Gear for Good is Pleasant Burden

cotoPiggybacking philanthropy on what you buy is a popular trend. Theoretically, that’s what you do when buying something with a ribbon on it. From breast cancer (pink) to veterans (black), there are more than 50 colors and ribbons for awareness and support.

It’s a feel-good gesture, but can we really quantify our efforts?

And what if we don’t like pink?

A new Utah company is putting some serious zest and accountability into the giving concept. Cotopaxi, named after Ecuador’s second-highest mountain (and an active volcano, to boot), sells directly to customers. Every purchase has a specific humanitarian cause.

Buy a Cusco pack and you’ll send funds to help educate street children in Peru.

Buy a Nepal pack and you’ll help children there with medical and educational needs.

Cotopaxi makes that feel-good gesture wonderfully quantifiable with direct links from each item to the program it supports.

I checked out the Nepal 65 liter pack on a few overnights in the Oquirrh mountains. I was prepared to be charitable, so to speak, and make IMG_3225some compromises in fit and performance for the sake of the more high-minded element of Cotopaxi’s Gear for Good.

I was wrong.

A good pack needs to have enough features and options to accommodate different wearers, their build, and their backpacking habits. But those bells and whistles need to be useful and reliable, not clumsy and thoughtless.

The Nepal has smart, functional features.

For starters:

  • A long zipper gives you access to everything that’s in the main compartment. No tossing all your food and clothing to get the flashlight that’s worked its way to the bottom.
  • Small, zippered pockets on the hip harness and shoulder strap let you keep trail stuff (camera, phone, Kleenex, snacks, dog treats) at the ready.
  • Hip and shoulder straps let you shift the load and adjust for comfort mid-stride. Your settings stay put and don’t loosen unless you ask them to.
  • Nepal pack comes with its own summit pack

    Nepal pack comes with its own summit pack

    There’s a nifty, ultralight day pack included. Once you get to your campsite, toss in a water bottle, book, and snacks to use it for a shorter excursion.

  • Getting rained on? No worries, the Nepal has its own rain cover.

What impressed me the most?

With all its options and features, the Nepal is the quietest pack I’ve ever worn. No jingling or jangling will unsettle your meditative hike. No swishing or brushing will warn wildlife of your pending arrival. If it weren’t for the extra forty pounds on my back, I would have barely noticed it. And, for someone like me with back pain issues, that felt pretty darn good.