I first created this blog to simply have fun with writing and keep friends updated on travels. As things evolved I started writing about doing good through outdoor adventure and reviewing gear I love made from companies who make the world a better place.
Not once did I ever think someone would offer me free gear until about a month ago, when I received an email asking if I would accept a free jacket from Cotopaxi in exchange for a sponsored post or gear review. At first I was all “Well, heck yeah!!!” Then I paused and thought hard about what I was doing. Would accepting free gear in exchange for a gear review damage my credibility? Does it make my review “fake” in some way?
To date, every gear review I’ve done has been entirely on my own terms with gear purchased by me, including a review of Cotopaxi’s Luzon Del Dia backpack. That quirkly, lovable bag has a fantastic story and it goes everywhere with me!
There are very few companies whose gear I would blindly accept. There are also very few companies whose values I feel strongly enough about to promote. My goal is still the same: to provide honest feedback to my readers and review gear I actively use and believe in.
Cotopaxi is a company deeply committed to social responsibility and philanthropy. The purchase of their products helps fund education and health initiatives in impoverished countries around the world. For that reason, and the fact that they make amazing stuff, I said yes to their offer and received a free Paray jacket to review but… I made some rules. First, I wanted to spend a few weeks using it so I could write an honest and unbiased review. Second, if I didn’t like the jacket, I would return it to Cotopaxi with my feedback and thanks.
I had no idea that after a solid month of use someone would have to steal my Paray to take it away from me! I can’t leave home without it and already I’ve used this little jacket road biking, ski touring, trail running, hiking, and simply out and about for dog walking and daily errands. I’ve even taken it scootering!
The Paray Jacket
I have to admit that I requested the Pink/Moon color a bit reluctantly since I’m not a big pink person but when my jacket showed up I loved the color! The main shell is a very flattering and subtle shade of pink with slightly darker sleeves and blue trim. The fabric is semi-opaque resulting in a slightly different look every time you wear it based on what you wear underneath.
Most surprising about the jacket was its weight and unique texture. It’s barely 3 ounces and it feels like soft tissue paper! The material is different than any jacket I’ve ever owned and if you buy one be prepared because everyone will want to touch it! Don’t let its thinness fool you though, the Paray is made of 20D ripstop nylon, making it both highly breathable and very resistant to tearing and ripping. It even comes with a DWR (Durable water repellent) coating to add water resistance.
The Paray was engineered by Cotopaxi as a lightweight running shell but it works equally well as a windbreaker and all-around go-to jacket. It folds into its own chest pocket which makes it incredibly easy to pack just about anywhere. Speaking of pockets, I am a pocket lover and this jacket is full of them!
Fit and Comfort
I’m about 5’6” 120 lbs and the XS fits me perfectly. The sleeves are a bit long but not overly so and the jacket hits a bit below my hips. Elastic binding at the cuffs and hem keep it snug in windy conditions. The fit is flattering enough to wear with a tank top or short sleeves yet roomy enough to layer over a long sleeve shirt or warmer shirt. The jacket is so paper thin and soft it moves right along with your body and you barely even notice you’re wearing it!
The scuba hood is trimmed with light elastic binding and also comes with an adjustable cord that allows you to cinch it down tighter in windy weather. Last year I bought an OR Helium II jacket and as much as I wanted to love it, I just did not like how tall and stiff the jacket fit around my neck. Even with it unzipped partway, the neck fabric was so stiff that it rubbed all over my face and running with it made me crazy.
The Paray’s soft, athletic fit makes it a dream to run with, even when fully zipped. I’m incredibly picky when it comes to running in jackets because most of them ride up, bounce around, swish around, and generally annoy me. This is so far the only jacket I’ve found that I actually enjoy running in!
I mentioned I’m a pocket lover and Cotopaxi did a really great job of stuffing the Paray full of functional pockets. The outside hand pockets are perfectly designed both deep enough and with the right opening angles for your hands to fit comfortably as well as your phone or other items to stay inside without falling out. There is an internal key pocket, an interior chest pocket, and two large inside pockets.
It’s easy to head out on a run or walk and find a place for your key, some gels or snacks, and other small accessories. Cotopaxi also added an elastic binding at the cuff that acts as a thumbhole, which I love! It tucks up into the sleeve when not in use.
The first time I took my Paray out for an adventure I went for a long walk with my dog on a blustery Seattle day and I was really impressed how this tiny lightweight jacket could be so warm and breathable. I was even more impressed when we hit some unexpected light rain and it rolled right off the jacket and kept me surprisingly dry. Bonus for Cotopaxi’s water repellent coating!
This jacket is fantastic for just about anything outdoors including camping trips, backpacking, hiking, and trail running. I took it with me on a road bike ride around the San Juan Islands of Washington. It was so small it was easy to slip right into my jersey pocket and it kept me warm during our breaks. It even accompanied me on a spring ski tour to Mount Baker, working flawlessly as both a wind and sun breaker.
The Paray won’t keep you warm in adverse mountain conditions or dry in heavy rain but it’s a great year-round jacket for a mostly temperate place like Seattle and perfect for adventuring in the spring, summer, and fall. Its flattering design and incredible versatility allow it to be equally at home in the mountains or around town. I’ve even started using it as a warm day wind layer while scootering!
- 20D mini-ripstop nylon shell
- DWR finish/polyurethane backing
- Athletic fit
- Elastic binding at hood, cuffs (with thumbholes), and hem
- Scuba hood
- Front hand pockets
- Internal key sleeve
- Packs into interior chest pocket
- Reflective logos
- Weight: 3.2oz (Small)
Want to buy one?
If you’re looking for a fantastic all-around jacket, the Paray can’t be beat and you can take it just about anywhere! It retails on the Cotopaxi website for $99.95 and comes in 3 different colors.
Use the link above to purchase through my Cotopaxi affiliate program. You get an awesome new jacket, I get a few bucks to help support this site and maybe enough for a refreshing post-adventure beer. Most importantly, buying from Cotopaxi means you’re also helping make the world a better place! It’s a win-win! Thanks!
Cotopaxi‘s tagline is “Gear for Good” and their products fund sustainable poverty alleviation, move people to do good, and inspire adventure. They focus on health, education, and livelihood initiatives in impoverished countries around the world. Cotopaxi also has B corp certification, meaning they’re part of a group of companies that use their business as a force for social, environmental, and economic good.
In 2014 and 2015 the purchase of their products helped:
- improve access to quality education in Nepal, Ecuador, Tanzania, the Philippines, and Ghana
- reduce mortality rates through midwifery training in Guatemala
- provide 175 radiation treatments to cancer patients in West Africa
- support the design and launch of a water project for a rural region in the Philippines
A gear purchase from Cotopaxi isn’t just a gear purchase, it’s also an investment in making the world a better place, which is why I’m happy to support Cotopaxi and call them one of my preferred affiliates. To learn more about their impact and initiatives in 2017, check out their website!
Disclaimer: I received a free Paray jacket from Cotopaxi in exchange for this review but my mission is the same: providing honest feedback to my readers, reviewing gear I actively use and believe in, and making the world a better place by supporting companies who feel the same!