Cotopaxi Teca Fleece Jacket
|5' 6" (1.6 meters)
|158 lb (71.1 kg)
|Southwest Pennsylvania, USA
|I’ve been hiking since ’65 with occasional backpacking trips (backpacking became a love affair in the early 80’s). My first sleeping bag weighed in at 8 lb (3.6 kg) by itself! These days my loaded pack only weighs about 15 lb (6.8 kg) sans food. While most of my adventures are in the Northeast I’ve also been spending a good deal of time in the desert Southwest and most places in-between. My trips tend be in the cooler months - September through May - as I’m not much of a hot-weather person.
Initial Report - December 9, 2020
The Cotopaxi Teca Fleece Jacket is a smart looking jacket made of 100% recycled material, thus cutting down on what hits our landfills, which is a good enough reason to consider buying one. What I like best about this, from a prior-use viewpoint, it that it doesn’t look like it’s been made from throw-away fabric.
|S-XXL, tested size is Medium
|14.8 oz (420 g)
|Gray, colors vary due to available material
|100% repurposed fleece
100% repurposed polyester taffeta stripes with DWR finish
|Elastic binding at hem and cuffs
Two hand pockets
Limited edition colorways
Made from 100% repurposed Polartec Micro Fleece
I am seriously impressed by the styling, colors, and fit, and that it was made from repurposed fleece that would have ended up in some landfill. The jacket came in a cardboard box (also recycled) and just the right size for the jacket (no waste here, either). Along with the jacket came a complimentary face mask, that’s also pretty stylish. An OR of the mask will be coming with the LTR, look for it then.
The jacket has four pockets - two on the outside and two on the inside (the inside pockets are divided into a small and large pocket. There is a collar and the zipper goes all the way to the top of the collar.
Those are the plusses, but I do have a few concerns, mostly around the nylon taffeta. First is with the collar, I’m concerned about a nylon collar up against the neck. Nylon gets cold, and up against the back of the neck concerns me. During the testing I will keep an eye on these things.
The other issue is with the pockets, also made of nylon, and this is a bigger concern for me than the collar. I’ve had jackets with nylon pockets in the past, I’ve found that they don’t hold up well to putting things in them such as keys - they tend to rip, either the material or the seams. Not as big a concern with the outside pockets as anything in them will stay inside the lining. The inside pockets, however, do become a concern because if a hole develops anything inside can fall out without being noticed - thus lost. I would have preferred to see ripstop nylon being used, and double-row stitching to lessen the chance of holes developing.
Interesting time for the jacket to arrive - temperatures here are in the 20’s and 30’s F (-6 thru -1 C). My first use was to wear it while taking my pooch out for his daily walks. The morning was 24 F (-4 C) with a mild breeze (6-8 mph, 6-13 kmh) dropping down the windchill a bit. Clothing wise I was wearing a simple flannel t-shirt, the Teca jacket, and a windbreaker. For the brief 30 minute walk I felt just fine. This was repeated later in the day when we went out again for a 45 minute outing, temperature was all the way up to 34 F (1 C) - a veritable heatwave, and I still felt comfortable. Now, these weren’t lengthy trips, but I think they were long enough to know how the jacket would perform as a top layer (NOTE: my typical winter gear is a 4-layer system: wicking layer, loose thermal layer for insulation, top layer, and a wind/rain/snow outer layer).
Field Report - February. 6, 2021
|Dec 18, 2020
|Sabino Canyon, Arizona
|Sabino to Phoneline Loop
|9.0 mi (14.5 km)
|2,680-4,285 ft (817-1,306 m)
|Sunny; 44-80F (7-27C)
|An interesting hike in Arizona, pretty chilly in the morning, then hot by the end of the hike. I took the Teca jacket with me for the morning part of the hike to keep the chill off (sun wasn’t up yet), then when it hit the mid-60’s F (upper teens-C) I stored it in my daypack. It was nice to have a light-weight but warm jacket to start with, and one that packs nicely when not needed. I wouldn’t say it compressed, but it did stuff well into the inside pocket (not what the pocket is intended for, but where’s the fun in sticking to the rules?)
|Dec 30, 2020
|Bear Run Nature Reserve, Pennsylvania
|6.0 mi (9.6 km)
|1,448-2,196 ft (441-669 m)
|Cloudy; 28-30F (-2 - -1C)
|Cold, dismal day. With the temps this low the Teca jacket was moved from an outer-layer to a mid-layer, and it does perform nicely at that level as well. With a thermal layer as my base, the Teca as my mid, and a wind/waterproof layer as my outer, I was a bit chilly for the first 15 minutes or so of the hike and my body heating started to ramp up. I never opened either of the jackets (was never that warm) but I was warm enough not to regret the choice of mid-layer. This hike was under 3 hours (just) so I didn’t stop for lunch, had it been long enough for a lunch I would not have been happy with my layer choice, the cool down would have been too much for the Teca.
I’ve also used the Teca as part of my normal winter clothing. Unlike when I’m hiking I’m not usually out long enough for my body to generate warmth, so this lends itself to a different kind of testing. I found that for short walks (15-30 minutes, casual) the Teca is wearable by itself down to the mid-upper 40’s F (upper 7-9 C), below that it does require either a windproof outer or a similar weight fleece on top of it (kinda redundant, but wanted to test it that way). When I get below 30 F (-1 C) the Teca is just not practical, even as part of a layering system, for daily usage.
Long Term Report - April 10, 2021
|Mar 12, 2021
|Paradise Fish Hatchery, Pa.
|Spring Creek Canyon
|6.3 mi (10.1 km)
|830-890 ft (253-271 m)
|Cold; 38-41F (3.3-5C)
|Cold with a light breeze, shaded trails still had snow and sheets of ice on them. I wore the Teca jacket underneath a light rain shell to keep the breeze from penetrating. Started off the hike chilled, but after a few minutes I started warming up, the Teca did a nice job of keeping my heat inside. This was a short hike so I never really stopped walking long enough to cool down.
|Mar 17, 2021
|Quebec Run, Pa.
|Tebolt and Hess Trails
|7.9 mi (12.7 km)
|1,617-2,524 ft (493-769 m)
|Cloudy, cool; 45-59F (7-15C)
|Nice day, cool but not cold, leaves still off the trees so the sun did crack through a little bit helping to warm me up at times. I wore the Teca solo on this hike, and while a bit of a cool breeze came through it wasn’t uncomfortable. For me this is the perfect weather for the Teca, cool enough to need a jacket, not cold enough to need an outer covering, never got warm enough to want/need to ditch it.
|Mar 24, 2021
|Backbone Mountain, Md & W Va.
|Hoye Crest Trail
|2.4 mi (3.9 km)
|2,681-3,371 ft (817-1,027 m)
|Sunny, cool to warm; 35-50F (1.7-10C)
|Miserable trail, but a continuation of my attempt to hike the state high points. The first part of the terrain had been clearcut to make room for a windmill, so the hike was slick and muddy, fell several times, but the Teca held up well, no tears. After the mud dried it brushed off nicely, no need to wash. Unfortunately, no pictures as my camera didn’t hold up as well to the falls. The Teca kept me nicely warm at the start of the hike, and through to the end.
|Mar 25, 2021
|Simoda Mountain Range W. Va.
|11.4 mi (18 km)
|3,762-4,852 ft (1.1-1.5 km)
|Warm, sunny; 52-65F (11-18C)
|Really nice hike (10th state high point), especially compared to yesterday’s. Very muddy sections, but not slick (more sticky). The hike started out warm, and ended up just shy of really warm. I started off wearing the Teca and enjoying the added warmth for a cool morning start, by mid-day I had shed the Teca and stuffed it in my day pack. While the 60’sF (upper teens C) isn’t hot, with the climbing the Teca did become unnecessary, but still nice to have around for later. Near the end of the hike, when I dropped into the shade of the mountains, I did put it back on to ward off the chill that comes with shade and descending the mountains instead of climbing.
The Teca Fleece Jacket is a nice addition to a layering system. It provides enough warmth (solo) during cool days to keep the chill away; it works nicely as part of a layering system when the weather gets colder with just a windproof layer on top. When the cold of winter hits it is a bit lightweight to be part of a 3-layer system, but since it isn’t marketed as a heavy weight fleece this is what is expected, so not a negative point. I find I like it, it has just enough style to it to wear outside of hiking for just walking around town.
Things I like:
Things I don't like:
- Snazzy looking (hey, I’m old enough to use snazzy)
- Soft and warm in the kind of weather that I use a light-weight jacket for
- Makes a good mid-layer in chillier weather
- Makes a good mid-layer in chillier weather
- Collar does a good job of keeping the cold air off the back of my neck
- Washes nicely and dries quickly
- Nylon neckline. Sure, it looks nice, but the nylon does get cold and when first zipped up it sends a chill through me
- When not zipped the collar does not lay flat. I have to fidget with the wind/waterproof outer layer to sit just right so it holds the collar down, otherwise that cold collar doesn’t feel good on the neck.
This ends my testing of the Teca Fleece Jacket. I’d like to thank Cotopaxi and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this most excellent jacket.
Read more reviews of Cotopaxi gear
Read more gear reviews by Mike Lipay