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A First Look and Review of the Cotopaxi Allpa Carry-On Backpack

When it comes to selecting the perfect carry-on backpack, the Cotopaxi Allpa 42L stands out like a peacock in a flock of pigeons. Its vibrant aesthetics and practical features are sure to catch your eye.

As one of Canada's longest running travel stores, having sold more bags than we can count - we were eager to see if the Cotopaxi Allpa would live up to its hype!

First Impressions

Picture this: you’re walking through the airport, dragging your weary self toward the gate. Suddenly, you spot it—a flash of color so bright it could make a rainbow jealous. That’s the Cotopaxi Allpa 42L for you. Unlike the typical travel bags that seem to be in an unspoken competition to see who can be the most boring shade of black or grey, the Allpa bursts onto the scene with a kaleidoscope of color options. It's like Cotopaxi decided to take a stand against the tyranny of dullness, and for that, we thank them. Whether you’re into neon brights or cool pastels, there’s an Allpa that screams, “This is me!”—which is, coincidentally, also what you’ll be screaming when you spot it on the baggage carousel.

Organization and Storage

Now, let’s talk organization. If you’re familiar with the Patagonia MLC, you know that although it excels in many ways—there’s lots of wasted space in the large organizational section that seems to mock your packing skills. Enter the Cotopaxi Allpa, with its beautifully streamlined interior that’s as efficient as a Swiss watch. One feature we love is its side zipper that allows access to the main compartment. If you're at the airport and need something from the bottom of your bag, with the Patagonia MLC, you'd have to open the whole thing up, turning your careful packing into chaos. But with the Allpa 42L, you can easily reach the bottom of the bag through the side zipper, keeping everything neatly in place. The Allpa ditches the unnecessary frills and gives you usable space where you need it most. It’s a packing dream come true, and if that’s not something to get excited about, I don’t know what is.

Comfort and Support

Let’s move on to comfort—because let’s face it, no one wants to arrive at their destination with a back that feels like it’s been trampled by a herd of wildebeests. The Cotopaxi Allpa strikes a delightful balance in the world of backpack harnesses. While it may not have the cloud-like support of the Osprey Farpoint or Fairview, it outshines the Patagonia MLC in this department. The harness system on the Allpa is like a warm hug from a friend—supportive, but not clingy. It’s comfortable enough to lug around all day, but not so bulky that you need an engineering degree to figure it out. This middle ground is perfect for those of us who appreciate a good support system without feeling like we’re training for a marathon.

Size Options: Which One to Choose?

Choosing the right size of Cotopaxi Allpa is like picking the right wine for dinner—it depends on the occasion and your preferences. The Allpa comes in three main sizes: 28L, 35L, and the mighty 42L.

  • Cotopaxi Allpa 28L: Ideal for the minimalists among us or those quick weekend getaways. If you’re the kind of person who can pack a week’s worth of clothes into a shoebox, the 28L will suit you just fine.

    Shop the Cotopaxi Allpa 28L
  • Cotopaxi Allpa 35L: The perfect middle ground. This size is great for travelers who need a bit more space but still want to stay within carry-on limits for most airlines. It's spacious enough for a few extra outfits, some gadgets, and a couple of guilty-pleasure snacks.

    Shop the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L
  • Cotopaxi Allpa 42L: The big kahuna of the Allpa lineup. This is the maximum size that fits most international carry-on requirements, including West Jet and Air Canada. If you're planning a longer trip or just like to have extra room for those “just in case” items, the 42L is your best bet. It’s like the Mary Poppins bag of carry-ons—endless space, yet still compact enough to slide into the overhead bin.

    Shop the Cotopaxi Allpa 42L

Versatility and Practicality

In terms of versatility, the Cotopaxi Allpa 42L checks all the boxes for an airline carry-on size bag. It’s the Goldilocks of carry-on bags—not too big, not too small, but just right. For the overachievers who can pack a week’s worth of clothes into a 28L bag, there’s also a smaller version available. Whether you’re comparing the Cotopaxi Allpa vs. Osprey Farpoint or the Patagonia MLC, the Allpa stands its ground with practical features that make travel a breeze. Need to shove it into an overhead bin? Easy peasy. Want to whip it out quickly for that impromptu gate check? Done and done.


Of course, no review would be complete without a mention of the downsides. The most glaring omission on the Cotopaxi Allpa is the lack of a sleeve to slip over the handle of a suitcase—a feature that’s practically standard in the world of modern travel bags. It’s like Cotopaxi was so busy painting the town red (and blue, and yellow) that they forgot this little detail. But if you’re planning to go carry-on only, this isn’t a deal-breaker. Just think of it as a chance to build some character (and biceps) while you juggle your bags through the airport.


In conclusion, the Cotopaxi Allpa 42L is a dazzling choice for travelers seeking a carry-on backpack that combines style, practicality, and comfort. While it may not have the comfort of the Farpoint and Fairview bags or the versatility of the Patagonia MLC, it brings its own unique charm to the table. If you’re debating whether Cotopaxi is better than Patagonia or how it stacks up against the Osprey Farpoint, the Allpa makes a compelling case with its blend of vibrant design and functional features. For those in search of the perfect carry-on bag, the Cotopaxi Allpa is a delightful contender that’s sure to make your travels a little more colorful and a lot more fun.

Shop the Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack!


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