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Cotopaxi Tikal Active Shell

photo: Cotopaxi Tikal Active Shell waterproof jacket

The Tikal is a very lightweight waterproof shell. Packs down small for easy storage.


  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Stretchable for easy movement
  • Breathable


  • Armpit vents can't be closed
  • Hood visor could be larger

Cotopaxi has come out with an interesting jacket in its Tikal Active Shell. This 2.5 layered waterproof jacket features four-way stretchable fabric along with fully taped seams and waterproof zippered openings. Adjustable sleeve cuffs, two hand pockets, and an adjustable visored hood finish off the details.

Testing rain jackets in California is not always easy. While my East Coast friends have to deal with rain all year, it rarely rains from May to the end of October in California. So while I took the Cotopaxi Tikal Active shell with me on four different backpacking trips this summer it never rained.

To test the waterproofness of this jacket prior to my first trip in June, I stood under an outdoor shower for quite some time to simulate a downpour. The Tikal jacket did a great job of keeping me dry. The shell eventually took on the appearance of wetting through with the fabric turning darker in color. At that point, I removed the jacket to determine that no water had actually come through the jacket. Apparently, the outside fabric layer of the jacket can absorb water without passing it through the inner layer.

One thing that was a concern is that instead of pit zips, Cotopaxi uses a series of perforated holes for armpit ventilation. While this style of ventilation was more comfortable under my arms, I found in my pouring rain shower test that rain could enter the holes, and further real world testing would need to be done.

Due to its lightweight, just 10 ounces, and its packability, I chose the Tikal shell to bring on all my California backpacking trips this year. I found the fit for a medium size to be accurate for my 5'9", 165-pound frame. The stretchiness of the fabric made the jacket fit more comfortably than a stiff rain jacket and provided for increased freedom of movement. The shell worked really well when worn as wind layer over a lightweight down shirt. Worn during cold or windy days, putting on my backpack was quite a bit easier than other rain jackets I own. 

So now it's November and it is raining finally. For a real world test, I put the jacket on and went for walk in the neighborhood in the pouring rain. As in the shower test after a half hour the jacket had the appearance of wetting through, especially in the shoulder area. Again the inside of the jacket remains dry, so I surmise that the fabric is performing as designed.

Zipping the front up fully provides protection well over the chin area and the hood offers full protection. Several adjustments are provided to refine the hoods fit. I would have liked a larger visor on the hood to open up my field of vision more. While I didn't have the same problems with the pit ventilation leaking, it still could be an issue if water were to run down my pack shoulder straps. 

While so far I really like the Cotopaxi Tikal Active Shell, further testing is still needed to see how well the shell breathes when worn during strenuous hiking.



  • Cost: $149.95
  • Colors: Black, Racing Red, Copper, Grey Mist, Midnight Blue
  • Weight: 10 ounces (medium size)


Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (I kept the product after testing.)

Disclosure: The author of this review received a sample of the product from the brand or its representative in exchange for a review.

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Price Historic Range: $139.95-$150.00
Price Historic Range: $139.95-$150.00
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