Patagonia Capilene vs EMS Bergelene

12:49 a.m. on September 28, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm wondering if any of you have experience with both Capilene and the "Bergelene" product from EMS.  I've got what I think are a set of "mid weight" Bergelene tops/bottoms from probably 15-20 years ago.  I'm comparing them to Capilene 3.

What I want to achieve:

- most warmth per ounce to carry, or looking at it another way, the lightest to provide the required warmth

- most compact/packable

- warm if it gets damp, or looked at another way, the best wicking of moisture to keep me warm and dry

The Bergelene has a soft inside, almost like a microfleece.  The Capilene has are more "waffle" like inside.

The Bergelene has served me OK.  I will say I tend to get sweaty in it if I'm very active (with or without the Bergelene, but especially with it).  So given that many years have passed since I bought the Bergelene, I'm contemplating whether the newer technology (?) Capilene might serve me better on my cool-weather adventures.

The waffle pattern Capilene seems like it might be less prone to holding moisture from sweat though the softer Bergelene might be more comfortable when dry.  The Capilene feels like "technical" gear whereas the Bergelene feels like a pair of light pajamas.  I'm not sure if this different "feel" will translate into different performance.  e.g. they both claim to be "wicking".

My intended use is as a base layer in sub-freezing weather.  If it's very cold I'd wear it while active, under mid/outer layers.  If it's warmer I'd just wear it as a base layer around camp, or for extra warmth in my sleeping bag.  

I'll likely use them in a variety of areas ranging from coastal to inland mountains.

What do you all think?

9:39 a.m. on September 28, 2011 (EDT)
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I use capaline 2 bottoms and a l/s capaline 3 shirt in winter. I find the capaline to wick well and provide excellent warmth for the weight of the garment. I had a pair of bergelene boxers but did not care for them at all. That was my only experience with it.

I would assume both are similar enough that it wouldn't make too much of a difference which one you picked. The craze lately seems to be using capaline from what I have noticed at least.

2:01 p.m. on September 28, 2011 (EDT)
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From what I can tell, bergelene is currently capilene 4 in Patagonia's nomenclature.  It's always been capilene of one sort of another, each with a slightly different feel.  Here's a good source of info:

9:24 p.m. on September 28, 2011 (EDT)
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Tipi Walter said:

From what I can tell, bergelene is currently capilene 4 in Patagonia's nomenclature.  It's always been capilene of one sort of another, each with a slightly different feel.  Here's a good source of info:

 Thanks Tipi, that's a good read.

9:32 p.m. on September 28, 2011 (EDT)
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Yeah, wow, that document is chock full of info - thanks!

9:32 p.m. on September 28, 2011 (EDT)
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i'm familiar with capilene 2 and 4.  they both wick moisture very effectively and have improved a lot over the years; my cap 4 is reasonably new, replaced an expedition capilene shirt that was at least fifteen years old, and the new version is much more effective both as an insulator and for wicking moisture.  expensive, but worth the money. 

because you are in the market, it would be worth trying on merino wool long johns to compare.  they have a softer feel than the synthetics, they virtually never present odor problems, and they insulate when damp.  merino doesn't wick moisture quite as well as capilene, and it takes a little longer to dry.  i wear both in the winter.  i prefer synthetics for the highest-output activities - going uphill with a heavy pack or w/snowshoes, x-country skiing in hilly terrain - but for a lot of winter hiking and skiing, i'm very happy with a wool baselayer.  synthetic long johns have improved some over the last fifteen years, but wool baselayers have made quantum leaps during the same period of time.  patagonia, smartwool, and icebreaker all make really nice merino long johns. 

9:38 p.m. on September 28, 2011 (EDT)
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I have not tried or owned any Bergelene.

When hiking in cold temps I prefer base layers that have a mesh, net, or waffle style fabric so that the fabric does not stick to me or feel too stuffy. I like silk or a similar synthetic to sleep in.

When it's hot out I like seersucker shirts which are a waffle, I also like linen which is a loose weave.

I currently wear Patagonia's Capilene 3 on top, and Cap 2 on bottom. So far they are the lightest, best performing, and quickest drying / wicking base layer I have worn.

Capilene is a little pricey, but I can get 4 - 6 years wear usually and that comes out cheaper than buying poly-pro or cheap fleece.

I do wear poly-pro at times as a mid layer but I don't like it next to skin.

1:10 p.m. on September 30, 2011 (EDT)
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I got cap 2-3-4 and use them all, think I couldn't be happier. never had any bergelene gear...

8:46 p.m. on October 1, 2011 (EDT)
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reading this steered me toward gear i wouldn't normally have thought about.  usually, the capilene 4 (expedition weight) doesn't emerge until it gets really cold.  today in DC, we topped out at 50 degrees, and it was gusty and rainy.  i ended up hiking a few hours in the cap 4, no shell, figured the combination of a slightly too-warm shirt and rain would cancel each other out.

i was comfortable - kept me at a good even temperature and feeling dry.  given the weather today, that says a lot.  

6:17 p.m. on October 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Take a look at Cabela's synthetic long johns. I have 3 pair of various weights and they last a  l  o  n  g  time and wick very well.  Plus they are reasonably priced. Cabela's has the greatest selection of base layers I've yet seen.

 My next pair will be the ECWS Power Dry Polartec underwear for ski patrolling. They have an inside grid pattern for more warmth.


10:26 a.m. on October 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Reading Walker's linked article regarding various / miscellaneous fabrics reassured me.

Perhaps, out of "sheer luck", I happened upon several new pairs of hiking / climbing pants made of Schoeller DrySkin, about 8 years ago.     Never having heard of it, I read the hang-tag with interest.   The price was moderately / reasonably expensive, so I 'bit-the-bullet', and ante'd-up the tariff.

I now consider myself "smarter than I look" ... or, just maybe, I REALLY got lucky with what I thought of as a 'long-shot'.

This stuff, Scholeller DrySkin, ... is -- hands-down -- THE BEST technical-fabric for clothing I have yet to encounter.   It does EVERYTHING being claimed ... and then some.

And, I am a devoted WOOL-guy.   (Of which I have muchly).

Also, the article gave a strong endorsement for the Dri-Clime used in my Marmot vest.   I agree.   Great.

~ r2 ~

1:05 p.m. on October 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Thank you all for your feedback on this topic.  I apologize for not responding sooner, I realize it can come across as rude when one asks a question in the forum and then doesn't respond to the feedback.  I've just been busy, and am still undecided.

I did buy some Capilene 3, but haven't used it yet ... for now I'm still using the Bergelene, not convinced yet that the Capilene 3 would be warmer and warrant the cost.  And I'm still contemplating trying some merino wool, though memories from earlier years of using scratchy, itchy, wool are hard to erase, even if the newer stuff isn't like that.  I can return the Capilene 3 to REI if I don't use it (or even if I do, but I wouldn't feel right about returning a "used" base layer).  So I don't feel about trying it and then deciding.

On a trip a few weeks ago, the temp was in the mid 30's at night & in the morning, with a gusty breeze, and the Bergelene felt "just warm enough".  I think I need something warmer for weather down into the 20's or below.  So I better decide pretty soon! :)

2:42 p.m. on October 22, 2011 (EDT)
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If you want to try wool just remember to buy merino wool, as the regular wool or sometimes called lambswool on a label is indeed the scratchy stuff. I don't mind the 'scratchy stuff' over a baselayer, but I never use it as a base layer. Merino doesn't scratch or cause me to itch at all.

3:06 p.m. on October 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks, I'll watch for that.  I've read that the merino wool can hold moisture more than synthetics, and that it can smell "like a wet sheep" :) when it's wet.  Have you experienced this?

Do you find it to be warmer than synthetics?

4:20 p.m. on October 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Wool doesn't absorb moisture but it can 'hold' moisture in it's weave longer due to it's better insulating capabilities, nor does it really smell. Wool does not take on odors very easily(it takes quite a long time weeks to months) and when cleaned this once again goes away. Wool does have a slight natural smell to it, but it does not intensify when wet in my experience.

Synthetic material is very similar to wool and other animal fibers in their characteristics to repel water. They are coated in a film, oil, or are otherwise solid and incapable of absorbing water. The weave of a wool or synthetic garment is what makes them excellent at wicking away moisture because the fibers will not absorb it like cotton and it is carried to the surface. Wool does take significantly longer to dry than synthetics, this is explained in great detail in the BPL article below.

I find if a synthetic or wool garment are of the same approximate thickness and weave that the warmth is slightly better from wool, though not vastly so. Wool does insulate much more effectively when wet however, but takes much longer to dry.

Here are a few links that explain it much better than I can. The REI site has an excellent article on it, and the BPL has a good comparison article between synthetics and wool and alot of good data(graphs etc) that help illustrate the pros and cons.



7:05 p.m. on October 22, 2011 (EDT)
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I have two pieces of Capilene-a bottom and a long sleeve turtleneck top I bought about 25 years ago. I think they are midweight. Back then, Patagonia only had 3 weights, not 4, as I recall and no waffle pattern. They still look almost new and have had a fair amount of use. No doubt I am wearing them in my photo. I sometimes wear the top around town when it gets chilly here in LA (not cold, chilly) under a fleece jacket.

I don't know about other products, but my Capilene is one of the best buys I ever made. Expensive? I guess so, but given how long they have lasted, a bargain.

8:00 p.m. on October 22, 2011 (EDT)
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i tend to be VERY hot when hiking and especially when climbing and in winter I want thin base layers and layers that will dry very quickly. When I take a break to get a drink or snack on the trail I'll shed every layer but my base layer, and be dry within a couple of minutes. Then back on with other layers and continuing up.

I achieve this with basic walmart, kohl's, or jcpenny "active wear" shirts that cost me at most $10 per item. They vary in weight and warmth for the temps I will encounter. I have used some of them for summer trips, I've used others for winter trips experiencing temps well below zero. The lowest I experienced wearing one of these was -30.

They are nylon, spandex, polyester, or a mix of all 3.

You have to think of the layering system as a whole. These aren't going to keep you warm on their own or be a be all end all of your layering system. It's part of an overall "community" of clothing. I see really awesome new technology coming out from a number of brands that make layering systems easier. It reduces the need to carry as much and reduces the hassle of temperature regulation some older systems cause.

My layering system may be cumbersome to some people. I have to carry some extra clothes now and then, mostly I choose to for comfort reasons, for dry and clean smelling clothes. I also did it at a fraction of the cost of most people.

Why spend more?

12:21 a.m. on November 9, 2011 (EST)
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This is more great feedback, thanks everyone.  It's about time to make a decision, winter weather is about here!

10:12 p.m. on November 11, 2011 (EST)
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OK, today I ordered a  It's 50% Merino Wool and 50% polyester.  :).

I'll see how it works out :).

It was "only" $28 on The Clymb so it was worth a shot...

11:59 p.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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I received my new Polarmax shirt today.  Yeah, it really took that long to arrive (just under a month).  I ordered it thru for $28, so I guess I can't complain.

It looks really nice.  The exterior feels slightly coarse, but the inside feel softer.  I guess I won't know til I've worn it whether the wool ends up feeling scratchy.  Overall it has a "warm fuzzy" feel to it, so I'll see how it does outside compared to the Bergelene...

I was surprised to read the tag - I didn't realize any clothing was still made in the US...


Hmmm, all excited about a new base layer item.  What have you gearheads done to me?!?  :)

June 20, 2018
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