Welcome to AFAR Approved: a deep dive into the travel items that we’re totally obsessed with, never leave behind, and can’t stop telling our friends about. During REI’s Gear Up Get Out sale through November 21, 2022, take 25 percent off the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack in “River” blue (no coupon code necessary).
It’s a familiar dance: Whenever I have an impending trip, I pull down all of my suitcases and backpacks from their precarious perch in my stacked closet, and lay them out on the floor, assessing their suitability for my itinerary. Familiar, yes, but also largely unnecessary: 91 percent of the time, I end up bringing the same bag—my Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack.
In the past few years, I’ve taken this bag on ferry after ferry around Greece, and my husband has used it to ferry souvenirs and supplies to his family in Cuba. It’s what I carry for weekend trips to Washington, D.C. to see family and my go-to when I head to Minnesota lake country every summer. It’s been crammed into carry-on bins, stuffed under seats, squished between legs, and loaded on laps. By now, I’m sure you get the message: I have a deep love for this bag, and that love is borne out of experience. Whether I need pack light or just fit one more thing, it’s never let me down.
- Weight: 3 lb. 8 oz., without accessories
- Size: 20 x 12 x 8 inches
- Available colors: Pacific, Verde, Desert, River, Raspberry, Black, and Indigo
- Best for: Trips up to 10 days
Thanks to side handles and contoured shoulder straps that can be tucked behind the slotted airmesh back panel, the bag can be worn as a backpack or carried as a duffel. Inside, it also has a number of zippered compartments of all different sizes, making the bag a dream for an organized packer (hello!) who wants to have specific pockets for their laptop, passport, keys, and clothes.
The bag has several nifty design features, including exterior shortcuts to main internal compartments—like the padded laptop sleeve—and “theft-proof webbing,” which lets you tuck in the bag’s zippers so it can’t be surreptitiously opened without you noticing. If you’ve crammed in weeks’ worth of clothes and want to take some of the stress off your back, you can also use the bag’s removable hip belt to provide more stability. (Also worth noting: If you’ve crammed in weeks’ worth of clothes, the bag will not fit under the seat in front of you. Otherwise, it typically does.)
Other small things I appreciate about the carry-on-compatible-Allpa 35L: Although the bag’s polyester shell is coated with thermoplastic polyurethane—making it completely waterproof—it also comes with a removable rain cover that adds an extra layer of protection for the whole bag. There are four carabiner lash loops on the Allpa, meaning you can clip on a water bottle, thread through a scarf you want to have handy, or even tie on another bag to the bag in the event you want easier access to your trip snacks (guilty).
Cotopaxi is known for its commitment to sustainability and fair labor, and the Allpa (along with the rest of the company’s bags and backpacks) is produced in Bataan, Philippines. The bag is currently offered in seven colorways—Pacific, Verde, Desert, River, Raspberry, Black, and Indigo—via cotopaxi.com for $200.
Cotopaxi also produces the bag through its Del Día line, where it’s made with 100 percent fabric left over from other companies’ production runs. Because workers are using what’s available and not adhering to color specifications, each bag is one of a kind. (Get a glimpse of the currently available combos on the designated Allpa 35L Travel Pack Del Día page.)
Whenever I travel next, I know I have the bag for it.
This article was originally published in 2020; it was updated most recently on November 15, 2022, with current information.