- Buyer's Guide
Cotopaxi Roca Duffel Review: Drive By
Cotopaxi’s Roca Duffel takes its name from the Quechua word for ‘rock.’ It’s a fitting title for a heavy-duty gear hauler. But just how tough is this bag? I took this bag on a cross-country flight (making sure to check it to ensure it got a good beating), followed by a road trip through the American Southwest. Let’s see how it held up.
Who It Suits
Someone looking for a cavernous gear hauler for adventure travel that won’t break the bank.
Who It Doesn’t
Someone looking for a casual weekender bag with space for tech.
After hauling the Roca around for a few weeks, there’s a lot I like about this bag.
First, it’s very durable. Technically speaking, the top of the bag is TPU-coated 840D nylon with a 1680D ballistic nylon. Practically speaking, the Roca is as heavy-duty as they come. It survived rough baggage handling, being thrown into the back of a truck, and being dragged across gravel as I trudged my way to campsites.
While I chose to drag the Roca for review purposes, there are a number of more ergonomic ways to carry this bag. This bag carries primarily as a duffel but can be worn as a backpack thanks to padded shoulder straps. There are also grab handles on either end which proved extremely useful for tossing this bag into the back of cars. On either side of the bag are straps to really cinch down the bag. I appreciated this because none of my carry ever shifted around.
“It survived rough baggage handling, being thrown into the back of a truck, and being dragged across gravel as I trudged my way to campsites.”
I reviewed the 70L Roca which tips the scales at just over two pounds. Not backbreaking by any means. It’s available in a range of sizes from 50L up to 110L, which may be a bit more backbreaking.
I found the 70L space of the Roca to be perfect for holding my gear during the road trip. Basically there’s a giant main compartment with a few zippered pockets on the lid, a collapsible laundry pocket, and a small pocket on the front. The main compartment held all of my camping supplies (I was car camping) and a change of clothes. My phone and wallet were easily stashed in the front pocket and spare batteries and cords quickly found a place in the zippered pockets on the lid. It’s very simple pocketing which I enjoyed as a catch-all for my gear.
The Not So Good
After having spent some time with the Roca Duffel, there are a few things that I find frustrating.
The first relates to how the bag carries as a backpack. I found the padding on the shoulder straps too thin to comfortably carry the bag when it was fully loaded. More often than not I would choose to lug the bag at my side or make two trips to a campsite because the Roca just didn’t feel good on my back.
In addition to beefier shoulder straps, having the straps spaced farther apart would help with carrying the bag on my back. Even with the straps extended I couldn’t get the bag to sit squarely on my back without feeling like it was being pulled apart. To be fair, I’ve never had much luck with duffels that can be worn as backpacks.
“In addition to beefier shoulder straps, having the straps spaced farther apart would help with carrying the bag on my back.”
Speaking of strapping, there’s a couple of points to adjust the Roca which are good features. However, the strapping tends to dangle off the bag because there’s no way to hold the excess webbing. Not a big deal until I was caught up in a windstorm in Utah. Having these straps whip you isn’t particularly enjoyable.
After a couple weeks with Cotopaxi’s Roca Duffel traipsing through airports, across deserts, and down highways, I appreciate just how durable this bag is. The beauty of this bag however is in how easy it is to use, despite being bombproof. There’s intuitive pocketing, excellent ways to secure your carry, and at a price that costs less than the plane ticket to your next adventure ($100 for the 70L). Sure, I won’t be traveling the world with just the Roca and it could be more comfortable as a backpack but those are minor details. If you’re looking for a solid adventure duffel check out Cotopaxi’s Roca Duffel.