Cotopaxi is one of the newest names in outdoor gear, but they’re making a name for themselves – and have already become one of our favorite gear makers. They’re gear is functional, fit and attractive, as well as often being built from recycled materials and scraps from other bags and jackets. They also donate part of their profits to people in need of work in developing countries around the world, in addition to employing them at fair trade wages. They’re even confident enough to guarantee their products for 61 years – the average lifespan of someone living in the developing world – and will repair or replace any damaged item within that lifespan.
Today we’re looking at version of the Pacaya Insulated Jacket, a classic mid-layer perfect for shoulder seasons, active wear and layering under a shell in the winter. 100g PolarTec Alpha insulation locks body heat in while remaining breathable during high-output activities; PolarTec says the open-construction of the face and back fabrics allow more air to permeate, resulting in a much more breathable fabric than found on vapor barriers and makes it appropriate for many more activities. The same goes the 20D nylon shell, which is tough and abrasion-resistant, as well as DWR coated to repel moisture and even help keep you dry when raindrops start to fall. The underarms feature Power Stretch panels, which have no seams and allow for freer, fuller range of motion.
The Pacaya is intended to be a lightweight, mobile and versatile jacket, and thus is cut with a slim, athletic build that won’t weigh you down. The scuba style hood is large enough for headgear but also slim enough for wearing without, and the YKK zippers are as always, built to last.
All that and the Pacaya remains relatively lightweight, too, coming in less than a pound. We’ve had a chance to give this thing a go on various light trips to the Sierra Mountains, in late summer/early Fall, and it found it nimble, quick and not restricted at all, as well as perfect for chilly mornings and the transition from California’s hot, dry summers to cold, wet falls and winters. We’ll see how it holds up transitioning into winter.