Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody
The Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody is Patagonia’s newest base layer design which utilizes a unique seamless knit construction that is composed of 51 percent merino wool and 49 percent Capilene recycled polyester that results in a very stretchy insulation layer that is both light and warm.
The integral hood is close fitting and works well under other hooded jackets, hats, or a climbing helmet, but I found it most useful as a scrunchie for keeping my neck warm. Overall this is a great base layer, especially for colder conditions.
- Very warm
- Not itchy for wool
- Seamless design adds to comfort—very flat transitions
- Hoody makes a nice scrunchie around neck
- Doesn’t hold odors
- Very breathable
- Responsibly sourced wool and recycled polyester
- Might be too warm for many activities
- Some shrinkage in the body and sleeve length
- Pills pretty easily
The Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody is Patagonia’s newest base layer design which follows Patagonia’s long tradition of developing new fabrics with improved performance while also trying to find ways to minimize the impact on the environment. The Capilene Air Hoody fabric is a unique a 3-D seamless knit construction that utilize fibers made from 51% responsibly sourced merino wool and 49% Capilene recycled polyester. The resulting hoody is light, warm and very comfortable to wear.
Patagonia also makes a crew top and a pair of bottoms utilizing this unique material and construction method. I also did a review of the Capilene Air Bottoms here at this link.
Here is a video from Patagonia that touches on several of the unique features of the material and with the seamless method of construction:
Performance and Fit
From a performance perspective the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody is a very warm baselayer for the weight and might be a little too warm when worn during more strenuous activities, especially if you are in a location where the winters are mild like here in the northwest. For longer hikes that have significant elevation gain I probably wouldn't wear the Capilene Air Hoody as my primary base layer, but would bring it to use as an insulating layer and would only use the hoody as a primary layer during colder periods or more sedentary activities.
The hoody does breathe very well, so if you have good ventilation it’s not to difficult to keep the Capilene Air Hoody from becoming to warm. Because the material breathes so well it really doesn't have capability with respect to wind resistance when worn as an outer layer.
The Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody performed well with respect to wicking moisture as I never sensed the hoody becoming clammy even during strenuous activities. Patagonia also clams the the hoody "dries in a flash" and while I'm not sure of the official time definition of "flash", the hoody does dry very quickly. As a quick and dirty test I soaked the hoody in a sink full of water to see how much water it would absorb. When fully soaked the fabric of the hoody still had most of its initial loft and it was very easy to wring out the majority of the moisture to where it felt only slightly damp, but wearable. After about forty minutes hanging on a rack inside my house, I weighed the hoody and it was still about seven ounces heavier then when it was completely dry. Overall I would say the fabric used in the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody has about the same drying characteristics as other synthetic baselayers.
On the Patagonia web site they indicate that the Capilene Air Hoody is a slim fit. While I would love to be considered slim, I’m not, but due to the very stretchy nature of the knit material used that Patagonia refers to as their lofted wool innovation fabric, the large size fit me great and never seemed tight or constricting and I feel the hoody runs true to size. Due to the nature of the material it is also very accommodating to a variety of body types.
Me wearing Capilene Air Hoody and Bottoms
The sleeves were nice and long and still fit fine after experiencing a little shrinkage over a couple months of use. These sleeves are not designed with thumb loops which which I didn't have an issue with as all of the tops I own don't have that feature, but I thought I would point that out in case you happen to like having the option to use thumb loops. The length of the torso of the hoody was also nice and long and I never experienced any issues with it being too short or coming un-tucked.
Due to the way the hoody is manufactured there are no sewn seams anywhere on the garment which is pretty unique and also made for a very comfortable fit.
With the knit being such a stretchy material I was a little worried that it might get stretched out and become baggy, but the material has held up well and doesn’t seem to have stretched out beyond its original size. The cuffs and the hem also held up well and fit well and never felt constricting and due to the soft nature of the knit they were always comfortable.
Knit fabric and the sleeve cuff design
The actually hoody feature works well when needed, but I found I liked it most when it was down and bunched up around my neck as it made a great nice warm scrunchie. The few times I did use the hoody it was nice because the material easily stretches around your head, and is secure, but it never feels constricting or tight.
Using the hoody on a 17 degree morning staying nice and toasty
The material used for the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody does a good job at not holding odors and I could not detect any permanent odors being retained within the garment after each time it was washed.
Since the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody is 51% merino wool I had some concerns that I wouldn’t like the fabric, as my skin doesn’t generally get along well with wool. Most of the time I would wear a very lightweight wicking base layer tee underneath the hoody to support layering as I would remove the hoody during more strenuous activity. While I could tell I was wearing wool, and the knit was always in contact with my neck and arms, it wasn’t uncomfortable and I think the merino wool combined with the Capilene recycled polyester works well in creating a very wearable garment.
One activity where I found I really liked using the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody combined with the Capilene Air Bottoms was inside my waders during a late winter fly-fishing trip I was on recently. The knit construction really performed well keeping me warm while standing in a cold stream for an extended period of time. These will be my go to baselayers for wearing in my waders on colder days.
Fly-fishing on the Upper Owens River in California
Weight & Bulk
The Capilene Air Hoody is a nice warm baselayer and correspondingly it is a little more bulkier and heavier then the typical baselayer I would wear here in the Northwest in the winter. My large size Capilene Air Hoody weighed in at 8.1 ounces. I couldn’t find a published weight for the large size Hoody at Patagonia’s website, but they do indicate that a medium should weigh 6.9 ounces, so the large size being 1.2 ounces heavier seems in the ballpark of what it should be.
From a volume or bulkiness perspective the Capilene Air Hoody is quite a bit bigger then the typical polypro type of baselayer I would wear as shown in the picture below. The Capilene Air Hoody’s bulk is more along the lines of a light sweater.
Shrinkage and Durability
I was curious if the material used in the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody would change over time with repeated use and washings, so when I first received the hoody I laid it out and recorded several measurements as a baseline. After about four months of use and well over ten times through the wash, I repeated those same measurements. When the hoody was washed I followed what was indicated on the label sewn to the hoody, which based on my interpretation of the symbols on the label, was wash in cold water and dry using medium heat.
Example of one of the measurements I took
The end result was I did see some shrinkage mostly in the length of the sleeves and the body that ranged from approximately 2 to 7 percent. The following table has the before and after measurements I made along with any shrinkage observed (noted as % change).
With respect to durability, I didn’t experience any issues with the hoody from a quality or manufacturing perspective. I did experience some pilling that seem to progress as I used the garment and I assume it will continue. If someone does buy the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody they should expect it will pill over the life of the garment and if worn alone the knit material may have more of a tendency to snag or catch on branches or other rough surfaces in use.
The list price of the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody is $149.00. While this is probably one of the most expensive baselayers available, I think the pricing reflects Patagonia’s efforts to provide a state of the art baselayer that utilizes a very lightweight seamless 3-D knit structure with unique high loft yarn constructed with responsibility sourced merino wool from New Zealand and Capilene recycled polyester. Patagonia has always been the leader when it comes to the development of fabrics for outdoor clothing while also being a company that really walks the talk with their efforts to minimize their impact on the environment. I think that most people are willing to pay a premium for Patagonia products like the Capilene Air Hoody so that Patagonia will continue to develop new and innovative products while also demonstrating how a company can be both successful and environmentally responsible at the same time.
To truly understand how unique Patagonia is, I have included the link below to an interview done with its founder Yvon Chouinard that I feel is one of the most worthwhile ways to spend an hour of your time. The interview is a bit long and Yvon isn’t the most eloquent speaker, but the substance of what he shares is second to none and helps explain why Patagonia is so unique. Video Link
Summary and Recommendation
I found the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody to be a very warm lightweight baselayer and especially liked the hoody feature when it was down around my neck making a nice warm scrunchie. I generally don't get cold easily and would not wear the hoody if I was hiking and carrying a pack unless it was in the low 20's or colder, but for more sedentary activities like fishing, this would be one of my go to insulation layers. I think for a baselayer the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody is expensive, but for someone looking to get the latest in fabric technology and willing to pay a premium to support Patagonia’s efforts to develop state of the art outdoor clothing while also setting the standard for how a corporation can be environmentally responsible, then the cost is justifiable. If your only concern is getting a functional warm baselayer then there are lower cost alternatives available.
Many thanks to both Trailspace and Patagonia for the opportunity to evaluate the Capilene Air Hoody for the Trailspace Gear Review Corps!
I have been using the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody for over the last four months during all of my weekly winter outings (hiking, snow shoeing, and fishing). I have been active in the outdoors since the mid 70's and have experience with most of the synthetic baselayers available since that time.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample for testing and review provided by Patagonia)
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