sidebar

OutdoorGearLab Home

search

Patagonia Capilene Midweight Review

Patagonia Men's Capilene® Midweight Crew
Price:   $59 List | $40.73 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, breathable, quick drying
Cons:  Short sleeves and torso ride up easily, not very warm, below-average comfort
Bottom line:  The Capilene Midweight is a strong choice for moderate to high intensity activities in cool weather, but isn't warm enough to be suited for the cold.
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Ross Robinson
Thursday November 23, 2017

Our Verdict

The evolution of the Capilene long underwear line at Patagonia has a long history. The persistent development and design tweaking have lead to a devoted following among outdoor enthusiasts and athletes. Our testers have worn many of the past versions of this top, and they have always fared well in our assessments. The latest model from Patagonia, the Capilene Midweight, is very lightweight, highly breathable, and dries quickly. It's thin and suited for cool to warm temperatures, but still very durable. This product's performance, though, was held back by a poor fit and a lack of comfort. Initially in the running for our Best Buy award, these drawbacks kept it out of the winner's circle.

Product Update
The Capilene Midweight got a minor update, pictured above. It's essentially the same top, with a minor adjustment to seam placement and some new colors. Because this new model and its predecessor offer extremely similar performance, we recommend snagging the older version at massive discounts while it still lasts. Our purchase links lead you to both versions.

Patagonia does their bi-annual spin of the color wheel, introducing new shades to the line-up. Classic Red, pictured above, is one such color and we've caught wind that even more shades are due any moment now!

Our favorite product for combining performance with a low price is The North Face Warm, our Best Buy award winner. If you want to stick with fast-drying, thin base layers, the Rab Merino+ 160 is an excellent top that performed better than the Capilene Midweight. For all eleven products we selected, check out our Men's Long Underwear Review.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Long Underwear and Base Layer for Men

Our Analysis and Test Results

Minor Updates to the Capilene Midweight


Patagonia released a new version of the Capilene Midweight. The only difference in design relates to the seams. The shoulder seams are now offset further down the torso, as opposed to higher up on the shoulders. While Patagonia claims this is to eliminate chafing, our testers didn't experience any such chafing in the previous version. In our opinion, you're safe getting either version (while the older one still lasts). Check out the side-by-side comparison of the two models below, with the newest iteration on the left.

The Patagonia Capilene Midweight
Patagonia Men's Capilene® Midweight Crew

Hands-on Review of the Patagonia Capilene Midweight


Costing only $59, the Patagonia Capilene Midweight was a close competitor for our Best Buy award. This synthetic top is breathable and very fast-drying and is one of the thinnest models in our review. It is also most lightweight model featured here. If you frequently play hard in cool temps, this inexpensive base layer from Patagonia should be on your radar. It also scores eco-friendly points by incorporating recycled polyester into its fabric.

Nature is beautiful  and so is a lightweight  breathable base layer in warm weather.
Nature is beautiful, and so is a lightweight, breathable base layer in warm weather.

Warmth


The Capilene is a far cry from the warmest model in this review, the Arc'teryx Rho AR, but that's not its intention. Designed for higher activity in cool temps (think 45° - 70°F), this fabric is thin and very lightweight, coming in at only 7.1 oz. In colder temperatures, the chill sank in quickly. There are thumb loops to pull the sleeves up over the back of the hand, increasing the coverage area. However, the sleeves were a little too short. Using the thumb loops for a prolonged amount of time induced discomfort between the thumb and index finger. If you're into thumb loops or holes, the tasc Base Layer was a favorite model with this feature.

Without much insulation and a looser fit  this thin model from Patagonia is up for cool weather jogging.
Without much insulation and a looser fit, this thin model from Patagonia is up for cool weather jogging.

Breathability


This Patagonia product bumps elbows with the most breathable of the base layer crowd we assembled for this review. Even when hiking in temps up to 60°F around Big Sur, this top controlled the hot and humid microclimate between skin and shirt very well. It efficiently transmitted our sweat to the outside of the shirt, away from our bodies. If breathability is your main concern, check out the Helly Hansen Lifa Stripe Crew for its performance in this metric.

After removing the pack from his back on a hike along the coast of California  moisture poured out of the Capilene Midweight  which is so breathable  we could sometimes see it!
After removing the pack from his back on a hike along the coast of California, moisture poured out of the Capilene Midweight, which is so breathable, we could sometimes see it!

Comfort and Fit


This base layer fell toward the back of the pack in its comfort and fit score. Some of its drawbacks start with the sleeves. They have a strong tendency to ride up our arms, even when just typing on our laptops, much less when reaching for jugs and crimpers while climbing; we didn't enjoy constantly pulling our sleeves back down. The bottom of the shirt sometimes rose up as well, especially so when using the thumb loops. We think the fit would benefit from longer, slimmer arms and a longer torso, like the tasc Base Layer or REI Merino Midweight.

Although we liked the addition of thumb loops  they weren't the most comfortable due to the short sleeves and fabric without much stretch.
Although we liked the addition of thumb loops, they weren't the most comfortable due to the short sleeves and fabric without much stretch.

The inner grid construction doesn't lend itself to a cozy feeling. It's a little stiff and becomes a bit itchy once sweat begins to pour. We did, though, enjoy the mobility provided by the full under-arm gusset, but wished this shirt moved better with our bodies. The ring seam around the neck is comfortable, made more so by the implementation of neck tape over the seam on the back half of the collar to reduce any chafing in this area. This top isn't abysmal to wear, but in comparison to other models in this review, it was inferior in this metric.

Drying Speed


This contender was the second-fastest drying base layer in our tests, drying only 13% slower than the Helly Hansen top. We attribute its drying speed to its thin material, more than anything. Like several other models, the top half of this garment dried out much faster than its bottom half. We were fans of the Rab Merino+ 160, REI Merino Midweight, and Icebreaker Oasis for their ability to achieve a fast drying speed time.

The waffled cells of these two products (Patagonia on the left  Under Armour on the right) helped increase their breathability and drying speed simultaneously.
The waffled cells of these two products (Patagonia on the left, Under Armour on the right) helped increase their breathability and drying speed simultaneously.

Durability


Despite being one of the thinnest models in this review, the synthetic fabric of this long underwear top struck us as very durable. It can handle more rugged use than its wool counterparts. It did receive a few snags during extensive use throughout the testing period but otherwise remained unscathed.

We liked the gusset that ran from the bottom of the shirt, under the arm, and all the way to the hem at the end of the sleeve. We think this should reduce strain on the fabric and distribute seam stress better. This design also avoids having seams at the center of the armpit, a frequent point of failure in shirts of any kind. The much warmer and thicker Mountain Hardwear Microchill 2.0 scored the highest in this metric.

It was tough to find reasons to complain about the durability of this model.
It was tough to find reasons to complain about the durability of this model.

Layering Ability


The loose fit of this product lends itself to fitting easily over t-shirts and snug-fitting base layers. It wasn't too baggy to be worn comfortably under a jacket but wasn't so great under a tight mid-layer. The loose material bunched up in the armpits, increasing discomfort while decreasing mobility. This product also built up a significant amount of static electricity under other products. The thumb loops did assist when pulling the sleeves of a jacket or mid-layer over this model. The Rab Merino+ 160 and The North Face Warm both outperformed the Capilene in this metric.

Best Applications


We enjoyed using this base layer when hiking and engaging in other moderate to high-intensity activities in cool to warm climates, no matter if it was dry or wet out. It is also suitable for running in colder temps. We don't recommend it for climbing or other activities that bring your arms over your head, though, as the sleeves slide up the arms much too easily.

Active in warm environments  but still need long sleeves? Meet your new friend from Patagonia.
Active in warm environments, but still need long sleeves? Meet your new friend from Patagonia.

Value


This base layer provides a great value, especially if you are in the market for a thinner, less warm product for primary use in the spring and fall. Costing only $59, it was the second-least expensive product in our review.

The Capilene will likely outlast many of its competitors  increasing its value and our appreciation.
The Capilene will likely outlast many of its competitors, increasing its value and our appreciation.

Conclusion


The Capilene base layer line for Patagonia has long been a fan favorite and for good reason. It has a high-quality design that can handle a fair range of intensity. While we found a few drawbacks in its fit and comfort, we enjoyed its low weight, excellent breathability, and quick drying speed. It didn't score well in our warmth metric, but this might be what you are seeking. Furthermore, it's almost guaranteed to last longer than the other wool and blended fabric competitors featured in this review.

Ross Robinson
You Might Also Like

Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
REI $40.73  -  31% off!
MooseJaw $41.99  -  29% off!
Backcountry $59.00
Compare prices at 3 sellers >

*You help support OutdoorGearLab's product testing and reviews by purchasing from our retail partners.