I think I enjoy backpacking season just as much as I love ski season. I’ve been a fan of Cotopaxi since I had the pleasure of testing their Nepal pack. The Nepal taught me that Cotopaxi is smart about design, which features such as extra storage that converts to  a day pack, and I found that one of their new packs, the Cotopaxi Taboche 55L, lives up to this standard.

The Taboche 55L appealed to me because it features a lot of the same design elements of the Nepal, in a smaller package. I never need to carry a 65L pack, and neither do my teen boys, who have fallen in love with the Taboche. We’re light packers (though certainly not discipled enough to be considered ultra-lightweighters), and 55L is, for us, the sweet spot.

 

The Taboche ticks off all the boxes: it has a dedicated sleeping bag compartment with separate zippered opening, two water bottle pockets made of stretchy mesh that accommodate a wide variety of bottles (which are then easy to retrieve with one hand while hiking), internal sleeves within these water bottle pockets for fishing rods or trekking poles, compression straps all over the place, two front pockets, and an easy-access quick-draw main compartment.

Best of all (and I think this should be included in all packs, but it’s definitely not): an included rain fly that stores in its own pocket.

If you have growing teens or want a pack that will work for more than one person in the group or family, good news: the Taboche has an adjustable torso. It adjusts 4.5 inches in the back panel, and 6 inches in the waist belt. For us, this means the Taboche fits our 14-year-old now, and will continue to fit him for at least a few more years. It fits most adults without problem; we only found that my 6’3″ husband had to look elsewhere.

Pick up the Taboche for $189 in a very fun, bright color combination. (My teens love this.) You can also find it on Amazon for around the same price.

Pair your next backpack purchase with Good To-Go backpacking food:

Cotopaxi Taboche

No matter what pack you decide upon, you need to eat, right? And when backpacking, it sure brightens the evening if you eat well. I’ve eaten all the usual backpacking freeze-dried food packets out there, and when I had the opportunity to try Good To-Go, I actually got excited about trail food again. Good To-Go calls itself gourmet backpacking food, and in comparison to what else is out there, I think that’s a fair statement.

It was created by a chef, using real food ingredients which, when the company started, were dehydrated in her kitchen. It’s grown to now include vegetarian, gluten-free, and pescatarian offerings.

I tried the three bean chili, Thai curry, and marinara with penne, and could really tell how the makers of these meals went the extra mile with ingredients and cooking methods like caramelized onions, whole foods, and brown rice pasta (all the meals are gluten-free). It’s hard to find primarily vegetarian backpacking meals (unless you just want mac and cheese every night), so I loved seeing all the veggie options.

Single servings are under $7, double servings under $12, which is more expensive than your average freeze-dried meal offering, but also far superior. Bottom line: I’ll be ordering them for shorter backpacking trips when I can afford a little luxury, and will probably have to stick to the basics for longer trips that require many more meal purchases. Or maybe I’ll just hide a few Good to-Go packets in my backpack and save them just for me.

You can order Good To-Go in single or double serving sizes right on the site, or find individual meals on Amazon for about the same price.

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