Cotopaxi Teca Fleece
Test Series by Kurt Papke
|| Kurt Papke
|| 6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
|| 225 lbs (102 kg)
|| kwpapke at gmail dot com
|City, State, Country:
||Tucson, Arizona USA
My backpacking background is a combination of the Minnesota area,
where I lived most of my adult life, and Southern Arizona where I
moved eleven years ago to Tucson to take a new job. I am a
pack and worn weight watcher, keeping my burden lighter than most of
the folks I hike with, but also safety-minded so I do not go to
extremes. I vacillate between fleece and down for my
insulation layer depending on weather conditions.
|Biblioteca (only color available)
|specs: Not specified by the manufacturer
measured: 1 lb 12 oz (794 g)
Features from the Cotopaxi website:
- 100% re-purposed fleece
- 100% re-purposed polyester taffeta stripes with DWR finish
- Elastic binding at hem and cuffs
- Two hand pockets
- Limited edition colorways (re-purposed fabric, so when they
run out, that's it)
Packaging and contents
The garment arrived in a sturdy cardboard box in plastic wrap.
In addition to the garment, the box contained, from left to right in
the photo above, a face mask, a hand-written card from a Salt Lake
City Utah refugee community member, a decal, and a Do Good
card explaining the company's values. The face mask will be
addressed in a brief separate Owner's Review report.
I carefully inspected the garment and could find no loose threads,
unsewn seams, or any other manufacturing defect. The zipper
worked nicely and did not seem to have an issue with catching on the
I removed the garment from the packaging
and tried it on. I wear an XL for pretty much all the upper
body garments that I buy, though I will occasionally purchase a
Large-Tall when available. At age 67 I can hardly qualify for
requiring an athletic fit, but the Teca fleece seemed to
have sleeves that were slightly too short, felt a bit tight in the
chest, and a tad too much room in the abdomen area (hard to believe
I checked their sizing chart and the XL should have had plenty of
arm length for me, as I measure on the short end of their
range. If you look at my wrists in the photo at left you can
see that I could easily use another inch or so (2.5 cm) of sleeve.
The fleece felt nice and soft. I could immediately feel the
sensation of warmth from the insulation.
This is a very attractive garment. The color on the
front stripes and even the color on the collar liner really give it
a nice appearance. Also, the red trim on the hem and sleeves
that matches the zipper is a nice touch.
The pockets are nice and roomy, running all the way to the zipper,
and the material is slippery making it easy to get hands in and out.
The mask is attractive, easy to get on and off with the end loops,
and is generously sized so I don't have to tug on it to make sure my
mouth and nose are covered.
- Attractive and functional garment and mask.
- Longer sleeves, larger chest and less room at the waist.
- Weighs quite a bit for a fleece.
Cold & Wet in Portland
For the Christmas holiday we took a bit of a COVID-19 risk to travel
to Portland Oregon to spend this special time with our daughter and
grandson. We travel there often, and whenever I do I try to
get some amount of exercise, typically running or walking.
Only walking on this trip. They currently live in the Sellwood
neighborhood on the Southwest side of downtown, which is a very busy
area so a mask was mandatory on my morning walks.
The temperature ranged from right around freezing to about 55 F (13
C). We had a couple of dry sunny days during the 10 days we
were there, and the above photo was taken on one of these. The
rest of the days were typical Portland winter weather: off and on
drizzle all day long. On the dry days I was able to walk with
just the fleece over my shirt, as shown above, the rest of the time
I had a rain shell over the Teca.
The Teca fleece performed admirably on this trip. I was
comfortable with no additional layers while walking outdoors down to
near freezing temperatures. I pretty much lived in the fleece
for these 10 days - wearing it all day long in their apartment as
they keep it pretty chilly in there.
I have grown to like the pockets to keep my hands warm, but I did
discover that my keys could slide to the outside of the pocket and
become hard to reach due to the way the pocket is sewn:
When I put something like my keys in a pocket, they initially reside
in the main compartment on the left. Sometimes they will slide
over, under the sewn through area, and become very tough to reach if
they settle in on the right hand side in the above photo.
I did a short 2-day
backpack along the Arizona Trail on January 27-28 just south of
Kearny, Arizona. I hiked 19.2 miles (30.9 km), in
temperatures ranging from freezing to 60 F (16 C), elevation range
1762-3534 ft (537-1077 m).
I had the fleece on when I began hiking (see photo at left), and
took it off after about an hour when I warmed up. I put it
back on when I arrived at camp and left it on to sleep at night so
I could read with my torso out of my sleeping bag.
It was very windy on this trip, I would estimate gusts in excess
of 30 mph (48 kph). The Teca fleece has no wind barrier, so
it breathes well. This allowed me to keep it on longer than
I would have had it included a wind stopper layer.
On the flip
side, the weather was not as warm on day 2 of the hike, and it was
cloudy so I didn't have the sun to warm me as I hiked. I
anticipated this, so I brought a windshirt with me as an outer
layer to put on over the fleece. I did so in the morning in
camp, and the additional warmth was remarkable.
I left the windshirt on for most of the morning as pictured at
right. It is apparent just how windy it was, with the way it
blew up the brim of my hat and puffed out the windshirt.
Later in the morning I was able to remove the windshirt and hike
with just the fleece, and then I finally removed the fleece and
hiked in my shirtsleeves for the last hour or so.
I think this experience demonstrates the advantage of layering -
I can put layers on or peel them off as I go. This does
require taking my pack off, but it's a good idea to take a "pack
off" break from time to time anyway.
Bottom line: the Cotopaxi Teca fleece did very well during the
trip - I was very happy with its performance.
When I got home I threw it in the laundry with the rest of my
hiking clothing. That's one thing I really like about
fleece, it is so easy to care for, no special laundering
- Warm, yet breathes well.
- The zipper has worked flawlessly, never getting caught or
- Attractive garment
Areas for Improvement.
- The short sleeve length was noticeable on the backpacking
trip, especially when I wore gloves. My wrists got cold.
- Small objects can get trapped in remote pocket corners where
they are hard to reach.
Long Term Report
Three Days in Arizona's Superstition Mountains
On March 19-21 I did a modest hike in the Superstition Mountains
just northeast of the city of Phoenix, Arizona. The
elevation ranged from 2400 ft (730 m) to 2700 ft (820 m), just
high enough to be a little cooler than Phoenix, yet not enough to
have really cold nights. It dipped to around 50 F (10 C)
both nights. The mornings still felt a little chilly to me,
and I was glad to have the Teca fleece fully zipped up around my
neck in the morning when I arose early to make breakfast (see
photo below). I am finding that I like the high collar on
this fleece, it does a great job of keeping my neck warm.
The picture below also demonstrates the issue I pointed out in the
Field Report concerning how short the sleeves are.
I found that with a warm baselayer I was
perfectly comfortable in these conditions with the fleece as my
primary insulation. I brought a windbreaker with me just in
case, but I found I really didn't need it as the air was calm and I
was plenty warm.
I wore the Teca fleece in the evenings around the campfire, and in
the mornings, but removed it for sleeping. I left it on one
night for a while to read a book, mostly to keep my arms warm.
I found when it was time for me to sleep, I removed the fleece to
prevent overheating with my down quilt.
No issues with the garment on this trip other than the previously
mentioned issue with the pocket "channel". I had to fish my
lighter out of the pocket at one point, as it slid into the area
that is tough to reach.
We keep our house pretty chilly in the wintertime, only turning on
the heat on cold mornings to take the edge off. Once the house
has warmed up a bit in the morning sun, we turn the heat off for the
rest of the day. My office can get a bit chilly, and I ended
up wearing the fleece almost daily. I must have laundered it a
As can be seen from the photo at left the fleece has held up
extremely well. No pilling, loose threads, permanent stains,
or any other cosmetic issues. The zipper, often the Achilles
Heel of these garments, continues to work flawlessly.
My summary from the Field Report above
stands - I didn't experience anything in the latter two months to
change my opinion on any of those points. To it I would add
the durability and robustness of the garment: it is holding up
very well without me babying it. Also, the nice high collar
that zips up all the way is a nice feature.
Many thanks to Cotopaxi and
BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.
Read more reviews of Cotopaxi gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke