7Mesh Copilot Shell: Elementally Awesome
Last fall, I had the pleasure of testing the Northwoods Windshell and have to say, I'm completely smitten with it. I wear it on a daily basis and I might be starting this review from a place of bias. Proceed with caution. The Northwoods may only be a simple sheet of nylon sure, but it's a thoughtfully designed peice of nylon that has impressed me and makes me smile. I have been doing a lot of trail running lately and the Northwoods shell has been my go-to for keeping me warm and protected from the elements while running as well as cycling. Not only is it lightweight and packable, it keeps the warmth in effectively. However, when the winter turns up the elements I need something that's waterproof and touch warmer, which is essential when trail-riding (or running) on wintery Vancouver Island.
Enter the Copilot jacket. The Copilot sits at the more affordable end of the 7Mesh jacket spectrum and was created for bikepackers and trail-riders who cycle in changing conditions. Designed and engineered in Squamish, British Columbia, the Copilot boasts a ton of features and has that opinionated style that we've come to expect from 7Mesh. If it's anything like the Northwoods, we should all be smiling. But let's take a deeper look.
Design & Features
The Copilot's hood is one of it's standout features, with its ability to fit over any bike helmet. The Northwoods also was capable of this feature which I didn't seem to need during the summer months and thought was a gimmick. But trust me, once you need it, you'll be glad it's there. Being able to put your hood up and over your helmet to keep out rain on cold days is a godsend. I ended up 'hooding' my helmet a bunch of times over the past few months. However, I do have one criticism of the hood (like the Northwoods as well), there's no way to stow it away. But still, the over-the-helmet hood is a convenient feature for those who ride in mixed conditions.
Another stand-out feature of the Copilot are its vibrant color options. The Copilot is available in three color combos: Elk, Hinterland, and simple Black. I went for the (brown and yellow) Elk colors, hoping to add some life to my all-black wardrobe. The lower rear hem is a sunny yellow, which was fine until I remembered I don't ride with a rear fender. Now, the yellow is pretty dirty and doesn't seem like it will fully come out. The Elk and Hinterland colors seem new to the 7Mesh palette but somehow come across as slightly under-saturated to this aging designer. This is definitely not an accident and seems to be a very intentional choice from the 7Mesh design team. Maybe the colors will grow on me.
The latest iteration of the Copilot changes the location of its only pocket from the side to the rear. The rear pocket may be the only pocket on the jacket, but it's a great size, capable of holding a surprising amount of gear. I was able to fit two power bars and my front and rear rechargeable Lezyne lights with ease. The top entry design of the pocket is also a thoughtful touch, making it slightly harder to access on the bike but less likely for items to fall out. A fair trade and a smart design decision in my opinion.
The crown jewel feature of the Copilot lies in its packability, making it the perfect jacket for bikepacking. At just 253g (thanks to GORE-TEX Paclite), the jacket is so light that it's hardly noticeable when folded or tucked away in a bike bag. The 7Mesh Stash System, allows riders to fold the jacket into the rear pocket and strap it to a bike frame or seatpost. At first, the Stash System may also seem like a gimmick, but once you actually need it, you'll appreciate its convenience. It eliminates the need for any additional bags on your bike and saves you from stopping somewhere to shed a layer. The small Stash System buckles may take a bit of finessing to get anchored correctly, but once they are, the whole unit stays secure. Check out this Instagram reel to see the System in action.
Fit & Comfort
I ended up trying a medium Copilot, even though I'm still not sure if it's the right size. At 5'10" and 170 pounds, I am right in the middle of small and medium on 7Mesh's sizing chart. When I first tried on the Northwoods last year, I also thought it felt a bit big but over time I got used to the sizing. Both the Northwoods and Copilot are designed a bit larger and baggier than most slim cycling gear. If I have the chance to try another 7Mesh jacket, I may opt for a small just to see if it fits better. This ultimately comes down to personal preference for a rider. Do you like slim and trim or a bit larger and baggier? If you prefer the former, I suggest going down one size.
The Copilot is equipped with drawcords for the hood and hem for a customized fit, but as a self-proclaimed "dullard," I find the drawcords a bit unintuitive. Despite their sleek, minimal design, the hidden drawcords can be finicky to use and make it difficult to get the perfect cinch. Nevertheless, the Copilot's drawcords serve their purpose and offer a customizable fit for any rider.
Construction, Performance & Weather Protection
Like all things 7Mesh, the beauty of the Copilot lies in its quality. The jacket is beyond well-constructed; it's rough, tough, and built to last. One look at the welded seams, from the arms and body to the rear pocket and hood, and you can tell that this jacket was made with precision and care. The GORE-TEX Paclite material delivers everything you want in weather protection: strong, waterproof, and breathable. Over the past few months, I've put it to the test while mountain and gravel biking and have found it to perform exceptionally well. It never succumbs to heavy rain or strong winds. Unlike other GORE-TEX knockoff materials, it doesn't get sweat-soaked inside, providing both comfort and protection. Nice.
What We Think
I find myself in a strange position reviewing the 7Mesh Copilot. The other day I explained to my wife that the better something is, the easier it is to be critical of it. And that is exactly what has happened with the Copilot. Despite its near-perfection, I find myself thoughtfully critical because I want to do this jacket justice. But let me tell you, the Copilot is damn good. I try not to be hyperbolic in my reviews, but I cannot help but gush over the Copilot and the Northwoods. With these two jackets in the closet, I am covered for any biking expedition on our small island, no matter the season or weather.
The Copilot is no joke. It's durable, made with quality materials, and looks fantastic. Get it here for $350 CAD / $280 USD.
|Decent sized rear pocket|
|The 7Mesh Stash System is fantastic|
|Ready for any ridable conditions|
|Hood fits over helmet perfectly|
|Elk and Hinterland colors might seem a bit washed out|
|Drawcords seem slightly unintuitive|
|No hood stowaway|