Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Tee review




Super-thin, soft, lightweight Polyester fabric with black magic treatment wicks and dries faster than pretty much anything else we’ve ever used, making it ideal for full-on hot weather use.

Pros and Cons

  • Comfortable, smooth light fabric
  • Wicks and dries at rocket speed
  • Doesn’t pong
  • Tiny pack size and low weight
  • One minor snag in fabric after washing
  • Tee shirt design means minimal protection for back of neck / lower arms

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Baselayers, Clothing, Gear reviews, , ,

The lightest version of Patagonia’s new Capilene Cool, hot-conditions baselayer collection uses an ultra-fast wicking and drying fabric to cope with hot, sweaty work when the going gets scorchio.

New for this spring 2019, Capilene Cool is Patagonia’s new, hot conditions baselayer that’s claimed to keep you comfortable when the going gets properly hot.

It actually comes in three versions: ‘Daily’, which is a sort of all-rounder in a range of tees and long-sleeved tees complete with a variety of graphics. Then there’s ‘Trail’, which is claimed to have a cotton-like feel but synthetic fabric performance, and uses a jersey knit for a soft handle. And finally, there’s Capilene Cool Lightweight, which is the most performance-focused and technical version and what we chose for review. All three versions are made from recycled Polyester, are Fair Trade Certified sewn and use silver-based Polygiene odour control to, erm, control odour.

For perspective – if that sort of thing bothers you – the Lightweight fabric 2.3oz Polyester double knit fabric while the Trail is 4oz fabric and the Daily is around the same, so the Lightweight is a fair bit lighter than the other options and the version we’d go for if you’re serious about maximum performance.

It’s very thin and packs down incredibly small

Fit and feel
Our review tee, in a medium weighs just 68g and is probably the lightest, thinnest baselayer tee I’ve used. It’s pretty too, in red with a very fine dark stripe. Packs tiny. And has a nice not-too-tight and not-too-loose sort of fit. Seams are flat-locked to keep them unobtrusive and just about the only visible feature is a fine cord hang loop at the back of the collar.

For perspective, you can see your fingers through the fabric, which is a good thing in a hot weather baselayer, I think. My experience is that the thinner the fabric, all else being equal, the faster it will wick and dry.

Wick and stick
I’m still waiting for the sort of 30˚C temperatures which really sorts out the nuances of hot weather performance, but working hard in 20˚C temperatures in sunny Mallorca, the tee wicked and dried exceptionally well. Some of that is down to the thinness of the fabric, some a treatment called MiDori bioSoft apparently. It’s fine as part of a layering system, where it works like any other class baselayer, but its real raison d’etre is as a stand-alone layer when things get warm and you’re working hard and so far, it’s excelled at that for hiking, biking and some gentle running. The design is slightly more nuanced than just being a tee as well – it has a slight drop-tail apparently and ‘set-in sleeves’ for better mobility – but in all honesty, it just worked. There’s no scratchy neck label either, just a discrete print.

Capilene Cool Lightweight Tee is up there with the best hot-weather baselayers

Finally, so far, no problems with odour thanks to the permanent Capilene treatment. In the past I’ve worn a Capilene-treated tee for a week without washing it and my experience is that it really does work. The only issue so far has been a slight snag in the fabric after a machine wash. It may be that it’s more vulnerable than thicker fabrics to, say, sports bra attack syndrome, or we might just have been unlucky, but we’ll keep any out for any more damage and report back.

Ethical credentials
As you’d expect from Patagonia, Capilene Cool range has more than a nodding acquaintance with sustainability. The fine striped fabric used for our tee is 83% recycled and the garment is made in a Fair Trade Certified factory in Sri Lanka.

So far the Capilene Cool Lightweight Tee is right up there with the with the very best hot conditions baselayer fabric I’ve used – Polartec Delta, which has a more open weave and a unique, airy feel to it. The thinness of the (mostly) recycled polyester fabric means it wicks and dries super fast and the simple tee-shirt design works well both as a stand-alone top and layered under other clothing. It’s also super packable and lightweight for backpacking use. No issues with odour so far either. If you prefer more arm protection in hot conditions, there’s also a long-sleeved, crew-neck shirt (£45) and for running use, a tee called the Air Chaser with breathable mesh in the back area for better cooling. Overall, a cracking option for all-round, hot-weather use.

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