Cotopaxi Pacaya Insulated JacketThe cold weather has officially come to Washington. This past week was all blue skies, meaning no rain and no clouds to insulate us against the cold. Whether you’re on trail or around town, you’re always trying to unlock the perfect outwear selection for the weather you’re faced with. So for these dry, bone-chilling fall days, I had an essential layer decision to make – what was my pick? The Cotopaxi Pacaya Insulated Jacket.

Cotopaxi is a company you should have on your gear radar. They make packs and apparel with technical backcountry functionality that are still stylish enough to wear downtown in Seattle and get nods of approval from your coffee shop hipsters. Plus, they make their gear with ethics in mind. Each of their products is made with their “Gear for Good” promise – as such, each product is tied to an unique humanitarian cause that your purchase will support. The Pacaya Jacket, for example, supports CHOICE Humanitarian, providing two weeks of midwife training in Q’eqchi’ communities in Guatemala with your purchase.

Cotopaxi Pacaya Insulated Jacket
Photo by Kevin Murphy

The Cotopaxi Pacaya Insulated Jacket is made with Polartec Alpha insulative material with a hybrid design. The hybrid, a jacket style you’ll see arriving in many outdoor apparel lines this year, gives you insulation where you need it and cuts it where you don’t. In the Pacaya, the sides of the torso and under your arms is made with stretch material – increasing breathability and flexibility where insulation would just get compressed.

Cotopaxi Pacaya Insulated Jacket
Rain drops beading on the Pacaya with its DWR coating

I love that the Pacaya is lightweight, but still warm. It packs down to about the size of a football, and the insulation weight is medium, meaning it kept me warm on 45 degree days but was breathable enough to regulate heat after I moved inside. The sleeves end at the wrists with fitted Lycra, keeping heat from escaping. I also liked that the jacket didn’t sacrifice on pockets, with two fleece lined (read: extra cozy) side pockets and a breast pocket for essentials. The jacket comes in black for the more understated outdoor wearers, but for me, I think the orange-khaki combo makes for a super cool look. Insulative layers can always be a dangerous choice for outerwear in the Pac Northwest – the chances of being caught in the rain running high – but the Pacaya is treated with a DWR coating, so when I was out in an unexpected drizzle hiking in Oregon, it kept out the rain completely for a full 30 minutes and dried completely in about an hour.

Overall, I liked the fit on the Pacaya. The cinch cords in the hood and in the bottom hem allow you to adjust the fit to your preference. If anything, the jacket runs a bit large – I’m 5’4” with a super short torso, and I found that the torso on the Pacaya fit a bit long.

The Cotopaxi Pacaya Insulated Jacket has become my standard insulating layer while I’m backpacking and the layer I reach for on every clear, Seattle day. If you’re looking for a great hybrid this fall and winter, consider investing in a product that gives back and holds up in the backcountry.


Cotopaxi Pacaya Insulated Jacket













  • Warm, but lightweight
  • Water resistant
  • Hybrid design increases functionality
  • Backcountry to city versatility
  • Regulates heat effectively


  • Fit runs large

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