Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt Review

EE Copperfield Wind Shirt Review

The Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt is an extremely light wind shirt that weighs close to 2 oz but still has all the features that hikers and backpackers need for temperature regulation in cool and windy weather. If you’ve never used a wind shirt, they’re thin jackets or pullovers, typically worn over a fleece, wool sweater, or hiking shirt, that keep you warm by trapping your body heat so it can’t be stripped away by the wind. Wind shirts are ideal for hiking above timberline in full exposure or in early spring, winter, and autumn when there are no leaves on trees to block the full force of the wind from chilling you. They are more breathable than rain jackets, but they are not waterproof.

Specs at a Glance

  • Men’s and Women’s models and sizing
  • Weight: 2.35 oz in a men’s XL (2.05 oz in a size men’s medium)
  • Fabric: 10d nylon with DWR coating
  • CFM: 10 (explained below)
  • Zipper: YKK
  • Fit: oversized to enable layering
  • Transparency: Translucent and safe (but barely) for wear in town laundromats.

The Enlightened Equipment (EE) Copperfield Wind Shirt is specifically designed for hiking and backpacking and has the key temperature regulation features that hikers require to manage their perspiration rate and stay comfortable in cool weather. It has an adjustable hood drawstring so you can seal the hood around your face, elastic wrist cuffs, a full-length front zipper, and shock-corded waist adjustment. If you feel too warm when hiking, you can lower the hood, roll up your sleeves, or unzip the jacket to cool off and vice versa if you feel cold.

It’s easy to micro-manage your warmth level by rolling up the elastic cuffs or unzipping the zipper.
It’s easy to micro-manage your warmth level by rolling up the elastic cuffs or unzipping the zipper.

The Copperfield also has a factory DWR coating that repels mist and light rain. It will eventually wear off since the DWR is just a chemical coating, but it’s very effective when worn on misty mountain summits, in drizzle and light rain, or when snow is melting off tree branches onto the trail.

Other than that, the Copperfield is a no-frills jacket, designed purely for function. There’s no chest pocket for your phone and no handwarmer pockets, no reflective stripes for running at night, no key fob, or even a fabric loop to hang the jacket up to dry. There’s no zipper garage to prevent your beard from getting caught in the zipper and the high gloss exterior fabric makes it look like you’re wearing a black plastic garbage bag. In other words – it’s hiker trash chic.

I wear the 10d Copperfield reviewed here over a midweight fleece or a thin hiking shirt and have no problems in regulating my temperature with it when it zipped up or by adjusting the hood, rolling up the sleeves, or cracking open the zipper if I feel warm. In terms of breathability (water vapor passing through the garment), I can feel the dampness on the outside of the garment so I know it’s working, and I don’t experience any noticeable perspiration buildup in my shirt or wicking mid-layer fleece. The 10d Copperfield is well made and I expect to use it throughout the winter as an outer layer over a fleece, which is my preferred layering tactic for winter and shoulder season (spring, autumn) hiking in NH’s White Mountains.

An adjustable hood is important to for temperature regulation and to prevent the load flapping sound that can occur when hiking above timberline in high wind
An adjustable hood is important for temperature regulation and to prevent the load flapping sound that can occur when hiking above timberline in high wind.

Copperfield Variants/CFM Rating

Enlightened Equipment offered the Copperfield in three different fabric weights previously – 7d, 10d, and 20d nylon (the thickest) as well as in multiple colors. The 7d fabric was said to have a CFM of 35 (high air permeability), the 10d fabric had a CFM of 10 (moderate air permeability), and the 20d had a CFM of 0 (no air permeability). In terms of comfort, air permeability can be equated with the relative amount of air (measured in cubic feet per minute) that can be forced through a fabric, ostensibly to cool you off.  CFM is often conflated with breathability (water vapor transmission) but they’re different measurements. For example, you can have a rain jacket with no air permeability that has a high breathability rating.

The Copperfield is now only available in the 10d fabric in a charcoal grey color, so I contacted the manufacturer to see if their 7d and 20d options would be offered again in the future. They said to check back next year – they haven’t decided. You can wait until next year to see if they offer the Copperfield in custom colors and fabric thicknesses, but I think the 10d model is a good balance between durability in terms of fabric thickness and performance for cool-to-cold weather hiking and backpacking. It’s also the most popular option chosen by EE customers.

I’ll just add that I’m not convinced that CFM is a very good way to compare wind shirts. I have zero confidence that the different testing procedures or equipment used by different manufactures is comparable. I also fail to see how the rate of airflow from one open space to another applies when a person is wearing the garment over other clothing. Hiking clothes are systems that are not easily reducible to the performance of fabric in and of itself without considering garment design or multiple layers. If you’ve ever dug into the details, you may agree with me. Most manufacturers don’t publish CFM ratings and I’m not sure why Enlightened Equipment decided to publish theirs, how they measured it, or how useful it even is.

A windshirt is a great outer layer for hiking above treeline in full exposure from the wind.
A windshirt is a great outer layer for hiking above treeline in full exposure from the wind and light mist.

Recommendation

The Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt is a great layering garment for cool weather hiking when worn over a wicking midlayer, like a fleece or wool sweater. If you’ve never used a wind shirt you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to manage your warmth and perspiration rate with the Copperfield’s adjustable hood, elastic wrist cuffs, and full-length zipper when you’re actively hiking, even in freezing temperatures. While it’s not the most attractive or stylish wind shirt available today, I believe it is the lightest weight one you can find anywhere, with a hood or without. While it’s not normally a garment that I would recommend for summer/hot weather hiking, when it gets chilly, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Disclosure: The author owns this jacket.

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7 comments

  1. I use a 7D Copperfield wind shirt that I really like! It replaced a Patagonia Houdini shirt that always felt clammy & unpleasant, plus it lacked a full-length zip for venting. The Copperfield is much lighter, more comfortable & has great venting – but hard to comment on breathability compared to the 10D version. Looking at the glossy, tightly-woven material it would be difficult to believe there is really so much difference. The only negative I’d have about the Copperfield is the fit – a bit baggy around the arms, which in really windy weather do blow around a little. The body is also “relaxed” when worn over a shirt, but with a fleece underneath it fits well. I guess you would say, plenty of room for layering & makes for easy movement. Still love it though!

    • That zipper and those elastic cuffs make it very easy to dial-in the warmth level you want, irrespective of the fabric weight. I’ve used a LOT of wind shirts and had great experiences with the ones that have the same features. The fabric on most wind shorts is very thin, so they transfer heat more readily than heavier weight jackets – simple physics. That’s why a very thin rain shell runs so much colder than one made of heavier fabric (the difference between many three-season ultralight rain jackets and a winter shells)

  2. This looks like an even lighter version of the GoLite wind shirt I got on sale a dozen years go. I assumed it would duplicate the function of my rain shell, but it was half price, so whatever.

    Man, what a useful jacket. Stop for lunch at the top of a pass and feeling a little chilly in the wind? Put on the wind shirt. Ready for the trail in the morning but waiting for the rest of the Scouts to get their shit together? Put on the wind shirt. Watching a college track meet and it cools off a bit? Put on the wind shirt. It goes in my backpack, it goes in my camera bag.

    Mine is a shiny gold that looks like it came from RuPaul’s garage sale, but it love it.

  3. Again nice review Philip. Hope to see you review OR’s Helium Wind Hoodie soon. Thanks.

  4. A great piece of gear! I own various sizes and colors, with and without hoods/pockets (all from Montbell, but the concept is identical). I’m guessing a wind shirt may yield more warmth per ounce than any other piece of clothing?

  5. Bill in Roswell GA

    Phillip, how does breathability of the Copperfield compare to one of your old favs, the Montbell Tachyon?
    Thanks for continuing to wave a flag for wind shirts! My first use of one was when the AMC naturalist told us to bring one on a Mt Washington hike in mid June. It didn’t take long to realize the necessity once above treeline! A windshirt now lives in my pack year round on southeastern mountain hikes.

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