Cotopaxi Taal Convertible Tote (Del Dia) Review
Cotopaxi’s Taal Convertible Tote has beautifully saturated colors and carries well over-the-shoulder, though backpack mode isn’t as effective as we'd like.
- Seemingly endless colorway options
- Ample storage in the main and front compartments
- Water bottle pocket can fit large bottles
- Backpack mode is awkward, and the transition isn’t easy
- Lack of padding on strap and back panel can be uncomfortable
- Opening for main compartment feels a little small
9.4 oz (266.5 g)
14 in x 5 in x 12.5 in (35.6 x 12.7 x 31.8 cm)
Recycled Nylon, YKK Zippers, Woojin Hardware
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If you love vibrant colored gear, you’ve heard of Cotopaxi. They’re a beacon of saturation and intensity in a world of black, gray, and minimalism. Finding the perfect colorway is great, but a bag needs to function, too. Can the design of the Taal Convertible Tote live up to the hype set by its brilliant colors? Let’s find out!
Materials & Aesthetic
The Taal Convertible Tote is crafted from repurposed nylon. Cotopaxi gathers unused materials from manufacturers that might end up discarded and creates these totes instead. Even though the materials aren’t recycled, we’d much rather see the time and resources go to good use instead of rotting in a landfill.
The material is light and thin but quite durable. It will survive a few minutes in light rain, but we notice the water seeping through the fabric after ten or more minutes.
At the time of writing, the Taal Convertable Tote only comes in Del Día styling. The Del Día collection is a subset of Cotopaxi’s gear uniquely crafted by those working on manufacturing their bags. They have workers pick color designs and layouts that suit their liking, creating unique colorway options. There are many different stock options that workers have created on Cotopaxi’s site, or if you’re feeling spontaneous, you can choose a random colorway. This adds a little fun to the mix, considering we typically know exactly what we’re getting when it comes to gear.
The Cotopaxi logo is on the front of the tote, and it changes depending on the model you go with. The one we have on hand is green: it’s a reasonably large logo, but given the loud color choices, we don’t mind.
Throughout this tote, we see YKK #5 zippers. They are smooth and meet the standards of what we have come to expect from YKK. The zipper pulls are a simple knot design, which is easy to grab onto and is just as colorful as the rest of the tote. There isn’t anything covering the zipper track, and there’s a small gap at the end of the road where the track ends. This isn’t uncommon, but it’s another place for water to sneak inside in light rain.
We’ve got Woojin Hardware throughout the tote, which we find to be up to snuff as far as functionality and durability. All four hard-plastic adjustors are different colors, which is a lot of fun. We find that these pieces are just black most of the time, so it’s nice to see some variation here.
The strap to carry the tote is extremely thin. This is great to keep the tote lightweight but can get uncomfortable when packed with a heavier load. We found it to be comfortable until packed out roughly 75% of the way, but this will depend on how heavy the items you’re packing are, considering there are 16 liters to work with.
There isn’t any padding or aeration, which, again, helps with overall weight, but is detrimental to comfort when carrying a heavier load. If you throw a set of shoes and some workout equipment inside, it will probably bother you. If you have daily essentials and a few articles of clothing, the strap will hold up just fine.
If you’ve been carrying the tote a while and it’s getting uncomfortable, or you already know it’s a little too heavy to carry on just one shoulder, the tote transitions into a backpack. It’s a little awkward in use but is a shoulder-saver in certain situations.
The four strap adjusters, without the strap, form a rectangle. When in use as a tote, the strap forms a U shape, with the curve on the U resting on your shoulder. To use the tote in backpack mode, adjust the part of the U that goes over your shoulder evenly into the sides of the pack or the top arms of the U. You can use the excess slack to wear it as a backpack, which disperses the weight more evenly than when using it as a tote.
However, backpack mode is a bit awkward and uncomfortable. We only use it when the tote is too heavy to justify in use as a tote. Even then, we wish it was a little more thought out considering the “convertible” declaration in the name. The straps have no padding or aeration, and wearing it as a backpack feels like more like a hack than a design staple.
We feel like this is a good time to mention that there isn’t any padding on this tote. What you see is what you get, and as we covered, what we see is repurposed nylon. This isn’t an issue for most uses, but if you want to bring your tablet or Nintendo Switch, there isn’t any padding to ensure that it safely gets from point a to point b. These items fit inside the tote just fine, but things get a little worrisome in transit without a case.
Inside The Tote
The front pocket is basic but has a fair amount of space for stowing extra gear. There isn’t anything going on inside—no key clip or liner pockets, so smaller items like a dongle or loose AirPods can get lost.
There’s a good amount of room to store larger items like a tablet or an eReader, but it does share space with the main compartment, so access can be tricky when packed a little more fully. Heavier items tend to sag into the main compartment, too. A tech pouch is a good fit here, and the pocket is easy to access.
The interior is just as fun and colorful as the exterior, making finding most items quick as they will clash with the saturation. That is, unless most of your items are fun and colorful, too. In that case, you might be too fun for this tote.
Despite the main compartment’s large size, the mouth is pretty small. We can fit everything inside, but larger items can be a little quirky at times.
We were very excited to see a water bottle pocket on the interior after noticing that the exterior does not have one. Its elastic brim is large enough to fit bottles even as large as a 32 oz Nalgene, which is great for all the hydration heads out there.
The water bottle pocket isn’t connected at the base, so if you place items on the bottom of the tote before loading your water bottle, the bottle can sit on top of them awkwardly and even bounce around at times. This can be fixed by placing your water bottle before anything else, but it’s annoying when you accidentally do it in the wrong order.
The main compartment is segmented by a large liner pocket that spreads most of the width of the interior. It’s actually on the backside of the sling, but it acts as a divider due to its large size. This is nice for splitting up your items, but there’s nothing to keep things from bouncing over the wall like Humpty Dumpty if the ride gets bumpy.
A zippered pocket on the back wall offers a little place of peace and security for smaller items within the hubbub of the amply sized main compartment.
There’s enough room for your wallet, phone, passport, or other travel documents. The pocket sits directly on the back panel, so you’ll feel whatever you toss inside here on your side or back, depending on how you choose to carry the tote.
Overall, we’re extremely happy with how much we were able to stow inside the Cotopaxi Taal Convertible Tote. Rigid and heavier items poke into your side while carrying it, and backpack mode didn’t wow us as much as we hoped, but it does a stellar job for most use cases. Plus, it’s sort of like buying a colorful car. You’ll always be able to find it!
- The different mix of colors really do pop
- Can be carried messenger, tote, or backpack-style
- A bit lacking in structure, but kind of expected since it’s a tote bag
- Exterior still looks brand new
- Colors haven’t faded even after washing
- Not much structure in the materials