By Jason Boyle
Cotopaxi is an awesome company making apparel for men and women as well as urban and technical backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents. They make gear and garments out of left over fabric leaving many designs to the sewers who are making the product. They also focus on improving social issues throughout the world; fully embracing their Gear for Good motto. You can read all about their story here.
The Veloz collection features a Veloz Waistbelt, 3L pack and a 6L pack. I will be reviewing the 6L Veloz hydration pack. At first glance it looks like a regular hydration pack, but upon further review it is much more. The first thing that stands out is the harness. The low profile Cruz harness features laminated shoulder straps that connect in the front with a triangular shaped aluminum hook. The harness is then adjusted with straps that connect to the bottom of the pack, and there is no hip belt. The back panel features air mesh to help with breathability.
The front straps feature a large zippered pocket on each strap that will hold an iPhone 6s with ease and still leave room in the pocket for gels or other nutrition. The pockets ride snugly against the ribs instead vertically like other vests or packs. There are also two stretchy cords on the front straps to hold the hydration bladder tube in place.
The main compartment of the pack is accessed with a zipper that runs across the pack. Inside the pocket there is a mesh zippered pocket for added organization. There is also a second smaller zippered pocket on the outside of the pack. Finally there is a small shove it pocket, and inside the shove it pocket there is a smaller pocket which Cotopaxi calls a light pocket. Looks like it would be a good place to stash a red flasher or something for use while biking or anytime you would want to be seen at night since it the pocket is covered with clear mesh.
The outside of the pack features blue reflective striping and also has Cotopaxi in large letters running down the pack at an angle.
The hydration bladder is included with the pack. It is a 2 liter HydraPak bladder with the zip top closure and an internal baffle to help with sloshing. The hydration bladder sits between the airmesh back panel and the main compartment of the pack. It is held in place by a small clip and strap. I like that I don’t have to access the main compartment to get to the hydration bladder.
Another unique feature of the pack is getting the right fit. Cotopaxi does a nice job of explaining how to get the right fit on their website, so I will summarize for brevity. Since the pack doesn’t have a hip belt the harness needs to hug the torso well. So all measurements for sizing are based on the torso circumference and Cotopaxi offers two sizes to help dial in the fit.
The pack can be purchased on the Cotopaxi website or at other retailers. The MSRP on the Cotopaxi website is $139 for the Veloz 6L pack.
I will generally look for the following characteristics in the pack over the next couple months. First is durability. How does the Veloz pack hold up to hiking and running? I will also look at usefulness. How much stuff can I carry in the hydration pack? Does the hydration bladder bounce while running or hiking? The third characteristic is comfort. Does the pack chafe when I run? Is the pack comfortable to run in all day? These are just a few of the questions I hope to answer.
Update Cotopaxi Veloz Hydration Pack February 21, 2018
I used the Cotopaxi Veloz Hydration Pack hard over the last couple of months putting 112 miles on the pack. I used it on the Great Mississippi River Levee Run, training runs on my side of the Levee and in the Woodlands Conservancy. I also used the pack on day hikes at the Woodlands Conservancy, Kisatchie National Forest, Jean Lafitte National Park and while biking to and from work. I experienced every condition with the pack except for hard down pours. Temperatures ranged from the low 30s to the upper 60s.
As I mentioned in my initial review, I evaluate hydration packs on three criteria: durability, usefulness, and comfort.
With any hydration pack, I want to know how durable the pack is.
In my opinion the durability of the Cotopaxi Veloz Hydration Pack is below average due to the fact that the single connection point in the chest is beginning to tear. I have not over stuffed the pack and have not carried more than about 10 pounds in the pack, and that is usually due to starting with a full hydration bladder.
I also had an issue with the bite valve on the included 2 liter HydraPak bladder. Sometime during the Mississippi River Levee Run the bite valve was broken off of the pack. I was switching between an Ultimate Direction Vest and the Cotopaxi Veloz – I would roll into my support crew station and switch out packs and go. I think that the bite valve got squished in my tailgate or the cooler was set on top of it. This usually would not be a big deal except that there is no place in New Orleans that sells HydraPak specific bite valves.
Other than the two issues outlined above the rest of the pack is functioning properly. I have had no issues with the zippers on the front pockets or on the body of the pack. The straps on the Cruz harness continue to work well and don’t show any signs of wear.
The second question that I try to answer is what are the best uses for a hydration pack?
I have used the Cotopaxi Veloz Hydration Pack for running and hiking and I think it is a good option for both activities.
I like the large pockets on the front straps. I could keep my phone in reach and they held a ton of nutrition. During the Levee run, I stuffed the front pockets with ziplocks full of Peanut M&M’s Tailwind Nutrition, Pringles, Honey Stinger Chews and Waffles, my phone, and a small pepper spray canister (for dogs).
The main compartment was easy to use as well. It swallowed light jackets with ease and the zippered pocket allowed me to organize gear that I did not want to come out when I yanked my jacket out. I also found the main pocket good for storing lunch while hiking, I could easily fit crackers and cheese or more hearty meals there without feeling it poking me in the back.
The pack was useful for hiking because of many of the same reasons I outlined for running. Plenty of front pocket storage, and a main compartment that easily fits the ten essentials and an extra outer layer.
The two liter bladder rode well in the back of the pack and ensured I had easy access to water. There is a stretchy pocket on the back of the main pack. I found that a 1 liter Gatorade or Powerade shaped bottle fit well in this pocket and gave me another option for hydration.
My final criteria is comfort and I want to answer the question – is the Cotopaxi Veloz Hydration Pack comfortable?
I was initially concerned that the Cruz harness would not provide a comfortable ride while running with the pack because it is so unique. It provides a different feeling than a traditional hydration pack or the running vests that I am used to. That being said, I found it to be a very comfortable fit, and after a couple training runs didn’t really notice that it was different. I found that it does bounce a bit with a full hydration bladder while running. I expected this to lead to chaffing on my back, but that has not been the case. I was surprisingly chafe free with this pack even though it moves around a bit more than I was used to. Overall, I give the pack an A for comfort.
This concludes my first update. Check back in a month or so for my final thoughts.
Thanks to 4alloutdoors.org and Cotopaxi for providing the pack for this review.