Cotopaxi Tikal: A Waterproof Shell That ‘Gives Back’

Cotopaxi has built a versatile, lightweight shell with the Tikal, a jacket designed for hiking and exploring in the wilds.

Cotopaxi tikal review

Cotopaxi is a relatively new brand in the outdoors arena built on an altruistic foundation to “fund sustainable poverty relief” around the world. (Learn more about its “Gear For Good” charitable giving.)

We were excited to put one of its lightweight shells to a test. The verdict? This is a well-manufactured piece worthy of investment. If you’re looking for a lightweight shell for active pursuits, read on.

Cotopaxi Tikal Active Shell Review

I tested the jacket for a couple weeks while hiking, climbing, and exploring around Utah in cold fall and early winter weather. I found the $140 Tikal Active Shell a versatile waterproof piece that is a good value and works double duty as an around-town jacket.

Lightweight Shell

Cotopaxi tikal jacket

At just 10 ounces (283 grams), the Tikal is fairly light. It isn’t the lightest shell on the market, but it’s competitive.

The Tikal is waterproof with a 2.5-layer stretch fabric. That means the jacket will shed rain and snow, but it moves well with the body for active pursuits.

Multi-Season, Multi-Use

What impressed me most about the Tikal – a shell that hardly offers a unique or new spin on waterproof outer layers – was the range of conditions in which it thrived.

I wore it around town while it rained. I pulled it out hiking when a bend or peak uncovered cold, gusting winds. I wore it over a hybrid midlayer to hike and scramble up Utah’s Mount Superior in the snow (where conditions ran from warm in the sun to numbingly cold in the shade and wind). Most importantly, I donned it as a shell layer, trusting it as the outermost line of defense against the cold while camping in the desert in December’s sub-freezing temps.

tikal jacket

The fully-taped, 2.5-layer shell kept me dry, while the four-way stretch fabric allowed the shell to fit over a puffy midlayer (or two) when the sun went down at our frigid campsite. Worn alone, it fit well without being tapered.

The Tikal seems durable without sacrificing high-end performance, as a nice long glissade down the side of Superior demonstrated.

Venting, Pockets, Hood

Instead of pit zips, the Tikal has underarm perforations. This saves some weight while still letting the sweatier parts of your anatomy breathe, helping to reduce condensation inside the jacket. This will be important as temps rise in the spring or during aerobic activity in the winter.

It has common shell design elements: a laminated visor to keep rain off your face (it worked well in the city; I haven’t tested the feature in the backcountry); two front pockets; adjustable cuffs; and a drawstring-adjustable hood to tighten it around your face. 

Good Value

The Tikal Active Shell isn’t a particularly standout product – nor should it be. As I once argued, simplicity is reassuring when you’re talking about arguably the most important piece of backcountry protection.

As a waterproof shell, I found the Tikal perfectly adequate and at a competitive price. The lightweight, versatile jacket will serve you well both in town and glissading down from a peak; and on top of that, it looks pretty snazzy, too.

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Alex Kurt

Alex Kurt is a Minnesota native, an avid runner, a novice climber, a begrudging cyclist, and an enthusiastic skier. A graduate of St. John's University and the University of Minnesota, he is most proud of his 6:48 PR in the beer mile.