Introducing the Kusa Collection, an innovative and revolutionary llama fleece insulation.
Llamas have been integral to Cotopaxi since its inception. Rugged, amiable, and adventurous, these quirky animals embody the Cotopaxi spirit, and we incorporate them into our designs whenever we can. So, when we discovered the array of benefits llama wool offers as insulation, we knew we had to pursue this underutilized material for our apparel line.
Llama wool is naturally lightweight, moisture-shedding, quick-drying, and able to resist wind, flames, odors, and stains. Tested over eons in some of the harshest conditions the world has to offer, llama wool offers a 40-50 degree comfort range, versus 15-20 degree range offered by synthetic layers. Additionally, the sourcing of this wool contributes to the economy of the Andean mountain region—home of Cotopaxi’s namesake and the area that inspired Cotopaxi’s mission.
Cotopaxi’s Kusa Jacket is the first jacket to be filled with llama insulation. Pioneering the use of a new material is exciting but requires extra dedication and innovation. For example, the hollow, coarse nature of the llama fibers provides temperature control while staying lightweight. This texture, however, initially caused the insulation to poke through the seams of certain fabrics. To prevent this from happening, we chose a durable, lightweight ripstop fabric that could withstand such abrasion, and employed supreme quality thread and needles. We made sure to change out machine needles frequently so they would stay sharp and the seam punctures would stay small.
“We partnered with a factory that is an expert in down and insulation,” Cheri Sanguinetti, Apparel Director, explains, “and worked closely with them to make sure we would not have to sacrifice any design goals in order to successfully use this insulation.” Other elements of this process included experimenting with different blends of llama wool and polyester to come up with the ideal warmth-to-weight ratio, and extensive wash testing through a third party facility.