Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Review

The Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag has a similar vibe and features as the Allpa Travel Pack but provides less protection for gear than other soft-sided luggage.

Our Verdict

7.5 /10
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  • You can fit a lot of gear inside the open spaces of this bag
  • Compression straps help lock the bag down when you bring less
  • Stands upright even when fully packed


  • Only two wheels, so you have to drag it behind you
  • Handle doesn’t have a stop before full extension
  • Extremely flexible front won’t protect delicate gear

Technical Details

0 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 0/145 Airlines

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    6.83 lb (3.1 kg)

  • Dimensions

    22 in x 14 in x 12 in (55.9 x 35.6 x 30.5 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Recycled Nylon, Ballistic Nylon, Ripstop Nylon, Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), Recycled Polyester, YKK Zippers, Nifco Hardware

  • Manufacturing Country


  • Warranty Information

    Cotopaxi Help

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Full Review

So you finally packed your travel backpack too full and came home with a backache, so you’ve decided to give rolling carry on luggage a try. Are you looking for a bag with a lot of structure and a hard side to protect your gear, or do you still like the vibe of a backpack but want to drag it behind you? If you dig the latter, the Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag might be right up your alley. It takes the Allpa pack and, quite literally, puts it on wheels. Okay, we’re being a little facetious here, but there is still enough overlap to make travel backpack fans take note.

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Roll
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | Is this a roller or a backpack? It’s hard to tell from the front.

But is the flexible style right for your next trip? That’s what we’re here to find out!

External Components

If you’re familiar with the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack’s TPU-coated 1000D polyester exterior, the Allpa 38L Roller Bag’s recycled TPU-coated 840D nylon main body exterior isn’t much different. Sure, it’s recycled nylon versus polyester for the main material, but the TPU coating gives it a similar feel, and the Cotopaxi name and llama logo give it the same vibe. So when rolling this suitcase behind you, it looks like a bag on wheels instead of traditional soft-sided luggage. It has also developed the same scuffs and marks as the travel backpack did, which is something that commonly occurs with TPU coating.

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Brand
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | The Cotopaxi llama doesn’t mind a few scuff marks.

Since this is a Cotopaxi bag, you know you can choose from different and unique color combinations. We’ve got Woods, one of the more subtle selections, with a dark green face, salmon logo, bright green and blue zippers, black straps, and a bright green interior with red and blue zippers. At the time of this review, there’s also Wine (burgundy front, light teal logo, salmon and blue zippers, blue straps, and an orange interior with orange and blue zippers), Blue Spruce (shades of blue from sky to grayish, with one orangey zipper to get into the quick-access pocket), and Pacific (brighter shades of blue with an orange zipper for the quick-access pocket, and orange and red zippers inside).

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Full Back
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | While the front is fabric, the back is harder EVA.

Along the back and a few inches up the sides, top, and bottom of the roller bag is recycled 840D ballistic ripstop nylon, which complements the travel backpack’s 840D ballistic nylon side, top, and bottom panels. However, this portion of the roller bag has a molded EVA back panel to protect your gear as you shove it into the overhead bin on the plane. It’s black on all colorways and has the Cotopaxi name and logo debossed in the middle for branding. Keep in mind that that same rigidity doesn’t protect the bag on the front and sides, so your bag of chips could turn into crumbs after a flight if neighboring bags crash into it during takeoff and landing. Chances are that you’re not packing crisps in your carry on bag, but you get the idea.

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Tag
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | This is where you leave your deets in case you lose your bag.

Against the right side is a semi-transparent slot where you can stick a card with your contact information in case you become separated from your bag. In these days of smart trackers and app reliance, it’s a bit old school, but it’s better to be prepared—and not everyone who finds your bag may have access to Apple’s Find My network.

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Zipper
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | You can slide a lock through the main compartment zippers for security.

Cotopaxi uses YKK zippers around the bag, which, unsurprisingly, work quite well. There’s a webbing strap woven through the metal pulls to minimize jangling noise and make them easier to grab. Plus, holes in the two pulls for the main compartment allow you to slide through a travel lock. Four compression straps—two at the top and two at the bottom—let you cinch things down. The ones on the left side act like hinges when you open the bag, and the ones on the right include Nifco buckles that you open to enter the main compartment. All four have elastic keepers where you can weave in the excess.

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Buckle
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | Compression straps lock things down when you pack less.

The Roller Bag includes three handles, as well. There’s a thicker one with more padding at the top to grab when you want to put it in or take it out of the overhead compartment on the plane, and a thinner handle on the left side so you can carry it more like a suitcase if you’re going to be walking along cobblestones or a dirt path that doesn’t lend itself to wheels. However, when going through the airport or walking along city streets, a long handle extends when you press a button at the top so you can drag it behind you. It only has one adjustment—fully extended—although you can make it stop halfway while dragging it if that’s a better length; it just doesn’t lock into place there.

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Wheels
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | The wheels roll well, but have a larger turning radius.

Since this is a rolling carry on bag, let’s chat about the wheels. There are only two of them, so this is luggage that you drag behind you instead of rolling it along next to you. Instead of two extra wheels, a plastic stand at the bottom keeps it upright; it works well. Some bags topple on their front when fully packed, but the Allpa 38L Roller Bag never seems to get that front-heavy, even when stuffed. The wheels themselves are plastic with rubber coating to minimize noise and make for a pretty smooth experience as they roll. They work well, though they’re not anything super special. They can’t make very tight turns as you round a corner, but that’s because they don’t swivel, not because there’s anything wrong with them. They seem sturdy enough to stay attached for many trips with a wheel housing molded in all one piece, and they connect with a hex screw in case you need to replace one.

Fit Notes

With its flexible front and big buckles, this is a more casual, adventurous piece of rolling carry on luggage than something hard-sided or even most soft-sided bags with more structure. As we’ll get to below, that makes it easier to pack to the gills, but it does leave a bit to be desired when it comes to aesthetics. However, if your tastes run more toward ruggedness and less to sleek and polished, you should check out this bag. It would work well to squeeze into smaller storage spaces in an RV, and it can handle getting caught in the rain, so it might be right for a more outdoorsy adventure, provided you take precautions so anything delicate doesn’t get squashed against the front.

It also may better serve you on a road trip than as a carry on for the plane because the dimensions don’t meet the requirements of any of the 145 airlines Pack Hacker tracks. Most of that comes down to the depth of the bag. The potential for it to protrude out 12 inches is at least 3 inches more than most carriers will allow. If you are flying, however, the fabric front will work in your favor. If you don’t completely fill the bag, you can cinch it down to meet the requirements of the airline you’re flying. Just don’t overbuy souvenirs when you reach your destination! Step away from those Milanese sandals; you don’t need another pair … or do you?

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Telescopic Handle
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | The handle extends all the way, or not at all; there’s no stop in the middle for shorter users.

The shorter users among us here at Pack Hacker don’t love that the handle is either extended or not, with no stops for adjustment along the way. However, that is not atypical of many pieces of two-wheeled rolling suitcases, as they’re not meant to trot next to you like a puppy; they’re designed to stay a proper two feet behind you without nipping at your heels. So, your mileage will vary depending on your preference. There are members of the PH team who dig this style of bag, and there are others who prefer a four-wheeled spinner. But while a four-wheeled spinner can function as a two-wheeled pull-behind, the opposite is not the case, so keep that in mind. Just like you can’t change people, you can’t change bag design, so don’t try to make it be something it’s not.

Inside The Roller Bag

Open up the Allpa 38L Roller Bag, and you will find it looks a lot like the Allpa 35L Travel Pack. We think that makes it easy to pack and gives you the flexibility to truly one bag it. It even has a front pocket where you can store your travel wallet, phone, keys, toiletry bag, and a book to have everything you need to get through security and stay sane at the gate accessible without opening the rest of the bag. Seriously, it’s just like an admin panel on a travel backpack, although there’s no spot for a laptop or tablet.

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag In Use
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | Pack the gear you need while traveling here.

The zipper runs horseshoe around the top of the bag, from top compression strap to top compression strap, so you don’t even have to unbuckle those to get inside. Plus, there are two pulls, so you can choose which way to open or close it. Inside, there’s a large zipper mesh pocket with a key clip on a leash so you know exactly where to find your car keys when you return home. Plus, there’s plenty of space in front of that pocket for bulkier gear, like that Dopp kit, which is handy if you need to pull something out to get through the security line. However, we must mention that there’s no structure to the recycled ripstop polyester lining, so bulky gear from the main compartment will push into this area, and vice versa, depending on which wins the tug of war.

However, this is a big bag, so we don’t think you’ll have a problem. Indeed, we had to work hard to stuff it to the brim. When we simply packed for our 5-day trip to sunny Florida, there was room remaining to pack half the pantry to fly down and half the souvenir shop to return, and our cat still found space to try and stow away. So, let’s get into the main compartment to see how this could happen!

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Interior 2
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | It opens clamshell for easy packing and includes mesh panels to keep gear in place.

Its zipper runs from the top of the uppermost compression strap to the bottom of the lower strap on the left side, flipping open completely clamshell for easy packing. Mesh panels on either side of the bag hold your gear in place. The left side is shallower and is the portion against the TPU front panel, so we use it for sturdier gear that can take a bit of a beating, like travel shoes. If you put those in a pouch to contain the dirt, it’s also a good place for a packable travel jacket, a hat and winter gloves, and a tech pouch for your cords, wall chargers, and battery banks.

The other side rests against the sturdier rear shell of the bag, so if you have anything delicate, like a laptop in a protective sleeve, you’re going to want to place it at the bottom of this compartment. You won’t be able to access it en route, but you also are less likely to find a cracked screen. We recommend you just carry a laptop bag as your personal item if you need to bring along tech, but you do you.

Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag Stuffed
Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag | You can use packing cubes or just toss your clothing inside since the mesh panel holds it in place.

With the mesh panel locking everything down, you can decide whether you want to use packing cubes or not. We fit quite a lot of clothing on this side, much more than our travel capsule wardrobe typically contains. It’s good if you’re traveling in colder weather and need to bring bulky sweaters, hoodies, and jeans or if you want to pack for yourself and a kid in the same bag—or you’re a chronic over-packer. We don’t judge!

Either way, this is where the flexibility of the Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag shines. If you’re bringing less, just try to pack it all in the back compartment and cinch down the compression straps to contain the excess on the front. And if you need to bring more, all that open space is just waiting for you to fill it. It’s practically begging you, “Please, bring just one more thing!”

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Looks like how you would expect the Allpa to look if it sprouted wheels
  • Appreciate the admin panel for on-the-go access
  • Very colorful, as befits a Cotopaxi bag
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • TPU coating already sporting scuffs and scratches
  • It’s nice to get into the quick-access pocket without having to unbuckle the straps
  • Appreciate the elastic keepers to contain extra strap
By Kristyne Defever
Created February 29, 2024 • Updated February 29, 2024
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