Gear

Enlightened Equipment: Leading a Revolution in Hand-Made Performance Gear

by Mac Misseldine

enlightened equipment

“I make blankets. Very thought out and highly specialized blankets.” — Tim Marshall

Enlightened Equipment has come a long way since its humble beginnings in Tim Marshall’s basement. What started as a one-man cottage company that exclusively made hammock camping quilts has evolved into a solid backpacking brand with a loyal customer base that continues to fuel their expansion.

Unlike some brands that lose focus and see deteriorating quality as they scale up to meet demand, Enlightened Equipment is just as reliable today as when it began. In fact, their products keep getting better thanks to constant refinement and design improvements. Everything is still handcrafted in Winona, Minnesota, so you can expect hand-stitched quality with everything that bears the EE logo.

About The Company

Tim Marshall started sewing quilts in his basement in 2007. As his customer base grew over the years, the tiny cottage maker grew into a thriving business. Today, Enlightened Equipment operates out of a 50,000 square foot warehouse, with more than 50 employees crafting premium quilts, apparel, and accessories right here in the USA.

Over a decade after the first quilt left Marshall’s basement, Enlightened Equipment is still dedicated to crafting custom, handmade products that help outdoor enthusiasts experience the best of the backcountry. They’re always tinkering, modifying, and updating their products, refining designs in pursuit of the best lightweight equipment possible.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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“We’re driven by a passion for making great gear that goes wherever you go. Our philosophy is to be smarter and lighter, eliminating useless extra features so you only carry what you need. We tirelessly test and update our designs to make them the best and lightest they can be.”

Enlightened Equipment also makes a point to give back to the community. They partner with Freeset and the Women’s Resource Center of Winona to help women escape dangerous situations, so you can trust that a portion of your purchase is going towards a great cause.

Products

Enlightened Equipment makes a variety of backpacking gear, including quilts, sleeping bags, minimalist shelters, and apparel. They also carry some third party gear to round out their product offering. Here’s an overview of what you can find in their online store.

Quilts

Enlightened Equipment got its start making quilts for hammock camping, so it’s no surprise that quilts are still one of the company’s most popular products. They’ve expanded their line, so there are some great options for ground sleepers, too.

For top quilts, Enlightened Equipment offers the Enigma and the widely popular Revelation. The former features a sewn footbox, while the latter can be fully unzipped and used as a comforter. Both are fully customizable with 850 fp or 950 fp DownTek, six temperature ratings, multiple sizes, and a vast selection of fabrics and colors.

If you’re looking to save a little money, you can downgrade to the Enigma APEX or Revelation APEX for affordable synthetic insulation. You can also choose between versions that are optimized for hammock camping and ground sleeping, the latter featuring attachment points to strap to your sleeping pad.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Looking for a double quilt you can share with your significant other? Check out the Accomplice, a lightweight two-person quilt that slays the competition. It’s just as customizable as the Enigma and Revelation, so you can construct the perfect quilt for a match made in heaven.

There’s only one option for underquilts — the Revolt, available in custom, stock, and APEX synthetic models. If you’ve got the cash to spring for the custom Revolt, we highly recommend it. As with the Enigma and Revelation, you can opt for 850 fp or 950 fp DownTek, six temperature ratings, four lengths, and a variety of fabrics and colors.

Finally, Enlightened Equipment offers a great all-around camp comforter with the Itasca. Grab this for your cabin, RV, backyard camping, or outdoor sporting events, and you won’t be disappointed.

Sleeping Bags

Quilts are great for hammocks and sleeping pads, but what about folks that don’t use either of those when they’re camping? Don’t worry — Enlightened Equipment has you covered with a line of sleeping bags you can use with your cot, air mattress, or old-fashioned cowboy camping on the cold hard ground.

First, there’s the Convert, a fully-unzippable sleeping bag that you can unfurl into a camp comforter. Then there’s the Conundrum, featuring the same specifications as the Convert with the addition of a sewn footbox. Both are fully customizable with the same options as Enlightened Equipment’s popular quilts, so you can really tailor this to make it your own. The Convert is also available with APEX synthetic insulation, a solid option for anyone looking to save some dough.

Youth Sleep Systems

Outfitting a growing camper? Enlightened Equipment offers a junior-version of its popular top quilt, the Revelation Junior. If your kiddo prefers a sleeping bag, go for the Protege. Both are fantastic options for youth campers, offering a smaller, lighter product with some much-appreciated cost savings.

Shelters

Enlightened Equipment offers several lightweight, minimalist shelters for hammock campers and backpackers. The Paladin is an excellent hammock camping tarp with six tie-outs, or you can upgrade to the Rival for six more tie-outs (you’ll find the additional tie-outs helpful when you’re camping in severe weather). If you like to hang your hammock next to your sweetheart, share a tarp and save weight with the Rival Duo.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Don’t worry ground-sleepers, we didn’t forget about you. You won’t find any backpacking tents here, but Enlightened Equipment does make an awesome bug bivy. The Recon is ultralight at just 6.35 ounces, offering simple but effective protection from ground moisture, splashes, and bugs.

Hammock Gear

Enlightened Equipment doesn’t make its own hammocks. That’s not a bad thing — it just means they focus on what they’re good at, and leave hammock-making to other folks.

If you’d like to purchase a hammock through Enlightened Equipment along with your new top quilt and underquilt, you can actually get a stock 11-foot DutchWare hammock from them. That said, you can get the same hammock with far more custom options for a bit cheaper directly from DutchWare.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Needless to say, we’d recommend grabbing a third-party hammock directly from the manufacturer to save some dough. Check out our article on the 12 Best Camping Hammocks if you need some suggestions.

Apparel

Enlightened Equipment has mastered the art of crafting insulated quilts, and they’ve leveraged that expertise to develop some kick-ass outdoor apparel. Their products are a little pricey, but you’re paying for hand-stitched quality here. In many cases, you can even pay a little extra for custom outfitting.

One of their most popular apparel products is the Torrid APEX Jacket, a water-resistant ultralight shell that blocks out the wind and cold. Equally comfortable above the tree line or on a windy lake, the jacket features CLIMASHIELD™ APEX synthetic insulation that retains body heat and breathability even when wet. It’s also available as a vest, and pairs perfectly with the Torrid APEX Pants.

enlightened equipment 1
Photo Courtesy of Enlightened Equipment

If you’re looking for a fully waterproof outer shell, check out the Visp Rain Jacket. The stormproof jacket weighs just 5 ounces, so it’ll block out the rain without weighing you down. A lot of customers actually pair this with the Torrid APEX Jacket for maximum warmth and waterproof protection.

Those looking for the lightest possible outerwear will love the Copperfield Wind Shirt and Wind Pants. Both offer basic protection from wind and chill, helping your body retain heat far better than a standard shirt or pants.

Enlightened Equipment has plenty of insulating accessories, too. The Hoodlum delivers full protection for your noggin in the form of a lightweight hood/balaclava, while the Hooligan delivers the same warmth in a beanie-style cap. Grab a pair of Visp Rain Mitts to keep your hands out of the rain, or upgrade to the Stronghold Mittens for maximum insulation and warmth. Finally, round everything out with a pair of Sidekicks to keep your toes toasty warm and dry.

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Photo Courtesy of Enlightened Equipment

Of course, there’s plenty of branded swag, too. If you’re a fan of Enlightened Equipment, it’s always cool to rep the brand and help them grow by word of mouth. We’re fans of the 2018 Enlightened Equipment Tee.

Camp Accessories

Enlightened Equipment doesn’t make their own camp accessories, but they carry a handful of solid third-party products to outfit your next adventure. You’ll find wood-burning stoves, pots, water containers, carbon fiber tent stakes, a trowel, a buck saw, and most importantly, a titanium shot glass.

Company Policies

Before you buy something online, it’s smart to read the fine print. We’re not saying you have to go into every transaction paranoid, but it helps to know what to expect if you change your mind or something goes wrong. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect with Enlightened Equipment, including their cancellation policy, return policy, and warranty.

Order Cancellations

Enlightened Equipment offers a mix of stock and custom products. When purchasing a stock product you may cancel your order anytime before it ships, which typically occurs 1-2 business days after placing the order. After the item ships, the company’s return policy applies.

As for custom orders, you may cancel your order and receive a full refund within 48 hours of making the purchase. After 48 hours, cancelling your order will result in an 80% refund to accommodate for used materials and process interruptions.

Return Policy

Enlightened Equipment’s return policy is in line with industry standards. They only accept returns for new, unused items with the tag still attached. Returned products with visible signs of use or noticeable odors will not be accepted.

All products may be returned within 30 days of shipping. Stock products will receive a full refund, while custom products are subject to a 20% restocking fee. You’ll need to call customer service for return/refund approval, mail the product within 7 days of receiving approval, and pay the cost of shipping. Refunds are issued to the original method of payment.

Limited Lifetime Warranty

Enlightened Equipment offers a limited lifetime warranty that covers defects in materials and workmanship. The warranty applies to the original owner for the lifetime of the product, which means the lifetime of the materials, fabrics, and components of the warrantied product. The warranty does not cover normal wear and tear, accidents, negligence, aftermarket modifications, non-standard usage, improper care, or lost and stolen items.

To initiate a warranty claim, contact the customer service team. When the claim is validated, the company will repair, replace, or refund the product at the company’s discretion.

Reviews

Overall, Enlightened Equipment has pretty stellar customer reviews. All of the products on their site have 4+ star averages, and the Facebook community has delivered a 4.5-star average rating. Here’s a sampling of the reviews we came across online:

“By far the best customer service experience I’ve ever had with any company.” — Alexandra R

“Best sleeping quilt I have ever had.” — Sheena W

“I have an Enigma quilt for summer/warmer trips and cannot say how pleased I am with the quality, weight and warmth of this item. I had never used a quilt before and love the ease of entry and exit, and the straps keep it tucked in, keeping me draft free.” — Ron M

“I have had my 30° Revelation quilt for over a year now and it is my favourite piece of gear!” — Daniel K

“Was a customer when [they were] still small, and the quality has never diminished in any of their products. I am a big fan of Enlightened. Customer Service is fantastic, they really want to meet your needs. They have been expanding and improving every aspect of their products, and are often leading the path others take. I believe I get my money’s worth when I purchase from them. I have always been impressed with the quality of workmanship.” — Jeff S

Of course, like any company there are some negative reviews out there. Perusing the few unhappy reviews on Facebook, there were a small number of customers who seemed unhappy with the quality of their product and subsequently had a negative experience dealing with customer service.

It’s tough to understand the exact circumstances surrounding these negative experiences, but one could assume they ran afoul of the company’s return policy. While that may be frustrating, their policy is clearly stated online (and recapped above for your convenience), so as long as you follow the rules, you should be fine. If you’re unhappy with the product when it shows up in the mail, send it back right away.

Plus, let’s not forget the overwhelming number of positive reviews versus the select few negative ones. By the numbers, Enlightened Equipment has a stellar track record with creating happy customers and delivering high-quality customer service.

Conclusion

Enlightened Equipment has a simple motto: ultralight, straightforward, affordable. We agree with all three points. Their gear is unbelievably lightweight, their designs are highly functional, and while their gear is expensive, it’s priced fairly considering the premium, American-made quality. They could easily outsource production overseas to drop prices and pad their profits, but they continue to handcraft everything in the USA — and we respect that.

Whether you’re looking for a quilt, backpacking apparel, or minimalist shelter, you can trust that Enlightened Equipment gear is on par with the best brands in the industry. In fact, it’s often better.

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