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Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip Windbreaker Review

Cotopaxi Teca Half-zip Windbreaker Review

The Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip Windbreaker is a half-zip windshirt with a front kangaroo pocket and a zippered stash pocket. It has elastic bindings on the hood, cuffs, and hem with a back panel vent for enhanced airflow and ease of movement. The jacket is made with a 100% repurposed polyester taffeta with a DWR finish and 600 mm PU backer that provides water resistance but reduces breathability.  Brightly colored, the Teca Half-Zip is also available in a wide range of sizes and may be a good option for big and tall or petite-sized individuals.

Specs at a glance

  • Gender: Men’s (Women’s model available)
  • Weight: 5.0 oz in a men’s size XL
  • Material: polyester taffeta and polyester ripstop
  • Hood Adjustability: No
  • Hem-Adjustment: No
  • Stuff into Zippered Pocket: Yes
  • Vents: Rear, 1
  • Pockets: Front, 1

Windshirts, also called wind shells and windbreakers, are poorly understood by many hikers. Worn over a mid-layer, they are an ultralight clothing layer that prevents cold wind from stripping away your body heat while trapping it so you stay warm. They’re particularly useful in windy mountainous terrain, particularly in cooler months and in winter. They complement a waterproof rain shell but are lighter-weight and usually much more breathable. I often carry both.

Most wind shirts are made with nylon and have a basic hood and stretch cuffs on the wrists. Fancier ones may provide hood controls to shrink the size of the hood opening to block drafts from entering, a chest pocket, full-length zipper, hem adjustment cord, or zippered handwarmer pockets. These added features make a big difference in challenging environments.

The hood is oversized and non-adjustable providing little value in brisk wind.
The hood is oversized and non-adjustable providing little value in brisk wind.

The Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip Windbreaker has a half-length zipper, an oversized non-adjustable hood, stretch wrist cuffs,  a kangaroo pocket in the front that you can insert your hands into with a zippered pocket on top that’s handy for carrying maps or a Smartphone. I’ve been using it for hiking but I really can’t recommend it for a few reasons.

The Hood

The Teca Half-Zip hood is non-adjustable and simply enormous. Wind blows in around the sides and makes a huge flapping racket. It may work better if you’re wearing a big ski helmet to take up the volume. I give the hood a thumbs-down for hiking or backpacking use.

Awkward Hipbelt Compatibility

The Kangaroo pocket and the zippered stash pocket are effectively useless if you wear a hipbelt over them. You can’t put your hands in the pockets and the stash pocket volume is virtually unusable.

The front stash pocket becomes unusable when worn with a backpack hip belt.
The front stash pocket becomes effectively unusable when worn with a backpack hip belt.

If you’re extremely motivated, you can run a hipbelt through the kangaroo pocket so that the center buckle is covered and you can still stick your hands inside the pocket to keep warm. This is awkward to do, but not impossible. The zippered pocket layered on top of the kangaroo pocket loses about half its volume though and becomes increasingly difficult to zipper shut because the zipper does not lay flat amongst the scrunched fabric around your waist. The zipper doesn’t work well, even when you’re NOT wearing a backpack hipbelt and consistently jams when you try to zipper it shut.

Terrible Breathability

When zippered shut, perspiration and condensation rapidly build up on the interior of the Teca half-Zip. I attribute this in part to the PU exterior coating which probably seals the exterior fabric. The rear vent is pretty much pointless when wearing a backpack since it’s pressed closed.

Assessment

I’d give the Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip Windbreaker a pass if you’re looking for a windshirt for hiking or backpacking. The too-large non-adjustable hood and the poor breathability are show-stoppers right off the bat before you even factor in the awkwardness of using the windbreaker with a hip belt. The Teca Half-Zip is cute, but just too casual for hiking use. There are so many better wind shirts and windbreakers available today, that you’d be better off buying something else – See the SectionHiker Gear Guide: The 10 Best Windbreakers and Wind Shirts, for our top recommendations. 

View at REI

 

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