Cotopaxi is well-known in the outdoor industry as a socially conscious gear and apparel company. Named after the Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador, the Salt Lake City-based company is committed to promoting adventure, exploration, and environmental conservation.
Though not completely backpacking-focused, Cotopaxi offers a wide range of products including backpacks, hats, shirts, and jackets that work for many outdoor pursuits. I recently had the opportunity to try out their Fuego hooded down jacket and can see why it’s become so popular.
Cotpaxi Fuego At-a-Glance
MSRP: $275 Weight: 13.2 oz for Men’s Medium Material: 20D DWR nylon shell, 800-fill down Intended Use: Insulating layer Women’s version here
Circumstances of Use
The spring months in Maine are known for their cool temperatures, frequent rain, and occasional snow flurries. I experienced all of these things, which provided an ideal environment to put Fuego to the test and see how well it would hold up in wet and cool weather conditions. I wore it on day hikes, walking around town, and even hanging out at the house to really get a sense of the fit and feel.
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Cotopaxi Fuego Features
- 800-fill goose down insulation for warmth
- Water-resistant ripstop nylon shell
- Adjustable hood and hem for added protection against wind and cold
- YKK zipper with a reinforced zipper garage
- Elastic cuffs to help keep cold air out
- Two zippered hand pockets for small item storage
- Durable construction to withstand wear and tear
- Sustainable design with recycled materials used in construction
- Fair Trade Certified sewn to ensure ethical manufacturing practices
- Packable design for easy storage in a backpack or suitcase.
Cotopaxi Fuego Pros
Cost: The price of a quality down jacket is never low, and while that’s also the case for the Fuego, it competes nicely against competitors who charge $50 or more above this jacket’s MSRP. That makes it a pretty decent deal for what you get!
Warmth: Despite its reasonable weight, the 800-fill goosedown insulation provides excellent warmth and is suitable for cool nights or chilly three-season conditions. I wore it for short bouts in freezing weather with light rain and it held up wonderfully, with the 20D outer shell blocking wind exceptionally well. Having a hood is a definite plus on this jacket, and I can see it being an excellent piece for wearing around camp.
Style: I generally don’t care about the style of my backpacking gear—I wore a fluorescent yellow down jacket on my AT thru-hike because it was discounted—but this jacket is one of most stylish on the market. The retro striping and sheer variety of color options means there is something for everyone’s tastes, and I have no problem wearing this out to dinner or to hang with friends as it fits right in without looking absurd.
Sustainability: As previously mentioned, Cotopaxi’s mission is to make “durable gear as ethically and sustainably as possible.” The Fuego jacket is constructed with recycled materials, which makes it a great choice for environmentally conscious consumers. The company also donates at least 1 percent of its revenue to nonprofits that help communities experiencing poverty, so they expand their giving beyond the outdoor industry.
Cotopaxi Fuego Cons
Weight: At 13.2oz, the Fuego is hardly the lightest option on the market. Though it’s comparable to the Patagonia Down Sweater in almost every way, it gets stomped by competitors like the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer in terms of weight or the Arc’teryx Cerium for warmth. While it’s the least expensive of those competitors, it will not be as warm or as light.
Durability: If an item weighs more, it’s usually more durable, but with the Fuego, I’m not so sure. The outer shell is made of 20D ripstop nylon, but to the touch, it feels less soft and stiffer than other jackets I own. I’ve also, anecdotally, had about a dozen down feathers poke through the shell in just a few short weeks of use, which is usually a sign of less-than-ideal construction. Only time will tell if this jacket will hold up, but I’d think twice about relying on it for a thru-hike.
Features: Whether you’re looking for minimal weight or maximal features and durability in a down jacket, you’ll find that the Fuego doesn’t really fit squarely into either category. It has several nice features like zippered hand pockets and a zippered stuff pocket that the jacket packs into, but a major oversight is that a cinch is not included for the hood, meaning it does not maintain a good seal in any amount of wind. This makes it much less attractive for use on cold and windy days.
Cotopaxi has become a popular brand among outdoor enthusiasts and socially conscious consumers alike. They offer lots of backpacking-style clothing and gear which work well both on and off the trail. After using the Fuego jacket nonstop for weeks, I find myself reaching for it on almost every casual outing in cool weather because of its fit, comfort, and style – which is where this piece excels.
That being said, despite its style and functionality, I would hesitate to make this jacket my go-to backpacking insulation because of its weight, lack of hood cinch, and potential durability issues. Because I’m picky about these things, I had a custom jacket made to my exact size and specifications, which optimizes for warmth-to-weight and is ideal for backpacking, but it would look ridiculous to wear in any other scenario. In those situations, the Fuego will be clutch.
Shop the Men’s Cotopaxi Fuego Down Jacket
Shop the Women’s Cotopaxi Fuego Down Jacket
Patagonia Down Sweater
- MSRP: $279
- Weight: 14.8oz
- Fill: 800-fill
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2
- MSRP: $360
- Weight: 8.5oz
- Fill: 800-fill
Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody
- MSRP: $400
- Weight: 11.8oz
- Fill: 850-fill
The Cotopaxi Fuego was donated for purpose of review.