.3 lbs 1.8 lbs
Number of Compartments 4 2 1 3 2
Dimensions 17 x 10.5 x 5.5 in. 19.75 x 13.5 x 8.5 in. 18.9 x 12.2 x 6.3 in. 18 x 13 x 8.5 in. 19.29 x11.8 x 5.43 in.
Number of Large Pockets 2 2 1 1 1
Number of Small Pockets 2 9 7 2 5
Key Clip? Yes No No Yes Yes
Reflective Material? No Yes No No No
External Side Pocket(s) No Yes Yes No No
External Water Bottle Holder? No Yes Yes No No
Fits Laptop 15" 15" 15" 17" 15"
Hip belt Yes Yes No No No
Sternum Strap Yes Yes Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Cotopaxi Tasra is designed with love and care. Its unique collapsible design is perfect for travel, with its 16L capacity being an ideal size as an airport-friendly, personal item-sized backpack. While it's not the most protective or waterproof, it provides unbeatable storage access and unique suitcase-style design. It's best for use with a laptop, a couple of soft-covered books (or a kindle), and perhaps an extra layer.

Performance Comparison


The Cotopaxi Tasra is our Top Pick for Travel due to its unique...
The Cotopaxi Tasra is our Top Pick for Travel due to its unique collapsible design, storage, and three different carry options.
Photo: Amber King

Laptop Protection


Laptop protection is one of the most important categories in this review, simply because it is so important to keep your laptop safe from the impact of putting your backpack down on hard surfaces. Unfortunately, while the Cotopaxi Tasra glows in most of the other categories, protection is what it lacks.


We took this backpack traveling in the car and via airplane during our testing period. When traveling in this way, a laptop is exposed to potential slams, impacts, and getting tossed around. We had to be more careful when using this backpack, keeping in the back of our mind, that a very expensive piece of equipment is housed in this flimsier pack. The only real form of protection comes in the way of a protective foam back pad and a security strap that keeps the laptop in place. The laptop compartment itself is very large and wide, meaning that if the backpack has nothing else in it, smaller 11-inch laptops or Chromebooks will shift around easily.

The laptop sleeve is very large with a security strap that seems a...
The laptop sleeve is very large with a security strap that seems a little longer than necessary. This sleeve is great for putting in composition books, binders, and folders as well. Unfortunately, it is not very protective.
Photo: Amber King

This pack, like any other backpack, becomes more protective the more you put things inside of it. When we added a sweater, pair of shoes, or even a lunch, the laptop didn't slide around very much. In addition, this provides a form of additional cushioning that the laptop sleeve simply does not have. Don't expect additional padding around the edges and sides of this backpack.

Fortunately, this back is compatible with a padded sleeve for added...
Fortunately, this back is compatible with a padded sleeve for added protection. It's large enough to accommodate one easily.
Photo: Amber King

To be honest, this metric is the reason we almost considered not giving this laptop backpack a Top Pick Award. However, because it does so well in other categories, with a plethora of uses, we couldn't help but still give it an award for its functionality during travel. So, if you plan on using it for travel, add a layer inside the backpack, or just be aware when placing it on the ground. Another thing you can do (and the pack will accommodate) is simply putting it inside of a padded laptop sleeve for a little more integrated protection.

Comfort


This pack is flexible by nature and lacks any real structure. At first, we weren't sure if this was going to be the most comfortable pack as a result of this factor. When traveling, hiking, and biking, we noticed that the padded foam layer on the back offers a great level of breathability when on the go.


The backpack straps are a little narrow, with sufficient padding that isn't scratchy or uncomfortable against the skin. This pack (when sized correctly) does feel a touch small but offers enough room for those with wide shoulders. It's not too long and sits well on the body. Even when packing many items into the pack, its flexibility conforms to the shape of your back, offering a nice ride for the day. The computer sits against your back, acting as a flat plate, even if the items inside your pack are uneven.

The padded straps are comfortable with a sternum strap that fits...
The padded straps are comfortable with a sternum strap that fits many shapes and sizes.
Photo: Amber King

Our only caveat in this category is when the backpack is loaded down with heavy items. While it does come with a nice sternum strap to provide a better fit, it sinks down under the weight. An integrated hip strap (that it does not have) would easily counter this issue, but Cotopaxi did equip this backpack with one. Aside from that, we found it comfortable for all-day wear, whether you're walking to the office, commuting by bike, or traveling around the world.

The foam pad isn't anything to write home about. It's embedded in...
The foam pad isn't anything to write home about. It's embedded in the material of the backpack and offers a great level of breathability and use. We even took is hiking into a canyon on a hot day where it did just fine.
Photo: Amber King

Storage


This unique laptop backpack is small, offering just 16L of storage. The storage is super functional and unique because it opens up just like a suitcase. Inside of the pack is a large zippered pocket perfect for a jacket or extra set of clothing when on the move. The large interior space can easily house a binder, textbook, or a pair of shoes. The organizational pockets come complete with a pen holder, and a couple of pockets for storing a phone, cords, and other electronics you might need while on the go.


On the exterior, there are two quick-access pockets. One smaller one is at the top, where we typically put a phone, sunglasses, and the like. Unfortunately, like the rest of the pack, these pockets don't offer any additional protection or features. On the bottom side of the pack is a larger exterior pocket. Here, you can easily fit a handheld book, kindle, or the like. Since this backpack (unfortunately) does not have a water bottle holder, we simply zipped our water-tight vessels into the lower pocket. While the design isn't specific for this, it works. What's more, is even when the interior is fully loaded, all exterior pockets can easily be loaded as well.

A look at the unique internal storage features of our award-winning...
A look at the unique internal storage features of our award-winning Cotopaxi Tasra 16L. The pack opens up like a briefcase so you can see everything. Here, we add books to the laptop sleeve (which enhances protection), and put extra layers, clothing, and shoes for a bike later in the day. There are several mesh zippered pockets to keep electronics and important items. There are even holders for pens and pencils. Great storage overall.
Photo: Amber King

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Another really cool feature of this backpack is that it rolls up. As a trade-off for lack of protection, you can roll and store it when not in use. Size-wise, it is smaller than maximal carry-on luggage size and easily fits under the seat in front of you when traveling.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

A look at the external storage. The two front zippered pockets offer...
A look at the external storage. The two front zippered pockets offer easy access. The front pocket has a zippered mesh compartment to keep small items safe. The larger pocket is big enough to fit a water bottle or coffee mug or a few books. Unfortunately, there is no additional water bottle holder, which we would have loved.
Photo: Amber King

These storage features make it a great option for travel and office use. However, if you're seeking a bag for school that you'd like to load up with textbooks, this is not the best option as it doesn't have enough room, and can't carry the weight comfortably. However, if you're carrying around a laptop, one book, a few articles of clothing, and perhaps some folders, this is a decent option to consider.

This additional internal zippered compartment makes this pack...
This additional internal zippered compartment makes this pack perfect for travel. Here we use it for our hiking clothes later in the day, after spending the day in the office. We are able to easily fit a pair of shoes, shorts, top, rain jacket, and sunscreen. This pocket also works well for binders, books, and other items you'd like to keep secure.
Photo: Amber King

Ease of Use


Some love the functionality of this backpack, while others aren't a huge fan. Most backpacks you can simply slide off one shoulder to access items in the larger part of the bag, typically by unzipping or pulling on a drawstring.


The Cotopaxi Tasra is unique in its access design. To access the backpack, there is a zipper that lines the perimeter. If you remember to zip it up so the zipper as at the top of the bag, you'll have no problem accessing items as you would with a normal backpack. However, if you zip up your bag with it left at the bottom, you must take off the pack to avoid things falling out when unzipping it. That said, access and organization are very easy to figure out once the backpack is open. We found it easier to take off to access items to avoid losing items from the pack.

A shot from the top of the backpack. Unfortunately, you can't access...
A shot from the top of the backpack. Unfortunately, you can't access the laptop from the top of the pack, but need to unzip it all the way to get to it.
Photo: Amber King

You can see everything in your pack when you open it up, making rifling through a larger compartment to find smaller items unnecessary. All pockets are right there. The internal zippered compartment is simple to unzip to get to things that you want to keep secure.

We appreciate the multiple ways to carry it. Here, we use the...
We appreciate the multiple ways to carry it. Here, we use the reinforced briefcase handle. You can also wear it as a backpack or attach a strap to use it as a messenger bag.
Photo: Amber King

We also love the carry versatility this pack offers. It features fasteners if you want to add in a carry strap for over your shoulder or across your chest…similar to a messenger bag. Unfortunately, it does not come with a strap, which we would have hoped for. Another cool note is the backpack straps can even be tucked away!

When in briefcase mode, you can easily tuck the straps back using...
When in briefcase mode, you can easily tuck the straps back using the handy inserts in the architecture of the back pad.
Photo: Amber King

There is also a briefcase handle if you prefer to put it in your claw, as opposed to on your back or over the shoulder. The different carrying options, once again, make this ideal for travel or commuting.

Water Resistance


Cotopaxi designs each backpack recycled nylon fabrics and zippers. The fabric itself is water-resistant but far from waterproof. When subjecting this backpack to our shower tests, the fabric, at first, did a good job at repelling water. However, when immersed in the tub for over two minutes with a torrential downpour from the showerhead, it didn't prove itself as waterproof.


The two front pockets leaked through the zippers, pooling with water. The interior did much better. Even after blasting it with water on the padded backplate, the interior remained relatively dry.

Water tests! While the fabric is somewhat water-resistant, it is not...
Water tests! While the fabric is somewhat water-resistant, it is not waterproof.
Photo: Amber King

There was some minor leakage through the front, where the exterior pockets are sewn, but not much more than that. As a result of these tests, we'd trust this backpack to keep contents in the interior (not exterior) dry in a light rainstorm or a short rainy commute to work. However, we'd be wary of not using a rain protector when the forecast calls for a downpour.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

While the external fabric beads for a second or two, it eventually...
While the external fabric beads for a second or two, it eventually absorbs and the water does leak through the zipper. The front pockets are especially susceptible when it comes to a heavy downpour.
Photo: Amber King

Style


We all know that style is an incredibly subjective metric, as we all have different tastes and styles. The Cotopaxi Tasra is a loud backpack with a variety of different colors and a square shape that some folks may not appreciate. However, in our experience, we received numerous compliments on its cool designs, patterns, and colors while sporting it around the hip mountain town of Ridgway, Colorado.


Many people asked us to take it off to take a look as they had never seen anything quite like it. It fits into the city just as well as the mountain. It's not bland or boring, and what's even more unique is that no pack is alike. Anytime you buy one, you will be getting a unique pattern and design!

Just heading off on our daily commute to the office. This pack is...
Just heading off on our daily commute to the office. This pack is cute and versatile. Unique in design, it's built for those who appreciate loud colors and interesting patterns. What's more, is every pack is different from the other.
Photo: Amber King

This laptop backpack is part of the Del Dia Collection constructed by Cotopaxi. Employees in the Philippines have full creative control to design each pack the way they see fit. The materials themselves are left-overs or remnants of other projects, making them a part of a fabric recycling program, where they would otherwise get thrown out. These 100% unique backpacks, constructed of loud colors and patterns, earns top marks in this category. This packs keeps getting compliments and is by far one of the most eccentric laptop backpacks that we've tested thus far.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Value


This backpack is a great deal! Most high-quality laptop backpacks are priced higher. You are also getting a one of a kind backpack, hand-constructed with recycled materials. Another note is Cotopaxi donates 1% of its profits to poverty and literacy programs in third-world countries. Not only are you buying a pretty dope backpack, but you're buying into a company that builds sustainably and promotes social wellness around the world, which, in our eyes, is a great deal.

Here we fly over the remote range of the Northern British Columbia...
Here we fly over the remote range of the Northern British Columbia Mountains. This pack is a great option as a carry-on and fits nicely underneath a plane set. Our Top Pick for Travel!
Photo: Amber King

Conclusion


The Cotopaxi Tasra 16L is a small, lightweight, collapsible laptop backpack. It offers unique functionality being set-up more like a suitcase than a backpack. Its storage is well-thought-out with a plethora of carrying options. Best suited for travel or commuting, you can access all items simply with the pull of a zipper. Unfortunately, because of its collapsible nature, it's not the most protective and is barely water-resistant, but can easily be rolled and stored when not in use. All backpacks are unique in design, with no backpack looking the same as another. This Top Pick for Travel is cute, functional, and storable.

This lightweight backpack offers many cool applications. It is our...
This lightweight backpack offers many cool applications. It is our favorite for travel.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King