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No more checked bags! This travel backpack is my go-to carry-on — plus 50% off more Cotopaxi gear

From Guatemala to Boston, this bag goes everywhere with me.
Courtesy of Julie Ricevuto

At this point in my life, I pride myself on being somewhat of an experienced traveler. In the last six months alone, I’ve been to five different countries, so it’s safe to say I do it often enough to know a thing or two about flight prep. 

With airlines cracking down on personal items and prices soaring for checked bags, a solid carry-on travel pack that meets flight criteria is more important than ever before — and as a result, I’ve become extremely picky with my bag choices.

After plenty of baggage failures, I finally found a great one: The Cotopaxi 35L Travel Pack. I chose this pick as my carry-on for an eight-day trip to Guatemala after seeing it all over JFK Airport in New York City recently. I just had to give it a try.

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack

What is the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack?

When I first received this travel pack, my first thought was that it was the perfect hybrid between a suitcase and a backpack. The Allpa 35 opens up in a clamshell-style, like your typical suitcase, and has three total internal mesh compartments: one large compartment on the right side and one subdivided compartment (with three sections) on the left. It also has a padded laptop and tablet sleeve, with shortcut zippers to the main compartment for easy access while on the go.

As the name suggests, this travel pack has a 35L capacity, so it’s compatible with most carry-on airline standards. I flew on a budget airline for my trip to Guatemala, and I was worried I wouldn’t get to use the bag as a carry-on since it appeared rather large (I really packed this thing to the brim!), but I had no issues at all.

What I like about the product

It packs way more than you’d think

According to the brand, this is “the ultimate adventure travel pack, ideal for three to five days away.” This is a claim I can confirm was slightly on the conservative side, considering I packed for a full eight days in this bag. While Guatemala has a warmer climate — hence why the clothing I packed really only consisted of smaller items like shorts and T-shirts — I did go on a major hike that required more gear, and I was able to still fit all my essentials in this bag.

That said, I think if I had traveled to a colder climate that necessitated larger, thicker clothing, I might not have been able to fit eight days worth of apparel — so keep that in mind while packing!

Courtesy of Julie Ricevuto

The minor details have a major impact

When it comes to this bag, trust me when I say it’s all in the details. It has anti-theft zippers, which gives me peace of mind while walking through crowded airports or train stations. It also has a top zippered pocket so you can easily access essentials like your wallet or passport while on the go.

For the adventurer, there are also carabiner loops for clipping on any extra gear you may need on your trip (i.e. hiking shoes, additional bags, etc.). But my favorite detail? The padded straps. I overpacked this bag when I traveled to Central America, and it was heavy. The straps were thick and comfortable, and they didn’t dig into my shoulders no matter how much weight was in the bag. The removable hip straps also helped with support while carrying a heavier pack. 

What to consider

While I find it hard to come up with any downsides to this travel pack, some might find that its lack of external pockets is a bit inconvenient for those who like to keep most things super accessible. This bag also doesn’t have a designated water bottle sleeve, but I guess you could hook a water bottle to the carabiner loops if you really wanted to.

Ultimately, this bag seems to combine the comfort, accessibility and flexibility of a backpack with the spacious aspects of a suitcase. Whether you’re on a lengthy trip in Central America or a weekend getaway in Boston, this bag will have you covered — and I’ll be using it on every trip I have planned from here on out. In fact, I’m going to Iceland soon, and you can rest assured this bag will be coming with me. 

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