Lifestyle

Meet Cotopaxi: The New Outdoor Gear Brand with a Conscience

We expect more from our favorite brands these days, with the likes of Warby Parker and Toms doing their part to make the world a better place. While many companies do perform many humanitarian acts and contribute to charities, we always tip our caps to brands that put social entrepreneurship at the top of their priorities. Launched a few weeks ago by CEO Davis Smith, a former classmate of the Warby Parker founder, Cotopaxi is one of those brands with an admirable objective, bringing a socially-conscious business model, with a focus on education, to sharp-looking outdoor gear.

In Cotopaxi's backpack line, there's a very clear distinction between their lifestyle designs and more technical products. The Cusco ($89) and Kilimanjaro ($79) feature solid nylon-canvas construction and have the leather lash points that are omnipresent in today's walking-around packs. For each one sold, a child in Cusco gets a week of tutoring.

The more technical packs start with the minimalist 16-liter Inca ($89) and its 26-liter sibling ($109), designed for running, skiing, and light hiking, while providing a week of education to a child in Bolivia for each sold. If those aren't large enough, the Nepal ($229) has 65 liters of storage and is perfect for multi-day treks. But unlike other 65 liter packs, it's only four pounds, and its sale will benefit a child in Nepal.

Besides packs, Cotopaxi also has t-shirts and insulated water bottles ($20), each of which provide a person with six months of clean water. Buying gear usually makes you feel pretty good, but knowing that you quenched someone's thirst for half a year takes it to a whole new level.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is Supercompressor's Gear editor. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.