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Scraps To Packs: ‘Upcycled’ Cotopaxi Backpack

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Cut out the shape of the pack, add pockets, trim the zippers… the manufacturing of a backpack has unfortunate side effects of a lot of left-over material. It is often thrown out, causing a huge amount of waste in the industry.

Cotopaxi, a Utah company, decided to take action.

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The Luzon bag was pack designer CJ Whittaker’s solution. He saw an opportunity to use excess material to create a sturdy daypack.

Said Whittaker, “This pack is a cost-effective solution to using excess material and giving people a product with a little extra something to it.”

Most pack companies, Whittaker said, tightly control the color and quality of the material used, resulting in often times the ordering of more fabric than needed.


This excess material is used by Cotopaxi to craft each Luzon bag. Because different material is used every time the bag is produced, each one ends up looking a little different than any other.

Staying true to its motto “Gear For Good,” Cotopaxi donates a cut of each Luzon that is purchased to the Philippine Community Fund.

Our Test

A simple 18-liter bag, the Luzon has a drawstring closure on the top and a small zipper pocket on the front that makes grabbing essentials quick and easy.

We tested it over the last month. The $30 bag offers a water bladder pocket and light mesh straps, meaning it can easily function as a daypack for quick trips in the backcountry or the beach.

Selecting materials for the pack

Our review included using the pack during a weeklong trip through Costa Rica. It afforded just enough room to carry essentials during the day and packed down easily into a larger bag when traveling.

There is no frame support, so carrying heavy loads was a little awkward. But it handled lunch, water, a camera, and a beach towel just fine.

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GearJunkie tester in Costa Rica

We applaud Cotopaxi for seeking out innovative ways to create less waste in the industry.

Since the Luzon first debuted, it has become one of the brand’s best-selling pieces of gear.

The company plans to use the same upcycling method to create additional pieces of gear in the future.

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